Fraser Island is the kind of travel destination that nature lovers dream about. As the largest sand island in the world, this relatively untouched paradise offers everything from near-endless white sandy beaches, stunning freshwater lakes, idyllic rock pools, the Maheno shipwreck, and iconic Aussie dingos.
Lying off the coast of Hervey Bay and north of Noosa, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island. It stretches for 123km and spans 166,000 hectares.
We recently took a day trip to this stunning island with The Discovery Group to celebrate Chippie’s birthday. Being a New Zealander, Chippie had never been to Fraser Island, while it has been years since I’ve been over, having visited as a child.
It was a wonderful whirlwind tour that included the highlights of driving along 75 Mile Beach and swimming in the picturesque Lake McKenzie. We are now keen to get back on the island and explore more of this natural wonderland.
SIGHTS NOT TO MISS ON FRASER ISLAND
Drive 75 Mile Beach
Who wouldn’t want to drive along a 75 mile long gazetted beach highway? Sounds awesome right?! Beautiful white sand as far as you can see, with great fishing as well.
SS Maheno Wreck
This rusty, majestic wreck can be found on the east coast of the island along 75 Mile Beach. The back story is that ‘Maheno’ is a Maori term for ‘island’ and the boat was originally bought to sail between Sydney and New Zealand. However, the ship was actually bound for a Japanese wrecking yard when she was washed ashore in 1935 during a cyclone.
Swim in Lake McKenzie
This huge, freshwater lake is made purely of rainwater and really is picture-perfect. The crystal clear water reflects the blue sky above, while the brilliant white silica sand (like that on Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays) will leave your skin feeling super smooth. The lake is also dotted with tea trees that make for postcard perfect photos.
Indian Head Lookout
Found at the northern end of 75 Mile Beach, Indian Head is the most eastern point on Fraser Island and offers spectacular views. The lookout got its name from Captain James Cook after he spotted 3 Aboriginals standing on the headland.
Float in the Champagne Pools
Close to Indian Head and along 75 Mile Beach, the Champagne Pools are an incredible set of natural swimming pools. They are like a natural jacuzzi formed by waves crashing into rock pools which formed by volcanic rocks.
Float down Eli Creek
Walk the boardwalk through the rainforest until you reach the end, then jump into the fresh, cool water and let it carry you along the gently winding path back down toward the ocean. Bring a tube or some other floaty device for this amazing experience.
Also known as the Coloured Sands, The Pinnacles are a natural phenomenon and are the result of years of erosion and Fraser Island’s natural elements. The cliffs look somewhat like a Cathedral and boast over 72 different colours, mostly tones of red, yellow, orange and brown.
Discover Sandy Cape Lighthouse
At the very northern tip of Fraser Island you’ll find the heritage-listed Sandy Cape Lighthouse. Built in 1870, it is the tallest lighthouse in Queensland and one of only two lighthouses of its kind in Australia.
VISITING FRASER – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Our tour was a real eye-opener, in terms of Fraser Island’s terrain. Do not mistake a trip on Fraser Island as a walk in the park – this is a sand island, with the roads and hazards to match. You WILL need a 4WD (preferably with higher clearance) and the appropriate knowledge of how to drive it.
Do not leave home without a RESCUE KIT. If you get bogged you will be expected to provide your own snatch strap to any other driver that offers assistance. (Our tour driver pulled out 2 bogged cars the day we were with him and 9 the day before. Be prepared!)
There are a few notoriously tricky spots on Fraser Island for the uninitiated – for example, you should avoid driving on the beach at high tide and especially making the journey to and from the Manta Ray Barge ferry. This is something many cavalier travellers have tried unsuccessfully and paid the hefty price of losing their vehicle to the incoming waves.
Speed limits of 80km per hour on the beach and 35km per hour on the inland tracks apply and are enforced by police on the island. But on many of the inland tracks only 15km per hour is possible. You will also need to get the appropriate vehicle access and camping permits before travelling to Fraser Island.
If you don’t have a 4WD or the inclination to deal with all of that, then a tour is probably is the best way to go. We would recommend taking at least a 2 or 3 day trip, as Fraser Island is huge and it is a long distance to travel. If you’re going to make the effort, you should spend as long as possible on the island to enjoy all of the diverse and beautiful natural sights.
Signs all over the island also remind you that dingos are wild animals, and while they may look like a dog, they are not pets. You should never feed or approach a dingo, and you are safest (particularly children) when you are in a group, so kids should be reminded to never stray too far from you while on Fraser Island.
*Information correct at the time of publication.