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Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, lies just off the Queensland coast roughly halfway between Brisbane and Rockhampton. Known to the Butchulla people, its Traditional Owners, as K'gari, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed island is a unique mix of massive sand dunes, serene subtropical rainforest, and mangrove swamps. Along with parrots, cockatoos, possums, and sugar gliders, Fraser has a sizable protected population of dingoes. Chances are you’ll encounter these native wild dogs at some point during your trip, as they’re all over the island.
The village of Eurong, the main settlement on the island, sits on the coast between two lakes on the ocean-facing 75 Mile Beach. The beach runs from the southern tip of the island past Eurong north to the Champagne Pools, a series of naturally formed ocean-fed swimming holes. You can take your four-wheel drive onto 75 Mile Beach and on the tracks across the island; just don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry, with soft sand forcing you to take it slow.
You’ll need a reliable four-wheel drive (and a park permit) to navigate this sand island. Vehicle ferries depart from two points on the mainland. One barge service runs from Inskip Point, opposite the southern tip of the island; the other barges leave from River Heads, further north near the town of Hervey Bay. The nearest international hub is Brisbane Airport (BNE). You can pick up a rental there (make sure the rental company allows driving on Fraser Island) and drive two hours and 45 minutes to Inskip Point, or take another flight to Hervey Bay Airport (HVB). Here you can rent a four-wheel drive and make your way to the River Heads ferry terminal. If you want to stay car-free, there’s an off-road taxi service that will meet you at any of the barge landings and take you to your stay.
Fraser Island is subtropical, so the spring months of October and November, summer, and the first half of autumn are hot and humid. The nights don’t really warm up until November, and you won’t feel much of an evening chill until April, unless you’re right on the beach. The island is at its hottest and busiest during the summer school holidays, from mid-December until the end of January. June and July are the driest months, with sunny winter days that can seem almost balmy. Whales pass by Fraser Island on their migration north from early July and make the return journey south until November. The peak time for this stretch of the “humpback highway” is early August to late September, which coincides with the best weather conditions for enjoying your time here.
Fraser Island is home to more than 40 beautiful freshwater lakes: more than half of all known “perched” dune lakes (bodies of water fed only by rainwater) in the world are here. The prettiest of these is Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie), with its stunning deep-blue waters and white-sand beaches. Swim, kayak, or simply take selfies at this picturesque spot.
This section of pristine rainforest inland from 75 Mile Beach, around halfway along the length of the coastline, is a peaceful, awe-inspiring sanctuary on a hot day. It’s also home to the two largest trees on the island, the Giant Tallowwood and the Giant Satinay.
Off the 75 Mile Beach track north of Eurong, the crescent-shaped Lake Wabby is a smaller perched lake that will eventually be consumed by the neighbouring Hammerstone Sandblow. Until then you can set off on a two-hour walk through dense forest to the dunes before taking a refreshing dip in the green waters of the lake.