Exploring Fantastic Fraser Island
Featured destinations: Australia, Fraser Island
Published 30 March 2016
Imagine an island made entirely of sand. There are no roads here, only beaches and bumpy dirt tracks it takes a four-wheel-drive to navigate. Sharks, rays, whales and dolphins fill the surrounding waters whilst strange sand-coloured dogs hang out on the dunes. You can swim in lakes where the water is crystal blue, rusty red or teeming with turtles. A rainforest flourishes in the middle of the island – one of Earth’s anomalies considering there is not one inch of soil here. This is the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island – mysterious, unique and magical, and this is Helen Scarr’s guide to its best bits.
Drive in the sand
Over 350,000 people visit Fraser Island each year and the only way to get around is by 4WD. You can hire a car and join a tag-along tour where you’ll get a chance to do some beach driving. Seventy-five Mile Beach on the east side of the island is the best place to practise your 4WD skills. It’s great fun, even if you get stuck in the sand occasionally. Driving on Fraser can be a challenge even for experienced motorists.
Visit the lakes and creeks
Lake McKenzie is one of the most popular sights on the island. It boasts clear blue water and a perfect white sand beach. Goannas (Australian monitor lizards) mooch around on the shore. Another impressive sight is Lake Wabby, accessed by a scenic 4km trail. Wabby is being encroached by a massive sandblow by a rate of about 3m a year, which plunges into the water at such a steep angle you can run down it and leap straight in.
Eli Creek is found just off Seventy Five Mile Beach. The fresh water is ice cold, clear and pure. Our tour guide informed us that a swim down the creek to the beach is the best hangover cure to be found on Fraser Island.
For a close encounter with Australia’s wildlife head to Lake Allom, otherwise known as Turtle Lake. You may have guessed that these waters are home to many turtles, which you can swim with. The lake also contains natural tea tree oil, giving bathers a fragrant skin treatment.
See a real shipwreck
The wreck of the Maheno was blown on to Fraser’s shores in 1935. It has since deteriorated due to sea and weather erosion but is still an interesting sight. The rusty shell of the ship is constantly pounded by crashing waves and provides a salty home for many crabs.
Spot a dingo
Fraser Island is home to the purest strain of dingoes in Australia. There are warnings all over the place not to go anywhere alone and to stay on alert as there have been cases of the dogs attacking people in the past. The dingoes tend to hide out amongst the sand dunes and sightings aren’t hard to come by. They are skinny, wild-looking animals – and just like the island itself, unique to Australia.
Swim in the Champagne Pools
This is the only place to safely swim in saltwater on the island since there is no threat from sea predators. The pools bubble and fizz like natural Jacuzzis at the right tides. There’s plenty of fun to be had rock climbing and exploring here.
Climb Indian Head
It’s worth making the hike up to Indian Head for breath-taking views of Fraser Island. If you’re lucky you can see whales, tiger sharks or dolphins in the surrounding ocean. I spotted a huge sea turtle and a manta ray during my visit. If you’re feeling brave you can climb right to the edge of the cliff, but be careful up there – it’s a long way down to the wild ocean below.