We landed here for a three night/four day break. As we had left John earlier than expected in plan B (we would have been in Cooktown, north of Cairns, in plan A) we had to find somewhere to go. Our main criteria is a stop on the Greyhound bus route. The 7500km pass we bought before arriving here has proved very worthwhile. Ok, it does give us some limits but with so much choice, that narrowing down can be helpful. So Tin Can Bay is a sleepy little town situated on the mainland at the southern tip of Fraser Island. There isn’t much here but it is surprising how you can fill your day.
We walked around most of the town on our arrival afternoon, enjoying a coffee and cake at the Barnacles cafe on the waterfront where you can feed the dolphins at 7.30am. I didn’t know that marine life could tell the time and thought their attendance would be more dependant on the tide as they are at Channonry Point, but I’d be wrong! The cafe closed around us at 3pm but the owner was no keener to move us on than we were to move, so we stayed a while longer with the place to ourselves.
The following day we returned to this quayside and hired a little fishing boat, minus the rods as we had no intention of using them. We pottered around this fairly extensive inlet for several hours. We’d hired for 3 but the owner was in no hurry for the boat to be returned as long as we were back for 4.30pm. I’m still unsure whether we had enough fuel for 4.5 hours though! We had a packed lunch with us including some seafood we’d bought from the wholesaler at the marina including ‘bugs’ which we had to have explained to us prior to adding them to our scallops and fresh prawns. They are quite tasty, a bit like crayfish, despite their resemblance to sci-fi film aliens.
In the distance I could see a huge sand dune carved out of the tree-covered hillside over towards Rainbow Beach. On our bus journey there the following day, I kept a keen but unsuccessful look out for it. We hopped off the Greyhound at the edge of town with no idea where we were or where to go, but Paul, the owner of the accommodation had recommended a visit. We headed for what looked like the centre of town and passed the shop we had rung the previous day trying to arrange a surfing lesson. Unfortunately, due to the tides it would have been at 2.30pm and we would have missed the bus back.
The waters edge looked lovely; a long white sandy curve extending towards Fraser Island to the north and steep colourful cliffs reaching out to the south, giving the town its name. We started to follow the latter and came across some steps down to the beach. However, due to the high tide the bottom was already covered and the wind whipped waves made it somewhat precarious to negotiate despite not being particularly deep. We sat there for a while, feeling the rise and fall of the steps from the imminent swell crashing beneath us. It was only as we were leaving that we noticed a barrier which could be erected to shut off the access when the swell is too high and dangerous.
Unusually, we hadn’t found any kind of tourist information kiosk so decided to follow some brown signs to Carlos’ Sandblow. This took us along a cliff top path which seemed to be rather pleasant and taking us in a suitable direction, eventually coming out, not at a blow hole as we expected and were pleased that it would be high tide, but at the huge sandune we could see from Tin Can Bay. This is a natural phenomenon where the wind blows the sand straight from the beach through a gully, eventually smothering all the flora in its path. This particular one had the added attraction of the multi-coloured sands described in the town’s name. From the top of the dune you could see along the cliffs to Double Island or back through the gap to the inlet and Tin Can Bay. It was a rather unexpected treat, often the best type.
We headed back towards the town and made our way down onto the beach. Roger then gave a cry to attract my attention. Following his pointed finger out to sea I suddenly noticed the huge grey form rearing up out of the water, hanging in mid-air for a split second before crashing back down with an almighty splash, and again and again! Humpback whales frolicking in the waves! We watched the pod for about 15 minutes, by which time they had moved across the bay. Despite our pointing and staring out to sea from the waters edge on a reasonably populated beach, no-one else seemed to be bothered. Perhaps it is a regular occurrence but we were mesmerised and hadn’t even had to pay for a whale watching trip!
Later on we partook of a little liquid refreshment at the surf club bar, perched on the top of the cliff and the performance started again. Our elevated position meant that we didn’t see the animals as clearly but were more aware of the splashes. From there we also couldn’t really discern what I had thought to be the spray from their spouts when there was a fine grey tower for a few seconds on the horizon as we watched from shore level. Alternatively, these later displays may have been dolphins. Either way we felt very fortunate.
We checked out this morning but the bus doesn’t leave until 4.30 so with time to kill we took a walk along the shore in the opposite direction and found ourselves among the mangroves. Not swampy fortunately but growing amidst the white sand, turning it slightly muddy in places but otherwise good to walk on before the advancing tide covered everything. We didn’t notice any evidence of ‘salties’, salt water crocodiles, although there were plenty of fresh largish holes below the high tide line whose architects we didn’t discover.
We are heading back north to Hervey Bay for a week of holiday! Can’t be bad, except that there is no free wifi at the hotel so we will be hunting for suitable cafes etc. to keep in touch. Next Friday we travel back to the Sunshine Coast, just north of Brisbane, where we are going to stay the weekend with a lovely lady we met at the horse starting clinic at Genine’s who happens to manage a camel dairy! Its a small world.