A trip to Fraser Island is to experience an incredible place of Australian natural and cultural heritage, and you must include it on your bucket list
Called K’Gari, which means ‘paradise’ in the local Butchulla people’s language, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world at 1,840 km² and is considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. If these aren’t enough reasons to visit it, the island is the one of those rare places on the planet where the rainforest grows on sand. Located 300 km from Brisbane, on the southeast coast of the state of Queensland, the island is only accessible by ferry and is strictly 4WD territory.
Coincidentally when I celebrated one year living in Australia, I had an opportunity to make a trip to Fraser Island. Australia is well known internationally for the Great Barrier Reef and Uluru but it has so much more to offer. The first time that I heard about Fraser Island was just few months before this trip. I was very curious to see all the landscapes that are so unique and special. Just to give you some examples, on the island there are coloured sand cliffs, more than 100 freshwater lakes, rainforests with huge trees and crystal-clear creeks.
I visited the island with a tag-along 4WD tour from Rainbow Beach, which took 3 days and 2 nights. The island is huge at over 123 km in length and 22 km at its widest point. Because there’s so much to explore, I would recommend a stay of at least 3 days, so you’ll be able to visit the spots that I listed below.
If you check Lake Mackenzie on Instagram you’ll think that all the photos have filters. But the lake has such clear blue waters and brilliant white sandy shores that it looks like no other place you’ve been. It’s entirely made of rainwater and has an incredible visibility of at least 10 m. Because it’s a perched lake where there’s no streams to feed it, the water is so pure making it uninhabitable to most species. Also, believe it or not, this is Fraser Island’s most “polluted” lake, mostly from sunscreen oils washed off the skin of bathing tourists.
What made this place very special for me is that it’s the only place on Fraser where saltwater swimming is allowed. The trip to Fraser Island broke all the stereotypes of visiting an island because it’s not possible to swim in the sea. Strong rips, undertows, sea stingers and sharks make swimming in the ocean really dangerous. But at the Champagne Pools, the volcanic rocks create a protection, like a swimming pool. Tip: get there early, before the big tourism buses arrive.
For me, this is the best place on the island! After a swim at Champagne Pools, the tour guide stopped at Indian Head. I don’t have enough fingers on my hand to count how many different kinds of marine animals we saw in the water during the hour we spent there. Humpback whales, sharks, turtles, manta rays and dolphins put on an exciting show. I could have stayed there forever observing these fascinating creatures.
Eli Creek has some of the cleanest water on planet. It’s so clean that you can drink it. Because of its purity, there are some species of fish that have adapted and can only live there. In one day, it has a flow of 80 million litres of water making it a popular place for tourists to drift down the creek on big inflatable tubes, enjoying the view.
What a peaceful place! Off the beaten track, the lake is full of Melaleuca leaves and other great stuff for skin. That is why the colour of the water is so dark like tea. This lake is also known for being home to freshwater turtles. I took a seat at the viewing platform where you can see freshwater turtles swimming around. Before we left the lake, the guide went into the water and caught one of them for us to see. What an incredible creature!
Bonus: SS Maheno
If you are reading this post, I suppose that you already know that I live on a boat. I personally don’t get a great feeling when I see a shipwreck. Even movies with boats sinking give me an uncomfortable feeling. But if you do a trip to Fraser Island, it’s impossible not to see the S.S. Maheno, a New Zealand former cruise liner turned hospital ship from World War I. The history of this ship is very interesting and varied, serving many roles during its lifetime.
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