FRASER ISLAND: Flying Solo

Fraser Island, also known as K’Gari, menacing paradise is the largest sand island in the world. Measuring 120km by 15km, it is the only place where rainforest grows on sand and home to the purest population of dingo. With no paved roads, the only way to see explore the island is to join the 4WD crew.

I cannot tell you how many websites I visited, blogs I read, or people I spoke too to try and find out the best way to visit the island. Do we take our own 4WD? Do we hire a 4WD? Do we join a tour? Do we go for the day? Do we stay overnight? Do we stay for longer than that?! I HAD SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Our 4WD is 20 years old and has a habit of misbehaving at crucial times. Looking back, I am so glad we didn’t take it over to the island. Hiring a 4×4 for an overnight stay was coming back very expensive – over $1,500! And we didn’t particularly want to join a tour with a group of people as we wanted to explore the island on our own. After comparing several companies and weighing up the options, we chose to go with Air Fraser Fly Drive Package.

Instead of catching the good old ferry, they flew us over from Hervey Bay in the smallest plane you could ever imagine. Whilst we saw whales, manta rays, turtles and breathtaking views of Fraser from above, I don’t fancy going in a tiny plane again any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, it’s was an incredible experience, that I’ve long wanted to do, but as a nervous flyer I was like a rabbit in headlights.

We landed smoothly on Frasers famous 75 mile beach, where they had our 4WD waiting for us. We were handed the keys, given a map and were left to our own adventure.

75 MILE HIGHWAY

Frasers National Highway, 75 Miles of beach along the eastern side of the island. National speed limits apply. They even have cops ready to catch those who are having too much fun on the sandy highway.

It was awesome. If you’re new to 4WD, then the highway is a good place to start. When the tides out, the sand is hard and flat, making it easy to drive on. There are a few bumpy bits which you should take it easy on and make sure you watch out for the oncoming 4WD, tourists, wild dingos and the landing planes. Other than that you’ll be fine!

Knowing the tide times is so important when planning a trip to Fraser Island. You don’t want to get cut off, stuck in the sand or worse stuck in the salty sea. It happens.

THE MAHENO SHIPWRECK

Fraser Island is like something on a postcard. We drove past The Pinnacles, a section on Fraser of yellow, pink, orange and brown coloured sands, to one of the most photographed locations on the Island. The Maheno Shipwreck.

A former World War 1 ship that washed up on the shores of Fraser in 1935. A very impressive sight to see, and a photographers dream at sunset. The shipwreck however, year after year, is rotting and sinking a little more into the sand of the 75 mile highway. It’s worth visiting sooner rather than later!

ELI CREEK

One of my favourite spots on the island. Whilst there are several creeks you can visit on Fraser, this one is by far the most popular and will be found on the itinerary of every tour. Eli Creek is also a popular spot for cars getting bogged!

I was worried we were going find ourselves stuck in the sand here. Farley had a bad habit of driving into soft sand instead of following the hard tracks. The parking at Eli Creek was pretty soft so you should be mindful when pulling up in your car. Just follow the tracks that have already been made by other 4WD and you should be A ok.

We walked the board walk to the top of Eli Creek. I was sad that I didn’t bring my pink flamingo floaty with me on the trip. I could have easily spent hours floating down the creek again and again and again. Instead we waded down the creek alone and it was so incredibly peaceful. Peaceful that is, until Farley tripped on water and fell in fully clothed. He does make me laugh. Who trips on crystal clear water. We were getting close to high tide, so it was time to head inland to the infamous Lake McKenzie. We took the turning off the 75 Mile Beach into Eurong, but instead of driving into the tire tracks, you guessed it, Farley went straight through the middle of thick soft sand. And we’re bogged. DISASTER.

I’m exaggerating, it wasn’t that much of a disaster. You can’t go to Fraser Island and not get bogged right? It’s all part of the experience. Strangers were so friendly and quick to come to our rescue. Within 10 minutes, after some digging, pushing, and a visit from a dingo, we were back out and ready for take 2. This time following the tracks.

LAKE MCKENZIE

The drive to Lake McKenzie wasn’t as bad as I pictured in my head. I can however tell you that I’m so glad we didn’t drive our own 4WD onto the island. Theres a lot of ups and downs, bumpy tracks and a lot of sand but as long as you stick to the tyre tracks you’ll be fine. You also have to be cautious of oncoming cars or in our case MASSIVE tour bus. Farley and several other cars had to tactfully reverse in the sandy tracks, onto a ledge to let the bus pass.

Lake McKenzie, the jewel of Fraser Island, exceeded all our expectations. It was the most crystal clear freshwater lake I’d ever seen. The sand was so white, powdery and cool to walk on. You could shine your teeth with us. Lake Mckenzie was paradise and the perfect spot for that all important Instagram photo.

We set ourselves up on Lake McKenzie and didn’t move for the rest of the day. I didn’t want to leave Fraser Island. We could just accidentally miss our flight home I thought? Maybe they won’t notice… but with just 4 passengers, they probably would. Return flights to Hervey Bay were included in our fly drive package. The total day cost $600 for both of us.

Although we had a memorable experience with Air Fraser, having the best of both worlds with two scenic flights and the benefit of driving at our own pace, just one day on the island wasn’t long enough. There is a lot more we wanted to see, including the famous Champagne Pools, Indian Heads and Lake Wabby! If we were to go back we’d look to stay 2, maybe 3 nights.

Have you been to Fraser Island yet? Here’s my Top 5 Tips if you’re planning on flying solo to the island.

1. Know the tide times before you go

2. Deflate your tyres for sand driving and remember to bring an air pressure gauge and pump

3. Follow the tracks and you should be fine but it’s worth investing in some recovery gear just in case

4. Get your hands on a good map

5. Read up on dingo safety and whatever you do DO NOT FEED THEM!

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