Having moved to Hervey Bay nearly 3 years ago one of my first stops was of course the world- famous Fraser Island. I have since returned many times with friends on their boats, but when my daughter came to visit for a few months I thought she might enjoy the tour bus. Fraser is regarded as the whale watching capital of the world, as the mothers and calf’s frolic in our waters from August to October. I will write another article on my whale experience as it is a different type of visit to the beautiful Fraser Island that we were about to experience.
Pick up is arranged from various points around Hervey Bay at 6.45 – 7.45am. After a short 10 min bus ride to the nearby River Heads you then board the barge/ferry to the island. The day tour costs around $190 for an adult and $119 for children 4-14yrs. This may sound expensive but I can assure you that it is excellent value for money. A delicious buffet lunch is included. Make a checklist that include the following items, because you will be in the hot sun throughout the day:
- Sun hat
- Sun cream
- Flip flops/Ozzies call them thongs
- Money for souvenirs and optional activities
The barge crossing to the island is approximately 20 mins long. Once you board the barge you have the option to sit up top in the sunshine or down below in the air conditioning. There is also little café selling hot and cold snacks, beers, etc. We sat up top and enjoyed the sunshine and ocean views.
Upon arrival, there were a few four-wheel drive tour buses waiting to take us on our tour around the island.
This is a sample of our itinerary:
- Lake McKenzie – Swim at this iconic lake or simply relax on its dazzling white shores
- Central Station – Great for exploring the rainforest with huge satinay, scribbly gum, brush box and kauri trees
- Wanggoolba Creek – Flows gently and silently through the lush rainforest
- 75 Mile Beach – Cruise along the sand highway to visit iconic destinations
- The Pinnacles – Marvel at the ancient and beautiful coloured sands
- The Maheno Shipwreck – Check out Fraser Island’s historic shipwreck
- Eli Creek – Swim in this clear creek as it flows lazily through the dunes out to sea
Just to prewarn you that the drive throughout the day can be a bit bumpy as your driving through sand dunes. It is fascinating though to view the beautiful rainforest that surrounds you. You may however nod off, so be warned that your travel companion may take photos of you whilst your asleep, (my daughter still sends me that awful pic of me sleeping on the bus!) The driver was very knowledgeable and chatted endlessly about the history of the island, but be sure to let him know if you can’t hear him at the back of the bus and he will turn the volume up.
Lake McKenzie was one of my favourite spots. The freshwater lake is one of forty perched dune lakes on the Island. It covers over 150 hectares and is around five metres deep. Everyone piled off the tour bus and hopped in to the clear water to cool down. It is paradise! We had around 45 mins to relax and enjoy our swim before we had to board the bus again. There are toilets at this spot too if you want to change out of your wet swimwear. You will need them again though when we stop at Eli Creek, so the driver is happy for you to sit on your towel if you choose not to change.
As we headed along the 75 Mile Beach we stopped at Eli Creek which is the largest creek on the Island and a popular spot for other tourists. There is a boardwalk that follows the windy creek – tip of the day, keep your flipflops on because your feet will struggle with the heat of the ground! It is so hot that you will instantly regret going barefoot on the walk up to the top of the creek. Yep, I went barefoot! Once you get to the top you pop into the water and float down to the bottom. If you have a noodle or inflatable ring you can use it here. It was absolute bliss floating down the creek, so make sure you give it a go.
The Pinnacles, also known as Coloured Sands are located nearby the creek and are a must for you photographers. The towering sandy cliffs apparently have 72 different shades of sand. The cathedral shaped cliffs are moulded by clay and are believed to be a place of good luck and fortune for the original inhabitants of the Island – the Butchulla people. Nature is amazing, but even more so once you see these cliffs.
It was at this point we watched the sea planes land on the beach and were offered the chance of a flight around the Island for $90 each. Having previously seen the Island from the air I was keen to do it again. My daughter did not need much persuasion as we hopped into the little plane with another three guests. The aerial views are stunning! The experienced pilot pointed out the beautiful landmarks and we could even spot the huge stingrays and a couple of sharks, which I might add are only metres from the shore!
We then spotted the wonderful Butterfly Lake which can only be viewed from the air as it is not accessible by road.
And of course, we also looked down on to the gorgeous Lake McKenzie
The flight was just breathtaking and added to our amazing experience on Fraser. Our pilot was happy to pose for us before we headed back to our bus.
The SS Maheno was our final destination. The ship drifted on to Fraser as it was being towed to Japan for scrap in 1935. Famously used by New Zealand as a hospital ship during WW1 it was on its final journey when a cyclone hit and snapped the tow chain. Fraser was to be the ships final resting place and it is a sight to behold. I took so many photos of the different angles, as the sunlight filtered through its rusting hull.
As we boarded the bus on our journey back to the jetty a dingoe appeared and finished off what was thee perfect tour of Fraser Island. Dingoes are thought to have been introduced to Fraser around 3,000 – 8,000 years ago and are one of the purest strains of dingoe found in Australia today. There is estimated to be around 25 to 30 packs on the Island, each containing 3 to 12 dingoes. As a resident of the area we often hear news of rare dingoe attacks. As a result, it is constantly being reinforced that visitors to the Island must not feed them. Please adhere to this law if you happen to see any.
As we arrived back at the jetty, we had a quick beer at the Kingfisher Resort Bar and then a short walk back to the barge.
Our last experience of the day was the barge’s cat who entertained us by poking his paws under the café door to let the staff know that he wanted fed. The staff had even provided him with a cooling gel pad bed and a litter tray in the vehicle hold. What a great bunch of people.
Fraser Island or K’gari as it is known by the native Butchulla people, never ceases to amaze me. It is the largest sand island in the world at 76 miles long and 14 miles wide. It is also the only sand island in the world where rainforests grow on sand dunes. As if that isn’t spectacular enough, it holds half the worlds perched lakes.
To sum up, a visit to Fraser should be on everyone’s bucket list, as you will see from my next travel blog. Fraser is the whale watching capital of the world, it has a coral reef you can snorkel on and a nearby island named Pelican Bank, (for obvious reasons). There is camping grounds, creeks to dock your boat overnight and a family holiday resort with bars and restaurants. There is so much to do on the island, you will never have enough time to see it all, hence why I pop over and visit it regularly.
Thank you for taking the time to read about another one of my adventures in Australia.