Turtle patrol

Last night we went to a turtle rookery – which is a beach where turtles go to lay their eggs. In the information centre we saw turtle bones, wooden turtles, toy turtles and more!

We were led onto the beach by a National Park warden. We saw two giant turtles slowly come up from the ocean. The adult turtles were about 87cm across their shell. They were big.

The turtles push down and use all their weight to make a place to lay their eggs. At least 100 eggs are laid. Only 1 out of 1000 baby turtles manage to be an adult.

The first turtle we saw laid about 115 eggs. Hugo and Oscar got to carry some turtle eggs. We helped the wardens move the eggs to a higher man-made nest so they would NOT get washed away. There were loads of turtle eggs. The eggs were the size of ping pong balls and felt like plastic. We had to carry the eggs the way they gave them to us so we didn’t harm the turtles inside.
When we got home we were all very tired but dad got lots of good photos.


Back to Lady Musgrave

We’ve sailed back to Lady Musgrave Island – we grew a bit bored and restless sitting in Hervey Bay so we headed out of the marina on the high tide on Sunday afternoon for an overnight sail to Lady Musgrave. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve been out on the open sea so the boys and I turned a nasty shade of green for the first few hours. The boys quickly recover and managed to keep themselves occupied by watching a movie before heading off to their beds. By the time bedtime had arrived it was turning out to be quite a wild sail so we decided that Hugo would be best snuggled in with his brother, rather than on his own in the midship cabin. Gerhard had shifted things around so that they could sleep together in the aft/ Oscar’s cabin with the lee cloth in place between them. This arrangement was met with whoops of delight from the boys and excited little voices declaring they would be ‘bed buddies’. They quickly (and rather surprisingly) settled down to sleep for the night.

Meanwhile up the in the cockpit I was continuing to feel seasick and good old Gerhard was running around making sure everyone was comfortable and fed.

The sail wasn’t outrageous but it was a fast sail with the boat powering through the night with full sails out. It’s a long time since I’ve been on an overnight sail and must admit I was feeling a bit apprehensive, but declined Gerhard’s offer to head into Bundaberg for the night. I tried sleeping for a while somewhere between 9.30 and midnight but by the time some game of the boys’ fell narrowly missing my head and the crockery crashed about in the galley I decided to give up and go back up into the cockpit and enjoy the moonlight on the waves and the exhilarating feeling of night sailing.

At midnight it was my turn to go on ‘watch’ and whilst Gerhard was less than a metre from me, and still half awake, at least my being there meant that he could close his eyes and doze some of the time. My alarm was set to go off at 10 minute intervals so that when I did nod off it would never be for long.

Ahead of us the lighthouse on Lady Musgrave Island showed its presence a long time before we reached her – tantalisingly shining and yet seeming to take for blasted ever to reach. We arrived outside the reef just as the first blush of dawn started to lighten the night sky. It was pretty windy and bouncy out there, but we needed the early morning light to be able to navigate the channel into the lagoon. We tried to settle down and get a couple of hours sleep – but after about an hour of the boat creaking mercilessly and rocking so badly that food in the lockers could be heard crashing about, we gave up.

We made it out for several long snorkels across the reef. It’s the time of year when the turtles lay their eggs on the island so there are plenty of turtles to be seen swimming around: we swam alongside them as we snorkelled. Gerhard and Hugo also came across reef sharks, and we all enjoyed the mass of reef fish.

Later we went over onto the island. The water lapping the shore was an unbelievable temperature – it was like climbing into a bath. As we walked around the island we saw numerous turtles swimming by in the shallows, schools of fish and a Black Tip Reef Whaler Shark too making its way along the shoreline.

All along the beach you could see evidence of the turtles having made their way up the sand, the flat sand under their belly and beautiful waves / wings in the sand made by their flippers as they ascend the beach to dig holes and lay their eggs. Magical.

Tonight the water is calm and the Wedgetail Shearwaters and Black Noddys fly over the boat as the sun sets behind the island. Last night we were besieged by Hawk Moths (Hippotion Velox), annoying to say the least as we had to close up the boat to keep them out. Thankfully tonight we seem to be all clear.

It’s been another day of fascinating conversations with small boys, asking lots of questions and coming up with wild and wacky ways to save the planet or whatever the theme of the day is. Hugo has to have today’s award for a classic line. In our discussion about whether teachers are paid for teaching (clearly a debatable topic) we also talked about taxes and how public services are paid for. I also explained that if you attended a private school parents had to pay for the education. His little voice piped up – “so if you’re at private school are you not allowed to tell them your name?”. Cute…


Fraser Island

We’ve just returned from a little driving expedition to Fraser Island: not a relaxing time as it turned out for poor Gerhard who had to get the Freelander across soft sand (actually it was the lack of clearance under the vehicle that was our problem). Subsequently we were confined to driving the eastern side of the island. This was no great burden – we saw the beautiful Cathedral Rocks, Indian Head, the Maheno wreck which has deteriorated significantly since we visited 18 months ago (photos below) and we swam in the Champagne Rock Pools – with fish sharing the pools with us as the ocean waves crashed in.

We saw one solitary dingo trotting along beach, and there was of course the mandatory jumping off sand dunes…

Whilst Gerhard and I might have been frustrated with the way things turned out I remarked that I felt sure the boys were delighted and their view of the trip would differ to ours. This proved to be the case. Their highlights were as follows:

  • a swimming pool to play in at the resort;
  • swimming in Champagne Rock Pools;
  • lots of unhealthy cereals for breakfast that you could help yourself to (Hugo); and
  • beds to sleep in and a bath.

So it was best to be content and enjoy the fact that the boys found the whole thing very enjoyable, especially hours of clambering all over their father in the pool.

Rather than risk the 17 kilometres of driving (or in our case not driving) through deep tracks and soft sand back to the ferry crossing at Wanggoolba Creek we decided to drive south and leave the island on the barge crossing from Inskip Point to Rainbow Beach. This was an easy enough drive between high and low tide although the last bit was a little challenging as we nipped around the southern tip of the island on shifting sand. With a sigh of relief we boarded the barge, with the knowledge that we just had the final 100m across the beach and then we were home and dry (or on sealed roads at any rate). It was going well with Gerhard flooring the car…and then the 4WD ahead of us slowed down. Result. We got stuck. There was quite a lot of swearing at this point. The boys sensibly engrossed themselves in whatever screen they could lay their hands on and I went off across the beach to talk one of the unsuspecting fishermen to come and give us a tow with their 4WD. As the 3 bearded fellows partook of their afternoon cans of beer and observed me trotting across the sand I challenged them not to turn and walk away from me, but to contribute to my marital harmony. Thankfully the humour worked, and after a few tense moments and failed attempts to pull the Freelander clear of the sand we were out…..and my bearded friend didn’t spill a drop of beer or even put his can down!

We got home late afternoon a bit weary and a bit frazzled. In time to unpack, pop some more supplies on board and head back out to Fraser Island the next day, but this time on board Sunny Spells.

Hervey Bay and environs hasn’t been quite all we’d hoped for…

It has all felt a bit hard work recently. Groundhog Day and wearisome, warm and overbearing in a boat. The marina water is over 30 degrees C so the temperature in the boat is affected by that as well as the surrounding air temperature. That combined with the fact that we feel as though we are living in some concrete trailer park. If I have cabin fever then small wonder G feels it too – he didn’t get to bolt to Sydney to see his friends the week before last. The wind keeps blowing from the north and so there’s nowhere to hide if we should take the boat into the Bay.

Gerhard has also had some of ‘my’ work to do, whilst I’ve dragged the boys through their school work (all whilst we sweat). We bought an air-conditioner, but it’s not as effective as I would like. We did try going for a bit of a look around on Thursday – to the much publicised markets and sights of Maryborough.

Maryborough was an important nineteenth century town. The creator of Mary Poppins heralds from Maryborough and some poor woman dresses up as Mary Poppins everyday and gives guided tours and assists with daily firing of a cannon – it was over 30 degrees at 10 in the morning: I hope she is paid well for her work.

The streets were once the home of silk merchants, merchant banks and opium dens. Settled in 1847 it was once one was one of Australia’s largest and busiest ports.
Whilst it was lovely and there were a lot of lovely people that we met, we weren’t that impressed with the historical town.

From Maryborough ( over-warm and a little deflated) we headed to the sights of Burrum Heads only to find a very pretty river mouth and sandy beach and ……not a lot else other than a caravan park. I then checked the highlights that were listed in my tourist brochure: the skateboard park, the community hall and the library! Ah, not exactly brimming over with culture. Coming from the Cotswolds with your village local built over 600 years ago and a church mentioned in the Doomsday book does mean you set your sights a little high!

On Saturday we found ourselves at the water park again, and this time the boys got to have a go on ‘flip side’ some wacky surfboard ride thing. They were delighted.

At the water park I continue to feel as though I stick out like a sore thumb ….I really must ask Santa for a shed load of tattoos for Christmas! Huge ones down the thigh seem to be the go around here. I also seem to be half the size of most of the female population – but I’m fast rectifying that. I must stop eating and drinking and get up to do some exercise before it gets hot and humid: unfortunately it will require me to be out before 5.30am so it’s not looking good!

We then moved on to visit a shark exhibition. We’ve driven past a few times and have been fascinated. We thought it might be air conditioned so off we went.

We paid the hefty $40 for a rather bizarre shark experience – where this chap has spent his life-time hunting and killing Great White sharks. His whole exhibition is dedicated to his passionate belief and his cause that the shark should not be protected. It was a very strange combination of macabre, biased, highly subjective, gruesome and hysterically funny exhibition.

Vic Hislop’s Shark show is a dedication to the fact that some sharks kill a lot of other animals and so in his opinion should be killed in order to help protect other creatures and the many humans that encounter shark attacks every year. There are walls adorned with gruesome photos and lists of actual or presumed victims of shark attacks, and there are some pretty amateur videos of Vic catching sharks and displaying the contents of the sharks’ stomachs.

Our objective throughout this visit was to spot the spelling or grammatical mistake/s. The exhibition did not let us down: how can you spell the word ‘cartilage’ two different ways in the same sentence??! Oh, and on that note, has no one told the person who built the very nice “Norfolk Appartments” in Maryborough – and has the whole bloody sign beautifully made and everything – that you only have one ‘p’ in apartments? May the dear lord help us… Oscar and Hugo can spell apartments correctly – I’ve checked!
Anyway, as G and I sat discussing our frustrations with the last couple of weeks over our obligatory sundowners, I did say that despite our reservations the boys seem as happy-as-Larry:

  • they love trotting around the marina – and knowing people and where everything is;
  • Wet-side water park is their home from home;
  • they both said how amazing the day going to Maryborough and Burrum Heads was – there were so many exciting things to see and do; and
  • yesterday’s highlight was the horrendous shark display ( which incidentally I failed to mention contained 3 frozen sharks and a lot of air freshener which G pointed out was clearly to cover up the reeking ‘rotting fish odour’).

So, you never can tell. What ‘fluffs our duvet’ clearly is not necessarily what makes the boys happy.

We are now on Fraser Island …. And that’s a whole different story which I’ll leave for another day. But we will have a family meeting this evening to give the boys a chance to remind us that what we think is a not very exciting and in fact quite tedious day is not necessarily the case when you are aged 8 and 9!