Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Scenic Flight Over Fraser Island

About halfway through our bus tour of Fraser Island, we pulled up to two small planes on the beach and the tour guide asked if anyone was interested in taking a scenic flight. Apparently Fraser Island is one of only two places in the world where you can take off and land on the sand. Now, I swore I would never again ride in a small plane after our scenic flight over the Great Barrier Reef. It was extremely cool, probably the coolest thing I've ever done, but I hate flying and don't trust those little planes so I figured once was enough; don't want to tempt fate! Plus, said flights are not exactly cheap. So Peter and I had no intention of purchasing this add-on until we heard the price, which was too good to pass up. We quickly agreed to go before I had time to think too much about it and therefore probably back out!

A couple of families on our tour also decided to take the flight, so we had some company. This plane was actually somehow larger than the one we took over the Reef, which was a mild comfort. 
Here we are before taking off. The pilots of these scenic flights always look like they're about 12 years old, which doesn't exactly instill a lot of confidence in the passengers.
The last scenic flight we took required us to wear headphones, but for whatever reason, this one did not. Peter looks (appropriately) a little nervous in this picture.
Taking off on the beach! The runway was literally a strip of sand between orange construction cones. Super legit. Probably super safe.   
We headed out over the water first to look for marine life in the area. About 5 minutes into the flight, we spotted two whales in the water. The pilot took a sharp turn and descent to go back and find them and if I wasn't so excited about seeing whales I probably would have lost it. We got to see the whales jump out of the water from above which was amazing, as was being able to see them swimming under water.
Photography fail. This might be the worst picture to ever appear on the internet. I kept trying to get pictures of the whales as they were jumping, but I was apparently too slow and ended up with a bunch of pictures of the large splash their jump left behind. This was the only one I could find where you can barely make out the whale under the water (that slightly blue blob under the large white splash). Also, the windows on this plane were pretty scratched up. Maybe that's why it was cheap. 
Next we headed back toward the island to check out a few lakes and sand dunes. The ride had been really smooth until this point, where it started to get a little bumpy and I remembered why I swore off these things after the first time. 
The world's largest sand island from above!
The shipwreck and our tour bus on the beach. We did one more circle over the water to see if we could locate the whales again, but didn't see them. Then as we were descending to make our landing, I spotted two sharks in extremely shallow water right below us. The guide wasn't kidding about his warning to stay out of the water!
Landing on the sand was extremely smooth, thankfully. 
We survived our second scenic flight! I would say that this is the last one, but truth be told, we will probably do it again. Because we are insane.

11 comments:

  1. Wow!!! Great idea! I love pictures taken from above :) You made a good job. I'm pretty surprised that the runway was sand, I would be as sceptic about that flight as you were...

    http://www.travelekspert.com/2015/09/throwback-friday-from-siena-with-love.html

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    1. All I can say is I'm glad we landed safely :)

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  2. That plane is way too small! It's a safety feature that it can land on the sand, however.

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    Replies
    1. That's true. I was thinking we could manage a water landing until I saw the sharks!

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  3. It appears to have been a very interesting flight. Hopefully a water landing would not be
    required with sharks below. Nice pictures.

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    Replies
    1. It was really fun, but I'm glad we landed safely on the sand and not anywhere near those sharks!

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  4. You are braver than I am. Some friends of ours who are several years older than I am took a cruise/land tour to Alaska recently, and flew a small plane above the clouds and around Mt. Denali. They got some fantastic photos, but I am happy to stay on the ground and look at them!

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  5. Good point about the water landing, Carl! I always thought sharks were just about non-existent, but that doesn't seem to be the case in Australia.

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    1. I think most of the sharks around Australia congregate on the west coast as the water is warmer, but for some reason there is a huge population around Fraser Island.

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  6. Your two flights were in the same make and model of aeroplane, Gippsaero GA8, manufactured at Gippsland Airport in Victoria. Light aeroplanes are actually very safe with professional pilots. The 12 year old pilots are very well trained! I speak here as a pilot who has been flying light aircraft for 53 years with never a hint of a problem. Just relax and enjoy it.

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    Replies
    1. That is reassuring! Maybe we will continue our tradition of scenic flights...can't say I won't still be a bit nervous though!

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Welcome! I started Laura and Peter Down Under in July 2014 when my husband and I moved from the States to Melbourne, Australia for his job. I blog about expat life, our travels, food, and whatever else comes to mind. Follow along on our adventures Down Under!

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