Is This Australia’s Best Island?
Crystal clear inland lakes, lush rainforest and no paved roads.
With the Australian dollar going further south, it’s time to start looking Down Under for your upcoming holiday. If a touch of adventure, a dash of relaxation and a whole lot of awe-inspiring sights are high on your to-do list, then look no further than Fraser Island, north of Brisbane.
Fraser Island was named K’Gari – meaning paradise – by the traditional Butchulla people, and they weren’t far off. Stretching 120 kilometres north to south, and over 20 kilometres wide, Fraser is the world’s largest sand island, and a World Heritage Listed site. You need a 4WD to get there (there are plenty of tour options too), so it’s an adventurer’s paradise. Here are some of the reasons you need to put Fraser Island on your list.
While driving through the inland sand roads on Fraser Island, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you’re on the set of Jurassic World. The trees are of epic proportion, with kauri, hoop and cypress pine dwarfing both you and your 4WD. It’s the type of place where you could plant a broomstick and it would grow; plant upon plant grow on top of each other, giving the rainforest a million shades of green. The sand roads make for quiet driving, and often you’ll find you’re the only one around. You can literally hear trees fall, birds call and all types of weird and wonderful noises to keep you on your toes.
#2 Indian Head
Indian Head is the first – and only – major headland you get to after driving the length of 75 Mile Beach on the island’s east. With incredible 360 degree views, this is a pretty special part of the world. On a good day you’ll see whales and even a shark or two. On a damn good day it’s not uncommon to see turtles, schools of fish and dolphins too. Look towards the island and you’ll bear witness to dramatic, shifting sand blows, and you’ll get a great view of the beaches north and south, that act as a highway of sorts.
#3 The stars
So you think you’ve seen the Milky Way? Fraser Island’s view of our galaxy will give your previous star-gazing a run for its money. With barely any unnatural light on the island, the stars cover the sky like a sheet. Shooting stars are also frequent and visible, meaning you and your travel companions can spend the night pointing them out to each other.
#4 All of the whales
Can you ever get sick of spotting whales? Unlikely. If you were ever going to test this though, Fraser Island is the place to do it. Hervey Bay to the island’s west is a sanctuary for whales from July to November, and if you’re camping on one of the numerous beach sites you can wake to a cheeky whale or two putting on a display right in front of you. It’s not uncommon to spot two or three pods at the one time. Talk about spoilt for choice.
#5 Freshwater lakes
OK so the beaches are pretty spectacular, but don’t let that fool you: this is ‘Straya, so the turquoise waves hide sharks, stingers and ferocious rips that limit ocean swims. But not all is lost. Freshwater lakes are the new beaches, and there are over 100 of these dotted across the island. There’s the famed Lake McKenzie, which looks like an inland Whitsundays, the shifting Lake Wabby, and Lake Allom, where you’ll see cute turtle faces popping out of the water to say hi. While it’s not technically a lake, Eli Creek needs to be on your must-see list. Head to the end of the walkway and then float all the way back to where it meets the ocean, minding the mangroves and rainforest on the way.
Many Australians’ knowledge of dingoes would only extend to the Azaria Chamberlain case in the ’80s, but few people have probably seen one in the wild. While they’re considered to be a pest on the mainland, they’re a protected species on Fraser Island and the wild dogs here are said to be the purest strain of dingo Australia-wide. They can be dangerous, so stay alert, never interact with them (this includes feeding them), and just enjoy seeing an awesome animal in its natural environment.
(Lead image: Michael Dawes/Flickr)