Named K’Gari, translated as paradise, this World Heritage Listed island lies just off the coast of Hervey Bay and just south of the last of the Great Barrier Reef coral cays. Fraser is the worlds’ largest sand island and stretches for 123 km of gorgeousness that’s definitely worth exploring. One of the best ways is self drive and camping, but please note you will need permits and as always, please have minimal impact and take all of your rubbish with you when you depart.
If a 4WD adventure right by the ocean is what you’re after then the 75 Mile Highway on Fraser Island is calling your name. This rugged stretch of sand is home to some fabulous Fraser Island treats such as the Champagne Pools and various fresh-water swimming spots like Lake Boomanjin and Lake McKenzie. You’ll also be sharing the highway with a number of resident dingoes and the occasional plane - this highway also doubles as the island’s airport - so please take care and stick to the speed limit.
Another of Fraser Island’s most famous draw cards is the Pinnacles - a series of red, orange and yellow sandstone formations. A little like Lake Boomanjin, these natural towers have been stained by iron-rich minerals which have oxidised in the sand. If you can, try and see the Pinnacles at dusk or dawn when the soft light reveals a vibrant rainbow of colour. You’ll find the Pinnacles on 75 Mile Beach, about 18 km south of Indian Head.
Unfortunately swimming in the ocean is out of bounds along the entire East Coast of Fraser Island due to the the strong rips and undertows as well as the sharks and sea stingers found in the water. Luckily there are the Champagne Pools - the spot to come to if you’re longing for a salt water swim after staring at the ocean longingly along the 75 Mile Highway! Located between Waddy Point and Indian Head, this series of pools were named after the famous French wine because of the foam that covers the surface of the water. Soak in one of the volcanic pools as the waves crash onto the surrounding rocks.
You can’t come to Fraser Island without stopping for an insta-worthy photo at Maheno shipwreck. The boat was swept ashore during a cyclone in 1935, leaving the eight crew on board stranded on the island. They were eventually saved but their ship could not be refloated. Today, tourists flock to see this salt-ravaged skeleton on the shores of 75 mile beach, around 10 km north of the settlement of Happy Valley.
Pick up a torch and follow a ranger on a guided night time walk to see some of Fraser Island’s nocturnal wildlife. You can turn the spotlight on rare acid frogs, see sugar gliders jumping from tree to tree or hear other ground-dwelling animals making their way through the scrub. Make sure you book a place at Kingfisher Bay Resort ahead of time. This fully integrated ecotourism resort has been designed to give you a taste of nature based tourism with minimal impact on the environment. (Kingfisher Bay holds 9 Advanced Ecotourism Certifications for its tours and accommodation and they’ve also been credited as a Green Travel Leader by Ecotourism Australia.)
The jewel in Fraser Island’s crown, Lake McKenzie is renowned for it’s beautiful white sand and clear, topaz-flecked water. The sand acts a little like a filter, clarifying the water to the point where it’s so pure it can’t support much sea life. It’s also incredibly soft, making a walk along the shore a sensory delight.
Lake McKenzie is lined with picnic tables so be sure to bring your lunch with you. As the day warms up, take a plunge in the stunningly clear water but be warned, it can be a little chilly especially if you’ve come from the Tropical North! After a swim, consider walking 10 km to Kingfisher Resort. Splash out on dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants or grab a pizza at The Sand Bar Bistro. Head back to the lake in time to pitch up a tent at one of the designated camping areas on site. If you are camping, be sure to secure a permit prior to arriving at Fraser Island.
Please also make sure you visit Lake Wabby while you can. This emerald-green wonder is expected to be lost over the next century as the sand dune, directly adjacent to the lake, moves into and eventually swallows the lake. The best way to get there is trek across the Hammerstone Sandbow from 75 Mile Beach. Unlike the other lakes on Fraser Island which have high acidity levels, Wabby is reasonably low, allowing for thriving fish populations so don’t be alarmed if something brushes beside you while you’re swimming in this deep (12 metres in parts) lake.
If you’re still after some more fresh water swimming after visiting the serene Lake Mackenzie, head to Lake Boomanjin on the eastern side of the island. The water here has been stained red and brown by the tannins that have leched into the lake from the surrounding vegetation. Marvel at the variation of colour before jumping in for a refreshing dip.
If you’ve got some time to spare, consider parking up the car and walking a section of the Fraser Island Great Walk. This 90 kilometre track runs between Dilli Village and Happy Valley, winding through some of the island’s great sites like Lake McKenzie and Wanggoolba Creek. The entire track takes six days to complete but you can do overnight adventures along the way.
The track from Lake Wabby to Valley of the Giants is the pick of the overnight walks. Be sure to book your spot at a campsite before setting out. And make sure you phone or email the taxi service to pick you up from your choice of one of the various spots along the Great Walk, to ferry you back to your starting point. (+61 429 379 188 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you make it all the way to the northern tip of Fraser Island, be sure to check out Sandy Cape Lighthouse. This still functioning lighthouse has views to die for if you’re prepared for the punishing walk up the spiral staircase.
Be sure to check out some of the nearby walking trails or head straight to the beach to see Dingoes roaming across the sand.