Fraser Island  is a large sand island 122 km (76 miles) long (the largest sand island in the world) situated off the southern coast of the Australian state of Queensland, some 300 km (200 miles) north of the state capital Brisbane. A popular destination for travelers, Fraser Island was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1992.
Fraser Island - stretching over 123 kilometres along the southern coast of Queensland. Fraser Island with an area of 184 000 hectares is the largest sand island in the world.
Fraser Island's World Heritage listing ranks it with Australia’s Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef. Fraser Island is a precious part of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage, it is protected for all to appreciate and enjoy. Fraser island is a place of exceptional beauty, with its long uninterrupted white beaches flanked by strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and over 100 freshwater lakes, some tea-coloured and others clear and blue all ringed by white sandy beaches. Ancient rainforests grow in sand along the banks of fast-flowing, crystal-clear creeks. Fraser Island is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres. The low “wallum” heaths on the island are of particular evolutionary and ecological significance, and provide magnificent wildflower displays in spring and summer. The immense sand blows and cliffs of coloured sands are part of the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world and they are still evolving. They are a continuous record of climatic and sea level changes over the last 700 000 years. The highest dunes on the island reach up to 240 metres above sea level. The Great Sandy Strait, separating Fraser Island from the mainland, is listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention). The wetlands include: rare patterned ferns; mangrove colonies; sea-grass beds; and up to 40,000 migratory shorebirds. Rare, vulnerable or endangered species include dugongs, turtles, Illidge’s ant-blue butterflies and eastern curlews.
Flora and fauna
Dingoes - once common are now endangered on Fraser Island and the island is the only place in Australia where they are considered dangerous (mainly due to being fed by visitors and losing their fear of humans).
Fraser Island is famous for over 300 species of birds, and include coastal birds such as dotterals, pied oyster-catchers, pelicans and terns, and birds of prey such as brahminy kites, white-breasted sea eagles, ospreys and peregrine falcons. The island's heathlands are home to one of Australia's rarest bird, the ground parrot, and here you will also find honey-eaters, kingfishers and cockatoos. The freshwater wetlands are the habitat of curlews, jabirus and brolgas. There are 25 species of mammal, including pure-breed dingoes, wallabies, possums, flying foxes and echidnas. Dugong feed on the sea grass, turtles breed on some island beaches, and tailor spawn annually near rocky headlands. Humpback whales from the Antarctica come to the sheltered waters of Platypus Bay with their new calves on their return journey south. Between July and August is the time to see the whales, and licenced tour-operators operate from Hervey Bay.
At 500 kilometres south of the Tropic of Capricorn, Fraser Island has a hot and humid climate but is cooled by sea breezes. Its summer maximum average temperature is only 30 degrees C, although the summer months have some extremely hot days. Winters are mild, with average temperatures of around 15 degrees C. This is usually the dry season and most winter days are sunny and frost free, making for a very pleasant climate. People with fair skins need to be wary when out in the midday sunshine since unprotected skin can burn in a few minutes. Hats, cool clothing that protects from the sun, sunscreen and common sense are essentials to enjoying Fraser Island summers.
Vehicular access to Fraser Island is by ferry only; thereafter, four-wheel drive vehicles are necessary for transport around the island. Travelers have the option of bringing or hiring their own 4WD vehicle, joining a group from a Hervey Bay hostel, or taking a 4WD tour bus. Vehicle hire is available and tour buses depart from various towns on the Sunshine Coast (Noosa) and Fraser Coast (Hervey Bay).
The following boats serve Fraser Island:
- Fraser Venture (Ph. 07 4125 4444) - vehicle barge that makes three crossings per day from River Heads (10km southwest of Hervey Bay) to Wanggoolba Creek (west of Central Station / Eurong).
- Fraser Island Ferry Service - crosses from Inskip point near Rainbow beach to the southern point of Fraser Island. Most trips originating from Noosa use this service.
A number of charter operators fly light aircraft on to Fraser Island, landing on the main beach (at low tide only).
Permits - Vehicles and Camping: All vehicles travelling to Fraser Island must have an official permit. It must be attached to the windscreen. Campers other than those using commercial camp sites must have a camping permit which should be attached to the tent in clear view for inspection by the Park Ranger.
Permits are available from the following offices:
- THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT Smart Service Qld www.qld.gov.au/camping 13 13 04
- Brisbane: 160 Ann St, (07) 3227 8185
- Maryborough: Cnr Alice and Lennox St (07) 4121 1800
- Gympie: (07) 5482 4189
- Noosa: (07) 5447 3243
- Bundaberg: (07) 4153 8620
- Rainbow Beach: (07) 5486 3160
Permits are also available from:
- The Marina Kiosk Buccaneer Avenue
- Urangan Boat Harbour (07) 4128 9800
- National Parks Kiosk River Heads boat ramp
One of the most popular ways to get to and see Fraser Island is by a self drive 4WD trip that includes camping gear. You see the island driving yourself and camping at the numerous camp sites on the island.
- Other 4WD hire companies serving Fraser Island with self-drive tours include: Aussie Trax - 1800062275 : Bay4wd.com.au - 1800687178 : Safari 4WD - 1800689819 : Koala - 180046644 : Sunset Safari : Sargen Hire
- Fraser Magic 4WD Hire, 5 Kruger Court Hervey Bay, ☎ +61 7 4125 6612, . Family run business, with a Swiss-Australian background. Provides 4wd hire from 2 up to 8 seater landrovers. Accommodation packages and camping equipment available for hire.
- The most popular and comfortable way of seeing Fraser Island is on one of the many guided tours staying in resort accommodation. The vast majority of tour operators depart from Hervey Bay but there are some that will pick up at the Sunshine Coast and Rainbow Beach.
- Fraser Island Tours Travelwild Australia offer small group 4WD tours of Fraser Island for active people, visit the website of call 1800 17 16 16 or +61 8 8843 4159.
- Lake MacKenzie - the jewel of Fraser Island, Lake MacKenzie is a large perched lake with crystal blue waters and white sands. The area is one of the most popular on the island so can get crowded during the middle of the day in peak season.
- Lake Wabby - a green colored lake some 20min walk from the beach, with a large sand blow that is slowly encroaching upon the lake. Freshwater turtles and fish can sometimes be seen swimming in the lake.
- Indian Heads - the rocky outcrop at the northern end of the main beach. Climb to the top to look down into the ocean and spot sharks, rays and turtles.
- Champagne Pools - north of Indian Heads, these rock pools provide a safe place to bathe in sea water. Their name is derived from the froth created when waves break over the edge and into the pools.
- Eli Creek - a freshwater creek midway along the main beach where bathers can float down with the current. A boardwalk provides access to the top of the creek.
- Maheno shipwreck - in 1935 the retired passenger steamer Maheno was being towed to Japan for scrapping when a storm forced it ashore. A few km north of Eli Creek.
One of the best ways to see Fraser Island is to hire a 4WD and explore at your leisure. Accommodation options range from basic cabins to 4 star resorts. Another popular option is camping on the beach or at inland campgrounds - most vehicle hire companies also hire camping gear. If time permits you should allow at least three days to discover the wonderful sights of Fraser. To ensure quality of service it is recommended to hire from a company that is a current member of the Fraser Coast 4X4 Hire Association.
Soft drinks and alcohol can be purchased from shops at Eurong and Happy Valley, although alcohol is not available before 10am due to state licensing laws. Note that prices are substantially higher on the island than on the mainland; save money by bringing sufficient supplies with you!
Drinking water can be obtained from taps in various campsites and from a tap on the beach 500m north of Eurong; untreated water from the creeks or lakes should not be drunk.
Sleeping on Fraser Island ranges from luxury resorts through campsites to rough camping amongst the dunes along designated stretches of beach.
Fraser Island Backpackers YHA sleep for as little as $35 a night, great atmosphere, friendly staff and a great location With A view.
- Eurong Beach Resort  (Ph. +61 7 4127 9122) - with rooms to suit a variety of budgets, Eurong sits towards the south of the main beach on the east side of the island. Many guests will join 4WD bus tours from the resort. The area also contains shops, fuel and other facilities, though note that prices are substantially greater than on the mainland.
- Kingfisher Bay Resort and Village  (Ph. + 61 7 4120 3333) - a more upmarket option on the west of the island, but it also has some cheaper huts, with restaurants, pubs and shops.
- Sailfish on Fraser  (Ph. + 61 7 4124 0287) - Beautiful appointed 2 bedroom apartments at cosy Happy Valley.
There are a number of campsites on the island which house standard facilities (toilets, showers etc.) and are fenced to keep dingoes out. Fires are permitted in these sites within fire rings, but noise is forbidden after 9pm.
Along the main beach, there are designated areas for camping amongst the dunes. These are marked by wooden signs indicating areas where camping is permitted and where it is forbidden. In all cases, a permit is required to camp, and in some areas advanced bookings are required.
During busy periods, arrive early in the day to ensure your camping area. Camp fires outside of the official campsites are no longer permitted, with Rangers patrolling the beach and issuing fines for infringements. Be dingo safe; lock all food away when unattended.
- Fraser Island is home to approximately 150 Dingoes - Australia's wild dog. These animals can become aggressive - a 9 year old boy was killed in 2001 - and should not be approached or fed. Feeding of dingoes carries a $250 fine, and all food should be secured (in vehicles or food boxes) when unattended.
- Swimming in the ocean is not recommended owing to both the dangerous surf conditions and the number of sharks that inhabit the waters (Indian Heads is a shark breeding ground).
- Drive safely on the sand and obey the speed limits - the beach is classed as a highway, so police will run speed checks and breath tests for drivers. Speed limit on the main beach is 80km/h and on soft sand tracks 35km/h.
- Due to the temperate climate, saltwater crocodiles are not normally present within Fraser Island's waterways. However, on very rare occasions individual saltwater crocodiles do (for reasons unknown, possibly territorial disputes or even global warming) swim southward and find Fraser Island's mangroves rich with prey items (Barramundi and Bull sharks are among this species favorite meals) and low on competition. This is VERY rare and almost unheard of, yet the presence of a large (4 meter) male saltwater crocodile was confirmed in March of 2009. This is important information for both travelers to Fraser Island (as swimming is a popular and usually safe activity) and for the survival of the crocodile (man-eaters are usually shot.)
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