In the week since we crossed the “treacherous” Wide Bay Bar, we’ve spent a few days anchored in Tin Can Bay (while I attended my Grandma’s 90th birthday shindig), and cruised through the Great Sandy Straits along the Fraser Coast. With mainly south-easterlies blowing, we were able to take full advantage of some great anchorages: Kauri Creek, Gary’s anchorage, and Ungowa.
The straits are chock-full of marine life. Everywhere you look, you see something cool. We were welcomed into Rainbow Bay by a monochrome-striped sea-snake, and in Tin Can Bay, the resident dolphins came by to say hello.
In a ten minute period at Fraser Island, we saw a golden cuttlefish idling in the shallows, a few turtles coming up for air, a small pod of dolphins cruising past, hundreds of soldier crabs eating sand, and a million baitfish skipping around, but the highlight was two gigantic sea-eagles swooping down to snatch the recently discarded crab pot bait metres away from us! A pair of these sea-eagles kept us company for the whole time we were anchored at Ungowa, perched in a tree on the white sandy cliffs overlooking the anchorage. It’s a pretty amazing sight to see these predators up close.
We went ashore to explore in each spot. At Gary’s, a little copse of mangroves served as a stingray nursery. There were dozens of pink-tinged juvenile stingrays semi-buried in the sand, only their bulging eyes giving them away. At Ungowa, the wreck of the Ceratodus sat rusting away on a little yabby bank in the mouth of a tidal creek, sprouting mangroves. We spotted the paw-prints of a dingo along the high water mark. We went for a bushwalk past the old Ungowa Ranger Station and a “shortcut” back along the beach turned into an epic wade through thigh-deep mud. (Andy had to put his shoes on his hands like floats to stop from sinking even further!)
We wet the lines a few times and caught a stack of different species – grinner, banded trumpeter, grassy sweetlip, blackall, pikey bream, tarwhine bream, butter bream, moses perch, small herring and “happy moments” (an ironic name, because their spines inflict serious pain). The ones we could keep went straight into the pan for dinner. We also hooked a fireworm. These nasty things have serious pain-inducing bristles also.
Tonight we are headed to Kingfisher Bay, and tomorrow the wind is expected to swing around to the north so we’ll probably head to the shelter of the Urangan marina.
Here’s a few pics of the curious inhabitants of the Great Sandy Straits: