Queensland’s Fraser Island is one of those almost mythical destinations that is sure to fire the imagination of any experience-hungry traveller.
The World Heritage listed island is very much a 4WD-only destination and most grey nomads choose to leave their caravans and motorhomes on the mainland.
That means it’s either time to ‘rough it’ in a tent or to bust the budget with a resort stay.
Ferries to the island – located 200 kilometres north of Brisbane – leave from River Heads near Hervey Bay and from Inskip Point.
It is quite feasible to take your own 4WD across, but it’s all serious sand driving when you get there, which means low tyre pressure and plenty of momentum.
There are no shortage of inexperienced tourists who do get bogged and, for those not quite ready to strike off on their own, a 4WD tag-along tour or organised 4WD ‘bus’ tour are great – and more relaxing – options.
The world’s largest sand island is 123 kilometres long and 22 kilometres across at its widest point. It boasts endless white sandy beaches, rainforests, sandstone cliffs, complex dune systems, and more than 100 freshwater lakes.
In spring and summer there are jaw-dropping wildflowers, and the island’s expansive wetlands offer sanctuary to tens of thousands of migrating birds. This is also home to incredibly rare butterflies, dugongs and turtles … as well as a famed dingo population.
Every trip along one of the island’s sandy 4WD tracks reveals another delight. Lake Mackenzie and Lake Birrabeen are rightly famed for their white sand and incredibly clear water, while Lake Wabby – the island’s deepest lake – boasts rich aquatic life, and Lake Allom is the place to see turtles.
The coloured sands at Rainbow Gorge, The Cathedrals, The Pinnacles and Red Canyon are well worth a look, while Champagne Pools, the Maheno Wreck and the exposed volcanic rocks at Indian Head are other major attractions.
And fishermen are drawn to the waters off Seventy-Five Mile Beach, especially during the winter’s tailor run.
The camping options are equally amazing, and include Dundabara, Central Station and, the island’s only private camping ground, Cathedrals on Fraser.
While Fraser Island may not be as easy to access and to explore as many other destinations, it is one of these truly unique places that means the usual rules do not apply.
For many, many Big Lap travellers – however tight their budget – this wonderful island simply has to be on the Big Lap itinerary.