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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Nature is just perfect on the Fraser Coast

Nature is just perfect on the Fraser Coast

Whales aren't the only wildlife smart enough to hang out around on
Queensland's Fraser Coast – there are many others that call this
year-round sanctuary home.

The Great Sandy Strait

This body of water between the mainland and World Heritage-listed
Fraser Island is home to one of the largest concentrations of bird
species in Australia. More than 300 species have been identified and
approximately 30,000 migratory trans-equatorial shorebirds use it as a
roosting area.

The Strait was declared a Ramsar site almost 10 years ago in
recognition of the importance of its wetlands area and is a dedicated
dugong sanctuary and home to many dolphins and turtles. All six marine
species of turtles are found here - the green, hawksbill, flatback,
Pacific Ridley, loggerhead and leatherback.

These are also the waters to which thousands of humpbacks and their
babies come each year for some time before their long swim back to the
Antarctic.

Explore the Sandy Straits by houseboat or yacht or enjoy a whale
watching tour during the season from July to November with one of the
many operators. (www.whalesherveybay.com.au)

Fraser Island

Birds are the most common form of wildlife seen on the island, many of
which are migratory species who use it as a resting place as they fly
from Australia to their breeding grounds in Siberia. Fraser Island's
Bird Week is held every year in May.
www.birdwatching.kingfisherbay.com.

In terms of mammals, the dingo is the most prevalent on the island and
these are regarded as the purest strain remaining in eastern
Australia. Bats, flying foxes, possums, sugar gliders, lizards, skinks
and turtles are also found in small numbers.

The local frogs are called 'acid frogs' as they have adapted to
tolerate the acidic conditions of the lakes and swamps.

Access to Fraser Island is by air, barge and passenger ferries.
Escorted tours depart daily from Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach. A four
wheel drive is essential and can be hired from Hervey Bay, Kingfisher
Bay Resort and Rainbow Beach. A selection of accommodation options are
also available ranging from resort-style to camping.

Hervey Bay

A short drive from the centre of Fraser's Coast commercial hub is
Arkarra Lagoons, a natural paradise with hectares of subtropical
rainforest lagoons and meandering walking trails. Goannas, echidnas,
wallabies, kangaroos, possums and over 140 species of birds all live
happily here and it is a favourite spot for families and nature
lovers.

The Botanic Gardens at Urangan are another popular bird-watching area.
Around 80 species have been identified in the area and the lagoons are
homes to many types of water birds.

Dolphins of Tin Can Bay

Locals in this little town to the south of Hervey Bay have enjoyed
regular visits from a small number of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins
for around 30 years.

Most mornings between 7am and 10am the dolphins swim into the boat
ramp and allow people to hand feed them. This wonderful experience is
free, but the fish you feed them must be purchased to ensure their
feeding is monitored.

For information on self-drive routes and tours in the Fraser Coast
area visit www.frasercoastholidays.info

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