Friday, May 11, 2012

Fraser Island

The largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island is located just off the coast of southern Queensland, about 200 km (120mi) north of Brisbane.  Its matching points on the mainland have it stretching from Tin Can Bay and Rainbow Beach in the south, up to Bundaberg in the north.  It can be accessed by ferry/barge from Hervey Bay (incidentally, a great place to go whale watching, but that's a story for another time) and from Inskip Point, or by plane.  If you plan on driving yourself around the island, you will need a four wheel drive vehicle and a vehicle access permit from DERM (Department of Environment and Resource Management).  Never fear, there are plenty of day tours available so that you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery without the hassle of navigating on your own.

Although I have only been there one time, its beauty left a lasting impression on me.  To be honest, I was a little surprised at the extent of the lush vegetation on the island.  After all, it IS sand, and I guess I had the preconceived notion that not much grows in sand.  Well, once I returned home, I had to do a little research on that topic and found that there's a particular type of fungus present in the sand that releases nutrients in a way that allows the plants to absorb it.

Rainforest on Fraser Island
What a vista!
My visit to Fraser Island was as part of a small group.  We were given a talk about the dingoes on the island, and advised not to feed them, as we could be fined for it.  You have to remember, these are wild animals, and  as such, they can be unpredictable.  I will say, though, that I never felt scared or threatened - they kept their distance and I didn't see that many of them.  It's just common sense not to feed them or leave food out unattended where it could entice them into encroaching on more populated areas.  My favourite thing about Dingoes is that they don't bark, although they can howl, which sounds eerie.  Look at the gorgeous golden coat on this beauty!  Zoom lenses sure do come in handy, don't they?
Fraser Island Dingo
As part of the tour we visited Lake McKenzie, which has to be one of the most beautiful lakes I've encountered in my travels.  The white silica sand is so bright it's dazzling.  Even the feel of it to walk on was quite different than the norm.  The most stunning aspect, however, was the water.  Simply put, it was the clearest, cleanest water I've ever seen.  I could see all the way to the bottom without the view being distorted at all.  Lake McKenzie is a very popular spot, so if you're going during peak season, I'd get there early to avoid the crowds.

Fraser Island is a great place to camp, with plenty of designated areas.  For those who like life's creature comforts, there are also a couple of resorts and guest houses which can be a bit pricey due to demand.  Your other option is to stay on the mainland and do a day trip out to the island. You can find accommodation here.

If you like to fish, Fraser Island is an angler's paradise.  Tailor is probably one of the most common you'll find, along with golden trevally, surf bream, flathead and whiting.  Are you getting hungry for some good, fresh seafood yet?

One of the well known landmarks on Fraser Island is the shipwrecked S.S. Maheno which was beached (on the Eastern coast at 75 Mile Beach) in 1935 and then later used for bombing target practice during WWII.  Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to go and see this during my visit.  I guess that just means I need to go back again!  One last piece of advise before I wrap this up -- wear comfortable shoes, because chances are you're going to want to do a lot of walking and exploring.

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