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.
When Lonely Planet calls a place a “pure Utopia”, you have to think it’s something special. Australia’s famous island of sand 300km north of Brisbane, teeming with spectacular life (and, of course, the dingoes) is a place where you can rough it or stay in style. AT jumped in a 4WD for an outdoor adventure where every stop is one of the best campsites in Australia.
STAY HERE //
Spend your first night at the conveniently located Central Station. Set within a forest of towering gums, there are excellent camping facilities with piping hot showers available for a dollar. Locals consider it a “commercial” campground, but their commercial is my secluded – and if you’re after privacy there are a few sites tucked into little pockets of the forest.
Spend the second night listening to the crashing of waves by camping out on Eastern beach, or head north to Dundubara, an immaculately maintained camping area with challenging walks, a never-ending beach on your doorstep and some of the most helpful and friendly rangers in the world. Finding accommodation is your easiest task on the island, with beach space for up to 5000 campers. And if you’re not a keen camper, Kingfisher Bay Resort is a stylish and luxurious way to enjoy the island.
PLAY HERE //
Making your way through the interior of the island has to be up there with some of the prettier Australian drives – the greens shimmer like emeralds, palms and figs intertwine and four-wheel-driving is the go. A tip: carefully calculate each steering manoeuvres (easy does it), ease up on the speed and count the varying eucalypt species you pass. With its diverse ecology, status as the world’s largest sand island, lush rainforests and glassy lakes, it’s no wonder the atoll’s been awarded world heritage status.
Lake McKenzie is Fraser’s treasure. I call it the “Southern Spa”, and it’s perfect for lazing around exfoliating your skin with its rich mineral sand. Treat your hair to the purity of freshwater and catch a tan while you’re there – it’s fringed with a beach.
Most travellers hit the Eastern “highway” each morning to check out the sights, spot whales, swim in creeks or fish directly from the ocean. For me the thrill simply came from driving at 80km/h across beach sand, through estuaries and past fish eagles, soaring and swooping right beside the vehicle.
DON’T MISS //
LATE AFTERNOON DRINKS // These are best had on the jetty or neighbouring beach at Kingfisher Bay Resort. The upside: there’s a rustic little bar that serves cold beers and triple-cream Castello cheese. The downside: crowds flock here. Keep in mind there aren’t too many places on the island from where you can watch the sun set into the ocean.
WALK THE 5KM “SANDBLOW” CIRCUIT FROM DUNDUBARA CAMPSITE // You’ll trudge through forests and across dunes rising (allegedly) as high as 224m. This mass of sand is speckled with mirages, sea views, snake trails and dingo spoor.
THE GREATEST VANTAGE POINT // Well, of course, this is debatable. But the never-ending sights from Indian Head are outstanding. Travel towards the northern tip of the eastern highway and climb towards the peak, find a patch of lawn to settle on, and only then take in the beauty. Dunes behind you, dolphins riding waves before you, a desolate beach to the right and lush lawns to the left. It’s quite incredible.
AT’s Guide // Fraser Island
BOOK WITH // www.epa.qld.gov.au or call 13 13 04, as booking agents often have good advice. Camp ground bookings and park/vehicle permits can be arranged here as well.
4X4 HIRE // ACR Travel, specialist in Australian Campervan rentals, a highly efficient agency with a wide range, www.australiancampervans.com
CROSSING // From Brisbane, the easiest crossing is at Inskip Point, 300km north and only a 10min drive from Rainbow Beach. Manta Ray ferries are reasonably priced and have helpful staff providing driving tips, island conditions and local knowledge.
INFO ON FRASER // Eurong Info Centre, conveniently located but not always open. (07) 4127 9128your first night at the conveniently located Central Station. Set within a forest of towering gums, there are excellent camping facilities with piping hot showers available for a dollar. Locals consider it a “commercial” campground, but their commercial is my secluded – and if you’re after privacy there are a few sites tucked into little pockets of the forest.