Fraser Island On a BudgetFraser Island, located off Australia's eastern Queensland coast, is the world's largest sand island. It is best known as a camping and ecotourism destination, with a number of panoramic viewpoints, beaches, lakes, and freshwater pools. Hervey Bay, a beachside city on the nearby mainland, is a primary gateway to the island.
SightsThe freshwater lakes are a major attraction for visitors coming to Fraser Island. Lake MacKenzie with its calm crystal blue waters and white sands is especially popular, and usually draws a crowd midday during peak season. Near the lake there is also a pleasant walking trail along Wanggoolba Creek. Lake Wabby is green-colored lake inhabited by freshwater turtles and catfish, and is another common place for swimming, just a 30 minute walk from the beach.
The beach itself is also a prime location for swimming, beachside activities, and experiencing some of its many unique features. The Champagne Pools, for example, are rock pools named for their froth that provide a safe place to bathe in the seawater. Eli Creek, also along the main beach, is a freshwater current where visitors can float or walk along its boardwalk. And then there is the Maheno shipwreck a retired passenger steamer that was blown ashore in 1935 and was even used for target practice by Australian Airforce during World War II.
As far as views go, one of the best is Indian Head, a rocky outcrop at the northern end of the main beach. Visitors climb to the top for a panoramic overlook of the beach and the ocean, sometimes spotting sharks, rays, turtles, and dolphins down below. The Pinnacles or Cathedrals are also very scenic, exhibiting ribbons of colorful sandstone in its cliffs.
NeighborhoodsHervey Bay, located on the mainland, is the hub of civilization for the Fraser Island area. It is best known as a gateway to Fraser Island and the southern Great Barrier Reef, and is also a popular whale watching destination. Whale season starts late July and goes through to early November with Antarctic humpback whale being the migratory species often sighted.
Hervey Bay is actually a few seaside towns merged along the bay rather than a single town. These smaller towns consist of Urangan, Torquay, Scarness, Pialba, and Point Vernon, each with its own shopping centers and recreational hubs. The Esplanade is a 14 kilometer-long pathway that stretches from the Urangan Harbour at the eastern end of the city to Gatakers Bay in the west. It is a primary stretch for experiencing beaches, ocean views, parks, playgrounds, botanic gardens, piers, swimming, boating, fishing, marine life, shopping, dining, and aboriginal heritage. Other Hervey Bay attractions include a water park, a historical village and museum, aquarium, and more.
ActivitiesThe best way to experience Fraser Island is to camp on the beach or at one of the inlet campgrounds and hire a 4WD for the visit. This method allows visitors to explore at their leisure. Other activities on the island include swimming along the beach, lakes, freshwaters pools, and creeks, wandering the boardwalks and nature trails, wildlife watching, eco tours, scuba, and snorkeling.
Activities from Hervey Bay consist of nature and wildlife tours, fishing charter and tours, dolphin and whale watching, eco tours, watersports like waterski and jet ski, parasailing and paragliding, horseback riding tours, and air tours, amongst others.
Food and DiningIn Hervey Bay, there are a number of restaurants and take-away places situated in town and along the Esplanade. Like any tourist destination, the town will have dining available for all tastes and budgets with International flavors including things like Thai, Italian, Chinese, and Mexican. As a seaside location, there are also a number of restaurants serving fresh fish and seafood. Options from the sea are available from fine dining entrees to fast food like fish and chips. As far as iconic Australian foods go, Vegemite is a vitamin-rich, somewhat bitter yeast spread which is often thinly spread on buttered toast. Other unique items include a kind of chocolate biscuit called Tim Tams, fairy bread which is basically white bread buttered with sprinkles, a chocolate covered sponge cake called lamington, and macadamia nuts.
TransportationBy plane, Hervey Bay Airport (just on the mainland in the beachside city of Hervey Bay) is the primary gateway to Fraser Island. It is sometimes called the Fraser Coast airport.
Driving vehicle access to Fraser Island is by ferry only. 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.