From testing your four-wheel driving skills on sandy roads to swimming in sparkling lakes, adventure awaits on Fraser Island.
Because the traditional owners are Butchulla people, K’gari (pronounced “gurri”) means paradise. And it’s not hard to see why. Located just off the east coast of Queensland, this ever-changing sand island promises a great outdoor adventure, whether it’s your first or fifteenth visit. From whale watching and floating along lazy creeks to shipwrecks and camping under the stars, there’s plenty to see and do. If you’re planning a trip to K’gari, we’ve rounded up some activities that should be on your itinerary.
1. Swim in Lake McKenzie
Did you know that there are over 40 lakes on Fraser Island? But we’ll let you in on a little secret: Lake McKenzie is definitely one of, if not that, best lakes on the island. If you only have time for one, this is it. The water is some of the cleanest on Earth (in reality) and the white silica sand is incredibly soft. Random question, but when was the last time you cleaned your gold or silver rings? The sand is so soft that you can actually use it to clean your jewelry. You can also scoop out a handful and give your body a good old scrub. You won’t find a more natural or cheaper exfoliation treatment than this.
2. Watch the sunset
Watching the sun go down just never gets old, does it? And sunset on Fraser Island is one of the books. Grab a cold one, settle into your camping chair and watch the sky light up with shades of pink, purple and orange. The best place to see it depends on which side of the island you are on, but Kingfisher Bay is a firm favourite. If you’re an early riser, it’s also worth going to Eurong Beach to watch the sunrise.
3. Go four-wheeling on 75 Mile Beach
There are almost no paved roads on K’gari (it’s mostly sand), so your four-wheel driving skills are going to be put to the test. 75 Mile Beach is a beach-come-highway (with road signs, speed cameras, etc.) that takes you to the island’s main attractions. Put on your favorite road trip playlist and feel the sea breeze in your hair as you sail along this long stretch of coast. Keep your eyes open for wild dingoes and people fishing by the water. Oh, and you might also see the occasional plane land on the sand! Driving 75 Mile Beach is best at low tide when the sand is hard and flat, but be prepared to dodge any waves that crash into the shore.
4. Take a dip in the Champagne Pools
Don’t worry, you won’t be over the limit after taking a dip here. Champagne Pools takes its name from the foaming ocean waves that run into naturally formed volcanic rock pools, creating pools of cascading white water. In fact, it feels a bit like you’re in a giant bubbling hot tub. It’s the only place on K’gari where you’re allowed to swim in seawater, so you can imagine it’s a popular spot. If you don’t feel like a dip, you can admire the pools from the boardwalk that skirts the header. Or set up on the beach for a picnic (champagne is optional).
5. Float along Eli Creek
Eli Creek is the largest creek on K’gari. It pours up to four million liters of water into the sea every hour. Take a short walk along the boardwalk surrounded by banksia and pandanus groves, jump on your bathers and jump into the sparkling cold water. Once in, let the water carry you along the shallow winding waterway. Minimal effort is required on your part as the water practically does all the work for you. You can even bring a floating device of your choice for a little extra fun. Inflatable watermelons and unicorns always go down swimmingly.
6. Spot humpback whales
The whale watching season runs from August to October. These fascinating and mysterious marine mammals migrate from the cold waters of Antarctica to give birth to their calves in the warmer waters of the East Coast. You won’t be able to take your eyes off the water. If you’re lucky, you may see them breaching, spraying water into the air or slapping their tails on the water to communicate with other whales. A cruise is the best way to see these gentle giants, but you can also spot them while driving along the coast or from lookouts like Indian Head.
7. See wild dingoes and other natural wildlife
Fun fact: Did you know that there are up to 19 packs of dingoes on K’gari?
Wild dingoes were removed from the mainland as part of a conservation program and K’gari is said to be home to Australia’s purest strain of the species. You might see them roaming the coast as you drive, or maybe you’ll hear a flock howling in the distance at night. The island has a wide range of other native species, including wallabies, short-eared mountain possums and sugar gliders. If you are out bushwalking, you have a good chance of seeing these animals.
8. Visit the Maheno Shipwreck
No trip to K’gari is complete without a stop at the rusty Maheno. This former luxury liner was caught in a cyclone in 1935 and washed ashore. Although you wouldn’t believe it now with all the orange rust, Maheno was almost as glamorous as the Titanic back then, with sparkling chandeliers, polished wooden floors, royal cabins and sophisticated bars. You can get up close and see the finer details of the wreck or take some very Instaworthy photos of the sunset peeking through one of the holes.
9. Walk in the old rain forest in Pile Valley
Fun fact: Fraser Island is the only place on earth where rainforests can grow from sand.
Dubbed as the heart of K’gari with thick rainforest canopies and an abundance of native flora and fauna, the main station and Pile Valley showcase the island’s lavish natural beauty. It’s worth taking the 4km bushwalk circuit, which takes you on a winding journey past giant satinay (hardwood) trees, some of which are over 1,000 years old. You can also admire kauri pines, giant king ferns and bunya pines. It’s the perfect opportunity to reconnect with nature and feel the peace that only standing in an ancient rainforest can give you.
10. Get a free pedicure in Lake Wabby
Pack your bathers and a picnic and set off for a chilled afternoon at Lake Wabby, K’gari’s deepest lake. The hike there takes about 30 minutes and is mostly uphill over the dunes. However, the burning sensation in your calf muscles is worth it. The lake is surrounded by lush green trees and feels like a desert oasis. There are little fish in the water that eat the dead skin off your feet so you get a swim and an inexpensive pedicure treatment. Negotiate.
11. Go camping
There is something about falling asleep and waking up to the sound of waves crashing against the shore and birds chirping in the trees above you. You sleep like a log and wake up with a spring in your step. There are 45 camping areas at K’gari with several fenced sites to keep the dingoes out. Grab your grilling gear and get ready to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. If you’re not the outdoorsy type or you want a little more comfort, there are plenty of hotel resorts, beach houses, lodges and motel-style accommodations to choose from.
K’gari is a true gem. There is so much to see and do that we bet you will return again and again.