Why Fraser Island is one of the most special places on earth
Does the world’s largest sand island, ancient rainforests and 75 miles of beach entice you? How about giant sand formations and over 100 freshwater lakes? It sounds like a Robinson Crusoe adventure, but it’s right here in Queensland – and it’s no wonder that Fraser Island is World Heritage-listed, AKA one of the most significantly special places on the planet.
Fraser Island is one of Queensland’s most iconic camping and eco-tourism destinations. Without roads, it’s the quintessential explore-all-corners island, serving up jaw-dropping landscapes, reefs, beaches and lakes. Need more evidence of just how special it is? It boasts being the only place in the world where rainforest grows on sand and its local dingoes are the world’s purest colony.
Itching to get here yet? We’ve put together our best recommendations for how to travel to, stay and meet some of the locals on Fraser Island.
To get to Fraser Island, you can drive or fly into Hervey Bay, then catch the barge or passenger ferry across to the island. Or, for 4WD enthusiasts, take the Great Beach Drive and travel to Inskip Point. From here, board the barge to Fraser Island. Don’t forget to grab a vehicle beach access permit before driving on Fraser.
Kingfisher Bay Resort is a boating, fishing and swimming haven, perched on the edge of the Great Sandy Strait with a view of undulating, jewel-toned ocean in front. The resort offers Bush Tucker Talk and Taste classes, where you’ll learn about the many bush foods that can be eaten and how to use them to make bush tucker.
With a Junior Eco Ranger program for kids and a stellar cocktail menu for the adults, every family member will be kept happy.
For the campers, Cathedrals on Fraser is the island’s only privately-owned campground, providing a magical under-the-stars experience where guests can enjoy the natural beauty, wildlife and serenity of Fraser Island, even in slumber.
TRAVEL IN STYLE
The opportunities for landscape adventures are boundless. Fraser stretches over 122 kilometres, so there’s a lot to cover. We have ways around it, on it and above it – just don’t miss it.
There are jet ski tours around the island for the water babies (and possible sightings of turtles, stingrays and dolphins beneath), four-wheel driving for the daring, catamarans for travelling in style, helicopter rides for some epic birds-eye shots and more.
The Champagne Rock Pools are a must-do to catch your breath after the day’s exploring, and will have you feeling like a pearl in your very own clam shell.
No summer island travel is complete without a little on-foot exploration to earn a refreshing dip afterwards.
Serious hikers can indulge their wildest fantasies with the 8 Day Great Walk, stopping along the Fraser Coast and passing iconic sites such as Lake McKenzie, Wanggoolba Creek, Lake Wabby and Central Station.
Changing scenery, the walk takes hikers through towering ancient rainforests growing in the sand, the vast dunes on the island, and some of the many crystalline lakes.
A VERY LUCKY DIP
When it’s time for a dip, Fraser has plenty of watering holes to marvel at, including those 100+ freshwater lakes.
Lake McKenzie is one of the most visited natural sites on Fraser Island, and its beauty (and the fact that it only contains rainwater and doesn’t flow to the ocean) means it’s a perfect spot to enjoy a moment of utter serenity.
Its base is made entirely of white silica sand, giving off a beautifully surreal and inviting glow, and making it powdery soft underfoot. When you’re there, it’s easy to see why Fraser Island is World Heritage-listed.
If you’re going to go tubing, make it somewhere with the most spectacular turquoise water. Eli Creek is a freshwater stream, pouring up to four million litres per hour into the ocean.
If you’re swum out for the day, bask in the sun and have a picnic at Eli Creek instead, then meander along the boardwalk that follows the creek inland, framed by banksia and pandanus.
MEET THE LOCALS
Forget the tall stories you’ve heard. Australian native wildlife is a sight to behold, and sometimes the only place where that species resides on the planet.
There’s so much wildlife on Fraser to admire: kangaroos, wallabies, emus, turtles and native birds galore – and a resident camel for good measure.
Fraser Island is also home to the world’s purest strain of dingoes: you’ll regularly spot them walking around, sleeping and foraging. But keep your distance if you see them. It’s their home and they are wild, after all. If you’d like to get up close to one, sign up for an interaction supervised by trained experts. It’ll be something you’ll never forget.
Visit Fraser Coast Wildlife Sanctuary on the mainland near Maryborough also allows you to get up close to some of Queensland’s most magnificent and rare creatures if you’d like a closer encounter.
Far enough away from city life and the ideal eco-traveller haven packed with colour, adventure and beauty, Fraser Island should be high at the top of any Australia travel list.
This post was originally published in April 2016 and updated in November 2019.