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FRASER ISLAND – The world’s biggest sand island

Imagine a 75 mile long, wide open, white sandy beach that you can drive along in a 4WD vehicle!

Fraser Island is about 3 to 4 hours driving distance from Brisbane, but you also need to catch a Ferry to the Island, and have a Permit to go there – so it may take longer.

You can also fly to Hervey Bay, the closest mainland city to Fraser Island – catching direct flights from Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne, and then make your way to the island from there.
Trains also connect Brisbane to Harvey Bay (Maryborough) too – with the tilt train and Sunlander both travelling this way and on to Cairns in North Queensland. There are also bus services too.

Harvey Bay has a population of around 65,000 people, and is a popular holiday destination in its own right with great beach views, walkways and accommodation ranging from Backpacker hostels, to retreats, resorts, hotels, caravan parks, beach houses and more.

Whale watching starts in August and runs until November, and Harvey Bay is considered “the Whale watch capital of the world” – with tours out to see the whales throughout the season. The warm waters between Harvey Bay and Fraser Island are relatively calm, which makes it a great place for Hump Back whales to shelter for a while before their long journey southwards to the cold Antarctic waters. There is nothing more spectacular in nature than seeing a whale breech the surface of the water nearby you, or seeing a whale calf up close. (see www.whalewatch.com.au )

Fraser Island is a 30 minute boat ride across the waterway to Wanggoolba Creek, or if you are taking a 4WD (Four wheel drive) vehicle, you will travel on a special barge from Rainbow Beach to Hook Point or from River Heads on the mainland Wanggoolba Creek on the island. (See www.fraserislandferry.com.au and www.kingfisherbay.com )

Fraser Island is the ideal place to drive a 4WD vehicle, but it is also possible to take a 4WD tour of Fraser Island and be fully catered for too – with tours from Harvey Bay or from Kingfisher Resort on the western side of the island (see www.kingfisherbay.com )
The greatest attraction of the island is just the sheer natural beauty of it, with sparkling clear ocean water, wide open white sandy beaches that stretch for miles, a backdrop of sand hills, rainforest, wild flowers in spring, and over 100 freshwater lakes ( What are called Perched Lakes) with small creeks that flow into the ocean. Fraser Island has been recognized with a World Heritage listing, and the small amount of development on the island adds to the amenity, without impacting the peaceful tranquillity of the island that surrounds you.

The island is just 123 Kilometres long and varies in width from a few kilometres to around 20, with wetlands on the Great Sandy Strait (the western side) creating a haven for birds and fish life, while the eastern side has Seventy Five Mile Beach and Orchid Beach in the north, between Waddy Point and Sandy Cape. There is a lighthouse at Sandy Cape too.

You can stay at camping grounds – which also have cabins, or stay in one of the resorts – Kingfisher Bay Resort on the western side, or Eurong Beach Resort on the ocean side (see www.eurong.com.au) or even rent a beach house overlooking Orchid Beach in the north of the island. Small planes also land on the beach close to Eurong Resort too, making an interesting sight, and you can also organise joy flights from the resort too.

The Island is also home to wild goannas and also Dingos (Australia’s native dog) – and there are thought to be around 100 dingos living on the Island. In recent times a fence has been built around the Cathedrals camping Ground to stop the dingoes from entering the camping ground. Dingos are a wild dog, not domestic, and therefore it is best to stay away from them, and certainly not let them become scavengers by leaving food scraps around that they can take.

Also be aware that 4WD vehicles run up and down the beach, so if you are sun bathing, pick a safe spot and make sure you can be well seen, to make sure that you are not run over. While there is a speed limit, not everyone obeys it!

The Cathedrals Camping grounds are just metres from the beach and close to the coloured sands, with their multiple colours and the skeletal steel remains of the SS Maheno ship that ran aground in 1935. The SS Maheno was built in Scotland in 1908, and in 1935 it was under tow on its way to Japan to be scrapped, when it broke away from the tow rope in a storm, and was washed up on the beach. Salvage attempts were made, but then abandoned in 1936, and the ship has slowly rusted away ever since.

Eli Creek is also close by to the Cathedrals Camping ground too. Eli Creek is a fresh water creek, that flows fast into the ocean, so great to float down the creek on a boogie board. It sometimes flows backwards too with a surge of water from the ocean, which adds to the fun.

The beach is also an angler’s paradise, with beach fishing one of Fraser Island’s main attractions. Regulars to the island will tell you their “great fishing stories”, and many bring their own trailer boats to launch near Indian Head and Waddy Point at the northern end of the Seventy Five Mile Beach.

Waddy Point is close to the Champagne Pools – large rock pools that are filled with ocean water and the surge of the waves – a beautiful place to swim.

Down south, near Eurong Beach Resort, there are great sand dunes at Hammerstone Sandblow, and just inland is Lake Waddy, a fresh water lake where you can swim. This is just one of over 100 lakes on the island.

Up north, the Great Sandy National Park covers about one third of the island.
The whole island is for exploring, fishing, swimming, eating, drinking, relaxing, chatting with campers, and enjoying yourself – and staying on the island for a few days or a week or so, will pass by very fast.

Happy Travelling!

Geoff Stuart

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