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World’s Largest Sand Island – Fraser Island

Ferry Docking on Fraser IslandConsistently moving north along Australia’s East Coast, we dropped our bags in Torquay and slept with anticipation before setting out for Fraser Island. It was a pre-dawn wake up call and we caught some more shuteye en route to the ferry dock. Motoring over Hervey Bay we approached what appeared to be an ordinary island with elementary green trees. However, the World Heritage site is among Australia’s most vaunted tourist sites for good reason.

4x4 Bus Driving on Cathedral Beach Silent Sand Creek

Boarding a formidable 4×4 bus, we rambled along sand tracks with deep ruts due to lack of rainfall. Our first stop was the former logging camp at Central Station. Though logging of kauri pines and blackbutt trees ended just twenty years prior, the island’s nutrient rich sand has done an admirable job in the reforestation effort. The bushwalking tracks found here exemplify the various types of flora found in the unique ecosystem and even a silent creek. Because the creek bed consists only of sand and is free of rocks, no sound is audible. Next we hit Cathedral Beach and drove through the surf, dodging smaller off-road vehicles.

Eli Creek Moheno Wreck and Equally Old Greg Ash and Moheno Wreck

Approaching a river pouring into the South Pacific Ocean, the large 4×4 bus came to sliding stop in the sand. We dawned our swim trunks and meandered up Eli’s Creek to a sign clearly indicating we were forbidden to penetrate any further. Thus we accompanied the 80,000,000 liters of water flowing to its daily saltwater death by floating on our backs. Here, Fraser Island’s uniqueness struck us. We were amazed how the world’s largest sand island can support a dense forest, produce such an immense amount of spring water, and have hundreds of species calling it home. Further along Cathedral Beach we came to a hulking pile of rusted steel jutting from the shore. Draped in history, the S.S. Moheno ran aground during a 1935 cyclone and has more than three stories buried beneath the sand. First a luxury passenger ship, then a World War I floating hospital, and finally a favorite target during Royal Air Force practice sorties. It is not everyday you see a seventy-five year old shipwreck stuck in such a state of limbo.

Sea EagleThe weather was not cooperating at this point with heavy drops falling sporadically. This did not bother a sea eagle who we spied carrying a fishy treat. Our last stop along Cathedral Beach was the Colored Sands where supposedly seventy-two different hues may be seen. We shall take the tour guide’s word for it. As we headed south for lunch, the steady wind blew the clouds away and revealed a stunning blue sky. The whole island looked decidedly different under the glare of sun though the tiger shark infested waters continued to look unappealing. Then a skinny dingo made his appearance! Eastern Australia’s only “pure” dingoes are a rare sight on Fraser Island so I followed him from a safe distance like his lost puppy.

Dingo Colored Sands Cathedral Beach

Saving the best for last and the weather on schedule, Lake McKenzie was more than we expected. Perched on top of compact sand three hundred feet above sea level, the nearly pure silica sand can be used to polish jewelry and exfoliate skin. Our Saint Christopher necklaces were in need of a deep cleaning. Once again, we were amazed by Fraser Island. Here we were on a sand island surrounded by saltwater yet our gaze was set upon a freshwater lake. The white sand gave way to a clear teal water then a deep blue. Snorkel and mask fastened to my sweaty head, I dove straight in to investigate our strange surroundings. Lake McKenzie’s sand bottom isn’t all that interesting, but I did see a young turtle making headway through the crystal H2O. Relieving the pressure from my ears as I dove deeper, the small tortoise was safely in my hands and headed for the surface. Clearly terrified by the gathering crowd surrounding him, the little devil refused to poke his head out. After releasing my treasure, Ash and I simply took in our tremendous surroundings. Certainly, Lake McKenzie ranks high among our favorite beaches in the world. And on a lake for crying out loud!

Lake McKenzie Beautiful Water Greg Catches a Baby Turtle

Check out the short video below showcasing Lake McKenzie:

Initially, we were reluctant to visit Fraser Island due to its “touristy” nature. But sometimes the destination lives up to the hype.

- Greg and Ash

Learn From Our Footsteps:

1) One can rent a 4×4 and camp overnight on Fraser Island. But be careful as the uneven paths and shifting sand cause vehicle accidents every year, some even fatal. Our hostel in Torquay had photographs of several graphic accidents to hammer home this point.

2) Booking excursions at your hostel can be hit or miss. Sometimes the hostel trips are market priced and offer the best options. Other times they are overpriced and miss the best sites. Most backpacker areas have several tour operators so check prices and options before booking. If the hostel offering seems acceptable, opt for the convenience.

  • The Jetpacker

    Ever wonder how a sandy beach can get wet and NOT turn into a giant pit of quick sand? I've seen adventure movies and that pesky quick sand pit-'o-death is everywhere in exotic territory.

  • fofs

    Jetpacker – We are now on the hunt to find quick sand. Does anyone have leads?

    - Greg and Ash

  • spencerspellman

    Actually never heard of this, but love the photos and the video. The wreckage looked like a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean. Great tips at the end.

  • fofs

    Spencer – The truly unique attributes of Fraser Island are confounding. The Moheno wreckage was quite the sight… it makes us wonder what it would like had the Royal Air Force not bombed it for target practice!

    - Greg and Ash

  • fofs

    Spencer – The truly unique attributes of Fraser Island are confounding. The Moheno wreckage was quite the sight… it makes us wonder what it would like had the Royal Air Force not bombed it for target practice!

    - Greg and Ash

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