Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. The locals know it as “K’Gari”, meaning paradise, and once you’re there you’ll totally see why!
With the most strikingly azure lakes, and lushest green rainforests, which actually emerge from sand, it is seriously picturesque. It’s one of the most scenic islands I’ve ever been to, and to me, it’s also one of the most beautiful places in Australia.
When I had the last-minute opportunity to visit Australia on a family holiday, I hesitated. Yes, I love my family, and I love the idea of a spontaneous trip with them, and I’d wanted to visit Australia for as long as I could remember. But really, at the core of it, I’m a planner. I’m used to independent travel and having to share ownership of the itinerary is something my ‘Type A’ personality isn’t great at. I like to have a clear view of what I want to see, where I want to eat and how to do it well!
I agreed and slowly the itinerary came together, but there was one piece of the jigsaw that just didn’t seem to fit in. How would we tackle Fraser Island?
I’d read that Fraser Island was a must-see destination, and I’d lusted after photos on Instagram of this little Aussie paradise sandy island. Lots of blog posts suggested this World Heritage area was something I just had to see but none of them truly explained how to! It’s not a “normal” tourist destination – you can’t just turn up there and wing it, and “normal” cars can’t be used on the island. Some of the best spots to see require quite lengthy walks – beware that you may come across snakes and dingoes on the way! There are no public transport options and the vast amount of land, you can’t easily see it all by foot!
It’s unusual, it’s got charm, and it’s got personality, not to mention the breathtakingly beautiful viewpoints. Like all good things, it’s worth the vast amount of effort it takes to get to! After a four-hour drive from Brisbane airport you get to Hervey Bay – the starting point for your Fraser Island adventure. Here’s where your options begin.
There are two main ways to make your way around the island (there are definitely no taxis or public transport options!). You can either hire a 4-Wheel-Drive (4WD) specialist car to drive yourself around the island, or you can book a tour.
We toyed with both ideas but ultimately decided that for us, the best way to experience K’Gari was a tour. This meant we didn’t need to look for places to eat safely away from the dingoes, there was no need to research the island history ahead of time, and we certainly didn’t have to worry about getting stuck in the sand. Even my dad, the only person I know who can change a car tyre, agreed it was the best way to visit Fraser Island!
We opted to take a tour with the option to stay on Fraser Island overnight, rather than do the day trip that the majority of tourists opt for. It was more expensive but it gave us the time we desired to really get to know the island. It was the best decision we made on the entire visit to Australia!
The majority of day trippers get to see the famous crystal-blue Lake McKenzie for 30minutes, they have a quick drive on the sand to see the Maheno shipwreck and a quick walk through some of the forest, and then they head back to the mainland before sunset. This means they get just a glimpse of this paradise island, and for me, that’s not enough.
The two-day tour meant we covered all of the above, with longer time to enjoy Lake McKenzie. In addition, we got to explore Pile Valley, learn the history about Central Station, swim in Eli Creek, spot dolphins and sharks from Indian Head viewpoint, bubble away in nature’s Jacuzzi ‘the champagne pools’, travel across the famous Seventy-Five Mile beach to explore the coloured sands of the red canyon, the Pinnacles and the wreck of the cruise ship Maheno.
Best of all, we got to relax in Lake Wabby – one of the most exquisite emerald coloured lakes set by a sand blow. Due to changing water levels, and climate change, it is suspected that Lake Wabby will only exist for another thirty years so I’d urge you to visit whilst you can. It is one of the most refreshing, beautiful places I’ve ever been to and I don’t want you to miss out! Walking through the bright white sand had left us tired and hot, I’ll never forget the happiness and magic when we finally saw Lake Wabby emerge in front of us. It was truly one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen and so intensely green and clear. Worth every step of the hike that took us there for the memories that I will never forget.
The tour was incredible – we were entertained by the most hilarious tour guide who also spoon-fed us his extensive knowledge, gained from over 15 years of providing tours on Fraser Island! We loved meeting the other tourists, making friends and sharing jokes. We had the time to really explore, unwind and fall in love with this beautiful island, and to me, this is the best way to see this incredible island.
If you’re backpacking or can’t afford to splurge for these few days then it’s still worth doing the day trip to visit Fraser Island, and there’s lots of useful information on the day trips here. But if you can, then this is the part of an Australia itinerary that I do think is worth paying extra for. The amount we saw in two days was sensational and waking up to see the sunrise on Fraser Island is worth every penny.
Best of all, unlike those we saw self-driving in 4WD’s, we didn’t get stuck in the mud!
Top Five Tips for Your Visit to Fraser Island
- Get the seats at the front of the tour bus if you can – you’ll get better views, feel the bumps less and of course, you get first dibs on music!
- Take anti-nausea meds if you suffer from motion sickness – the sand is very bumpy (though a large bus tolerates these better than smaller cars) and without my meds, I think I’d have felt terrible
- Take good footwear, there’s a good amount of walking and closed-toed shoes are essential
- Follow the guidance of your tour guide and ask them any questions you have – they really do have so much knowledge
- Whatever you do, don’t carry food outside of the designated areas, dingoes can be a real threat if hungry and they think you are food!
Have you ever visited Fraser Island? Did you fall in love with the lakes like I did? Which islands have surprised you?
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