Whale Watching Fraser Island
Fraser Island lies off the coast of Hervey Bay, south of the Great Barrier Reef’s last coral cay, on the Queensland coast. It’s pretty big. In 1992, World Heritage listed it as the largest sand island in the world.
Fraser Island’s history is fascinating. The “Butchullas” are its indigenous people. No one knows how long the Butchullas lived on the island. Some evidence indicates around 5,500 years and some up to 20,000 years.
In the late eighteenth century, British Captain James Cook (not the pirate) first sighted the island. Eventually, the Europeans colonized the area. They did not, however, properly respect the natives who treated the island with the appropriate dignity and honor.
In the early nineteenth century, Captain James Fraser’s ship was wrecked near the island and the Butchullas captured him, his wife, and the others aboard. Captain Fraser ultimately died, but his wife escaped and acquired great attention. Such is how the island got its current name.
Fraser Island Today
There were a series of campaigns and court decisions regarding the island. In 2014, the Butchulla people were granted Native Title rights. And, in early 2017, the island’s national park was renamed K'gari. It’s what the Butchulla people always called the island and the decision was important to them. K'gari is a spirit princess. After she helped create the island, she fell in love with it, and then lied down for eternity.
The park’s welcome sign includes the three laws of the Butchulla people: “what is good for the country comes first; if you have plenty, you must share, and if it's not yours, you shall not take.”
Fraser Island’s World Heritage listing protects it and ranks it along with other precious Australian areas as natural and cultural. Everyone can come and enjoy its amazing freshwater streams, colorful sands, and stunning rainforest, particularly those who love adventure and exploration. And, especially those who love to watch whales.
Whale Watching in Fraser Island
Every year, thousands of humpback whales swim from Antarctica to Australia to give birth in Northern Queensland’s warm waters. Along the way, they pause to play, rest and feed their newborn calves in the Hervey Bay’s protected waters. Experts believe that the females are also preparing their calves for the 5,000 km journey back to Antarctica. The rest in the calm shallow waters also gives the calves time and shelter to grow strong and the mothers a chance to teach them how to survive. This has been happening for so long, Hervey Bay is now recognized as the Whale Watching Capital of the World.
It’s amazing - that’s putting it mildly really - to see the enormous, yet gentle creatures, so close up. The whales, which Australians call “friendlies,” often lift up their heads to watch those watching them and wave with their flippers, as if to say hello, and then roll, dive, and leap up and out of the ocean. You can see as many as forty at one time. ‘It’s a thrilling, spiritual experience that words really cannot justify.
Fraser Island offers a host of boat tours and packages, which can be taken at various times of the day. Some tours offer pick-up and drop-off services, some offer snacks and meals, and some offer screens for live viewing, for when the days are too cold to stand outside. The season runs roughly from Mid-July through the end of October. And, most actually guarantee that you’ll actually see whales like www.spiritofherveybay.com