For the second day of my adventure on Fraser Island, I wanted to get away from the beaches and explore some of the inland tracks.
The day started similarly to the previous day, except when I rolled off the barge today I turned left (instead of right) and rode westwards along the beach.
The high tide was due an hour later today, but I had slept in for half an hour this morning, so I had similar challenges with shrinking beaches of soft wet sand. Unlike yesterday, I didn’t plan to spend much time on the shore.
Coolooloi Creek is on the edge of a swamp. In the cool morning it was alive with the chatter of myriads of birds all trying to out-sing one another.
I slowly pedaled inland, grinning manically as I looked up into the trees in an attempt to spot the birds.
Cabbage Tree palms sprouted from the sandy soil. Fraser Island is unusual in that even though the soil is sandy, it’s rich because of an amazing fungus called Mycorrhiza which releases nutrients into the soil that are able to be absorbed by plants. I noticed lots of odd-looking brown mushrooms poking out of the sand in different places and didn’t realize till afterwards what an important role they play.
After a few kilometres of day dreaming, I found the Jabiru walking track and followed the sandy path north into the scrub.
Wherever I looked in the sand I could see the paw prints of dingoes. Some of them were huge – almost as large as my hand.
Somewhere in the back of my head a sensible voice was warning “What if you get chased by a pack of these apex predators?”
Somewhere else, a very optimistic but less-sensible voice suggested that by pedalling a fat bike on soft sand I might outrun a pack of hungry dingoes.
Which voice do you think sounded more reasonable?
The voice of optimism won, and I rolled happily along the Jabiru track, hoping the dingoes would ignore the tasty cyclist.
Jabiru is a long thin swamp stretching northwards through the middle of the island.
The Jabiru Track follows the swamp northwards eventually coming out between the dunes near Dilli village, where I had ridden the day before.
Even though the path is soft and sandy in places, it’s a pleasant ride. For someone on a fat bike, it’s a better alternative than the inland track. If I return to Fraser and am unable to ride along the beach due to wind or tides, I’d definitely take the Jabiru track over the bumpier Inland track.
I had promised my family that today would be a shorter ride, so I reluctantly turned the bike around at about 10am, near the northern end of the swamp, to begin my trip home.
I’d spent about 90 minutes riding up this sandy trail, and expected to return to the barge around 11.30.
One or two parts of track were too steep and soft, which meant I had to push the bike for a few metres, but I was comfortably averaging about 9 or 10 km/h.
When I arrived at the beach the barge was over the other side, so just relaxed in the sand and watched the birds glide overhead.
It seemed to be a quiet day for the barge operator today. It was just me and one car on the return leg.
Less than an hour later I was rolling back down the beach towards the iconic Rainbow cliffs.
This smaller adventure had taken me just over 6 hours to ride almost 60km including breaks.
It was easier than the day before. I’d rate it 6.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Back at home, Liz and Lilly kindly gave in to my nagging, and decided to see what it was like riding on the beach.
Although they only had narrower 2″ tyres, they were still able to comfortably ride on the firm low-tide sand down to the Carlo Sandblow.
Oh the joys of staying in a beach shack!
As the sun set, we strolled down the beach into town for dinner.
The moon rise on the way home was an added bonus.
This is a special place, with so many wonderful spots to explore.
I hope we return soon!
Max elevation: 42 m
Min elevation: 6 m
Total climbing: 741 m
Total descent: -715 m
Average speed: 11.53 km/h
Total time: 06:13:50