Things to Do on Queensland’s Fraser Island
On a trip along Queensland’s Nature Coast, fellow travellers had repeatedly told me about one particular spot that I simply had to visit. They spoke of a mystical sandy isle, with windswept dunes, crystal-clear lakes and wondrous rock formations. So, when I reached nearby Hervey Bay and discovered it was only a short ferry ride to Fraser Island, I immediately signed up for a tour. The native Butchulla people call it ‘K’gari’, or paradise, and, after spending a couple of days here, I now know why…
Here are my highlights of a trip to the largest sand island on the planet:
I reached Fraser Island by ferry and promptly met my guide. Before I knew it, we were bouncing over dune-filled roads in a 4X4 – on course for Basin Lake. Just eight metres deep, this small but beautiful lagoon exudes a velvety green colour – a stark contrast again to the surrounding bright white sand. It captured my attention from the moment I clapped eyes on it.
Lake McKenzie – the highlight of my trip – was up next. Nothing could prepare me for catching my first glimpse of its sapphire blue waters, fringed by sugary white silica. There are over 100 freshwater lakes on the island, but I think this one’s the best – and I’m not the only one with that opinion. Sitting at the water’s edge, you could be forgiven for thinking you were sat on a beach in the Caribbean rather than at a lake. The gently lapping waves looked so enticing that I couldn’t help but dive in; it was a lovely reprieve from the warm Aussie sun.
Seventy-Five Mile Beach
As a sand island, Fraser’s highway is, you guessed it, also sand. In fact, it’s a 75-mile-long stretch of beach – waves rolling on one side, trees and dunes on the other, and cars in the middle. I was lucky enough to get a bird's-eye view of it all on a scenic flight. From above, I was able to take in the scale of the island and the verdant rainforest that blankets it, as well as uninterrupted views over Butterfly Lake, so called because it looks like butterfly wings from above. If that wasn’t enough, I even spotted a pod of dolphins in the water below.
Fraser’s Champagne Pools resemble an overflowing glass of bubbly – if you use your imagination. When I returned from my flight, I was able to take a good soak in the water here, which is collected amid a dramatic outcrop of rocks. It’s a great spot for watching tropical fish and soaking up the relaxing sounds of the ocean.
If you’re seeking out uninterrupted views, Indian Head – to the east of Fraser Island – is the place to go. From this rocky headland, the sea stretched out in front of us. We admired the vast expanse of blue, looking out for marine life as it passed by. We spotted the shadows of giant sea turtles and pods of dolphins and learnt that, if you visit between July and November, you’ll often see humpback whales too.
When taking a 4X4 tour along Seventy-Five Mile Beach, I highly recommend stopping off to see the shipwreck of the SS Maheno. This famous New Zealand ocean liner was used as a hospital during World War I, before being forced onto the shores of Fraser Island by a cyclone in 1935. It’s a fascinating sight, and one I was delighted to discover when we continued our journey along the highway.
Next stop: Eli Creek. Our guide navigated the 4X4 through some of the narrowest gaps in the trees to reach it, but it was more than worth it. This crystal clear, sand-lined stream stretches from the forest to the sea, with four million litres of freshwater following its course every hour. That said, it’s not a fierce creek – in fact, the flow is so gentle that the water rarely exceeds waist height. The perfect paddling spot!
Our tour drew to a close at the island’s deepest lake: Lake Wabby. Vibrant emerald-green in colour, Wabby is actually a creek that was dammed by a sand dune and, as such, is one of the best places on the island for sandboarding. If you’re lucky, you can sometimes see freshwater turtles and catfish swimming here.
After one last dip in the lake’s waters, my tour group reluctantly headed back to the ferry and returned to Hervey Bay. We were sad to go, but knew that the magic of Fraser Island would be forever engrained in our memories…
Images: Tourism Events Queensland
Discover Fraser Island on our Coastal Queensland & Fraser Island Journey, which also includes a stay at the 4-star Kingfisher Bay Resort and a guided tour of the island. Or why not check out our range of Queensland holidays for more inspiration?
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