Early morning in Hervey beach. Overcast, gray and rainy sky. We who had such nice weather throughout our driving holiday in Queensland! It is typical to get rain on an exciting excursion day like this, when we would leave the car at the hotel and go to Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is a national park, a world heritage site and the world's largest sand island. Although the island consists of sand, it is also home to rainforest, freshwater lakes and a rich wildlife. To be able to drive a car on the island, you need a special permit and a really big four-wheel drive SUV. Which we don't have for our rental car. So we have to make do with an arranged full-day excursion to the island instead.
We were picked up by a large bus from Fraser Explorer Tours at half past eight, which took us to the car ferry that would take us over to the island. Once on the other side, a smaller all-terrain vehicle would be waiting for us. Because there are no roads on the island. Just sand. Actually, there is actually only one official road on the island. The beach 75 mile beach, where you can actually drive 80 knots.
We boarded the ferry and waited. It took time to get all the cars on the boat, as all the large SUVs would back up on board the ferry. The trip over to the island was calm, but the winds blew quite so chilly.
The island turned out to have neither a jetty nor a pier, but the car ferry basically simply drove all the way up to land. There, the cars had to drive off in the ditch on some plywood boards.
Once ashore, we hopped on our combination truck/bus to begin touring the island. The roads on Fraser Island are therefore not made of gravel or asphalt, but slimy sand. How fast it is possible to drive around the island therefore depends entirely on the weather and wind. Because of the rain, the sand was also quite sticky. Luckily our bus had big tractor tires.
First stop was Lake McKenzie, one of 100 natural freshwater lakes on the island. This is no ordinary lake. There is no inlet and no outlet. The lake is only replenished by rainwater. The lake is very nice with powder-white beaches and still and clear water. Many people put on bathing suits and went swimming, but it wasn't that hot. We went for a walk on the beach instead.
The island is not teeming with eateries. We had a buffet lunch at one of the few hotels on the island. The resort was built in the 60s before construction on the island stopped completely. The place did not appear to have been renovated since then. Maybe not so strange really, because how are they going to manage to transport building materials around the island?
After the mediocre buffet, we gassed up 75 mile beach. That's where it got away! It was low tide and raining a bit lightly, so the sand was hard packed and perfect to drive on. Out at sea we saw humpback whale after humpback whale jumping and splashing along the horizon. Absolutely wonderful.
Suddenly the bus stops. One dingo running past us on the beach. There are only 250 dingoes living on the entire island, so we were thrilled to see it. The dingoes that live on Fraser Island belong to an isolated and completely purebred tribe, more like wolves than dogs. Dingoes hunt in packs just like wolves and can be very aggressive. On the whole of Fraser Island, you should therefore never go anywhere alone and never leave food or children out of sight. A bit difficult to understand, as the dingoes we saw looked rather like thin, kind dogs.
The next stop was the shipwreck Maheno. The cruise ship Maheno ran aground on Fraser Island in 1935 and has remained in the same spot ever since, decaying. What remains of the ship is a shell of rust. It's quite interesting to look back at pictures of Maheno from just a few years ago, you can really see how the ship decays a little more every year. Piece by piece is returned to nature.
Continued north on the beach – another dingo! The guide told us that we had incredible luck today. Often you don't see a single dingo here during the day. He thought it was the weather that made them come forward. So maybe we were actually lucky with the weather today, even if it didn't feel like it in the drizzle.
We stopped at The Pinnacles colored rocks, but in the rain they were neither particularly beautiful nor particularly colorful.
Drove back south towards Eli Creek – another dingo! Also, this dingo followed us all the way to Eli Creek and laid down and slept in the sand next to the buses. It was definitely waiting for us to drop something good. Tourists probably mean candy.
Eli Creek is one of all freshwater streams found on the Fraser. We strolled along the hiking trail and dipped our toes. When we were back at the bus, the dingo was still there.
Now we left the beach and drove back on the bumpy and slippery sandy roads to Central Station, which is located in the rainforest in the middle of the island. Hundreds of lumbermen and their families lived at Central Station 150 years ago. To build big ships you need big trees. At that time, Fraser Island was full of thousand-year-old hardwood trees. Big, stately and perfect for building ships. Quantities of the largest trees were therefore uprooted and shipped from the island. Today, there are not many trees older than 500 years left on the island. But the trees that remain are in and of themselves protected from felling and are already GIGANTIC.
We went for a walk in the rainforest, on one of the trails that are by Central Station. The rain made the island completely magical, with water slowly dripping from the large leaves and water vapor forming a mysterious haze in the forest.
On the way back up to the bus, we heard a very loud noise. It sounded like children screaming and fooling around with each other. Weird. Here in the woods on Fraser Island? As we approached, we saw that there were no children. There were two dingoes frolicking and howling right in front of us. They looked at us a bit, but remained unmoved as we passed by.
The sun was going down. It was time to return to the car ferry before it got dark. We just made it back to the 17 boat to the mainland. What day! Dingos, humpback whales and magical views. Couldn't have been better. Not even the weather.
Want to read more of my travel tips? do not forget to like Rucksack on Facebook!
Want to read more from Australia?
85 miles north of Perth lies one of the world's marine wonders. Surrounded by deserts,…31 October 2019
Fremantle is Perth's port city, a historic and lively small town on the Indian Ocean. Here…24 October 2019