Cooking Up Some Fraser Fun With That Lovable Larrikin, Al McLeod

JULY 2013: He's a talented Chef; he's a much-loved TV Presenter; he's a columnist for Brisbane News; he's a proud 'new Australian' and he's a real larrikin.  We invited the wonderful Alastair McLeod to blog about his time with us on the world's largest sand island... but to make things interesting, he brought his beautiful mother, radio presenter Candy Devine, brother, partner and our mate, Betto, along for the ride...

Size doesn't matter on Fraser Island
I was imaging what I wanted a stay to look like on Fraser Island it would look like Eurong Beach Resort. On a recent trip - my first - to Fraser, I found myself adjusted to the pace of island life the moment I got to Eurong. Checked in by a wonderful young lady from Dublin who told me her also Irish partner was one of the chefs, I knew we were in good hands. If the truth be known, with so much to see and explore on the island, you may not spend much time at the resort other than a pre-dinner tipple and breakfast and dinner if you choose not to self-cater. However, if you want to laze around the resort there is plenty to distract. There are two pools, great BBQ areas, tennis courts and a restaurant that does magnificently robust meals after a long day on the tracks – it must be that Irish chef!

What I found so very special was Eurong’s location. The clue is in the name as the resort is quite literally on the beach which transforms as the light and tides change throughout day and into evening.

One morning at dawn we went down to the water and drew out a volleyball court in the sand with our toes. We had an imaginary net on the imaginary highway that is the 75 Mile Beach and had the place to ourselves. You could look in either direction to the curvature of the earth and it was just us. After we huffed and puffed for a wee while, we did attract a bit of attention. With the sun still low in the sky a few curious dingos peeked out of the scrub and watched us toss our ball over our imagined net. It was fascinating to see these animals in their natural setting. Seemingly unimpressed with our ball skills, the mum and her pups skulked back into the scrub.

About twenty minutes north of Eurong is the famous Eli Creek that attracts many visitors. Follow the wooden walkway a short way and plunge up to your chest into the creek. After rainfall it becomes a fast-moving, crystal-clear waterway that carries you downstream from whence you came. It is a place of extraordinary pristine beauty the likes of which I have not seen anywhere on earth.  

Reeling them in... Al and the camera-shy Betto do their thing
Back at Eurong for a beer, we get a lesson into unloading the car of the kilos of sand it had taken on board from our travails. There’s quite a trick to it but with the guidance of the Island’s fishing guru, Andrew 'Betto' Betteridge, the car looked brand new. It should have done, the car in fact was only one day old and had spent more of its life on sand than it had on bitumen.

Now let me tell you about this fellow Andrew. He is a one of a kind and worth seeking out on your trip to Fraser. He has spent years working on his beloved island. He took us one morning to a few of his favourite fishing spots. As we headed up the beach, it was with fascination we watched him slow down, jump from his ute, dash to an innocuous spot of sand, dig for a moment and reveal a pipi. Try as I might I couldn’t see what he could see.

"He was like an aquatic Crocodile Dundee."

Andrew shares his sweet spot with the Irish crew
With our bait firmly lodged on our hooks we tossed our lines in gullies around the wreckage of The SS Maheno. Andrew could have cast his bait onto a sixpence which looked much easier to do than it was in reality. Yet, for all our efforts I was the only one to catch a fish. A teeny Fraser Coast Whiting that was promptly returned to the ocean. Later that night Andrew brought a few kilos of Moreton Bay Bugs and prawns while we drank and talked about the ones that got away.

I have never been on a 4WD/fishing style of holiday but I am an irrevocable convert. 75 Mile Beach is my kind of beach and Eurong my kind of resort: great facilities, warm friendly service, knowledgeable and passionate people who have extraordinary pride in the island they are custodians of. With a little luck of the Irish, people like Andrew and such profound natural beauty you will have an amazing island adventure in this gem of a place.

You'll find the lovely Al on Facebook or Twitter... and if you're at Eurong, pop into the XXXX Beach Bar and have a beer with Betto.