A few years ago we took a very memorable trip with some friends to Fraser Island, off of the southern coast of Queensland. The island is over 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point. It is the largest sand island in the world with an area of 184 000 hectares. Just like Australia’s Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island is World Heritage listed. The spectacular island is a precious part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage, and it is protected for everyone to appreciate and enjoy.
Even though I’d heard and read all about it, I was still impressed by Fraser island’s exceptional beauty. It has the most amazing long white beaches right along side coloured sand cliffs, plus over 100 freshwater lakes. Some of the lakes are tea-coloured and others are crystal clear and blue, but all are edged by white sandy beaches. If that’s not enough, the island also has ancient rainforests growing in sand, and fast-flowing, crystal-clear creeks.
Fraser Island is unique, as it is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres, and it is home to one of the purest strains of the Australian wild dog, the Dingo. Also, the beaches double as roads that 4WD cars drive along, and navigating your way around the island includes taking the tide times into account for navigation.
We made our way to Fraser Island from Inskip Point near Rainbow Beach on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Once there, we drove on to a barge which delivered us onto a sandy beach on the mainland side of the island. Anyone with small children is advised to camp in fenced off camping areas due to the risk from the Dingos if camping along beach areas, (sadly children have been attacked). With this in mind we made our way around the southern tip of the island to the Dilli Village camp area. It is a lovely grassy camp area with tall Gum-trees for shade and good bathroom amenities. There are small general stores a short drive up the beach at Eurong and Happy Valley, but it is worth noting that all trips on the island will take longer than you expect. Driving on the sand there is an 80KM speed limit, but on the inland sand tracks you won’t be moving at anywhere near that speed. Also it is extremely important to get to know the tide times and habits of the island, or you may find yourself trapped on one area of the island for hours waiting for low tide to make your way back to camp.
At Eli Creek, beautiful crystal clear freshwater creeks make there way out the the sea, and among the tall trees there is a lovely board walk trail to wander along. Even though it was July when we visited, the days were warm enough for the children to go in the water, so they did even though we’d not packed their bathing suits because we were expecting winter weather!
On the Northern Forest scenic drive we had the most wonderful experiences of driving through breathtaking deep, dark rainforests and a short hike to Allom Lake where 20 or more fresh water tortoise came right to the waters edge hoping for a snack. As we were on the island in July there were not many other tourist around and so we had the sandy tracks and beaches almost to ourselves. Once along the drive we came to a section where we needed to do a water crossing over a creek which looked quite deep, even for our Navara which did not have a ‘snorkel’. We hesitated at the edge of the water unsure of whether or not to go ahead. Just as Simon considering walking across the creek to test the depth, another vehicle came from the other direction and went through without even hesitating. Considering we hadn’t seen another vehicle on the track for a couple of hours we had a good laugh about the perfect timing of the situation, and proceeded over the creek ourselves. Incidentally the water did come up to the windows of the car!
Another lake that is a must see is Lake McKenzie. I have heard that it can get very crowded there in summer, and the track is easily congested, so perhaps head out early if you can. Again though we were very lucky and almost had it all to ourselves. The picture perfect freshwater lake with it’s crystal clear blue water is everything as beautiful as the photographs of it look, and the sand around it was dazzling white in the winter sunshine.
We only spent three nights on the Fraser Island and we really wish we’d planned for longer as it would be easy to spend a week or two exploring there. As for the wildlife, we actually only saw one Dingo, ironically as we were on our way back to the barge, but I was still on alert with the children for the rest of our stay, and so should you be. Dingos are wild animals and should be treated with respect and cation. We did not see any crocodiles despite rumours that there had been sightings in some of the island’s creeks. We did not see any snakes (thank goodness!) but it was winter so we were not expecting to, however we did share our campsite with a very large lizard called a Goanna!