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Discovering Fraser Island’s Natural Wonders

Published 28 November 2016

Angela Griffin

Angela Griffin

Beaches? Check. Sand dunes? Check. Freshwater lakes? Check. Impossibly pretty island filled with natural wonders? Check! Fraser Island ticks all the boxes, as Angela Griffin discovers.

While travelling up Queensland’s Nature Coast from Brisbane, I’d heard whispers from my fellow travellers of the mystical silica isle, with its mass of windswept dunes, brightly-hued lakes and wondrous rock formations. So, on arrival into nearby Hervey Bay, I was first in line to sign up for a tour of the world’s largest sand island.

Green lake surrounded by sand

© Angela Griffin

Basin Lake

After crossing to Fraser Island by ferry, I met my guide, hopped onboard our 4x4 and was soon bouncing uncontrollably over the undulating sand roads to Basin Lake. This small but perfectly formed lagoon of velvety green water is just eight metres deep and fringed with bright white sand. As first impressions go, it was a good one.

Lake McKenzie, Fraser Island

Lake McKenzie

Next stop (and hands down the highlight of my day) was the beautiful Lake McKenzie, a sapphire blue expanse of clear water surrounded by sugary white sand. Fraser Island’s dunes are dotted with over 100 freshwater lakes, but in my opinion, this one’s the best. From certain angles, it looked more like a Caribbean beach than a lake and, after posing for a few souvenir photos, the gently lapping waves called out to me and I dived right in. Although far cooler than I had anticipated, the water was wonderfully refreshing in the warm sun.

Very long beach seen from the air

© Angela Griffin

Butterfly Lake seen from above

© Angela Griffin

Seventy-Five Mile Beach

The following morning it was time to hit the highway, which in Fraser Island’s case is actually a 75-mile long stretch of beach. Cars whizzed up and down it as if it was a motorway, just one that happened to have waves crashing on one side. The beach also serves as a landing strip for light aircraft, and drivers must give way to incoming planes. As it happened, a scenic flight was just about to take off as we passed, so, on the spur of the moment I asked if I could go. Five minutes later I was in the sky. From the air, I had more appreciation of the scale of the island, and was treated to wonderful views over Butterfly Lake, which looks like butterfly wings from above, and endless carpets of rainforest. I even spotted a pod of dolphins frolicking in the waves.

Author standing by blue rock pool

© Angela Griffin

Champagne Pools

Back on solid ground I rejoined my group for a trip to the Champagne Pools, an outcrop of rocks that collect the seawater, forming pools that resemble overflowing glasses of champagne, if you use a bit of imagination. I had a good soak in the salt water, watched the tropical fish darting about and listened to the ocean.

Indian Head, Fraser Island

© Angela Griffin

Indian Head

The views from Indian Head, a raised rocky headland to the east of Fraser Island, were superb. The sea stretched out in front of us, many different shades of gorgeous blue, and we saw the shadows of giant sea turtles and sharks pass by. Between July and November, visitors can spot the odd humpback whale too.

Maheno Shipwreck, Fraser Island

Maheno Shipwreck

Continuing along Seventy-Five Mile Beach, we paused for a moment by the famous shipwreck of the SS Maheno, a New Zealand ocean liner that was used as a hospital during World War I. In 1935 it was forced ashore onto the beaches of Fraser Island by a cyclone and has remained there ever since, a haunting reminder of its former glory and a popular stop off for passing tourists.

Eli Creek, Fraser Island

Eli Creek

My guide turned inland, entering the rainforest and forcing our car through the narrowest gaps in the trees to reach Eli Creek, a crystal clear, sand-lined stream leading from the forest to the sea. Four million litres of freshwater follow the course of the creek every hour, but the flow is gentle and rarely exceeds waist height. It’s an excellent paddling spot, but I found the best way to navigate it was to float down, using only the current to propel me.

Lake Wabby, Fraser Island

Lake Wabby

Our final stop was a gentle walk through the cool rainforest to emerald-green Lake Wabby, the island’s deepest lake. It’s actually a creek that has been dammed by a massive sand dune blown in by the wind, and makes for an awesome sandboarding spot. Freshwater turtles and catfish can sometimes be seen swimming here.  After a final refreshing dip in its waters, I boarded the ferry back to Hervey Bay.

Leaving the relative peace of Fraser Island behind, I returned to the hotels and surfing beaches of the mainland to continue my journey north to Cairns. That trip was a while back now, but it’s Fraser Island that most sticks in my memory. The native Butchulla people call it K’gari, or paradise, and now I know why.

Visit Fraser Island with Round the World Experts’ Queensland’s Nature Coast Journey. You’ll stay two nights at the 4-star Kingfisher Bay Resort and we’ll also include a guided tour of the island.


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