An AT Reader reader shares their experience on Fraser Island. In winter!
Queensland’s Fraser Island is an ideal destination for the cool, rainy months of the year. During the day the island warms up considerably — I’d say you’re looking at an average temperature of 20C degrees during winter and, although the evenings are cooler, it’s never too icy.
As a traveller you’re constantly asking people for recommendations of where to go and what to see. Considering other travellers’ opinions is always handy but don’t ever take your mates’ advice as gospel — if you do, you’ll catch yourself saying, “Aah, it just wasn’t what we were expecting.” So, travel with an open mind, a keen eye and maintain low to zero expectations. That way you’ll never be disappointed.
When listing the places I’d like to see in Australia, Fraser Island has long been top of mind. And although rave reviews have never come my way, I wouldn’t allow this to influence my opinion on visiting the world renowned heritage-listed site.
I’d dragged my mother out from South Africa to come with me to Fraser — mum’s never been the most avid fan of travelling Australia and so the pressure to impress grew as we drew closer to the island. I started thinking: ‘Perhaps I should have taken the advice of others and shown her something more radically impressive, like the mystique of Tassie in winter or the snowfields and après ski ambience of Hotham.’
I started to regret not having flown across to Broome or doing the art galleries of Melbourne — these are all phenomenal, from what I hear. Fraser was seeming more and more risky. And then, through an opening in the road, I spotted a lone stretch of beach in the distance and my anxiousness settled. Fraser was set to stun and it sure did. My mother’s now a transformed Australian Traveller.
Absolute must-sees when arriving on the island are the glassy lakes; there are some 200 on Fraser Island, the most iconic being Lake McKenzie. Take time to drive towards the northern tip of Eastern Beach and climb Indian Heads. The views roll on, and if you’re particularly spoilt you’ll spot whales, sharks, dolphins or turtles swimming in the ocean below you. Sightings are common; just be patient.
A stone’s throw away are the popular Champagne Pools. Time your trip north so that you can spend time wallowing in these pools before the tide starts moving in. Trek over Hammerstone Sandblow towards Lake Wabby (the locals say there’s more sand on the world’s largest sand bar than there is in the Sahara Desert. Having been privileged enough to have seen both — I must say this seems hard to believe but the story sounds good, so let’s just run with it.)
The rainforests are magical and you’d regret going to Fraser and not walking from Wanggoolba Creek at Central Station — there are various walks in the area. Then the Fraser Island iconic pastime is to race up and down 75 Mile Beach at 80km/h. I found great pleasure cruising the beachfront in our Britz landcruiser — it handled the conditions excellently. I felt like a bull in a china shop zooming up and down the sandy stretch, dodging fishermen and sea eagles, crossing estuaries at speed and mowing through the soft sand. Pure excitement.
Whether you’re staying in a private cottage on the island, sleeping on the beach or setting up camp in one of the national parks, you won’t be disappointed. I’d highly recommend staying at Central Station. It’s tucked up inland among dense rainforest and is absolutely tranquil — the most impressive part for me was the fact that although it’s a large public camping area it appeared to be quiet, remote and private, as well as easy to find.
Book your accommodation through www.epa.qld.gov.au and order your vehicle permit with the Queensland parks board as well. If you’re looking for something more stylish you’ll be truly treated to the niceties of life at Kingfisher Bay Resort (www.kingfisherbay.com).
Looking for a 4WD to rent? I’d have no hesitation in booking for the second time through ACR Travel, specialising in Australian campervan rentals. They’re efficient and have a wide variety of vehicles to suit your needs, www.australiancampervans.com
So, if you’re searching for a great winter break I can guarantee Fraser will rise to the occasion and possibly present more than you were expecting — you’ve got to love that. And, if you’re a Sydneysider, you’ll be dying for sunlight after this wet week ahead. So get packing!