We knew things were going to be tight during the dash to Sydney but we had previously agreed that Fraser Island was a ‘must see’. What we hadn’t counted on was the wild weather in the area at that time. Our initial plan was to pack the tent and camp on the island for a couple of nights. Just getting the car across on the ferry and back was going to cost $100 so we really wanted to get as much value for our money as possible. Additionally as Fraser Island is a national park and only accessible by 4WD, a vehicle access permit must be obtained ($40.75). So after keeping an eye on weather forecasts and weighing up our options we reluctantly decided that this time round Fraser Island would just have to be an expensive day trip.
We intended to catch the earliest ferry across and return on the last ferry of the day to maximise our time on the island, so we packed up the car the night before and settled in the van for the night – and what a night it was! The heavens opened and it poured and poured with rain, there were also what seemed like continuous loud claps of thunder and the lightning was so bright that it literally lit up the whole caravan, we could almost have read a book in bed it was so bright! Needless to say it was a pretty sleepless night for Paul & I. We spent half of the night waiting for the kids to find their way to our bed and the other half contemplating the likely scenario that we weren’t going to make it to Fraser Island after all.
The next morning, however, the crossing of fingers and toes certainly paid off as the sun was shining and the skies were clear. We set off down to Inskip Point to catch the ferry across to Hook Point (which is the southern tip of the island) for what turned out to be another awesome day.
Fraser Island is the worlds largest sand island, measuring 123 km long and 22 km at its widest point. It is also world heritage listed. We knew about its amazing beaches, freshwater lakes and dingoes what we didn’t know about was its beautiful rainforests and logging history.
Our first stop was Central Station which is now one of the main camping areas on the island but between 1920 and 1959 was the central Forestry Department station. Here there is lots of information about the history of Fraser Island, including the timber industry that took place on the island as well as a history of the original land owners. It is well worth visiting here and reading about the fascinating story of the island.
Not far from Central station was Wanggoolba Creek, here we walked through the beautiful rainforest. It was so pretty and tranquil – until we arrived!
There are 52 freshwater lakes on the island and we decided to visit the popular Lake McKenzie for a swim. Lake McKenzie is a perched lake, which we now know means that it contains only rainwater, no groundwater, is not fed by streams and doesn’t flow to the ocean. The sand was so fine and white and the water was amazing blue and greens. We all enjoyed a very refreshing swim here and had a quick play on the sand before heading off to the next port of call.
We had a quick look over Lake Wabby which also looked very inviting but it was quite a walk through the sand to reach it and as we were pressed for time had to be content with having an imaginary swim.
The furthest point north we made on the island was to the Maheno Wreck on 75 Mile Beach. This ship was originally built in Scotland in 1904 and throughout its life served a number of purposes, including as a hospital ship in WWI. In 1935 it was on its way to a salvage yard in Japan but was washed ashore during a cyclone. You are not able to enter or climb on the wreck but it is possible to walk all of the way round it and have a really good look. It is pretty much now held together by rust but between the blue sky, white sand and rich red rust the colours were amazing.
Not far from The Maheno is Eli Creek which is another popular place on the island and one where it would be so easy to spend a whole day. This is a large, fast flowing creek which pumps fresh water into the ocean. There is a boardwalk that runs alongside the creek which you can follow and then jump into the creek and float down towards the sea. This was great fun and we had a few goes back and forth. Next time we’ll take a swimming noodle or inner tube to float on.
Of course an expected highlight was driving along the great expanse of beach. Paul and I both took turns and it was a lot of fun. There are speed limits that must be adhered to on the island and there was a police 4WD on the beach the whole time we were there. Due to the heavy rain there were a number of wash outs running down from the dunes that we had to be wary of and even at a slow speed we were taken by surprise on one and became airborne!! If you do decide to visit this amazing place please take care and do some research into the best way to drive your 4WD, there are some handy hints here.
Unfortunately our day on Fraser Island passed way too quickly and before we knew it, it was time to get back on the ferry for the short crossing back to the mainland. We were still a bit sad that we only had the single day there but knew we had made the right decision when later that night the heavens opened once again for another spectacular show! There is no way that our little tent would have made it through the night in one piece!
We are now determined to revisit Fraser Island sometime in the future. It is a wonderful place and one we would highly recommend to anyone. Although we accessed the island from the south it can also be reached form Hervey Bay where you will reach Moon Point on the west coast. There is plenty of camping available on the island as is other accommodation. If you are reluctant to try 4 wheel driving or don’t have a 4WD vehicle there are other options; such as hiring a 4 wheel drive – perhaps with a camper trailer, or using one of the many tour operators who visit the island using huge 4WD buses.
We anticipated seeing some of the infamous dingoes that inhabit Fraser Island. We had heard that they could be aggressive so remained alert while we were there. There are lots of warning signs about the dingoes, always supervising children and keeping food scraps well secured. In some places, such as Lake Mckenzie there are actually designated eating areas which are fenced and gated. We didn’t see a dingo while we were there but imagine that would probably have been different if we had stayed longer.
After hitching Stanley back up we pointed Patricia in the direction of Brisbane, where we were invited to visit the Channel Seven studios and then foisted ourselves upon an old school mate.