Fraser Island National Park
Stark sandblows, high dunes and coloured sand cliffs, sculpted over time by wind, water and waves … sparkling freshwater lakes … forests of towering rainforest giants … extensive woodlands … richly varied wildlife … wildflower-filled wallum heaths and swamps … fern-fringed creeks … beaches sweeping into the distant haze … this is Fraser Island.
Stretching 123km along Queensland's southern coast, Fraser is the world's largest sand island. More than 98 percent of its 165 280 hectares is part of the larger Great Sandy National Park. So special are its natural features that all of Fraser Island is World Heritage-listed.
The island is managed as the Fraser Island Recreation Area for nature-based recreation where the needs of protection and recreation are carefully balanced. The island bears scattered reminders of an ancient people and many more recent enterprises yet it is amazingly intact.
You'll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get around Fraser, which is less than an hour's ride by boat or barge from the mainland. Take time to to explore and you will be inspired by its incredible natural beauty and delighted by its variety.
Things to do
Fraser offers endless recreational opportunities. Go birdwatching, sketch wildflowers or visit the information centre at Central Station to learn more about the island’s past and present.
For those who are eager to experience Fraser as part of a larger group without the responsibility of hiring a 4WD, a day trip could well be the way. These tours generally take in Fraser's most breathtaking and popular attractions such as Central Station and sparkling Woongoolbuer Creek, Lake Wabby and its vast sandblow, Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek and the Maheno shipwreck.
Take a dip or grab a tan at the well visited Champagne Pools. These naturally formed volcanic rock recreational pools make this a popular salt water swimming destination. The Champagne pools are situated up near Indian Head. There are timber walking tracks and recently timber steps have been added to enable easier access.
If you're going to spend one or more nights on Fraser Island, you can't go wrong pitching a tent and enjoying the fantastic camping facilities available or simply finding your own secluded piece of Fraser Island paradise.
However, Fraser Island has everybody covered providing some of the best accommodation available anywhere. Regardless of where & how you decide to stay, you are assured of waking every morning in some of the most idyllic surroundings Australia has to offer.
To access Fraser Island, you can choose from vehicular barges, aircraft, passenger launches, commercial tours or private boats. The majority of visitors arrive by one of the barges.
Fraser Island's outstanding values were recognised as being universally important through the island's listing under the World Heritage Convention in December 1992. The World Heritage List, which includes the Pyramids of Egypt and the Grand Canyon of the United States, totals more than 360 sites worldwide. Australia is unusually rich in World Heritage listings; these include Kakadu and Uluru National Parks, the Tasmanian Wilderness, Fraser Island, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics of north Queensland.
While freshwater fishing on Fraser is prohibited, ocean fishing is a popular pastime so ensure you pack your beach rod. Anglers arrive by ferry with their 4WD and have over 150km of ocean beach on the eastern side of the island to fish.
Sandy Cape, Waddy point, Middle rocks and Indian head attract Tailor, bream, mackerel and shark. It is the beach fishing on the eastern, ocean side of the northern half of the Seventy Five Mile Beach that lures many anglers, particularly between July and October when the Tailor run.
It is worth the long trip to Wathumba, but all the coast between Rooney Point and Moon Point can yield whiting, bream and flathead, and there are plenty of yabby patches along the entire coast.
Numerous campgrounds and day visit areas, with toilets, showers, barbecues, drinking water and a small supply of cut firewood (one armful per camp per day). Walking tracks.
Serviced accommodation at Kingfisher Bay, Eurong. Happy Valley. Cabins and campsites at Dilli Village and Cathedral Beach.
Food, ice, gas and fuel from stores at Happy Valley, Eurong, Cathedral Beach and Kingfisher Bay. Fuel, gas and ice from Orchid Beach general store.
Fraser Island is remote. Medical facilities are not available. Take a well-stocked first-aid kit.
Tall green rainforests soar out of sand dunes on the World Heritage listed Fraser Island. Sand contains no significant nutrients yet the largest sand island in the world boasts these towering diverse rainforests. Over thousands of years, nutrients have gradually been stockpiled with plants harnessing tiny amounts of wind blown elements and capturing and recycling nutrients from decaying trees and shrubs. This tedious process has resulted in a stunning array of plant life.
Picnic by the beach, in the forest or at any of the day-use areas adjoining Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service campgrounds.
Washed ashore during a cyclone in 1935, the Maheno is today an impressive wreck just north of Happy Valley. Drive along the eastern beach for a good view. Danger: do not enter or climb on the wreck.
Fraser’s landscapes and moods provides a smorgasbord for photographers. Anybody planning to sell photographs taken on the island requires a commercial permit from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service’s Maryborough office.
Wildlife - Fauna
The diversity of bird and animal life on Fraser Island is as intriguing as the landscape. The most visible wildlife is in the form of Australia's most controversial dog, the intrepid Dingo. Dingoes roam freely on Fraser Island and often hang around campsites. The goanna is also never too far away and usually will boldly visit campers looking for handouts. Follow the link for more information on dingoes and other wildlife.
Many of Fraser Island's features and walking tracks are accessible by signposted tourist drives marked with coloured arrow route markers. Suitable for 4WD vehicles only.
For those eager to set their own travel agenda, a four wheel drive is the most practical way to discover the most popular sites of Fraser Island as well as the less-known hideaways in between. Vehicles can be hired from the mainland or even on the island.
Anyone considering doing Fraser by 4WD should remember the dangers involved in driving on the sand.
The sandscapes tend to be soft, shifting and unpredictable, with the exception of the hard sand on the beach. Remember, though, the further you drive from the waters edge, the softer the sand. Keep your speed down, avoid washouts from the creeks and streams, and travel on the hard-packed sand at the waters edge. The best time to drive on the beach is the 2 hours either side of low tide.
Near Central Station
>> Central Lakes Tourist Drive through Pile Valley to Lake McKenzie and Lake Wabby, 30km, 2 hours, red arrow route.
>> Southern Lakes Tourist Drive passing different lakes to ocean beach at Dilli Village, 30km, 2 hours, green arrow route.
Near Happy Valley
>> Lake Garawongera Tourist Drive to Poyungan Valley on ocean beach, 15km, 1 hour, yellow arrow route.
>> Northern Forests Tourist Drive, 36km, 2.5 hours, blue arrow route.
World Heritage Listing
Fraser Island is World heritage listed and almost the entire island is protected National Park. For camping, bush- walking and four wheel driving, the unique contrasts of Fraser Island are a must. Deserted sandy beaches, cool eucalypt forests, with crystal clear streams, and the beach and lake fishing are great. There are shipwrecks and ancient Aboriginal sites to explore or just draw a deep breath and take in the solitude. 200,000 people visit the island each year, but don't be surprised if you think it's deserted.
Many people choose to pitch a tent on the numerous camp sites on the island.
Happy Valley and Eurong Resorts cater for fishing guests and will also arrange for four wheel drive hire for those who wish to fly in.
Kingfisher Bay, an environmentally conscious resort, is carefully crafted into the forested contours of North White Cliffs on the island's untouched west coast. The resort offers a great beachfront location with every amenity, yet blends beautifully with its surroundings. There's a 38 suite resort hotel, formal restaurant, beachfront brasserie, bistro, bars, shop- ping village and recreational activities, plus 50 residential villas for rent. Access by sea from Urangan Boat Harbour (where you can also go whale watching in season), or by four wheel drive if you're already on the island.
Best time to visit
Fraser’s subtropical climate is best in spring, with warm, sunny days and cool nights. Summer is hot, with average coastal temperatures 22–28deg, frequent thunderstorms and biting March flies. Autumn and winter bring cool, usually dry, days and nights, with temperatures ranging from 14–21deg on the coast, and cooler inland.
Campgrounds are often crowded and beaches busy during school and public holidays. Some beaches are closed to fishing during tailor spawning season in September. Wildflowers bloom from July to September.
Australia’s wild dogs are naturally thin. Please don’t feed or try to play with dingoes. They may become threatening and have to be destroyed. Beachgoers can’t hear your four-wheel-drive over the roar of the surf. Slow down and save lives.
Separated from the mainland by a narrow channel, Fraser Island is the largest sand island on Earth and an ecological masterpiece. Vast tracts of sand dunes with deep midnight blue freshwater lakes trapped 700 feet (212 metres) above sea level are balanced with lush rainforest and surrounded by endless white beaches. Native wildlife abounds including dingoes, brumbies (wild horses) echidnas, wallabies, and 206 species of birds: Peregrin Falcons, Kingfishers and Jabirus just to mention a few.
How to get to Fraser Island
By Beach. For an unforgettable drive head north from Noosa to Double Island Point along Teewah Beach. Access via Noosa River ferry at Tewantin, then vehicular barge. Or take the highway from Noosa to Maryborough and Urangan Boat Harbour. Access by ferry from Hervey Bay. No domestic animals. Road access on Fraser Island is by four wheel drive only.
Lying parallel to Hervey Bay to the visible east is Fraser Island - the largest sand island in the world being 124 km long and covering an area of 163,000 hectares of sand, laced with fresh water streams and sustaining an astounding diversity of flora.
The island comprises an amazing variety of landscapes, long surf beaches, cliffs and gorges in shades of orange, red, yellow and pure white sand, dense rainforests, vast, desert-like sandblows, freshwater lakes perched high up in its dunes, winding streams, great basalt headlands and salt pans with eerie mangrove forests.
Scientists believe Fraser Island has developed over a period of approximately 800,000 years. It's sand comes from the tablelands of northern New South Wales, washed into the sea by the big rivers of that area, and strong sea currents carry it north.
Lakes & Creeks
One of the favourite attractions of the island is it's natural abundance of water. With around 40 lakes, as well as numerous lagoons and swamp areas.
Popular Eli Creek, just a few Km north of Happy Valley, pumps millions of litres of fresh water into the ocean every hour. Stroll along the boardwalks which rim the creeks edge, or take a dip in the crystal-clear water.
The beauty of Lake McKenzie will etch the memories of many travellers. Surrounded by rainforest, the glistening white sand is set off by the lakes intense blue fresh water.