When my husband said he booked us a day trip to Fraser Island I stared blankly at him and said “Okay, great!” I had no idea what or where Fraser Island was (geography, not a strength), and since Steve was in charge of our Australian honeymoon, I went with it. Before our trip, I learned that Fraser Island is the world largest sand island. Located in Queensland, and a world’s heritage site, many tours leave for the island from Noosa Heads, which fit perfectly with our plans.
Fraser Island has a relatively large camping scene, and while you can take a personal car to the island the terrain is tough to navigate and is not recommended for novices or those unfamiliar with the land. As a result, we decided to go with a tour group, which meant a very early morning for us. The tour started at 600am (good news, the pick-up location was just a short walk from the Sheraton), and we boarded our brightly colored Fraser Island Adventure Tours bus, eager but tired.
The drive from Noosa to Fraser Island is two and half hours long, fortunately, we stopped at Rainbow Beach (close to Fraser) for a bio break and to pick up the last members of our tour group. The views from above of Rainbow Beach were sprawling and beautiful, however, the true beauty is from the ocean looking up. Though, drivers be warned, Rainbow Beach is known for eating and swallowing more cars than any other beach! More on that later.
After driving onto a barge and crossing a small stretch of water between Rainbow Park and Fraser Island, we had arrived. On the East Coast of Fraser Island is 75 Mile Beach, it’s literally 75 miles long, hence the name. And we drove all over it, spotting dingoes, turtles, and a large number of dead birds. Our tour guide explained that these are migratory birds who fly for hundreds and hundreds of miles to get to Fraser Island and by the time they get here they have no more energy to continue. Truly a sad story. Apart from the animals (varying in levels of alive-ness), 75 Mile Beach is known for the SS Maheno Shipwreck and the Champagne Pools. In true Fraser fashion, that’s just a snippet of what’s available on this sand island.
For a sand island, inland there are two things of note. One is the redwood style forest. Literally growing into sand are massive trees. I thought I was back in the Redwood National Park and couldn’t believe that a rain forest so lush and so dense could grow on an island made of sand. It was mind blowing. Secondly, Fraser Island has over 100 freshwater lakes, including the often visited Lake McKenzie. The water is so pure there that it is said to be fabulous for your skin. I naturally made sure my whole face got drenched in its crystal clear waters. Do I look younger?
Driving through the interior of the island to get to these lakes and forest, you can tell why it’s not really safe for drivers who are unfamiliar with the terrain. Between tough, narrow one lane unpaved roads, and quick moving sand, it was comforting to be in the hands of a professional. Plus seeing a few abandoned cars certainly helped solidify our decision to go in a group.
Our journey didn’t stop at the lakes and forest, we also explored the Pinnacles and Eli Creek. The Pinnacles reminded me so much of Bryce Canyon, as the colorful reds and yellow sands rose above the dunes. It was crazy to me that a small island could have so many uniquely different geographies and attractions. It seemed like Fraser Island was a microcosm of Australia itself, placed into one beautiful beachy / foresty location.
Eli Creek is a small stream with a strong current, so you hop in on one end and get to float all the way back to the beginning. We had a lot of fun on this lazy river and meeting people from fellow tours during our stop there.
After spending about 7 hours on Fraser Island, it was time to head back. The tides were in our favor as our tour operator decided why take roads, when you can drive on Rainbow Beach to get home??? He mentioned how the people drive on this beach all the time, but most don’t pay attention to the tides and that so many cars get abandoned or need to be towed off the beach at a later date. He even showed us a postcards to that affect that showed all the abandoned cars in a single year. You could probably fill a few calendars with abandoned car photos. Despite that funny little anecdote, Rainbow Beach is truly stunning. We marveled at the beautiful colors captured in the cliffs of the beach, understanding where it got its name, and simultaneously hoped that our driver really was well versed in the tides.