OUR TRAVELS ~ FRASER ISLAND
WE may have grown up predominately in Queensland but we are ashamed to say we have travelled more of Europe than our very own sunshine state.
So when the opportunity arose to visit the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island, around 250kms north of Brisbane, one half of the Travelling Tribe decided to jump at the chance to experience Fraser’s staggering natural wonders.
Coincidentally, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle had visited a couple of weeks’ before us last November putting this island paradise on the map.
And, after four blissful days spent on the world’s largest sand island, we can see why tourists from all over the globe come to Queensland to visit Fraser, a natural island paradise where ancient rainforest grows out of only sand and 40 of the island’s 100 freshwater lakes are perched in the tops of golden dunes high above sea level.
Better yet, Fraser - or K’gari as it is called by the original owners, the Butchulla people - has a magical, spiritual feeling – as though the island is actually living and breathing – that you really can’t really describe until you experience it.
We love to camp however you do need a 4WD to navigate the sand island.
There are also dingoes on Fraser so I didn’t feel comfortable camping with the boys although the island is known for its fishing, camping and hardcore 4WDing.
The good news is that you can enjoy Fraser without a 4WD.
We opted to stay at Kingfisher Bay Resort, which boasts comfortable resort-style lodgings, swimming pools, and several dining options – one with a tropical-style pool, much to my boys’ delight.
We arrive on a lunchtime ferry from the River Heads Mainland Ferry Terminal, 20 minutes south of Hervey Bay, and are instantly dazzled by the aquamarine water and a large sea turtle swimming alongside the iconic Kingfisher Bay Jetty.
The award-winning, four-star eco-resort is ideal for families and feels exceptionally private due to its beautiful, natural setting.
We stayed in a self-contained two-bedroom villa, which was away from the hotel-style lodgings but a short stroll to the beach, pools and restaurants and surrounded by natural bushland.
We brought a lot of fruit, snacks and groceries with us so we could self-cater as well as trying out Kingfisher’s three restaurants.
After a day of exploring, I recommend heading down to Kingfisher’s Sunset Bar to watch the glorious sun set and enjoy a happy hour cocktail. There are loungers and chairs right on the sand so the kids can swim, play and chase the crabs around while you enjoy a tipple – or two. Bliss.
I am not usually a fan our tours but do not leave Fraser without doing the Full Day 4WD Beauty Spots Tour, with Fraser Explorer Tours.
The tour goes for eight hours so I wondered how the boys would go however it turned out to be the highlight of their stay – and ours too.
We hit the jackpot getting photographer and exceptionally knowledgeable Fraser Island resident of 22 years, Pete Meyer, as our guide. Pete was great fun with a fabulous sense of humour – the boys adored him - and exceptionally knowledgeable.
After piling into our huge 4WD bus, we took in the Stonetool Sandblow from a lookout surrounded by towering Scribbly Gums before driving along the 120km 75 Mile Beach, the island’s sand highway on the eastern side of the island.
The tranquil Eli Creek more than lived up to expectations and the boys loved floating down the fast-flowing freshwater creek past banksia and pandanus and onto the beach in blow up tubes, and leaping into the crystal waters from low hanging trees. Pete had several tubes for us to use but if you plan on 4WDing and not doing a tour, make sure you bring tubes!
We opted to splash out take a scenic flight with Air Fraser Island [$80 pp] off the beach, marveling at Butterfly Creek, towering rainforests and the myriad of freshwater lakes below us.
After visiting the Maheno shipwreck, coloured sands of The Pinnacles and the magical Central Station – a former logging station and home to the Satinay/Fraser Island turpentine trees – we ended the day with a dip the Insta-famous Lake Mackenzie, the water every bit as iridescent as the images suggest. Lake Mackenzie is a ‘perched lake’ which means it contains only rainwater, is not fed by streams and doesn’t flow into the ocean an the sand is pure white silica. It was such a beautiful spot to finish the tour and spend the afternoon.
We spent the rest of the holiday swimming, relaxing and enjoying all that this beautiful, natural island had to offer.
Kingfisher have a fantastic Junior Eco Ranger program, which was a highlight for the boys. We welcomed the opportunity for them to learn about the island’s rich history, and importance of protecting this beautiful, natural wonder while toasting marshmallows around a campfire with Ranger Jamon.
The rest of our holiday was spent swimming, enjoying the pools and soaking up the natural beauty of the 166,000-hectare island; the slow pace providing us with the perfect opportunity to switch off from the fast-paced digital world and reconnect with each other.
Fraser Island is 250km north of Brisbane.
We drove our car and left it at a secure car park at the River Heads Mainland Ferry Terminal, 20 minutes south of Hervey Bay. The passenger and vehicle ferry takes around 50 minutes to get to Kingfisher Bay Resort from River Heads.
For 4WD access to Fraser Island, you can also take a barge at Inskip Point on the northern end of Rainbow Beach (one hour and 40 minutes south of Hervey Bay).