After deciding to set aside five days to go on an adventure, we did extensive research and many hours of internet searching, and decided to head for Fraser Island.
We had a little prior camping experience, but no equipment apart from an inherited tent, so we headed to a camping shop and walked out over an hour later, armed to the teeth with camping and fishing gear that barely fitted in the boot of our Golf with the seats down, and a bill of well over $1,000. We had kitted ourselves out for the King of Camping Trips. You name it, we had bought it.
We subsequently found out that one cannot drive on Fraser Island beaches without a 4x4. (We would later find out that you cannot drive anywhere on the island without one – the beaches were easy driving compared to the rest of the island). So we found a great 4x4 hire place in Hervey Bay and booked a Toyota Land Cruiser for our trip.
We booked and paid for our camping permit, 4x4 hire, ferry trips to and from the island, and four wheel drive permit to enable us to drive on the beach. It takes a number of permits just to go and pitch a tent in the sand, but then we arrived on the island, and everything else was forgotten.
We decided not to camp for all five nights as we were joined by hubby's mom, who had never camped before. So we had three nights of camping and spent our first two nights in a self catering chalet at Kingfisher Bay Resort.
The ferry stops at Urangan Bay, which is a short drive from Kingfisher Bay. Sundowners on the pier, dinner at the bar or restaurant, swimming in one of the pools and sitting in the hot tub, seafood buffet, and comfortable beds are all part of staying at the resort. We recommend it to anyone not wanting to ‘rough it'. It has a hotel, self-catering chalets, two pubs, convenience store, three restaurants and all the facilities you would expect from a resort.
After those two nights we drove via Lake McKenzie – the most beautiful lake I have seen – to the camp site. The lake waters are pure and clear, and go from turquoise to deep blue as it deepens. Apparently it's one of the deepest lakes in Australia. There are picnic spots, and the water is good for a swim. The area is fenced in so dingoes don't walk freely and there are signs everywhere providing you with information and warning of dingoes.
A couple of hours and a really bumpy ride later we arrived at our camping grounds at Dundaburra, really glad that we had decided against beachfront camping. We had seen about four dingoes walking around on the beach by that time, and noted how the beach is used as a highway for everything from fisherman, pedestrians, 4x4s with and without trailers and boats and jet-skis, and planes. Yes, I said planes! There are tourist planes that use the beach as a runway near to Eli Creek. This is another popular tourist spot where you can walk through the creek (it's anywhere between knee and waist deep, depending on how short you are) and it happens to be really freezing cold when you first step in because of all the beautiful trees and plants on either side of it.
At Dundaburra we found we didn't need the portaloo as there were really clean ablution facilities, but we did need $1 coins to operate the three minute hot water system on the showers.
Exploring the island, we headed north to Waddy Point and Indian Head and climbed up the hill to the top of the cliffs to take photos down into the turbulent waters below, whilst on the lookout for tiger sharks. We didn't spot any, but the view from up there was well worth the climb and the sunburn. It really is a beautiful island.
The next day we headed inland a few kilometres and went to the Knife Edge Sandblow. Wow! I thought we were in the desert for a minute, except for all the trees around. And it is seriously shaped like the edge of a knife.
Driving back towards Dundaburra there was suddenly a plane coming in to land behind us. Of course, objects appear closer in the rearview mirror than they are, but the pilot seemed to want to park in our boot!
We also saw the shipwreck of the beautiful Maheno, which was used as a hospital ship in the Mediterranean during World War 1. At the end of the war it was turned into a luxury liner and was used for a while until it was declared outdated. In July 1935, the ship was being towed to Japan to be used as scrap metal when it was caught in a cyclone and ran aground. During World War 2 it was used for target practice, and as a result you can now see huge holes in it. It has rusted and is unstable so nobody is allowed to climb on it.
Another excursion was to the yellow, red, brown and white coloured sands – gorges of weathered and eroded mountain side, rocks and sand that have been beautifully eroded over the centuries.
All in all, the trip to Fraser was a huge success and a fantastic holiday. It brought out the budding photographer in me, the happy fisherman in hubby and the camper-dude in mom. We had a wonderful five days after which we came back tired and lazy, but with lots of photos and good memories.
Note to self: Next time pack fewer clothes, less food, more sunscreen, fewer non-essential items (such as lanterns AND torches, the portaloo) and make the trip at least a day or two longer. Then again, now that the ‘tourist' trip is over, next time we go to Fraser, we'll be swimming in the lake and relaxing the rest of the time (and hopefully will have our own 4x4 to save on the cost of hiring one).
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and is estimated to be 700,000 years old. It was formed by sand blown by arctic winds and then settling. The history of people on the island dates back to around 5,500 years ago. It is the most beautiful place that we have ever seen. We would recommend that everyone goes there at least once in their life.
Have you been to Fraser Island? Can you give SAbona readers some ideas about things to do while there? Comment below.