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Published: October 10th 2009
Following the excitement of whale watching we departed the next morning on a short ferry ride to Fraser Island to start our 3 day 2 night tour of this unique island. Fraser Island is an island made entirely of sand just off the coast of Southern Queensland. It is thought that every grain of sand on the East Coast will eventually end up here, brought up by ocean currents from South to North until the Great Barrier Reef gets in the way and stops it. The island is 123km long and between 10 and 20km wide. As it is made of sand, and all the roads are therefore sand pits, the only way to get around the island is on 4 wheel drive. There is a self-drive option on the island but it involves squashing 11 people in the back of a jeep with all your gear on top, camping out and generally facing large liabilities if you damage the car - highly likely in the sandy terrain. There were also some fatalities a few months ago so we decided to go for the safe option and join a tour.
We were on a bus with 26 other people and
a particularly camp sounding guide who seemed to like the sound of his own voice, but he seemed to know his stuff about the island so we can't complain too much. Day one started with a rainforest walk as, despite all the sand, the island is prone to 2m of rainfall annually so it is green and lush down the centre. The walk took us to the first of the lakes we visited on the island, which is home to many freshwater lakes, notably sand dune perched lakes of which there are only about 80 in the world. We didn't stop for too long before heading off on another walk to our lunch venue in the part of the island that used to be home to the local logging industry. The afternoon saw us head to one of Fraser's most famous landmarks, Lake McKenzie. It is a crystal clear sand dune perched lake with a very white, fine grained beach. The water is pH5 so slightly acidic and it therefore acts like conditioner on your hair and skin. We had some free time here so went for a swim, although it was very, very cold, and did some sunbathing. You
can't swim in the sea around Fraser due to strong rips, sharks and stingers but you can swim in the freshwater lakes so many people take advantage of this. Unfortunately for us it was Queensland school holidays whilst we were on Fraser so we had to share this picturesque spot with a load of screaming kids, might as well have been on Blackpool beach! This was a bit of a theme for the whole tour and most places we went were swamped with other people, which as you have probably gathered from our other blogs we tend to find a little annoying.
Day two saw us heading to 75 mile beach, a long stretch of beach on the East side of the island that is Fraser's equivalent of the M1 as it is the main thoroughfare for all the vehicles on Fraser. It's quite an experience driving on the sand on the island, you definitely need to wear your selt belt to avoid serious head injuries from hitting the roof! We visited the coloured sands of the pinnacles then drove on up to the Champagne Rockpools, which are some rockpools that are about the only bit of saltwater you
can swim in on the island. We then took a walk up to Indian Head, which has an excellent vantage point over the East Coast of the island and is a great place for spotting sea life. We were lucky enough to see dolphins, more whales, a ray and massive shoals of small fish all clubbing together like in the wildlife programmes to make themselves look big and scary to predators. The last stops on day two were the Maheno shipwreck, a 1930s cruise ship that came aground on Fraser (but with no passengers on board) and Eli Creek, a shallow creek that flows quite rapidly out to the beach so you can actually float down it.
On the last day we finally got a bit of respite from the rest of the world and its dog as we lost about a third of the people on our tour who were only booked in for 2 days and 1 night, and we were visiting some of the parts of the island that day trippers don't tend to get to. It was therefore a much more relaxing day. In the morning we visited Lake Wabby, a lake that is slowly
being encroached upon by a massive windblown sand dune. This was another swimming/sunbathing opportunity before a very hot walk back up over the sand dune and through the forest back to 75 mile beach. After lunch we visited Lake Birrabeen, which is very similar to Lake McKenzie in looks (also stunning crystal clear waters) but didn't have even half as many tourists there so we got to enjoy the peace and quiet of the setting a bit more. At the end of the day we got back on the ferry and headed back to the mainland just as the sun was setting.
Fraser Island was a good little tour, with lots of beautiful sights. We think it would be better at quieter times of year when you can probably appreciate it a bit more but would definitely recommend a visit.
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