Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, just off Australia’s East Coast and boasts a range of habitats including rainforests, sand dunes and mangroves which provides habitat for some mammals as well as many different reptiles and birds. Thanks to our Brisbane-based friend Keith we were able to spend a couple of days seeing all the island had to offer.
The island is a 3 hour drive north of Brisbane to Rainbow Beach. From there you take the barge from Inskip point across the Great Sandy Strait to Fraser. Dolphins frequent in the strait so we kept our eyes peeled and were lucky enough to see some on our return journey in the distance but didn’t get them on camera.
There are no ‘roads’ on the island, you mostly drive on the beach and bumpy sand tracks inland through the forest (which is a lot of fun). This really gives the island a wild, frontier feel as you can’t just pop over in any car you need a 4×4 with an experienced driver to make sure you can get about without getting stuck. Keith had bought his 4×4 with Fraser in mind and had all the tools to hand should we have gotten stuck which was pretty handy!
If you have heard of Fraser Island you may be familiar with stories of the islands resident dingoes. Lucky for us Keith had booked us a spot in a dingo safe campsite at Dundaburra, essentially a campsite with a large electrified fence built around it preventing the Dingoes from getting in.
Although the electrified fence manages to keep Dingoes at bay, it doesn’t stop the snakes! At night snakes (mainly pythons) regularly hide in the toilets and the shower areas where the lights are on to keep warm. Although we never saw one it was hilarious for us to watch Elliot nervously inspect the bathrooms from the outside before having his evening shower.
Another campsite visitor are Goanna’s..
These are a medium sized Monitor Lizard that roam around the campsites in the morning ready to scavenge sites where campers had left supplies unsecured. They range in size and some were huge but they never approached us and are pretty harmless. They can be easily chased off if they do come to close but are very cool to watch.
Not far from our campsite on the beach we visited the famous shipwreck of the Maheno.
The Maheno was built in Scotland in 1905 and used to ferry passengers in luxury between Australia and New Zealand for many years. Later it was sold and being towed from Sydney to its new home when the convoy ran into trouble in a cyclone not far off the coast of Fraser which caused the tow to snap and the Maheno to beach on the island in 1935 where the ship was stripped of all it’s use and left to decay. It was subsequently used for live target practice during World War Two by the Australian Air Force.
While driving driving along the beach we were very happy to spot this guy;
Dingoes are a protected native species on Fraser Island, where the 150 or so individuals are considered very important because of their pure genetics which are a result of minimal inbreeding when compared to mainland animals. However they often come into contact with people and conflict between people and dingoes is ongoing– hopefully with time these animals can be effectively conserved and protected from human interaction.
The dingo appeared to be pretty disinterested in us while we were watching from the car.- it appeared to be preoccupied with looking for food among the scrub.
We did witness another dingo which had gone right up to a man and was sniffing about him while he was walking back to his car. We stopped to make sure he was okay before moving but unfortunately not all dingo encounters end this way so make sure you are Dingo safe while visiting.
When on the beach be sure not to enter the surf- the rips are said to be particularly vicious and like the rest of Queensland the water carries the risk of sharks with crocodiles also sighted, typically on the west coast of the island. Luckily there are plenty of amazing lakes to swim in on the island like Lake McKenzie and Lake Birrabean.
The water temperature in the lakes was perfect and the visibility was outstanding which gave us the perfect opportunity to practice our free diving skills.
If swimming is to much effort you can always have a lazy day floating down Eli Creek or float in the champagne pools while the waves brake over the rocks.
Fraser is also great for walking. One morning Keith took us for a walk out the back of our campground to a “blow out”- similar to a sand dune but inland from the beach.
Walking through this strange landscape was tough but we could pick out signs of snakes making their way across the sand and dingo footprints! We actually tried to follow the snakes track because I was so keen to see one perhaps it was lucky we didn’t find it.
We had some fun making our way down.
We walked back to the campsite through the eucalyptus woodland.
While walking through the woodland Keith took the lead with a big stick waving it up and down to move these guys off the path.
These spiders love to weave their webs across the paths in the woodland to catch flies and although their bite isn’t deadly it would be uncomfortable for an hour or two so we were glad Keith took lead.
The stick wasn’t just to move spiders out of our paths it was also in case we met some Dingoes on the path, we didn’t but Keith did scare off a swamp wallaby while swinging his stick around.
Unfortunately all good things do come to an end and we departed the island after having the most amazing time. We owe a big thank you and more to Keith and his family for putting us up in Brisbane and taking time to show us their beautiful city and Keith especially for taking the time to show us round his favourite place Fraser Island. Without him any trip to the island what not have been as special as it was.
Our tips for visiting Fraser Island;
1.) Find your own Keith! Keith’s knowledge of the island really meant we got the most out of our trip. Consider booking with one of the 4×4 tagalong tour operators that go the island. They provide the vehicle, a guide, book the campsite and organise your itinerary but you get to drive the island! You can also take day trips to the island in special 4 wheel drive buses if you don’t fancy camping. However if you are determined to go yourself there is lot of planning and organising to make sure you are equipped to go, it’s to big of a list to put on the blog but check out the official website for all you need to know before you go.
2.) Be dingo safe. I mentioned it before but it is vitally important for you and the animals safety. Don’t leave food unsecured and never feed them. Here’s a more in depth guide of how to be dingo safe.
3.) Carry lots of water, sunscreen, insect repellent and an inflatable donut or boogie board with you. The first three will make your entire visit more comfortable, the fourth will make Eli Creek even more fun.
Until next time
Kirsten and Elliot.