Australia offers exceptional beauty with Fraser Island. It is a place of awe-inspiring scenery, featuring long, uninterrupted white beaches, flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs. There are 100 freshwater lakes – some of which are the cleanest in the world, and the island also features tall rainforests growing on sand dunes, at elevations of over 200 metres/650 feet. Home to a number of small mammal species, as well as a diverse range of birds, reptiles, and amphibians, including the occasional saltwater crocodile, it’s easy to see why Fraser Island is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Where Exactly is it Located?
Fraser Island lies off the southern coast of Queensland, approximately 200 kilometres/120 miles north of Brisbane. The nearest large town to Fraser Island is Hervey Bay. The island can be reached by a ferry from River Heads (South of Hervey Bay) or by chartered flight from Maroochydore, on the Sunshine Coast.
How Was Fraser Island Formed?
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, stretching over some 120 kilometres/75 miles in length and 22 kilometres/14 miles at its widest point. It has been formed over hundreds of thousands of years as winds, waves, and ocean currents have carried sands from the far south east of Australia, and from as far away as Antarctica, to form a string of sand islands along the Queensland coast. The island consists of rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, peat swamps, sand dunes, and coastal heaths.
What Can Be Found on the Island?
The diversity of the island’s natural habitat supports a wide range of animals, many of which are considered to be rare or vulnerable. Each animal has a place in nature’s ecosystem. What’s interesting is that even the smallest animal can cause an environmental imbalance if disturbed, and it is for this reason that it’s essential to conserve the native fauna of Fraser Island. There are around 50 species of mammals which include the swamp wallaby, small-eared mountain possum, and the sugar glider. More than 354 species of birds have been sighted on Fraser Island, and the island has a wide range of habitats providing different food sources, nesting, and breeding areas.
What Activities are Available?
Visitors come to Fraser Island for the natural scenery. You can take a 4-wheel vehicle tour to panoramic viewpoints, which include Indian Head – a rocky outcrop on the island’s easternmost tip, where you can spot whales, and the Cathedrals on Fraser, a cliff famous for sculpted ribbons of coloured sand.
You can bushwalk into the interior through rainforests full of wild flowers, and see kangaroos, wallabies, and possums. You can swim in mirrored lakes ringed with gold on 75 Mile Beach. Along the beach is the Champagne Pools, which will take your breath away with its beauty of the ocean crashing over the rocks into shallow sandy pools. The foaming water is where the name Champagne Pools comes from.
You can visit Lake McKenzie, the most spectacular of Fraser Island’s lakes, or picnic next to turtles at Lake Allom. The lesser known, Lake Birrabeen, is also beautiful.
The Great Sandy Strait, between Fraser Island and the mainland, provides one of Australia’s largest sea grass beds which act as a nursery for many larger fish species and a feeding ground for prawns and fish. Add to this, the protection of Fraser Island from prevailing winds, and the result is some of the world’s most ideal fishing conditions to suit every angler. The choice of fishing is just as impressive, with some of the best sport and game, sheltered beach, and deep sea fishing to be found in Australia. You’ll get hooked on fishing here!
Fraser Island has claimed many ships, with twenty-three wrecks recorded between 1856 and 1935 alone. The SS Maheno, built in Scotland in 1905 as a luxury passenger ship, is the most famous of Fraser Island’s wrecks, and has become a landmark attraction. A cyclonic storm snapped its tow chain, and the Maheno drifted helplessly onto Fraser Island’s ocean beach.
Where to Stay
There is an excellent choice of accommodation, from camping sites to rental apartments, hostels, lodges, and resort hotels available.
If the above attractions appeal to you, consider spending some time here, as a stopover, on your Australia vacation, and really discover the delights of Fraser Island.