It may be the world’s biggest sand island but Fraser Island is also famous for its rainforest and when the Wandering Kiwi family visited this island off the coast of Queensland, Australia, we loved its diversity and uniqueness.
The traditional name of the island is K’gari, which means “paradise” in the local Butchulla aboriginal dialect and camping on Fraser Island allowed us to experience the beauty of the place. It’s now called the K’gari Great Sandy National Park.
How to organise Fraser Island tours
When planning Fraser Island tours there are a number of options open to travellers. You can stay at Fraser Island accommodation (the posh resort) on the west side of the island, you can book a guided tour, or you can organise your own independent Fraser Island tour by hiring a 4X4 and experiencing camping on Fraser Island.
Driving on Fraser island
When you arrive on the barge ferry to Fraser Island the first thing you are confronted with is Seventy-Five Mile Beach. This sandy highway runs from Hook Point to Great Sandy Cape and is as wide and flat as a runway…
Driving a 4X4 on Seventy-Five Mile Beach is loads of fun but be sensible, wear your seatbelt, and don’t go too fast.
Once you get off the beach and into the interior the trails are all sand. Driving on Fraser Island has its challenges but we have no experience with 4X4 driving and managed on the sandy tracks. Just take your time and enjoy the adventure.
There are five places where you can get fuel on Fraser Island, including Happy Valley on the eastern side of the island near Seventy-Five Mile beach. There is a general store for groceries and other supplies. Further south (near the ferry) is Eurong, where there is another store and a restaurant/bakery.
Things to do on Fraser Island
The extremely photogenic Maheno Shipwreck is now a tourist attraction on Seventy-Five Mile Beach. The rusting hulk was once an elegant passenger liner that came to grief during an unexpected cyclone in 1935.
The seas off Seventy-Five Mile Beach are far too dangerous for swimming but you can stop for a lovely paddle at Eli Creek. The cool, shallow water is very refreshing on a hot day and we loved floating down stream in the sun-dappled shade.
One of the most important things to do on Fraser Island is to visit Pile Valley, part of the Unesco World Heritage-listed subtropical rainforest. This is the only rainforest in the world that grows out of the sand, with towering 50-metre tall Satinay trees.
This significant rainforest is also protected as part of the Queen’s Commonwealth Canopy project because of its exceptional beauty and biodiversity.
The iconic Lake McKenzie is possibly the best known feature of the island and an important stop on all Fraser Island tours, although we had it to ourselves. This pristine freshwater lake is around 85 metres above sea level and the crystal-clear water and fine silica sand is stunning.
The Butchulla name for Lake McKenzie means “waters of wisdom” and it is considered sacred. It is one of more than 40 perched lakes on Fraser Island filled with rainwater so fresh and pure it was prized as drinking water by the traditional land owners.
Another gorgeous body of water is Lake Wabby, an emerald-green barrage lake, reached via a walk across the shifting sands of the Hammerstone Sandblow. A barrage lakes is formed by water flowing from a natural spring that is blocked by a sandmass. It’s the deepest lake on the island, being 12 metres in places.
Our final visit on our Fraser Island tour was the Champagne Pools – a natural jacuzzi formed in rock pools filled by crashing waves.
How to get there
To get to Fraser Island travel north from Brisbane on the Bruce Highway. There are barge ferries from River Heads in Hervey Bay and from Inskip Point at Rainbow Beach, taking about 45 minutes. We found the Rainbow Beach option better value and it all seemed well run. We stayed the night in Rainbow Beach and had fun running down the enormous sand cliffs.
Camping on Fraser Island
There are a number of options for Fraser Island camping, including some remote beach camping areas but we opted for one of the camping areas with dingo deterrent fences, which are recommended for families with children 14 years and under. The Central Station camping area had flat campsites, picnic tables and ablution blocks.
Are the dingoes safe?
Fraser Island dingoes are an important part of the island ecology, and are protected by law in Australia. Dingo-deterrent fencing, education strategies and enforcement penalties are utilised to protect people and enable the preservation of these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
Dingoes are wild animal and can be unpredictable and dangerous. They do not usually approach humans but if you have children with you it’s best to beware. There are signs on the island explaining how to behave around dingoes.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you been on a Fraser Island tour? How did you choose to experience the K’gari Great Sandy National Park?