I arrived in Sydney at the end of September. Much to my surprise it was shockingly cold. I knew it was technically the start of Australia’s spring, but I was not prepared. Thankfully, I did bring pants, a couple of sweatshirts, and a last minute jacket. I’m glad I had all of that and it helped me get through the chilly nights, but this was not the Australia I had in mind. Pretty much by the 5th day I was so over it that the wheels in my head started turning and I started researching and exploring things to do a little further north. Well Fraser Island was the obvious winner. If you haven’t heard of Fraser please know that pictures, descriptions, etc. really cannot do the island justice. It’s a little special piece of earth that doesn’t compare to anywhere else. I’m going to try to do the Island justice, but know that it just gets better.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. Okay so what does that mean because aren’t all islands made out sand? Why should I be impressed? Well because it’s just sand – no dirt or soil just a massive 75 miles of sand. Sand, which came from the depths of the ocean with algae and nutrients that somehow supported a rainforest to grow and flourish. Although, hundreds of tourists come to Fraser every day (I think a big thanks to Instagram for that), the island is still remote and feels untouched. There’s something so primitive and rich in the beauty of the island. There’s loads of different tours you can do, but I definitely recommend at least staying for one night if not two. There’s just too much to see and distance to cover just for a day trip.
I haven’t spoken to anyone who has gone to Fraser and who didn’t like it. I can’t compare the various trips yet, so I’m just going to speak of my trip with the caveat that I am totally bias. I booked my trip with Dingos. On top of the two nights on the island they include a stay at a hostel in Rainbow Beach the night before the trip and the night after (total of 4 nights and 5 days).
Arrive by bus to Rainbow Beach at 12:45pm and check in to Freedom Hostel. The bus conveniently dropped us off right outside. Score! I’m in a seven-bed dorm, but I’m the first one here so I get the single bed. I didn’t realize at the time, but nobody else ends up in the room so it’s like I have a private room. I go out exploring Rainbow Beach, but it’s a very small town with not a lot to see. I go hang out on the beach before heading back to the hostel to book a horseback riding activity for when we get back from Fraser. That evening we have a introduction and safety briefing and meet the other travelers. The hostel bar has a cool atmosphere and good drink specials (I sunk the ball behind the bar to extend happy hour to 11pm…thank you UCF).
Early wake up call, but we don’t get moving until almost 9:30am at that point we’ve all been up for at least 2 hours and are feeling a bit dusty and anxious to get going. Once on the road we only drive out of town about 10 minutes to get to the ferry. Then we are on the island and the fun begins. It’s hard to describe the feeling of pure joy, happiness, and freedom you get on the drive and surrounded by 9 other people who are also feeling it is so special. Most of the time if you looked at someone they just looked so happy. It made the uncomfortable seats and bumpy ride totally worth it. Driving on the sand is pretty epic, but it nowhere compares to driving through the rainforest. There are no actual roads just ones people make. It was not an easy ride, but we had a great guide who most importantly made sure we were all safe and having fun. The trees are enormous and some date back over 250 years (which is older than Australia was a country).
Lake Mckenzie (Boorangoora) – the most breathtaking lake (I would even say body of water) I have ever seen or had the opportunity to swim in. The water is so clear and blue and the lake is surrounded by beautiful white sand and lush greenery. Your mind really thinks you are on a beach, but you can take a gulp of fresh water. The lake holds significant meaning to the indigenous people so you have to be respectful and mindful of what your bring in and even wearing fresh sunscreen can impact the lake. Seeing something that beautiful you just want to make sure it continues to look that way generations after we leave the planet.
We head to our campsite (oh yes full on tent camping). We watch the sunset from the beach and then head in to cook dinner in our car groups and then just have the best night. The goon is flowing, card games are going, and one of our new friends starts singing. We don’t have any cell service so there is no other option, but to be present in the moment and talking to one another.
Another early start to the day and we head out driving. The staff breathalyze the drivers and everyone is cleared to drive. Our first stop is Lake Allom. This is a tea tree infused lake so the color looks like tea (aka brown)…not super appealing at first look, but then we spot four little turtles and realize we are in a special spot. When you touch the water it feels extra “wet” really hard to explain so you just have to trust me on this one. A group of us go in and we immediately feel invigorated. Any hangovers are wiped away after a swim in the tea tree lake.
Break for lunch and then on to stop #2, which is Indian Head. Named in 1770 by Captain Cook with a gorgeous view. We take pictures and really just take it all in because in every direction you look it looks untouched. Next on the agenda is stop #3, the Champagne Pools. Known as Fraser Island’s natural jacuzzi, but when we went it was not so much a jacuzzi and more like an ice bath. Okay it wasn’t that cold and if the sun had been higher it would have been refreshing, but we arrived towards the end of the day. That didn’t stop us from going in for a bit and then we were all just hanging out as we dried off. I attempted to teach some yoga to one of my car buddies and then it was time for us to head out and back to camp.
After getting to know each other over the last couple of days and this being the last night we knew it would be a fun one. Part of our group made dinner and the others would be on the dishwashing. After swimming in the tea tree water and then the ocean, showers were very much appreciated and worth the $2. Once it was dark a big group of us headed to the beach. I have never seen stars so radiant. On our way back to the campsite we finally saw a wild dingo! It was a little scary, but we wouldn’t feel like we got the full Fraser Island experience if we didn’t see one.
It’s our last day so after breakfast we pack and clean everything up before heading out. Our first stop of the day is the Maheno Shipwreck. Originally sailing back in 1905 and it was even was converted to a hospital ship during World War I. It ended up at Fraser Island when it was finally wrecked in 1935 after a cyclone and has been there ever since. Our final Fraser stop before heading back to the mainland was Eli Creek, a beautiful freshwater creek that feeds into the ocean. We had tubes to take us down the creek.
Afterwards, the remaining portion of the 75 Mile Beach back to the ferry was all bitter and not at all sweet. We couldn’t believe our Fraser Island adventure was coming to an end. Back at Rainbow Beach we finally had cell phone service again and took take proper showers, but there was a sense of sadness in the air because we knew that after we said goodbye tomorrow we would maybe never see one another again and definitely not as a group.
Pancakes were served in the morning and some people were off bright and early for their next stop because everyone had different travel plans. I hung around Rainbow Beach for two more nights. This was officially goodbye, but we would always have the memories.
So my thoughts on Fraser Island? I think it’s a must do when you are on the East Coast of Australia. There really isn’t anything quite like it. I thought our trip was perfect, but all travelers are at the mercy of the island and it’s tides.