Fraser Island

View of Seventy-Five Mile Beach from Indian Heads, Fraser Island.

Fraser Island is a large sand island 122 km (76 miles) long (the largest sand island in the world) situated off the southern coast of the Australian state of Queensland, some 300 km (200 miles) north of the state capital Brisbane. A popular destination for travelers, Fraser Island was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1992.

Understand

Fraser Island - stretching over 123km along the southern coast of Queensland. Fraser Island with an area of 184 000 hectares is the largest sand island in the world.

Fraser Island's World Heritage listing ranks it with Australia’s Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. Fraser Island is a precious part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage, it is protected for all to appreciate and enjoy. Fraser island is a place of exceptional beauty, with its long uninterrupted white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and over 100 freshwater lakes, some tea-coloured and others clear and blue all ringed by white sandy beaches. Ancient rainforests grow in sand along the banks of fast-flowing, crystal-clear creeks. Fraser Island is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres. The low “wallum” heaths on the island are of particular evolutionary and ecological significance, and provide magnificent wildflower displays in spring and summer. The immense sand blows and cliffs of coloured sands are part of the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world and they are still evolving. They are a continuous record of climatic and sea level changes over the last 700 000 years. The highest dunes on the island reach up to 240 metres above sea level. The Great Sandy Strait, separating Fraser Island from the mainland, is listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention). The wetlands include: rare patterned ferns; mangrove colonies; sea-grass beds; and up to 40,000 migratory shorebirds. Rare, vulnerable or endangered species include dugongs, turtles, Illidge’s ant-blue butterflies and eastern curlews.

Flora and fauna

Dingoes - once common are now endangered on Fraser Island and the island is the only place in Australia where they are considered dangerous (mainly due to being fed by visitors and losing their fear of humans).

Fraser Island is famous for over 300 species of birds, and include coastal birds such as dotterals, pied oyster-catchers, pelicans and terns, and birds of prey such as brahminy kites, white-breasted sea eagles, ospreys and peregrine falcons. The island's heathlands are home to one of Australia's rarest bird, the ground parrot, and here you will also find honey-eaters, kingfishers and cockatoos. The freshwater wetlands are the habitat of curlews, jabirus and brolgas. There are 25 species of mammal, including pure-breed dingoes, wallabies, possums, flying foxes and echidnas. Dugong feed on the sea grass, turtles breed on some island beaches, and tailor spawn annually near rocky headlands. Humpback whales from the Antarctica come to the sheltered waters of Platypus Bay with their new calves on their return journey south. Between July and August is the time to see the whales, and licenced tour-operators operate from Hervey Bay.

Climate

At 500km south of the Tropic of Capricorn, Fraser Island has a hot and humid climate but is cooled by sea breezes. Its summer maximum average temperature is only 30 degrees C, although the summer months have some extremely hot days. Winters are mild, with average temperatures of around 15 degrees C. This is usually the dry season and most winter days are sunny and frost free, making for a very pleasant climate. People with fair skins need to be wary when out in the midday sunshine since unprotected skin can burn in a few minutes. Hats, cool clothing that protects from the sun, sunscreen and common sense are essentials to enjoying Fraser Island summers.

Get in

By boat

Barge from Rainbow Beach to Fraser Island
4x4 and good driving skills required to get from the barge to the beach

Vehicular access to Fraser Island is by ferry only; thereafter, four-wheel drive vehicles are necessary for transport around the island. Travelers have the option of bringing or hiring their own 4WD vehicle, joining a group from a Hervey Bay hostel, or taking a 4WD tour bus. Vehicle hire is available and tour buses depart from various towns on the Sunshine Coast (Noosa) and Fraser Coast (Hervey Bay).

The following boats serve Fraser Island:

By air

A number of charter operators fly light aircraft on to Fraser Island, landing on the main beach (at low tide only).

Fees/permits

Permits - Vehicles and Camping: All vehicles travelling to Fraser Island must have an official permit. It must be attached to the windscreen. Campers other than those using commercial camp sites must have a camping permit which should be attached to the tent in clear view for inspection by the park ranger.

Permits are available from the following offices:

Permits are also available from:

Get around

MAN 4x4 main tourist shuttle on the island

Driving

One of the most enjoyable ways to visit Fraser Island is by 4WD. To visit most of the main sites you should allow three days. You can hire vehicles with camping gear or stay in accommodation on the island.

Driving can be quite difficult especially during the dry season as the sand roads can be very difficult to get through. The sand can become like talcum powder and it is not uncommon if a vehicle becomes stuck to have to wait for hours before a bus can come by to tow the car out. The best time to drive is after there has been some rain when the sand road is more solid. Getting stuck relies on the help of others to get out. If you are not comfortable driving, taking a tour is recommended. Typically the longer the tour is, the smaller the group traveling.

See

Lake MacKenzie.
Fresh water lake Wobby
Eli Creek
Maheno ship wreck

Do

One of the best ways to see Fraser Island is to hire a 4WD and explore at your leisure. Accommodation options range from basic cabins to 4 star resorts. Another popular option is camping on the beach or at inland campgrounds - most vehicle hire companies also hire camping gear. If time permits you should allow at least three days to discover the wonderful sights of Fraser. To ensure quality of service it is recommended to hire from a company that is a current member of the Fraser Coast 4X4 Hire Association.

Drink

Soft drinks and alcohol can be purchased from shops at Eurong and Happy Valley, although alcohol is not available before 10AM due to state licensing laws. Note that prices are substantially higher on the island than on the mainland; save money by bringing sufficient supplies with you!

Drinking water can be obtained from taps in various campsites and from a tap on the beach 500m north of Eurong; untreated water from the creeks or lakes should not be drunk.

Sleep

The prow of the wreck of the Maheno juts above the sand.

Sleeping on Fraser Island ranges from luxury resorts through campsites to rough camping amongst the dunes along designated stretches of beach.

Lodging

Camping

There are a number of campsites on the island which house standard facilities (toilets, showers etc.) and are fenced to keep dingoes out. Fires are permitted in these sites within fire rings, but noise is forbidden after 9PM. Never bring any food inside the tents as dingoes will tear apart the tents looking for it - even if it's already gone they can still smell the food that was there and will look for it. When possible keep food in a dingo cage off of the ground.

Backcountry

Along the main beach, there are designated areas for camping amongst the dunes. These are marked by wooden signs indicating areas where camping is permitted and where it is forbidden. In all cases, a permit is required to camp, and in some areas advanced bookings are required.

During busy periods, arrive early in the day to ensure your camping area. Camp fires outside of the official campsites are no longer permitted, with Rangers patrolling the beach and issuing fines for infringements. Be dingo safe; lock all food away when unattended.

Stay safe

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, December 31, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.