How To Enjoy Fraser Island
At nearly 1000 square miles in size, long, narrow Fraser Island has the distinction of being the largest sand island in the world. To those who haven’t been there or heard about this Australian World Heritage gem, that might sound like it is just one big sand dune. That is by no means the case, though. Within its 76 mile long interior are over 100 freshwater lakes, rainforests filled with hundreds of plant species and an abundance of wildlife.
Your Fraser Island adventure starts on the mainland, at the northern tip of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. One way or the other, you’ll have to make your way up to the River-Heads Fraser Island Ferry. This is not hard to do, since Fraser Island is very popular with Sunshine Coast locals as well as interstate and overseas visitors. It’s hard enough to do, though, that when you get to the island, it won’t be packed with tourists.
The best way to have a Fraser Island adventure is to make your arrangements on the mainland first. You can do this from any of the major towns on the Sunshine Coast. One way to do it is to take a 2 or 3 day guided camping tour of the island, which includes a large, well-stocked, specially designed bus that can take you to all the major island attractions. Another way to do it is on a self-guided 4WD excursion. The company that rents you the vehicle will also provide you with all the information you need to ensure you see everything the island has to offer and are well-stocked with provisions.
There are also several Fraser Island accommodations to choose from if you want to explore the island by day and relax in comfort and style by night. They range from backpacker lodges to luxurious resorts, so no matter what your preference is, you’ll find something. It’s best to book ahead though, since only a limited number are available.
What You’ll See on Fraser Island
Fraser Island is home to hundreds of indigenous species of Australian wildlife. Among the 47 mammal species are swamp wallabies, sugar gliders and small eared mountain possums, but the Fraser Island superstars are the dingoes, which are among the purest strains of this iconic Australian dog still extant. Some mammals are predators and some vegetarian, but they all have survived in the delicately balanced ecosystem for thousands of years and all of them are protected.
Reptiles outnumber mammals, with 79 species having been identified, including some very big species like the Lace Monitor and Sand Monitor, both of which like to hang out in picnic areas. Birds rule the roost on Fraser Island, though. Over 350 different species call it home and can be seen everywhere, with some species preferring the treetops, others the lakes and still others circling the seas in search of fish.
Any illusions you have that plant life cannot survive on a sand island will be shattered when you see the astonishing variety on Fraser Island. These include giant hoop pine, kauri pine and the Fraser Island satinay, among dozens of other species, some of which are rare or endangered. Not to be overlooked are the “living fossil” ferns and other plant species whose histories can be traced back millions of years.
And, of course, there are the beaches of Fraser Island to explore. You might stay at a Fraser Island accommodation with a beach at your front door or you might want to explore the 75 mile long expanse of beach in your rented 4WD and stay at a camping area. Either way, if you’re looking for beaches, Fraser Island arguably has more beach per square mile than any other island in the world.