Australia // An awesome day trip to Fraser Island
Fraser Island has long been known as one of Australia’s biggest highlights. We’ve been in the country for six months so when we finally made it to Hervey Bay, the jump-off point for Fraser Island, we were SUPER excited!
Fraser Island is 120km long and 15km wide and also known as the largest sand island in the world. There are no sealed roads, and given it’s a sand island all the roads basically consist of loose sand. It’s like driving on the beach inside a rainforest, how cool is that?! Even with a small 4X4 (which we were initially considering) it would be very hard not to get stuck in some of the deeper trenches in the sand.
Luckily we didn’t have to worry about that – although it can be part of the fun – because as soon as we got off the ferry from Hervey Bay we saw a huge 4WD bus from Fraser Explorer Tours waiting for us. Steve, our guide for the day, guaranteed that it was going to be one heck of a bumpy ride so everyone had to buckle up.
Then, we started our journey through the dense rainforest on the narrow sandy roads and had to hold on tight as we were thrown from left to right and up and down. Steve wasn’t joking :)
Half an hour later we arrived at our first stop, the gorgeous Lake McKenzie. Crystal-clear freshwater, surrounded by some of the finest and whitest sand we’d ever seen! We immediately jumped out of our clothes and into the refreshing water. Because it so mineral-rich, our skin and hair was softer than a baby’s when we came out!
After everyone was freshened up we got back in the bus and rocked our way to the next stop, Central Station, located in the center of the island. Fraser Island’s timber used to be highly valued and at Central Station we could still see some of the remains that the loggers had left behind: a couple of saws, a shack here and there, a beat-up old tractor…
We did a short hike through the rainforest to discover a bit more about the astonishing vegetation and wildlife. Along the way we had a good look at some awesome strangler figs, giant ferns, beautiful palm trees, crystalline creeks and dozens of birds. Fraser Island is the only place on the planet where rainforest grows on sand, and truth be told, the result is spectacular!
By now time had come for the most exciting part of our trip to Fraser Island: driving on the beach! Fraser Island’s famous Seventy-Five Mile Beach is an actual highway (with road signs and everything). What a feeling it was to be driving on this beach, with the spectacular rainforest on our left and the marvelous South Pacific Ocean on our right!
About halfway up the “highway” we stopped at yet another amazing sight: the Maheno, a passenger ship that got shipwrecked on Fraser Island during a cyclone in 1935.
Only a few minutes north of the Maheno wreck, we had a quick look at the gorgeous multi-colored Pinnacles sandstone rock formation, before heading back south. We passed the Maheno wreck again and stopped a few miles further at Eli Creek.
A pathway along this beautiful waterway leads you upstream for a couple of hundred meters. From there you can float downstream again towards to sea. As the water is quite shallow most people just wander through the water to cool off a bit from the hot summer sun.
Our day trip to Fraser Island was coming to an end, but along the way we had run into a few friendly pilots from Air Fraser that were inviting us to join them on a 15-minute scenic flight over the island and we obviously couldn’t resist! Apparently Seventy-Five Mile Beach is not only a highway, it’s an airstrip too!
Shortly after take-off we saw the Maheno wreck just below us. As the plane turned towards the east we got a good look of the impressive Seventy-Five Mile Beach stretching towards the north of Fraser Island. Once we were flying over the center of the island we saw Butterfly Lake, a lake that can only be seen from the air as no roads or tracks are leading there. Wonderful!
Fraser Island also happens to be dingo country. Although there are warning signs all over the island we hadn’t spotted one yet. But, as we were descending we suddenly saw one strolling on Seventy-Five Mile Beach. It almost seemed he was waiting for us on the landing strip!
Still shaking from all the excitement during our plane ride we got back into the bus and hobbled our way back to the other side of the island, where the ferry back to Hervey Bay was awaiting us.
- Fraser Explorer Tours offers great value day tours. Price is AU$170 ($190 in peak season) per adult including an outstanding lunch buffet.
- Don’t forget to buckle up because it will get really bumpy! No kiddin’!
- Air Fraser scenic flights cost AU$50 per person for 15 minutes over the island.
- We would recommend not to go four-wheel driving unless you have a proper 4X4 with high clearance (not just a small SUV with an “offroad” mode :) )