So you’ve made it to Australia’s great sandy island; tick these things to do off your bucket list before you leave – we dare you.
There’s a reason that Fraser Island was World Heritage-listed. The world’s largest sand island is located off the coast of Hervey Bay and spans 166,000 hectares. It’s filled with so many natural wonders and historical artefacts like the Maheno Shipwreck.
This island is like none other. No wonder some of the people who come to visit or work end up living here. Despite having no electricity, supermarket or local stores (e.g. bank or doctors), they’ve managed to fall in love with this hunk of sand.
Escape the billboards, concrete, ringing phones and dress codes and come over to Fraser Island for a big slice of paradise.
1. Take a Tour
You really will get a lot more out of Fraser Island 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).
If you’d prefer to take your time, then you can just hire out a 4WD for a self-guided tour of the island. Be wary that you are driving on the world’s largest sand island, so locals tell you to expect to get stuck at least once. Fraser Island 4WD offers sweet packages, with either motel accommodation or camping gear included.
2. Visit Lake McKenzie
McKenzie is Fraser’s most popular spot for a reason – it’s breathtaking. The lake is ‘perched’ meaning that it only contains rainwater and does not flow to the ocean. 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. Try getting up early to watch the lake at sunrise, you won’t be disappointed.
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. Gather around to see the plethora of exotic flora and fauna, while reading the various information displays scattered around the area.
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).
The water at Lake Wabby is incredibly protected, due to the delicacy of the eco-system, park officials recommend you not jump into the lake if you’ve put on sunscreen or bug spray.
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 departing from Sunshine Coast Airport, Hervey Bay Airport and Fraser Island – they are well worth a look. And the prices won’t exactly break the bank, for only a 15-minute scenic flight it’ll cost you $80. But you can’t put a price on those views.
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.