Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It is located off the east coast of Queensland, Australia. The island is filled with beautiful natural sites, which have landed it on the World Heritage list.
Though the island is made up of sand, it supports abundant plant life as well as a few animal species. The island’s natural features include mangrove forests, lakes, sand dunes, eucalyptus woodlands and rainforests. The most popular animal inhabitant of Fraser Island is Australia’s wild dog, the dingo.
Fraser Island Highlights
Fraser Island has numerous lakes, creeks and rivers. Lake Mckenzie is a beautiful, crystal clear lake in the middle of the island. The lake is filled solely by rainwater and is lined with pure white silica sand. The sand and fresh water create a stunning lake that has been voted one of the top spots to swim in the world on many best of lists. And the sand makes a natural skin scrub, so it’s like a free trip to a natural day spa. The area has camping facilities with campfires, toilets and cold showers.
Lake Wabby is located on the east side of the island toward the center. It is bordered by a giant sand dune. The lake’s emerald water is filled with several varieties of fish. Lake Wabby is also the deepest lake on the island.
Eli Creek is quick moving and quite shallow. It is a popular spot to float down along the tens of millions of liters of water that pass through the creek each day. The creek is on the east coast of the island and flows out to the ocean.
Wanggoolba Creek is a crystal clear creek that flows through a rainforest valley. Its name means silent creek, which aptly describes the water that noiselessly flows along banks lined by ancient king ferns. The creek is located on the western side of the island.
Fraser Island is the only place in the world where rainforests grow in sand. Pile Valley is one of the best spots on the island to explore the subtropical rainforest. Central Station is also located in the rainforest. It is an old village that was used when the island was part of the logging industry. The station once had about 30 houses and a school.
The Seventy-Five Mile Beach is the highway that stretches along the east coast of the island. But it isn’t just any highway; the long (you guessed it, 75 miles) stretch is purely sand. The beach is used to traverse along the island and can get quite busy, but it is also sometimes impossible to drive if the tide is too high.
The Pinnacles are along the beach highway. The colored sand cliffs have more than 70 colors of sand. Most of the colors are reds and yellows. The S.S. Maheno shipwreck is also located along the beach. The ship was driven up on the east coast of the island in 1935 during a cyclone. Ironically, the S.S. Maheno was bound for a Japanese wrecking yard when it was taken ashore where it now lies and slowly rusts away.
Indian Head is a volcanic rock headland with spectacular views of the beach and Coral Sea. It’s a great spot to see large sea life such as sharks, turtles and whales if you’re lucky. The Champagne Pools are a stunning collection of swimming holes among rocks that line the edge of the island’s eastern beach. The pools are the only safe place on the island to swim in saltwater.
In addition to the natural sites, the dingo is another highlight of the island. Your chances of seeing a dingo while visiting Fraser Island are fairly likely, but there is no guarantee, of course. Dingoes are deceptively cute and look like man’s best friend, but they are still wild creatures, not domesticated house pets. It is important to remember that they are wild animals and should not be approached. And they should certainly never be fed.
The island has a sub-tropical climate and is generally pleasant all year long. But August through October might be the best time to enjoy Fraser Island. Highs average in the low to mid 70s and there are fewer rainy days than at other times of the year. Visit the island between July and November for whale watching, spotting Humpback whales as they migrate south.
You can travel to Fraser Island as part of a tour or on your own. There are a few resorts and camping sites on the island, so it is possible to stay on the island for multiple days. If you travel to the island without a guide, be sure you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle and are very competent at driving on sand. Permits are required for each vehicle. Be sure to book a ride on the ferry that crosses to the island. Otherwise, there are several tour operators that offer one or multiple day tours. Most tours leave from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. Tours are given in 4-wheel drive buses that can really handle to rugged terrain on Fraser Island.
My father and I opted to do a day tour with Fraser Explorer Tours, leaving from Rainbow Beach. The tour includes transportation to and from accommodation, a guided tour, morning tea, lunch and stops at popular destinations on Fraser Island. We visited Central Station, Wanggoolba Creek, Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek, S.S. Maheno and the Pinnacles. I was very impressed with the tour and thought we got to see a lot during the day. Our guide was fantastic, providing us with a wealth of information about the history of the island, its wildlife and its makeup without yammering on for the entire trip.
I highly recommend exploring the island with Fraser Explorer Tours. And if you have more time to visit the island, go for their two-day tour. In addition to visiting the spots for the day tour, you’ll also get to see Pile Valley, Indian Head, Lake Wabby and the Champagne Pools. Tours leave from both Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay.
Also, a note about the tours that I wish I had known about before visiting the island: there is an option to take a 15-minute flight that leaves from Seventy-Five Mile Beach and loops around the island, meeting back with the tour bus as the Pinnacles. The short flight costs about $80 per person and allows you to see the island from a bird’s eye point of view without missing out on any of the tour destinations. You have to pay the pilots directly with cash, so bring some money with you if you’d like to take flight.
Where would you like to explore when you visit Fraser Island?