Sure, Queensland is spoilt for beaches but Fraser Island has more than 250 kilometres of them.
I’m swimming underwater, staring into the deep-blue depths of an island lake. In the pure water, my eyes could probably stay open long enough to read this magazine.
Next, I’m wandering under the canopy of an unusual sand-based rainforest, heralded along my path by the buzz and clicks of its insect residents.
Then I’m floating in dappled sunshine down a fast-moving freshwater creek running so clear and smooth that I could be levitating.
My first visit to Fraser Island is a weekend conga line of wow moments. I know there are dingoes (exercise caution and be sure to follow all signposted advice) and that all the sand tracks make for bumpy driving. But who knew the gentle waves rolling onto the island’s sheltered western beaches could be such an astonishing peacock-blue? Who knew about the picturesque tea-tree- tinged waterholes, the red-brown-yellow stripes of the sand cliffs, the enormous dunes and giant king ferns?
While this unique island is a packed album of natural wonders, its numbers are also impressive – at 123 kilometres long, it’s the biggest sand island in the world; back in 1992 it was the tenth Australian site included on the World Heritage list; it contains half of the world’s 80 perched sand-dune lakes, capturing pure rainwater.
But to talk of figures doesn’t convey the feeling of drifting in cocooned bliss down Eli Creek towards the beach. Of stepping onto the blinding white shore of Lake McKenzie and then wading into its dark-blue beauty. Of taking off on a scenic flight from the sandy runway of 75 Mile Beach and realising how ocean winds mean this beach can’t keep to itself, instead clambering up over the greenery. It’s also a gazetted highway, hosting the many four-wheel-driving adventurers who navigate relentless tides and pounding surf.
Humans are not the only creatures drawn to these waters when the weather turns colder. Humpbacks also use the broad expanse of Hervey Bay as a waypoint on their migration. Year-round, turtles bask in the shallows, dugongs browse on the seagrass and whistling kites circle in the blue above.
As my trip here comes to an end, I stand on the island’s jetty with the sun’s final rays warming my frosty Aperol spritz and recap my adventures through memories that need no embellishment. The island’s original name, K’gari, was bestowed by the Butchulla people. And I completely get it: K’gari means “paradise”.
Where to Stay on Fraser Island
There are campgrounds, holiday rentals and resorts but for secluded luxury with ocean views, Eliza Fraser Lodge at Orchid Beach is the pick. Hosting up to eight guests in four bedrooms, the property is in the island’s pristine north, “out of the tourists’ way”, says co-owner Nick Bevacqua. He collects guests from their air charter (if they’re not self-driving) for the short trip to the lodge, where all meals are catered and tours, picnics and fishing trips arranged. One highlight: dessert served around the firepit, “when people usually tell lots of lies about the size of the fish they caught”.