I cannot believe it’s been a month since I saw this incredible sight below, on my eco adventure in Queensland. I was invited by the wonderful Tourism Queensland team, following on from the problogger conference on the Gold Coast. I initially thought to myself “I’m not a travel writer, what on earth am I going to write about?” I certainly didn’t want to write something that you guys would find out of context. Then as you do at 3 in the morning, one night, the clarity came: I was reminded of a few sound lessons while I was there. 5 in fact. Here they are.
pic courtesy of the talented Christina Butcher of Hair Romance fame who I was travelling with.
No 1. Less looking through lenses other than your eyes.
You might laugh at this funny picture of me and our wonderful chaperone Jenn from Tourism Queensland, but to be honest, we didn’t have our phones out too much for a bunch of bloggers.
With breath taking scenery like this, once I’d taken my couple of pics, that camera was put away and I spent delicious time in the moment. The Fraser coast is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been. It’s pristine. It’s nature at its best. It deserves to be paid attention to and attention was paid.
Are we taking pictures to simply tick a box and forgetting to be in the moment sometimes? Let’s not do that. I’ll never forget being at the Musée du Louvre in Paris one year and seeing everyone filming the Mona Lisa with handicams (How very 2001!) and just standing there, and then switching off the handicam after a couple of minutes and turning their backs to walk out of the room. Just ticking a box or feeling the moment? I wonder…
The amount of times I felt the burning need to say the word ‘beautiful’ over the 3 days actually started to make me laugh – as if I were a little short on vocab. Truth is though, no other word was needed for the most part. It truly was just so beautiful. Ha!
No 2 EAT LOCAL
When talking about moving towards healthier eating, you know what I say: Discovery NOT deprivation! Well, part of that discovery should be about finding native foods at your doorstep and supporting those locally grown foods by eating them. It’s mental that we import asparagus from mexico for autumn / winter, and USA cherries in August. Enjoy the seasons. Feel them. Discover the local treasures you could be celebrating.
To that end, we were treated to really exciting bush tucker tasting with the head chef of the very impressive Seabelle restaurant at the Kingfisher Bay Resort.
I adored the Bunya nuts – apparently amazing for making milk from. Don’t worry, I’m onto it as I’ve found a reliable source at BU Organics here in Sydney and you shall see on instagram later this week (@Alexx_Stuart)!
Bush tomato – Kind of a cross between tamarillo and caramel taste.
Aniseed myrtle, cinnamon myrtle & lemon myrtle, all relatives of each other and all fragrant plants used for their aromatics and medicinal properties.
Pepperberry – Strong spicy note, similar of course to black pepper but definitely more fragrant.
Native peppermint – An aromative Aussie herb beautiful for fish and poultry
Wattle seed – known as “coffee of the bush” and we could taste exactly why. Indigenous Aussies dry and roast them in a similar way, and then crush to make beverages.
Midyim Berries – Round soft little white spheres with big aroma and a little sweetness
Finger Limes – I adore finger limes when they’re in season. They’re like citrus caviar and well worth keeping an eye out for!
Red Quangong – “Desert peaches” these little guys are tart with a mild apricotty flavour and absolutely packed with vitamin C.
Of course, there were macadamias on taste too. Our senses were exploding by the end of the tasting and then it was onto three courses of beautiful food, drawing on all of the Australian spices for flavour inspiration. I was reminded just how incredible our local Australian offering is and am going to make a conscious effort to integrate Aussie bush foods in my cooking – especially spices as most spices travel 1000’s of miles from overseas to us, and many of them are irradiated on arrival. All the more reason to go local more often. Speaking of local, EMU.
For whatever reason, I’d never tasted Emu and let me tell you – it’s amazing! They do a rillettes pate with it that is honestly one of the most exciting things I’ve tasted in years. Brilliant job! Pictured below is the Aussie tasting plate with crocodile, kangaroo and emu. It was so far from ‘naff’ as these things often can be. This was sensational stuff and the 4 of us dining together ever so politely fought each other for last dibs.
pic courtesy of Christina Butcher
We all had a bit of dish envy here with Mr Romance’s pork belly and baby apples.
pic courtesy of Christina Butcher
No 3. Stillness doesn’t wait for you. You have to carve it out.
It was a hectic itinerary to say the least. Something I learnt in that 3 days, was that those little pockets of time, or that little moment where the coach driver says “Ok everyone, back here in half an hour”… those are the times that you carve out your peace. In my case, being an introvert, those are the times when you recalibrate and ‘fill up’ on some quiet and calm, to prepare for the next onslaught of awesome things to do. If I don’t take that time, I go a bit ‘kangaroo in the headlight eyes’ and talk far too much about silly things. Please tell me other introverts out there do the same?
I was even inspired to break out into a few yoga moves on the beach at sunset in between riding a segway (completely random yet awesome moment) and pre dinner drinks. It was so, so perfect and I was so proud to have thought to carve out a moment, in the busy-ness. The old me would have just been full steam ahead, go, go, go, but these days, I can feel if I’ve not carved out little moments like this. You know that way when you try to take a slow and satisfying deep breath but you feel you don’t get ‘down deep enough?’ Well, that’s not normal. Book your flights immediately and tell your partner that Alexx has prescribed the Fraser Coast! There are so many spots you will discover that literally make you stop dead in your tracks to just BE.
Pic taken by the lovely Jenn H from Tourism Queensland
5 minutes before the yoga moment… Me with Mr & Mrs Romance – my travel buddies, doing one of those things I’d never have chosen to do, and yet when doing it, had an absolute ball – Seize the day. My new travel motto!
No 4 Do stuff that scares you because the fear won’t ever go away!
So, ever since I can remember I’ve been scared of small planes. When I first became a territory manager in my cosmetics days and saw the plane I’d be travelling to New Caledonia on, I was terrified – Yep, even a 737 seemed far too small for me! Well, I got over that, but there were 2 Islands I didn’t visit in my pacific territory because I couldn’t handle the size of the planes. Since my early 20s I’m delighted to say I’ve grown and on this trip, the opportunity presented itself for a quick scenic tour of Fraser Coast from an 8 seater place. Just do it I heard myself say.
Next thing you know I was on a tiny 8 seater and that look on my face here was equal parts “WOAH, I’m a bit scared” mixed with “WOAH, I’m so brave and am pretty chuffed to be getting over this fear”. It was an amazing ride and finished so quickly. It was smooth, but loud, and the family that run the scenic flights were so, so lovely, full of beautiful stories to share about how their dad saw an opportunity there and moved the family. Now, Fraser Coast is one of only two places globally that you can take off and land on a beach, the other being in Scotland.
The incredible view of the coast from the scenic flight
No 5. Never forget to appreciate the extraordinary in the ordinary
The sunsets every day. Baby whales are born every year, around the same time and learn to do all their whale tricks with their mum as they swim for miles on end, huge trees have been steadily growing for hundreds of years. It’s all completely normal. It all happens without us making any of it happen. The thing that spins me out daily, is that while we’re running around so busy in our lives making stuff happen, nature is just letting her forces do their thing all over the place. The fact that we play no part in that makes it ever more extraordinary.
This incredible sunset happens all year round on Fraser Coast. 365 days. Same thing, over and over again. Extraordinarily beautiful and must be seen and smelt and felt to be believed.
Whales breeching around the middle to end of August is quite a common thing off Hervey Bay. There are many business built on taking people whale watching in the area. Not all of them are created equal, I must say and the one to book with was ours, Freedom Whale Watch. The captain was like the Steve Irwin of whales. So, so passionate about the migration patterns, their personalities, the relationship between mum and bub, respected their space and took us on a really beautiful educational trip. As you know, I’m a big fan of ‘nerding out’ and there was no danger of being short changed of that here.
Mummy whales teaching baby whales their tricks reliably happens again and again each year and what is so ordinary for them – just your average day in the life of a whale – is something that you see as a human and cannot believe your eyes at the extraordinary sight before you! Extraordinary to us. Ordinary to them.
This Satinee tree / or Turpentine tree is 3 metres in diameter. Unbelievable! They say each meter’s diameter is about 250 years of age, so what I’m hugging – always fancied myself as a tree hugger – is about 750 years old! An ordinary tree that’s been quietly growing, seems absolutely extraordinary when seen and in that moment.
A rainforest as lush as this one on Fraser Island? Grown entirely naturally and from sand. Extraordinary! It’s so much more than a bunch of leaves and water and sand and sounds.
Oh, and remember the repair jobby I did on my T Bar sandals before going away, to avoid throwing them out into landfill and getting another summer out of them?
They made it very successfully through an unexpected 3 kilometre rain forest hike AND I’m proud to say then on numerous occasions since – These are officially called the ‘TROOPER SANDAL’.
Pictured here, my make shift clamps on the shoes as the glue sets – Can you fix it? ‘Course you can!
And lastly for point no 5, although so normal and so many hundreds of thousands of people travelling every day up in the skies, I will never fail to see the extraordinary in being on a plane in the sky. Just amazing. The 737 seemed a monster after the little 8 seater!
So there you have it. My 3 day eco adventure of Fraser Island. Have you been? If you’re visiting Australia or Queensland soon, you absolutely would not regret it. There are so many beautiful experiences to be had.
If you’re a family with food sensitivities, just pack a few essentials to complement the lovely food there, with narrow gluten / dairy free options in some of the spots. (I know many of you would appreciate knowing in advance.) I packed a couple of avocados, herbal teas, chia puddings and a carton of Pure Harvest almond milk and found some local passionfruits that were incredible. That was breakky and snacks while I was there, just kept in the bar fridge. Simple and completely blissful!
Low tox travel. Highly recommend! If you fancy more details on Fraser Island, where to stay etc, my friends Mr & Mrs Romance have written a great post here which I couldn’t possibly improve on, so hop on over!
Here’s to seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary a whole lot more and here’s to taking the time for adventures that exist at your doorstep!
Reference of places I stayed, things I did through handy hyperlinks if you fancy…
I flew with Qantas
I stayed at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island – Romance OR families, either would work here for sure.
I stayed at Best Western Plus Quarter Decks Retreat, Hervey Bay – So spacious and modern, full kitchen, an LUG per villa and an outdoor dining setting and little garden, a pool area… Amazing for families, I would look no further than here.
Freedom Whale watch was awesome. Don’t book through anyone else. The concensus for people who’d been with other providers was that this team was by far the best – plus the captain used to be a chef so the food was absolutely lovely and gluten / grain / dairy free friendly without feeling like ‘that person’. I went completely undetected 😉
Scenic plane tours of Fraser Island – most exciting $75 I’ve ever spent for a 20 minute ride. Next time I’d charter a longer flight to see a bit more, seeing as I’m now no longer scared of small planes and all
Day trip tour through the centre of the Island – I used to be a bit snobby about tours, but fact is if you want to pick a local’s brains about a million things you see over the course of a beautiful day’s exploring, then tours are the way to do it. This one was excellent. I took lots of notes about trees for my wood working husband who is a huge fan of working with local recycled timbers. Just don’t forget to pack swimmers like I did because there are two magic swim spots throughout the day.