Considered to be the largest sand island in the world, this island is unlike any other place on earth. Fraser Island, with its endless sandy beaches, coastal rivers, fishing spots, inland lake and dingo population is truly out of this world and while package tours can mar its image, this is easily remedied by renting a 4WD and writing your own adventure !
As a record-breaker, Fraser Island can definitely hold its own. Measuring some 1,840km²/1,143mi², this small strip of land off the coast of Queensland is the southern extension of the Great Barrier Reef (some 200km/128mi north of Brisbane) and is quite simply the largest sand island in the world.
Twice the length of the territory of Singapore, it is also home to Australia’s purest dingo population, which has never been crossbred with any continental specimens. They are said to have arrived a thousand years ago, in the wake of the first aborigines, the Butchulla. A hundred or so of this race of wild dog roam free on Fraser Island and you may catch sight of them on the beach and on the hotel terraces.
Moreover, dingo etiquette tips are among the first given to newly arrived visitors at the Kingfisher Bay Resort, a hotel of the Accor Group tucked away in the tropical undergrowth, which, while isn’t in its first bloom of youth, still remains the largest resort on the island. Staff warn visitor, fresh off the ferry that goes to and from the continent four times a day in less than an hour, that should they encounter a dingo: they mustn’t approach them, turn their back on them or feed them. Stay where you are or move backwards slowly. Dingoes can be aggressive, and a few headline news incidents mean that the locals tend to stress dingo safety…
Fraser Island is, however, essentially popular for its stunning natural landscapes quite unlike anything else on earth, facing the huge rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean. It is one of one of the best places to see baby humpback whales and their mothers, Fraser Island also boasts superb scenery, with massive shifting sand blows, sensational swimming spots and thrilling 4WD tracks. A World Heritage-listed wilderness that is best explored on your own rather than embarking on one of the soul-destroying tour buses that slalom around the island.
This unique island has no lack of fanstastic must-see spots. One of the island’s top sites is undoubtedly the famous “75 Mile Beach” road which stretches out along the coast dotted with the occasional isolated guesthouse overlooking the ocean. This scenic road is so long that some operators offer short helicopter rides over the island at AUD80 for a 15min-flight.
“75 Mile Beach” is truly emblematic of the Australian dream. At Cathedral Beach and at Sandy Cape, fishermen-campers spend their days angling for bluefish and sand whitings. From August to October observing whales and their calves as they stop to rest at Hervey Bay is another highspot.
As well as its status as greatest sand island in the world, Fraser Island is also proud of its Maheno wreck, an old rusty ocean liner that floundered off the coast in 1935; the Pinnacles, colourful humps of rocky sand in the shape of termite hills; Eli Creek, a lovely coastal river ideal for swimming and a rainwater lake, McKenzie, ideal to relax at the end of the day as the sun sets.
The best part of Fraser Island is yet to come. A refreshing walk in the rain forest along Wanggoolba Creek. A stroll beneath the thick green forest canopy lit by dappled tropical sunlight offers an exotic blend of charm and rest, like the rest of this inimitable island of the southern hemisphere.
Getting there ?
It is possible to fly direct to Sydney from many European capitals such as London for around £1,000 and for as little as £500 if you don’t mind not flying direct. Virgin Australia operates flights from Sydney to Hervey Bay (1hr50mins) from £250 return : flights.virginaustralia.com
You will then need to take a ferry from River Heads (10mins from Hervey Bay) to Fraser Island (50min crossing – fraserislandferry.com.au). On the island, you can choose from package tours with accommodation (at the Kingfisher Bay Resort) and excursions or tour individually with a 4WD hire.
Best seasons : all year round.
Finding out more : fraserisland.net