Visit Fraser Island (BL81)
There are numerous tour options to visit Fraser Island for those without a 4WD. I chose the Fraser Explorer Company and decided on their 2 day tour at a cost of $399. I booked the tour on the phone through the Hervey Bay Information Centre where I also utilised their 48 hour RV Stop. The tour includes pick up from your accommodation and I was the first to board at 6.50am.
The trip to Fraser Island by barge took around 30 minutes from River Head. The trip from Rainbow Beach on the Noosa side takes about 10 minutes. The trip across the water was smooth and comfortable. Arriving on the island just before 9am, we divided into the various tour groups. There were only 11 in our group with a further 3 joining up from Rainbow Beach. This included a family of 4 from Hervey Bay. I was the only other Aussie on the group and the oldest in age. Being a small group we had plenty of opportunity to interact and get to know each other.
The sand tracks (and that’s all they are through the middle of the island) are very narrow and meeting an oncoming vehicle means one of you backing up to where you can pull over slightly. We being the larger vehicle usually had right of way. It was of course a very bumpy ride being flung from side to side. Seatbelts being an important fixture in the coach.
First stop was Lake McKenzie where we had an hour to swim in the warm waters. It is shallow for about 5 or 6 metres and then drops off into very deep water. The tour driver told us not to wander off alone as there are plenty of dingos around so I sidled up to a Canadian family, Mum, Dad and recently graduated with a nursing degree daughter. When we completed introductions I said to mum that I thought her and her daughter were sisters I had won a friend for the rest of the tour!
Next was a stop at Central Station and a walk along the boardwalk at Wanggoolba Creek right in the heart of the rainforest. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and was home to tree logging from the 1940’s through to the 70’s. A drive through Pile Valley gives an insight into the hard yakka the forestry workers must have endured to get the prized timber.
After lunch at Eurong Beach Resort on the eastern side of the island we headed to Lake Wabby and after a trek across Hammerstone Sandblow we were rewarded with a swim in the emerald lake. It was extremely hard going walking through the fine loose sand in thongs but was worth it in the end. The sand was red hot. I have said this before, I wouldn’t want to be doing this type of hiking in 10 years time.
Then it was back to Eurong Resort for a shower, a few drinks, a delish smorgasbord meal and washed down with a few more drinks at the Beach Bar. When I booked the tour I chose a quad room as this was the cheapest. I was surprised to learn that I had to share with 3 other guys. I thought they would have mixed it up a bit, especially as the young Welsh lady had a quad room to herself next door!
Breakfast was as good as the previous evening’s meal and we were back on the road (sand) by 8am. The Fraser Island Highway is a gazetted road with speed signs and all but being along the beach there are no white lines. Without a clear definition of the width of the road, common sense prevails. I noticed there were plenty of 4WD’s displaying P or L plates. Good experience for novice drivers. There were also a number of Tagalong Tours.
A little way along the beach we came across 2 light airplanes operated by Fraser Air. There are only 2 places in the world that have authorised beach airports and this is one. We stopped to let one of the pilots onboard who gave a spiel about the joy flight and about 10 of us were “sold”. $80 each for 15 minutes. I was in the 6 seater, the smaller of the 2 planes. This was brilliant and well worth the spend. While we were sight seeing over the island, including a fly over Lake McKenzie, the bus continued on up the beach and when we were done we landed some 20km or so up the beach to re-join the group. Fantastic fun.
We stopped at the Maheno Shipwreck which was washed ashore in 1935. It was interesting that I had been reading Anzac Girls just after visiting Fraser and The Maheno was mentioned as it was used as a Hospital Ship during WW1 and did a number of missions to Gallipoli and the Western Front. When we went to leave here the bus wouldn’t start and after a couple of phone calls we boarded another bus that was doing the same sights that day and as there was only 5 on their tour we still had plenty of room.
We swam at Eli Creek, saw the Pinnacles Coloured Sands, climbed Indian Head with its breathtaking views, and swam in the champagne pools before the trip back to the west side and our 5.15pm barge back to River Heads and a bus trip back to my own bus.
On the tour were a family of 4 from Hervey Bay, 3 Canadians, 2 Swedes, 1 Welsh, 2 Germans, 1 Spaniard and myself. On the second day after our bus broke down we also had another 3 Swedes and a Japanese couple. I shared accommodation with the 2 Germans and Spainiard, all were travelling solo and in their 30’s. Great bunch of guys.
It was an absolutely fantastic 2 day tour and I would highly recommend this way of seeing Fraser Island (if you don’t have a 4WD yourself). I rate Fraser Island up there with my tours of Bungle Bungles and Lake Argyle as my favourites so far.