Previously I’ve written about my terrible Whitsundays Experience and how disappointing it was. About a week later we went on another tour- a 4×4 tag-along tour on Fraser Island with Palace Adventures. I was concerned this would once again be disappointing, making me feel scammed out of my money. Thankfully, it exceeded my expectations, more than made up for the disappointment with the Whitsundays, and has to be one of the best experiences I’ve had in Australia so far. Fraser Island was incredibly beautiful, so much fun, and an experience I will never forget. We saw crazy natural beauty and wildlife, camped in the bush and under a million blinking stars, got to ride around in 4×4’s, and had a laugh in the camp every evening with 14 other fun young people.
We set off from Hervey Bay one cold Friday morning, bright and early at 6.30am. (eww). We piled up the 4x4s with food, booze, day packs with our clothes, towels, and bikinis, and our sleeping bags. Then we set off for the ferry to Fraser Island.
Fraser Island itself is a fascinating place. It is the largest sand island in the world and is home to wild dingos, snakes, spiders, tropical birds, a variety of lakes including Lake Mckenzie, which has crystal blue waters and a powdery white beach. It has over 100 freshwater lakes and the second highest concentration of lakes in Australia after Tasmania. We had the opportunity to swim in some of these lakes, some were golden and others bright blue and others deep, emerald green. Fraser Island also boasts the most photographed shipwreck in the world – the wreck of Mahano.
As well as numerous lakes, sand dunes, freaky wildlife, insane viewpoints, and a shipwreck, Fraser is covered in sprawling rainforest. This in itself is a bit of a natural phenomenon, considering the habitat on which it grows (how many rainforests can you think of that grow on sand?). The trees all stand as the roots all link together under the sandy earth, holding them up. They are literally providing a support system for one another and provide life for one another by all interlinking.
When we got their, our savvy guide Syd told us all about driving a 4×4 and driving on sand, as well as about the dingos and snakes on the island. Needless to say, I got a little bit terrified. What if I rolled the car over? What if I got bitten by a snake or attacked by a savage dingo? Thankfully none of this happened, as I am here to tell the tale. I didn’t see one snake as it’s now hibernation season, and the dingos didn’t bother us.
First off we drove to Lake Birrabeen. This lake was so gorgeous with blue water and a sandy beach. It was a great place to swim and relax for an hour and a lush introduction to Fraser Island.
Next up, we went to Central Station for lunch, where we got to see a dingo wandering about looking for scraps! Dingos are such beautiful creatures, but they can be dangerous if you approach them or they approach you. Because of their beauty and similarity in appearance to dogs, people often think that they are kind or domesticated creatures. They aren’t. They are wild animals who are scavengers and will attack if provoked. There are signs all over the island about respecting dingos, not leaving food around, and what to do if you do come too close to a dingo. It was a little intimidating but protecting the dingos in their natural habitat whilst also allowing humans to enjoy the pleasures that Fraser can bring is a lot better than the alternative: aka, dingos being destroyed.
Whilst at Central Station, we got a quick wander through the forest before heading off to Lake Wabby. This journey was my turn to drive. I was a little nervous. I had never driven a 4×4 before, or a huge vehicle like that before, or on sand before!! It was definitely different from regular driving. You had to drive slow with a lot of acceleration, and the car often jittered around as the sand shifted beneath the wheels. It was, however, so much fun!! I’m so glad I got over my nerves and just did it.
When we pulled up to Lake Wabby, we faced a 40 minute walk to get there, through the cool rainforest. When we came out on the other side, we were faced with sand. A lot of sand. This was the Hammerstone Sandblow. It was out of this world and felt like we were in the middle east, rather than Australia.
Down a steep hill was Lake Wabby itself. Lake Wabby is emerald green from the tea tree leaves surrounding the lake, and I’ve been told the tea tree has seeped into the water, and as such is super good for your skin. It was so beautiful.
After Lake Wabby, we drove to our camp. We drove along the beach with the fierce sea on one side and shrubbery on the other. Our camp site was just a little back from the beach, surrounded by bush. This was proper bush camping. We had tents set up, and sleeping bags, and a thin roll mat to offer us bare-bones protection from the hard ground. We had a little kitchen with a stove, cookers and a huge table for everyone to sit around. It was a very simple camp. There was a toilet which was only to be used in an emergency, so we had to go to the toilet bush style, with a buddy holding a ‘dingo stick’. We had to look out for dingos and snakes. It wasn’t a joke. It was real life. It was camping, Aussie style. It was a little bit terrifying. But it was such an incredible experience. At night we cooked our meals, enjoyed a cider, and played games with everyone else in camp.
I won’t lie, sleep was pretty uncomfortable. We were lying on the hard ground and in the night could hear the dingos howling towards the moon. Fascinating, if not slightly scary. The next day, we got up at 7 to head off for the day at 8.15.
We started by going to Eli Creek, which has a natural lazy river, which we all decided to go in not realising how freezing it would be!!
Next up, we had a huge drive right along the beach, all the way up to Indian Head. Indian Head is a viewpoint with fantastic 360 degree views, where you can see sharks and manta rays in the ocean below.
After Indian Head, we headed to the Champagne Pools where we had lunch. Champagne Pools is the only place in Fraser Island where you can safely go in the sea without worrying about Jellyfish or sharks, as it is enclosed by sharp rock formations.
After lunch, we had a quick stop at Lake Allom. We were pretty lucky to be able to go here as only 20 people are allowed here, and our group was 16. This lake has cute little turtles swimming in it and had a gorgeous golden colour, making your skin look like you have fake tan slathered all over you once you are in there.
After this, we took the tight, winding road out back to the coast, and viewed the Mahano Shipwreck.
The Mahano Shipwreck is pretty damn interesting. It is the most photographed shipwreck in the world, and is one of the few wrecks that is on land. I won’t write the whole history of the wreck here as it is pretty long, but I found it super interesting and is well worth reading up on. The shipwreck did look cool and was really fun to photograph, especially in the evening light as the sun set.
On our final day in Fraser, we spent the morning at a place that is many people’s Fraser Island highlight – Lake Mackenzie. It was a beautiful place to relax and soak up the sun before we had lunch and boarded the afternoon ferry back to the mainland.
Fraser Island was, without a doubt, my favourite exertion ever and one of the best experiences I could get from travelling in Australia. It is insanely beautiful and endlessly interesting. It is also so much fun to explore.
The absolute best way to explore Fraser is on a 4×4 tag along tour. It’s super-fun and you get to access all the best places on Fraser. I’m so glad we did it this way. You can do it yourself but if you are inexperienced with 4×4 vehicles (which is the only way to access the island) it could be dangerous. You can also go on a big group bus tour, but that isn’t as fun and doesn’t give you the opportunity to drive. I also loved camping on Fraser. You can stay on a resort there, but camping allows you to get the true Aussie Bush experience. It’s definitely not for those who would prefer ‘glamping’. You have to go to the toilet outside and sleep on the hard floor, but it is fun, and you get to see all the stars at night. 3 days and 2 nights was also the perfect amount of time for a tour like this. I think any less would have made it into a bit of a mad rush, and way less enjoyable.
The entire ecosystem of Fraser Island is one of support. It is a very fragile and untouched ecosystem and as such it is important that tourists only leave their footsteps behind and respect this island, which is a sacred space for the Aboriginals and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. If you visit Fraser, then abide by its rules. Don’t leave even the tiniest bits of rubbish around as not only is this dangerous for the ecosystem but may attract dingos and other creatures. Respect this ancient place and explore it without interfering in it.