Introducing Fraser Island
The local Butchulla people call it K’Gari or ‘paradise’, and not for no reason. Sculpted from wind, sand and surf, the striking blue freshwater lakes, crystalline creeks, giant dunes and lush rainforests of this gigantic sandbar form an enigmatic island paradise unlike any other in the world. Created over hundreds of thousands of years from sand drifting off the East Coast of mainland Australia, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world (measuring 120km by 15km), and the only place where rainforest grows on sand.
Inland, the vegetation varies from dense tropical rainforest and wild heath to wetlands and wallum scrub, with ‘sandblows’ (giant dunes over 200m high), mineral streams and freshwater lakes opening on to long sandy beaches fringed with pounding surf. The island is home to a profusion of bird life and wildlife including the famous dingo, while offshore waters teem with dugong, dolphins, sharks and migrating humpback whales.
Once exploited for its natural resources, sand and timber, Fraser Island joined the World Heritage list in 1992. The majority of the island is protected as part of the Great Sandy National Park.
This island utopia, however, is marred by an ever-increasing volume of 4WD traffic tearing down the beach and along sandy inland tracks. With over 360,000 people visiting the island each year, Fraser can sometimes feel like a giant sandpit with its own peak hour and congested beach highway.
Before crossing via ferry from either Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay, ensure that your vehicle has suitably high clearance and, if camping, that you have adequate food, water and fuel. Driving on Fraser looks pretty relaxed in the brochures, but a sudden tide change or an unseen pothole can set your wheels spinning perilously.