Category Archives: Fraser Island

— Fraser Island —

The 4WD course for girls with true grit

WRITTEN BY EDITOR • FEBRUARY 22, 2016

  • Celeste Mitchell lets the tyres down for a weekend off-roading on Fraser Island; it’s time for the girls to re-take the wheel.

    Joined in unison by my ‘co-pilot’ I repeat the mantra over and over again: “No clutch, no clutch”. Less Maverick and Goose, with our necks craned forward trying to see over the bonnet we’re more Blanche and Dorothy from The Golden Girls.

    We’re facing ‘the jump-up’, a menacing mound of earth masquerading as a small, sandy hill, which I need to drive up and over in one of the first challenges set during my first attempt at four-wheel driving.

    I check the gearbox once more to ensure I’m locked in low-range and hear instructor Dave’s words echo through my head: “If you feel like you’re not going to make it, just forget you’re in a manual. Hit the brakes and stall it. If you go for the clutch you’ll roll back straight into those trees.”

    Great. Why did I write ‘manual’ on my sign-up form?

    I’m here along with 10 others on a course called Girls Got Grit, but right now I’ve realised it’s more Nanna’s Got Grit in the Nissan Patrol.

    We’re being put through our paces by Australian Offroad Academy on a custom-built four-wheel-drive training track within Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island.

    A series of tight corners, bumpy ‘wombat hole’ tracks and challenging hills, the course is like cross-fit for 4WDs and built specifically for novice drivers to give you the motivation and confidence required to tackle Fraser’s sandy inland and ‘beach highway’ tracks.

    I hit the accelerator with enough force to at least look confident and we make the climb swiftly and smoothly, letting out nervous laughter as we bounce onto flat land at the top.

    “Ready?” I later check in with Mel, my damsel in distress, bogged in ‘Eunice’ the ute behind me. We have the snatch straps in place and everyone else is well clear after being skilled up on the importance of a safe tow-out recovery (not just because I’m behind the wheel, thankfully). “Let’s go!”

    Mel calls back over the walkie-talkie, and with one small protest from my undercarriage, Eunice comes rolling out of her burrow to the cheers of our group.

    Girls Got Grit is a new two-day package designed to take females out of the passenger seat and give them the keys to Fraser Island.

    Within a few hours we’ve become bona fide pros in PSI, low range vs high range, and the merits of max tracks (nifty little ramps to get you out of soft sand situations).

    “We found 90 per cent of bookings [to the island] are made by women but they always leave the driving up to their partners,” Dave tells us over morning tea, served out of the back of his dual cab on a custom-built shelf replete with organic coffee and gluten-free friands.

    We may be dubbed ‘the nannas’ by the rest of the group, but my friend and I soon find the groove – or should that be bounce – as we cruise down Kingfisher Hill on our way to Lake McKenzie. (Pack a sports bra, ladies.)

    The inland tracks have a speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour, but for the first couple of hours I’m lucky if I crack 15. While each corner reveals a new challenge, it’s soon followed by a fresh burst of confidence.

    Dave puts in a word to oncoming vehicles (tracks are one lane but two-way) who wait patiently for our convoy to pass.

    Being close to the back of the group, seeing mouths agape in the windows of our chivalrous oncomers after being passed by six female-filled 4WDs gives us a good laugh.

    After a cool down with a swim in the beautiful freshwater lake and a driver swap, we venture deeper into the centre of the island to Central Station for a refuel with tea and Jaffa cake.

    Here ancient cycads and towering kauri pines coat us in the dewiness only a rainforest can provide.

    The next day we burn up 75 Mile Beach – a gazetted highway with a speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour – with the road trip playlist cranked, stopping for photos at Eli Creek and the Maheno shipwreck.

    I almost have to pinch myself while cruising along with the wild Pacific Ocean lapping to my right and a pair of dingoes running in front of the dunes to my left. The sand under the wheels soon feels more natural than driving on bitumen back on the mainland.

    While the last 48 hours have seen the 11 of us graduate as 4WD pros, having Dave keep an eye on tide times, clue up the oncoming traffic and pile us with snacks – and sunset Champers once the driving for each day is done – has made for the ultimate self-drive apprenticeship.

    Any initial nerves have been obliterated and the laughs, high fives and walkie-talkie banter will stick with me for life.

    Driving home on the highway once the ferry docks on Sunday feels incredibly dull. Where’s a ‘jump-up’ when you need it?

    The details:

    Getting there: The Kingfisher Barge terminal at River Heads is a four-hour drive north of Brisbane. Virgin Australia flies direct from Sydney to Hervey Bay while QantasLink has daily flights from Brisbane. Coastal 4WD Hire rent vehicles from $195 per day with a minimum three-day hire. Vehicles can be delivered to Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast.

    Playing there: The Australian Offroad Academy’s Girls Got Grit package includes two days of driving on Fraser Island, instruction and guiding. You also get one night’s accommodation at Kingfisher Bay Resort, a night at Eurong Beach Resort and all meals for $635pp twin share or $857 single.

    Staying there: Kingfisher Bay Resort hotel rooms start from $188 per night, and there are also villas and beach houses that sleep up to 13 people.

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    — Fraser Island —

    Ultimate Family Escapes: Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • NOVEMBER 7, 2015

    ***Created in partnership with our sponsor Kingfisher Bay***

    Kingfisher Bay Resort on World Heritage-listed Fraser Island is the perfect place to get together with family or friends for a relaxing holiday.

    There is plenty of eco-fun for all ages.

    You can explore the wonders of Fraser Island in your own 4WD, or join our expert rangers on a 4WD adventure tour, bush walk or whale cruise.

    Go swimming, boating, fishing or simply relax and enjoy the island’s pristine lakes and sun-soaked beaches.

    Kids can have fun and learn about the environment with our Junior Eco Ranger programme, available on weekends and during school holidays.

    This hands-on programme allows kids to have fun exploring the natural environment while learning tips from our rangers about how to be eco-friendly.

    Details

    Phone: 1800 372 737
    Web: kingfisherbay.com
    Email: reservations@kingfisherbay.com

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    — Hervey Bay —

    Hervey Bay: whale watching wonderland

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JUNE 12, 2014

    Alissa Jenkins comes face to fin with the most majestic of creatures in Hervey Bay, humpback whales, on one of Queensland’s most majestic stretches of coastline.

    ‘People don’t come to see the whales,’ the saying goes around here, ‘whales come to see the people’.

    You learn this quickly enough on board any whale-watching cruise in Hervey Bay, the so-called whale watching capital of the world. Local marine researchers have discovered that whales are much more likely to coast over and say hello if you shout, jump and cause a commotion because, as naturally inquisitive creatures, the noise piques their interest. (Though, having personally acted out this behaviour, one suspects that they may simply enjoy watching us act like fools.)

    My tour boat doesn’t travel far before a small tangle of tail fins and blowholes appears in the distance, and instructions to begin hooting and waving are issued by our guide. We begin making the required racket and within minutes, three whales are less than 50 metres from the safety rail, lolling around on their sides and eyeballing us; investigating the uproar.

    “We’re being ‘mugged’,” says our guide. That’s boat-speak for having a whale approach a vessel, it turns out. She goes on to explain that boats are prohibited from moving when within 100 metres of a whale, “so it’s up to the animal how close it gets.”

    And they don’t get much closer than this, says Andrew Ellis, spokesperson from Pacific Whale Foundation (operators of the cruise I’m on today). In fact, says Ellis, Hervey Bay, situated on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, is the only place on earth where you’ll find humpback whales who consistently approach boats.

    “We have a few theories as to why this is, but I think it’s a combination of their natural curiosity towards all things in their environment, which is something most intelligent species have, and the sheltered water here, which allows for high visibility of vessels,” he says.

    The bay, part of Great Sandy Strait, is protected by neighbouring Fraser Island, and provides safe sanctuary for weary whales on their annual migration; particularly mothers, newborn calves and still-growing adolescents.
    “Birthing season and mating season coincide for humpbacks, so between late July and November we not only see many mothers trying to fatten up their calves, but a lot of  young males looking for a mate,” he says.

    With around 10,000 whales stopping off here for a holiday every year on their annual migration back to Antarctic waters, that’s a large concentration of humpbacks in what is quite a small space, he says. “It’s like a nightclub for whales.”

    But it’s not just humpbacks arriving in masses each year. Some 55,000 human visitors also flock to the area for their guaranteed glimpse of the action. As a result, whale watching is big business in Hervey Bay, with currently nine operators offering all sorts of whale-based experiences: from high-speed ‘adventures’ to champagne sunset sails and family-friendly cruises for the more leisurely watchers.

    Making these varied experiences more memorable is that the whales typically stay for three or four days before continuing south, giving watchers a chance to see them exhibit their personalities, rather than watching them speed by from afar.

    Among the 25-plus whales we see today are a few lone souls roaming Great Sandy Strait looking for a date. We also spot a mother and calf – but mum isn’t too keen to let the curious youngster close to the action for long, and they zoom off.

    Next, a gang of three adolescents show up, to show off their tricks. As they approach the vessel – fin-flapping, lobtailing and spyhopping (head up, tail down, like a reverse handstand) – passengers fumble with cameras, racing from one side of the deck to the other, while others pause to take in the sheer grandeur of these creatures.

    At 40 tonnes fully-grown (the rough equivalent of 25 Holden Commodores), they’re bigger than you can fully appreciate until they’re in front of you – but it’s even more profound knowing they’ve arrived on their own accord.

    “Most of these whales were born after widespread hunting was banned, so they don’t see humans as a source of fear, but one of genuine curiosity,” says Ellis. “They’re used to seeing boats and people waving here, and the younger generations are the most curious because they know no fear.”

    In other words, these whales are genuinely as eager to meet us, as we are to meet them.

    “When whale-watching first started here 20 years ago, we were lucky to get maybe six muggings a season. Nowadays, muggings happen every day of the season, and the population is increasing at approximately 11 per cent so whale watching experiences are just getting better and better.”

    As the whale population grows, so too do the number of recognisable pod members here – a testament to conservation efforts in recent years. Among the more well-known visitors is the infamous Migaloo, the only documented white humpback in the world, who makes headlines wherever he’s spotted. It’s been several years since Migaloo was last seen in Hervey Bay, but Ellis puts this down to Migaloo’s preference to stay out of the limelight, preferring to stay on the northern outskirts of Great Sandy Strait when visiting, where few whale-watching tours reach.

    Even if you don’t spot a celebrity whale, chances are you’ll hear about one – the locals have all kinds of whale tales. Peter Lynch, skipper of Blue Dolphin Tours, has a couple of stand-outs.
    “On a few occasions, we’ve had a mature male humpback sitting under the vessel and then start singing out to a nearby female,” he says.

    “And when he hits those deep notes, given they’re such large animals, it vibrates right through the boat and makes all the fittings shimmer.”

    However, his most treasured whale memory occurred three seasons ago, when a young female humpback took a particular interest in their small catamaran.

    “She stayed, swimming around us for over three hours,” he reminisces.

    “She’d touch the boat, bounce the hydrophone off her back and when a couple of our passengers were sitting on the back platform with their feet dangling in the water, she came up and tried to touch them. When she surfaced, she blew a great blast of water into our faces.

    “Of course we laughed and she got such a reaction, she did it again,” he adds.

    “That’s what’s so special about it, you get these interactions where we’re not feeding or touching or doing anything to the whales, they’re in fact trying to engage us.”

    And engage they do. The highlight comes at the end of our four-hour morning cruise as the teenaged trio draw closer and closer to the safety rail. Then, amidst the camera flashes and cheers, we all stop, and gasp. Just mere metres from the bowsprit, a young female erupts out of the water, executing a perfected spyhop that no Russian gymnast could rival.

    Her slick black sides glisten in the sun, and we watch her watching us. It’s a moment before she sinks back under the water, but a magical moment at that. And encouraged by
    our ooohs and ahhhhs, she performs a few encores, before calling it a day.

    A day of people-watching.

     

    Getting there: Hervey Bay

    By car, it’s a three-and-a-half hour drive north of Brisbane. Otherwise, Virgin Australia, QantasLink and Sunstate Airline regularly fly to Hervey Bay’s Fraser Coast Airport; from Brisbane and Sydney.

    Staying there

    For a comfortable and central stay, Peppers Pier Resort overlooks Urangan Beach pier and comes with plentiful facilities such as an onsite day spa, multiple lagoon pools and child minding services. Suites from $157 per night, two-night minimum, peppers.com.au/pier-resort

    Similarly, Grand Mercure Apartments Allegra Hervey Bay is situated at Shelly Beach with contemporary apartment-style accommodation. There’s also new Coast Restaurant & Bar downstairs, with a menu focused on local produce. Rooms from $185 per night, two-night minimum, allegra-herveybay.com.au

    Or for a more boutique experience, Villa Cavour Bed & Breakfast is beautiful, homely and close to the Esplanade. Hosts Mara and chef Rocco also run popular Italian cooking classes. Rooms from $150 per night, including breakfast for two, villacavour.com.au

    Need to know

    • Whale watching season generally runs from July to November in Hervey Bay. You can also expect to see dolphins, turtles and dugongs while you’re here.

    • Costs vary according to tour guides. High-energy, three-hour catamaran tours with That’s Awesome are priced from $110 per adult, or $330 for a family ticket. All-day adventures with Blue Dolphin Tours start from $120 per adult or $370 for two adults and two children. For more family-friendly experiences, Pacific Whale Foundation offers eco tours run by certified marine naturalists and researchers. Expect expert explanations on board, as well as a Junior Naturalist program for kids. Sightings are guaranteed or you go again free. Prices from $85 per adult and $230 for family rates.

     

     

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    — Fraser Island —

    100 Greatest Holidays of Australia: #33 play in the world’s biggest natural theme park, Qld

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • APRIL 1, 2014

    Score: 8.37

    Fraser Island isn’t just jaw-droppingly beautiful, with her many luminous lakes, sparklingly clean dunes and perfect forests – she’s filled with enough history, both modern and ancient, and an array of flora, fauna and natural wonders large enough to capture the imagination of every inquisitive mind. “A beach break here is a holiday where everyone gets to have a bit of fun,” muses Peter Everitt. “Mum can relax at Kingfisher Bay while Dad goes four-wheel-driving and the kids can enjoy the Junior Eco Rangers Kids Club! It’s gorgeous all year ’round and caters for every budget. What’s not to love?” Indeed. More info: fraserisland.net

     

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    — Fraser Island —

    9 things you can’t leave Fraser Island without doing

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JANUARY 16, 2014

    So you’ve made it all the way to the Australia’s great sandy island; tick these off your bucket list before you leave – we dare you.

    1. Take a tour

    You really will get a lot more out of Fraser if you get your bearings first. There are several tour operators available, or you can do what we did – hire yourself one of the personable drivers from Kingfisher Bay Resort for a day ($1100 for four people with lunch).

    2. Visit Lake McKenzie

    McKenzie is Fraser’s most popular spot for a reason – it’s beautiful! Though you can’t bring food down to the water’s edge (it attracts dingoes), it’s worth coming here with a book to lie on that powdery white sand for a while. Locals’ tip – the main beach is often busy with visitors, but a five-minute walk around to the next bay will take you to pretty Second Beach. Head left (if you’re facing the water’s edge) and look for the pathway.

    3. Swim in Champagne Pools

    These natural rock pools on 75 Mile Beach (just north of Indian Head) get their name from the foaming water as it swishes in and out. Swimming on the beach in this area isn’t recommended thanks to the strong currents, but you can hop into this natural jacuzzi for a cool-down with no worries.

    4. Visit Central Station Rainforest

    We reckon walking through this paradise – complete with one of the clearest freshwater creeks you’ll ever see – would be just like walking through the set of Avatar. Look out for the island’s famous Satinay Trees (they’re signposted), which are so salt-water resistant that they were used to rebuild the London Docks after World War II.

    5. See the Lake Wabby sand blow

    This pretty freshwater lake is slowly being swallowed up by the adjacent sand blow, and gets smaller every year. Swimming is not recommended as the lake is misleadingly shallow in parts, but the enormous sand dunes are well worth a visit (and a tumble down, if you’re feeling adventurous).

    6. Go fish

    75 Mile Beach offers some fantastic beach fishing – not to mention the opportunity to watch the odd pod of whales breach in front of you. Make sure you observe size and bag limits, and only take what you need home.

    7. Take a joy flight

    Air Fraser Island offers brilliant aerial tours of the island – well worth a look.

    8. Swim in Eli Creek

    Strong currents and the presence of sharks make 75 Mile Beach inadvisable for swimming, but Eli Creek flows from the bush onto 75 Mile Beach, making it a wonderful spot for a swim. Pack an Esky and join the many who come here to socialise as much as they come to swim.

    9. See the Maheno

    This shipwreck has been on 75 Mile Beach since 1935. Once a luxury cruise ship, it was on its way to its new owners in Japan when it was beached by a freak cyclone. The back end of the ship is missing, reportedly due to its role as a bombing practice target just before World War II.

     

    MORE: All you ever need to know about Fraser Island

     

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    — Fraser Island —

    Fraser Island: Australia’s natural theme park

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • DECEMBER 21, 2013

    Summer is here and on Fraser Island, it’s leisure as usual… Words by Georgia Rickard. Photography by George Fetting.

    In the 4WD hire store on Fraser Island sits a small placard. ‘If you’re a first time sand driver,’ it reads, ‘expect to get stuck at least once.’

    It’s good advice. ‘Conditions on Fraser can get very dry’, the sign continues. ‘You need to be prepared for this as you are four-wheel-driving on the world’s largest sand island.’

    It is sometimes said that there is more sand on Fraser Island than in the Sahara. That’s actually incorrect, but the sentiment is close enough: there’s certainly more than enough here to ensnare you and your 4WD in a mire of soft, despicably fine, white mush. Enough to ensnare the 4WD that tries to pull you out, too. … And the 4WD that tries to pull them out.

    ‘Simply saying you don’t want to get stuck does not change the driving conditions on Fraser Island’, the sign points out. ‘If you’re prepared for an adventure, you will enjoy yourself.’

    Despite the fact that there are three bogged cars in front of me, and we must wait until a fourth comes along to help pull us all out of the mess, the sign is right: I am enjoying myself. No surprises as to why this experience has been voted ‘best guided tour’ in 2013’s Australian Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards. Bumping and skidding around Fraser could be its own category of adventure sport. Two minutes later we are reversing gently up the sandy path before our driver and guide for the day, Kristy, puts the car in gear.

    “To make it through this section here, we’re going to need to drive it like we stole it,” she says. “Everybody hang on.”

    She floors it, and we skitter and slide over the talcum-powder-fine surface up the hill. The sand here is white, soft and really quite beautiful, but by the end of this trip I will understand why the locals (lovingly) refer to it as a nuisance.

    Still, that is not something to be concerned with for the moment. The sun is shining, the forest is standing tall and proud, and there is fun to be had on this island paradise. With more than 90 kilometres of walking tracks to be found, 1500 kilometres of road tracks (booby traps?) to explore and around 100 freshwater lakes to be swum in, Fraser is something of a natural theme park, attracting a mix of solitude-seeking nature lovers and adventure-loving four-wheel-drivers to play amidst her treasures.

    This morning we are on our way to Lake McKenzie, arguably Fraser’s most photographed of them all. A perched lake built on top of organic leaf matter, McKenzie is a phenomenon rarely found elsewhere on earth, but one of 40 found on this island. Such lakes are just one example of how Fraser often seems to operate on a different wavelength to the rest of the world.

    Despite being entirely sand – not the most nutrient-rich of soils – the island is home to an ecosystem of incredibly diverse proportions. Majestic dunes, turquoise lakes, crystal clear water and dazzlingly white sand: the local indigenous population named this island ‘K’gari’, meaning ‘paradise’, some 40,000 years before UNESCO defined it “a place of exceptional natural beauty”. (Indeed there are still several sacred middens and burial sites to be found here, although in the interests of preservation, their locations are kept secret from public.)

    Lake McKenzie aside, there are several memorable places to see: the crystal clear waters of Eli Creek (which flow from underground freshwater through a natural aquifer that fines sand out to sea – bring an inflatable tyre), the stunning sand dunes at Lake Wabby, the Bungle-Bungle-like stripes of The Pinnacles coloured sands, the solitude of Lake Birrabeen.

    Of course, even paradise has its challenges. Though Fraser’s iconic dingo population – thought to be the purest strain of the species on the east coast, and possibly in all of Australia– co-exists with the island’s two-legged visitors on a generally peaceful basis, the occasional clash still comes to pass. Tour guide Hayden Webber, who has been working on Fraser since 2007, reckons this is generally the fault of the latter.

    “A lot of visitors are not really that well educated on how to interact or not interact with them,” he says. Despite plenty of information available on the topic (which advises against going anywhere near them), “I don’t think it gets read that well”, he says. Plus, he adds, there’s an element of human nature. “People think – ‘it’s just me, it’s just this once, it’s ok if I feed it…’ they want to get close, they’re curious.”

    I ask him about a story I heard from another visitor, about a tourist who was caught lying on the ground with his arm around a dingo, trying to take a selfie. “You hear about those things all the time,” he says with resignation. “People trying to get too close to them, surrounding the animal… That sort of behaviour leads to dingoes becoming habituated with humans. All of a sudden you’ve got wild animals that are not afraid of humans when they should be.”

    I spot my first one later that day on 75 Mile Beach, standing on its hind legs and poking around the back of an open 4WD. The casualness with which he shambles around, just metres from the car’s oblivious owners, says it all.

    Still, through a combination of dingo fencing, fines for feeding and education, Queensland’s Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing has a long-term intention of promoting a truly wild dingo population, which eventually stops associating humans with food. “It’s a slow process,” says Webber.

    So too is the process of getting from one side of the island to the other. Despite a distance of just 18 kilometres, crossing from our base camp (the wonderfully laidback Kingfisher Bay Resort on the west side of the island) to Eurong Beach Resort (a village on the east) takes us an hour and 45 minutes – that’s a $90 cab fare, for those not interested in testing the limits of their 4WD skills (yes, the island does have a taxi or two). We bump and shuffle so emphatically over potholes that the pedometer I happen to be wearing thinks I’m running and, by the end of the day, will have reported that I’ve churned out a half marathon.

    After Lake McKenzie, we stop for a blissful pastry at Eurong’s bakery – the island’s only producer of such carbohydrate goodness – then tackle the epic beach drive up 75 Mile Beach; a wide, golden strip of sand that doubles as a gazetted highway, slash runway (joy flights are a daily service), slash fishing spot. Normal road rules apply here, along with a few extras: time your trips carefully with the tide; don’t drive through seawater; watch out for migrating birds that have landed to rest. Though driving requires extra concentration, the sights along the way provide great entertainment: massive sand blowouts over the dune vegetation, the many fishermen, the abandoned hull of luxury cruise ship SS Maheno; the occasional frolicking whale.

    It is a common phenomenon for island staff members to arrive with intentions to work for a season but end up staying for years. Park ranger positions are even more coveted, Webber says longingly, and nigh on impossible to nab. Then there are the 194 people who love Fraser so much that, despite no electricity, supermarket, bank, post office, doctor, hospital, newsagent, or school, they’ve permanently relocated to the island. (Houses are required to be equipped with solar panels and generators and pump water from an underground source, and shopping is done on the mainland at Hervey Bay, via the one-hour local barge ride.)

    But the best gig of all is reserved for those holidaying here. By the end of my first day here, I’ve spotted four dingoes, half a dozen whales and two copulating turtles (a picture of which, if you follow Australian Traveller on Facebook or Instagram, you might have seen). Before the end of the night, I will have tucked into gourmet pizza back at the resort, decided which treatment I’d like off the massage menu, and slipped into bed to a soundtrack of whispering leaves. Before the end of the trip
    I’ll be working out how to return here.

    Fraser Island was once a popular site for logging; a practice that occurred from 1863 to its eventual cessation in 1991. But its subsequent listing as a UNESCO world heritage icon in 1992 has seen it largely untouched since then, and thank God for that. There are many parts ofAustraliawhere you can escape from billboards, concrete, ringing phones and dress codes, but none other offers quite the combination you’ll find on this natural wonder.

    It would be hard to imagine a more ambrosial holiday spot.

    The details

    Getting there
    • Fraser Island is just off the coast from Australia’s whale watching capital, Hervey Bay. Virgin and Qantas both offer flights to Hervey Bay via Brisbane airport (or if you’re feeling adventurous, it’s a three-and-a-half hour drive from Brisbane).

    Access to Fraseris via a barge from River Heads (15 minutes south of Hervey Bay). You can choose either the Kingfisher Bay ferry, which drops you at Kingfisher Bay Resort (western side of the island; 50 minute trip), or the Fraser Venture, which drops you at Wanggoolba Creek (on the western side of the island, with  a 30 minute trip across the Great Sandy Strait and approx. 45-minute drive (4WD only) to the eastern side of the island where 75 Mile Beach and Eurong Beach Resort are located). Tickets start at $50 per adult return, $160 per 4WD return.

    Ferries also leave from Rainbow Beach’s Inskip Point (approximately two hours’ south of Hervey Bay) to Hook Point (southern end of the island; 10 minute trip). Tickets from $5 per person return, $110 for vehicle return.

    • Depending on flight times, you may need to stay overnight in Hervey Bay – we stayed at Peppers Pier Resort, which was spacious, modern and very comfortable. Rooms from $188 (peak season, minimum two-night stay). 07 4194 9700.

    You can hire 4WDs on the island with AussieTrax at Kingfisher Bay Resort. Prior experience is ideal but not necessary. You will receive a half-hour briefing before you can use the car. You’ll also be required to purchase a national park driving permit, valid for one month ($44). From $275 per day; 07 4124 4433.

    Staying there
    • Accommodation rarely strays from the bright and the basic (nor would you want it to) in the townships clustered around the island’s edges.

    Kingfisher Bay Resort, on the island’s sheltered west coast, is the most sophisticated, with a 4WD hire store, decent coffee and a beaut swimming pool set amongst gum trees and natural waterholes. Rooms from $248 (peak season); 1800 072 555.

    Eurong Beach Resort, a low-key beach village on the island’s east coast, serves as a jumping off point for 75 Mile Beach. It also offers general services including a newsagent and the aforementioned bakery, as well as a great pub. Rooms from $165 (peak season); 07 4120 1600.

    • Happy Valley, Dili Village, Orchid Beach and Cathedral Beach are smaller townships found at various points along 75 Mile Beach, which have holiday homes and camping accommodation.

    Eating there
    • Even if you’re staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort or Eurong Beach Resort (both of which have well-established restaurants), a good stock of groceries including snacks, bought beforehand at one of Hervey Bay’s grocery stores, won’t go astray. All rooms are self-catered and shops are few and far between, plus island prices are… well, island prices. If you’re camping at one of the many campsites, bring all the usual suspects.

    • Food at Kingfisher Bay Resort and Eurong Beach Resort isn’t quite Michelin-starred, but both options cater to sophisticated tastebuds with some surprisingly upmarket offerings. Our pick is Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Sand Bar Bistro, which does generous lashings of good, hearty food in a casual, family-friendly atmosphere, or Eurong Beach Resort’s main restaurant – skip the buffet and order à la carte to see what chef can do.

    Drinking there
    • No question about it, Eurong Beach Resort’s Beach Bar is hands down the most fantastic spot on the island for a drink. Forget any ideas about a fancy wine – order yourself a beer and wander outside to the pool table area, set under a typical Queenslander pub roof, for a chat with whoever else is around. Alternatively, pre-order a bucket of prawns and some beers at Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Jetty Hut, then sit on the pier and enjoy the setting sun.

    By the way…
    • That pedometer we mentioned? It’s called a FitBit Zip and it’s been doing the rounds of our office. Wear it and it’ll send you emails reporting on your daily habits, in a strangely motivating way. See fitbit.com for more.

    See here for more information on Fraser Island.

     

    Australian Traveller issue 54

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    — Fraser Island —

    77: Join the Junior Eco Rangers on Fraser Island (Qld)

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • DECEMBER 9, 2013

    The world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island is heaving with wildlife, making it the perfect place for kids to get up close and personal with some unique little critters under the watchful eye of the
    local experts.

    Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Junior Eco Rangers program immerses kids in this unique environment with activities like exploring and learning about mangrove colonies, canoeing, bushwalking, searching for bats, sugar gliders and frogs, singing songs around a campfire or gazing at the stars. Sessions run on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons and evenings during the school term, with daily programs during school holidays. There are kids-only and all-ages programs in the afternoons, and evening programs for ages five to 14.

     

    76 << Waterfall Beach, Denmark          A shack on Yorke Peninsula >> 78

    Back to 101 Unforgettable Coastal Experiences

     

    Australian Traveller issue 54

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    — Hervey Bay —

    Hervey Bay WHALE FESTIVAL set to make big splash

    WRITTEN BY EDITOR • JULY 31, 2013

    A whale of a festival kicks off this Friday in Queensland’s self-professed “home of the humpback”.

    The month-long Hervey Bay Whale Festival, starting on Friday (August 2), comprises a range of on- and off-water events, officially kicked off  by the ceremonial ‘Blessing of the Fleet’ (August 3), a maritime ritual aimed at giving safe passage to the boats, passengers and, of course, the whales that pass through the bay.

    The festival coincides with the peak of Hervey Bay’s whale season, the waters in and around the area hosting as many as 7, 000 humpback whales, in the course of their annual breeding migration.

    The program features an ‘illumination parade’, carnival rides, fireworks and musical events such as the Whale Aid Concert and the festival’s finale, the Migaloo Starlight Swing on August 31.

    For more information visit herveybaywhalefestival.com.au and for holiday deal ideas see queensland.com/whales

    — Hervey Bay —

    100 Things To Do Before You Die #038 Whale Watch In Hervey Bay, QLD

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MARCH 28, 2011

    Where is it? 290km north of Brisbane, QLD

    They’re big, you’re small. Humpback whales can be up to 15m long and weigh 45 tonnes, yet they leap out of the water like ballerinas. People go on whale-watching tours all over the world and rarely get as close to these enormous creatures as you can in Hervey Bay, where they arrive each year for calving season (July to November). There are seven major whale watching charters here, which all guarantee you’ll see at least one whale, but you’ll also often see their accompanying parade of bottlenose dolphins, turtles and dugongs.

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    — Fraser Island —

    Fraser Island Diary

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • FEBRUARY 25, 2011

    Don’t give up on summer just yet – it’s waiting for you on the Fraser Coast, writes Elisabeth Knowles Continue reading

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    — Fraser Island —

    Affordable Summer Holidays: Fraser Island

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • SEPTEMBER 20, 2010

    AT’s guide to the best cheap accommodation for summer and Christmas holidays

    Continue reading

    Gnomesville

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    — Hervey Bay —

    Ramada Resort

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • JULY 24, 2009

    The new Ramada Resort Hervey Bay brings the internationally renowned brand to Queensland’s Fraser Coast for the first time, right in the middle of whale watch season. Continue reading

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    — Hervey Bay —

    100 Best Towns In Australia #91 Hervey Bay, QLD

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MARCH 25, 2009

    Whales and humans have lots in common in this sunny town north of Brisbane. Both are friendly and calm and don’t appear to be hurried by life. Both love the water, although admittedly one can hold its breathe for way longer, and both love Hervey Bay. Unlike other towns they pass through, whales tend to spend up to two weeks at a time in Hervey Bay from July to November playing in the shallow waters.

    Close enough to feel as though you could step across to it, the World Heritage-Listed Fraser Island interrupts the deep blue horizon of ocean and sky just off Hervey Bay.The island is the world’s largest sand island is one of the only places where rainforests grow through the sand on the edge of flowing creeks and freshwater lakes. Back on Hervey Bay, there’s a local museum and historic village that shows what it was like in the region in the 19th Century before the town grew up to become a summer holiday favourite.

    Hervey Bay has a merry old-time feel about it and people greet each other cheerfully as they walk down the main drag next to stretches of beaches perfect for swimming, fishing, relaxing, or stepping off into the vast expanse further north of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

    Where? //
    320km (4hrs) north of Brisbane.

    Did you know? //
    Hervey Bay was originally part of the cattle station, Toogoom Run, in 1854. Boyle Martin was the first permanent resident of Hervey Bay when he settled there in 1863 and it later became popular with Scandinavian immigrants, who called it Aarlborg.

     

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    Return to: the 100 Best Towns in Australia

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    — Hervey Bay —

    Ask AT–Hervey Bay

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • SEPTEMBER 12, 2008

    Don’t wander willy-nilly around the countryside. If you’ve got a trip coming up, there’s no better way to prepare than by asking the experts Continue reading

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    — Fraser Island —

    078 Marvel at an utterly unique island

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MARCH 19, 2008

    Queensland’s Fraser Island has so many nowhere-else-in-the-world experiences and oddities going on there that we had no qualms in including it this year. Continue reading

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    — Fraser Island —

    Two Days on Fraser Island

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • JULY 18, 2007

    Australian Traveller shows how best to spend your time and money if you’ve only got two days in which to visit Queensland’s Fraser Island. Continue reading

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    — Fraser Island —

    Fraser Island In Winter

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • JULY 10, 2007

    An AT Reader reader shares their experience on Fraser Island. In winter! Continue reading

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    — Fraser Island —

    48 hours in Hervey Bay

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • MAY 15, 2007

    You’re in Hervey Bay with only a weekend at your disposal. What do you do? AT’s speed guide has all the answers. Words and image by Darren Stones

     

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    — Fraser Island —

    10 Things About Fraser Island

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • NOVEMBER 21, 2005

    Ten things you probably didn’t know about Fraser Island, QLD. Continue reading

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    — Fraser Island —

    Fraser Island Portfolio

    WRITTEN BY ADMIN • JULY 30, 2005

    Portfolio by Peter Meyer – www.livinggallery.com.au

    We all know what it’s like to live on an island; as Australians, we’ve made our home on the biggest in the world. But, much like missing the forest for the trees, it’s not a fact you’re aware of from day to day. Unless, like self-taught nature photographer Peter Meyer, you’ve settled somewhere like fabled Fraser, the world’s largest sand island. When you’re talking about a 123km stretch of heritage-listed paradise cluttered with dunes, rainforests, freshwater lakes and all manner of exotic fauna, you know you’re on an island. And if you also happen to be a wildlife ranger with a camera – well, it’s no surprise Meyer, one of Fraser’s leading landscape shooters, has called his business Living Gallery Photography. Every day is a wander through the gallery, every sunset an exhibition.

    Meyer’s passion for nature photography has seen him crawl across every inch of his island home. Since the day in 1997 that he was handed a battered and used SLR camera, he’s been intent on sharing with the world his unique take on this stunning ecotourism destination. Your entrance to the gallery starts right here.

     

     

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