It’s the biggest sand island in the world, yet it has a bountiful supply of fresh water and features stunning lakes, streams, rainforest and wildlife. Just off the coast of northern Queensland, the World Heritage Listed Fraser Island is about 123 kilometres long and only 15 k’s wide. A day trip there gives you the opportunity to do some 4WDriving, go for a swim, hike through the rainforest, learn about the Aboriginal history and even spot one of the more than 100 dingoes that live on the island.
We deliberated quite a bit before signing up for the Fraser Island tour because it’s a pretty expensive day out for the family. But several locals insisted it would be the highlight of a holiday to Noosa, so we coughed up the money, and I’m happy to say it’s worth it.
We get picked up from our Noosa accommodation bright and early by Fraser Island Adventures and two hours later, the 4WD tour bus is on the barge, gliding across the channel to drop us on the southern tip of the island.
The first part of the tour is spent basically sideways, as we drive at a sharp angle along the beach, tree roots trying to puncture our tyres on one side, and waves rolling in on the other. Along the way, we learn some interesting facts about the island; it’s home to the most pure strain of dingoes remaining in eastern Australia, it has about 350 species of bird, 42 freshwater lakes and more than 100 freshwater creeks.
The first highlight of the tour is getting to swim in one of these incredible lakes: Lake McKenzie. Standing on the banks of the lake, the colours in front of us seem almost incomprehensible in their beauty. The sand seems too white, the colour of the water between the shallows an almost impossible shade of iridescent blue.
The clarity of the water is like glass. Diving in is divine – there’s something so refreshing and pure about swimming in fresh water. Looking down, the colours seem like an illusion, with the dark bottom seeming to get further away the further you swim.
After an hour frolicking in the water and lying on the soft white sand, we’re back in the 4WD and off to our lunch spot. Driving along the sandy and very bumpy tracks, the forest scenery is quite spectacular, and we keep our eyes peeled in case we spot one of the island’s dingo inhabitants. As we drive, we learn more about the island’s Aboriginal history, which, as is all too common in Australia, is not a happy one. The Butchulla people lived in a large colony on Fraser island (K’gair in their language) for thousands of years before the white settlers decided it would be a good place to establish a logging industry. They proceeded to all but exterminate the local population, and to this day, many Aboriginal people will not return to the island.
When we arrive at the lunch stop at Wanggoolba Creek, we’re given a quick nature talk before we’re let loose in the rainforest. As I walk downhill on the dirt track, through the dense forest, I can see what at first appears to be a dry white sandcreek bed. It’s only after I get very close and detect some movement that I realise it’s actually flowing with the clearest water I’ve ever seen. I have to actually lean over to feel the coolness of the water before my brain will believe it’s real.
The rainforest is cool and pristine and full of life. We hear a huge lizard come noisily crashing down the hill to then emerge from the undergrowth (obviously not worried about predators). I stand still and close my eyes and just listen to the noises of the forest all around us before trying to capture it on camera.
After a filling lunch, it’s back in the 4WD and another bumpy ride on the dirt track through the forest before we emerge back on the beach. The tide has gone out enough this time for us to drive on the flat sand, and it’s a much smoother ride than on the way in. I’m just commenting to my partner that I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t get to see a dingo, when the bus begins to slow down and the tour guide announces there’s one ahead. We pull up beside a young male who’s a bit skittish, but still shows quite a bit of interest in us.
On the drive back to Noosa, our last stop is at Rainbow Beach, where we have a pleasant afternoon tea in the shadow of the huge limestone cliffs, stained red from the minerals in the earth.
About eight hours after we were picked up, we’re back at our accommodation in Noosa, very glad that we made the effort (and spent the money) on what was one of the highlights of our trip to Queensland (the locals were right). We just wish we’d had longer to immerse ourselves in the nature of this very special place.
Notes: While we went on a tour, it's also possibly to do self drive tours on Fraser Island. There are also a couple of resorts on the island that can put you up for the night.
And while you aren't likely to get bitten by a dingo, you might still want to consider taking out travel insurance. For this trip, we used Australian based insurer FastCover, and you can get a quote for a policy here: https://fastcover.com.au/ref?id=Wafaraway