A 10 day paddle along the North West side of Fraser Island from the 18 th to 28 th August, 2016.

Expedition members. George Reeman, Bob Whiting, Garth Petersen, Albert Jansen, Graham Garrett and Dave Pass.
All are members of the SSRKC but the expedition was not a designated club activity.


George (Reeman) suggested it.
A paddle to sandy cape, 95km each way, with the probability of meeting whales as we journey.
NOTE from George. The objective is to reach Sandy Cape at the north tip of Fraser Island. This is not a whale watching trip. (Good luck, muttered Albert).

Day 1. Urangan boat harbour to Woralie creek – 28km.

7.30 found six club members at the harbor boat ramp, kayaks loaded with 12 days food and camping gear, 4 days water. We were keen to launch on this perfect winters day. A clear sky and light s/w breeze to help us on our way. 12 km past Big Woody Island as the wind stiffened and we were soon off moon point on Fraser and then to smoko at coongal point area.
Excitement as we saw considerable ‘whale’ activity so far south! This turned out to be white water at the sth end of coongal shoal.
Around mid day we hauled our heavy boats up the beach (low tide) to camp at Woralie Ck. (A 6 man lift, 3 straps, made carrying the boats reasonably easy). Lunch/set up camp and a welcome swim in the fresh water creek beside camp.

Day 2. Woralie Ck to Wathumba – 21km.

Friday dawned clear and calm.
We were launched by 8.30 and paddling north toward Awinya Ck, our intended smoko spot. Whales in the distance, wind and tide in our favour, happy campers! From Awinya some went wide to use the wind and some stayed close to shore to enjoy the coastal detail. We met at the creek entrance for a hard paddle/wade through shallow out running water (lowish tide) up the creek to Wathumba camp site.
Bob tried the fishing in the creek and Graham offered to top up water bottles at the Nat.Parks water tank across the creek. Others lazed/walked the beach untill happy hour.

Day 3. Watumba to Rooney Point – 24km.

Daylight brought a surprise! A large ‘tinnie’ had been deposited beside the camp on the high night tide. The moon was on the wane so tomorrows tide would not lift it off. With another boat towing and ten bodies pushing he was soon on his way.
Another perfect day as we paddled out across Platypus Bay. This north section of the bay is where the whales tend to gather, so we were hopeful of meeting some, especially Albert who had not ‘paddled with the whales’ previously. We were not disappointed. We soon had whales around, under and beside us while a DRONE hovered over us! Probably from some whale watching craft beyond our horizon. George tried to keep us on track, but Bob and Albert were all over the bay and Garth was way behind having a ‘close encounter with a whales tail’.
It is quite obvious when out there in our comparatively frail craft, that these huge creatures have no intention of ‘bumping’ into us.
And so it continued all morning, whales constantly in view, sometimes very close and the occasional huge turtle or pod of dolphins for variation.
With such great conditions, we decided to continue around Rooney Point to find a camp site. As we rounded the point, the crystal clear water of platypus bay suddenly changed to ‘soup’; brown thick pulverized sea weed. Bob the fisherman eloquently identified this as ‘snot weed’. Not only dirty and smelly but it sticks to anything it touches, including bodies, boats and sails!
We continued around the point in the vain hope it would at least thin out a bit, but eventually made a careful landing to camp on a pleasant beach under a good cover of casuarinas.

Day 4/Day 5. Rooney Point to Sandy Cape Lighthouse – 14km. (2 night camp).

Sunday morning weather continued in perfect style, virtually no wind. Dingo tracks around the kayaks as we packed to launch through the ‘soup’. Although no wind at this time of day, this section of coast is outside the protection of the bay and a moderate wave made for a cautious launch. Garth saw most of us away with a “knuckle’ launch; skirts on and quickly through the surf to minimize getting covered in muck. Not Albert, he launched himself, leg over each side and paddling hard! We spent 10 minutes scraping gunk off him, his boat and sail!
We were soon in the small bay below the lighthouse and continued on toward the cape a short way looking for an official camp site, found only a ‘no camping’ sign and returned to below the lighthouse.
Safely through the small surf to the open area at the base of the track up to the light, we checked the many national parks signs and found no “ no camping” sign, and so began the procedure of carrying the boats up. As we did so a 4×4 pulled up near the boats and ‘NORM’ stepped out. He must have been a Norm as his generous belly, wrapped in a broncos tee shirt proceeded him, and his big hand had a firm grip on a can of XXXX which he was inhaling through the gap where a front tooth used to be! A most friendly bloke who soon produced 6 coldies from the fridge and insisted on taking our group photo on everyones camera!
Lunch and camp organized we were about to set off for the walk up to the light when Ranger Matt and his apprentice turned up. He was quite astounded that we had appeared from nowhere and made it quite clear that we could not camp here. ‘Pack up and move to the official camp site 8km further on at Sandy Cape’ was his greeting. He had no chance! A compromise was reached, we would stay tonight and move on tomorrow. We parted company on good terms, but this gave the group a dilemma. Some considered the lighthouse to be a satisfactory terminus and had planned a rest day for tomorrow while others felt that anything less than the actual cape (8km further) was a cop out. Discussion resulted in the solution that Albert, Graham and Dave would take the easy option of a 16km paddle, wind and tide assisted, back around Rooney Point to find a camping site somewhere near the point. George Bob and Garth would take the tough option, a 32km paddle in which tide (and wind as it turned out) would turn against them and they would beach and launch through the soup for a break. Added to their difficulty was that Rooney point can get a bit rough with wind over tide conditions.
Not an ideal camp site as the sand hills extended well around the point into platypus bay. The second weary group arrived around 1.30 having made good time in some difficult conditions, but in the bay it was calm with whales often passing close in to our camp. This was just too much for the novice whale paddler Albert, who could not raise any enthusiasm for a group to paddle out to the whales. Off he went, dragging Bob across the beach to launch and spend a special time with just him and whales around and under him. ‘What a buzz’ was his comment.

Day 6 / Day 7. Rooney Point to Awinya Creek – 30km. (2 day).

Our intention was to paddle to Wathumba but conditions were ideal for a paddle straight across Platypus Bay to Awinya; slight sea and a light north wind to help us on our way. Once again the whales were around as we paddled along the coast toward Withumba for smoko in the shadow of the high sand hills, then south across the bay. By midday, tide and wind had turned against us so the final hour or so was a hard slog on tired arms. Relieved to finally reach Awinya and preparing to carry the boats across the beach (low tide) a family, mum/dad and 2 adult sons, came and insisted on helping carry the boats up. No argument from us! They were quite fascinated that we oldfellas could paddle all the way from ”that point” so far away it was almost out of sight.
The forecast was for strong winds, nth/w to S/W, for the next few days, so we pegged the tents down well and were grateful that it was a planned rest day tomorrow .At least we had shelter among the casuarinas and clean soft grass under foot, not to mention the fresh water ck behind camp.

Day 8. Awinya c k to Coongal Point. 15km.

Thursday dawned grey and cold but after the rest day we were impatient to be on our way ‘home’. A very heavy surf was rolling onto the beach, wind S/W 20knots gusting 25knots. We chose to wait as the forecast indicated it might ease around mid day and the tide run would also ease about then. We decided to launch at 11am as the surf was now down to 4 rows of breakers with the occasional ‘big’ one rolling in from far out. Bob was the last to launch , having helped the others to ‘knuckle’ their way off the beach. With the occasional ‘big one’ determined to lodge in the armpit, we made our cautious way south. The wind continued to ease and we beached north of Coongal point around 1pm.

Day 9. Coongal Creek to Uranban Harbour – 20km.

Clear sky, light S/W and no surf greeted us on this our final day. We waited impatiently until 9am when the tide would turn in our favor. Although we had the tide, once around Moon Point we had a stiff S/W in our face and wind over tide conditions. Quite ‘lumpy’ as we crossed the main channel off the point but then a great paddle/sail back past Big Woody Island and into the harbour.
George led us through the entrance as he ‘logged off’ with the Coast Guard.
‘GOOD ONE GEORGE’ I heard Albert mutter as we entered the harbour.

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