The WeekenderTravel

The Weekender: Fraser Island, Queensland

Seventy Five Mile Beach, Fraser Island. Image Provided by Tourism and Events Queensland.

The perfect summer island getaway is waiting for you just off the south-east coast of Queensland.

Ancient rainforests, spectacular sand formations and outrageously gorgeous swimming spots are just some of the reasons Fraser Island is one of Australia’s most popular tourist attractions. At 123-kilometres long, Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world! Kick back and relax at this eco-getaway far from the big cities, or put your adventure hat on and explore some of the breathtaking attractions.

How do I get to Fraser Island?
Fraser Island is located 200-kilometres north of Brisbane, just off the coast of one of the world’s premier whale-watching spots, Hervey Bay. To reach the island, visitors can hop on one of the ferries leaving from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach which takes approximately 50-minutes to get to Fraser Island.

Rich in history and thought to be around 800,000 years old; Fraser Island is equally as beautiful in scenery allowing visitors to swim in some of the most beautiful lakes and creeks in Australia. The island is home to a whopping half the world’s perched lakes, meaning rainwater lakes originally formed from depressions in the sand. The most famous of these is Lake McKenzie, a shining azure-blue swimming hole ringed by pure white sand. Swimmers can also drift along Eli Creek, relax in the bubbling Champagne Pools, or dive into the deepest waters of Lake Wabby.

Because it is so large, Fraser Island is traversable only via 4WD or 4WD bus tour, unless you are an extremely keen hiker. One of the best ways to explore the island is by taking a self-guided tour. Once your tyres hit the sand, you can navigate along thrilling tracks bordered by ancient rainforest, checking out the aforementioned swimming spots or heading to Central Station, the Maheno Shipwreck, or one of the island’s resorts.

Where to Eat and Drink on Fraser Island, Queensland

Fraser Island is a bit different to some of Australia’s luxury islands like Hamilton or Tangalooma, and you will only find large restaurants in the two resort townships. Elsewhere on the island, you can still find small bakeries or stores with provisions. Some visitors choose to take advantage of the island’s numerous camping grounds, and they usually take over enough food from the mainland to be completely self-sufficient. The dishes at the resort restaurants range from mouth-watering, gourmet masterpieces to gastronomic-sized pub-style meals.

Seabelle Restaurant

The luxury Seabelle Restaurant at Kingfisher Bay offers a decadent menu of bush-tucker inspired cuisine with a modern Australian twist. Famed as being one of Fraser Island’s best restaurants after continuously winning the Fraser Coast Tourism Award for the best restaurant; for your visit we’d recommend the Paperbark Wrapped North Queensland Barramundi ($39) or the Australian Grown Wild Mushroom Risotto ($27.50). Here, using fresh produce grown onsite, the Seabelle team likes to create a range of inventive masterpieces for their guests, and, for those feeling adventurous, why not try the emu, kangaroo and crocodile meat featured on the menu?


Seabelle Restaurant – Mercure Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island QLD 4655


Sand & Wood Restaurant

Another tasty offering out of Kingfisher Bay is the Sand & Wood Restaurant. This dining location was designed with share platters in mind; made to be mixed, matched and shared to try a little of everything. The menu items take their influences from Australia, Asia and the Pacific, with options like Indian vegetable pakoras and Thai spring rolls. By far the most renowned dish at Sand & Wood is their Signature Seafood Tower ($150). Featuring an array of Top-quality Australian seafood such as prawns, oysters and salmon, Sand & Wood artfully design this dish into a luxurious, Instagrammable and delicious tower.


Sand & Wood Restaurant – Mercure Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island QLD 4655


The Sand Bar and Bistro

For a more casual dining experience, The Sand Bar and Bistro might be just your style. The venue overlooks the resort pool, and through the bush you can catch glimpses of the ocean beyond. The menu here is bistro-style with all of the usual options like burgers and fresh salads. The pizza menu is extremely tempting, but many carnivores can’t look past the all-time Australian classic of chicken parmigiana. These guys are open for lunch and dinner, but if you’re also looking for a great place to stop in and have a cheeky beverage while you’re waiting for the ferry to arrive, this is it!


The Sand Bar and Bistro – Mercure Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island QLD 4655


McKenzie’s on 75

On the eastern side of the island, you’ll find Eurong Beach Resort. The signature restaurant at Eurong is McKenzie’s on 75. This bistro-style eatery has a laid-back atmosphere and is open for breakfast and dinner. Kick back with a wine while overlooking the resort pool, or tuck into some of the classic Aussie feeds available, such as fish and chips, tasty burgers and refreshing salads. McKenzie’s usually offers a great pizza menu, which will hopefully be available again as restrictions throughout Australia relax.


McKenzie’s on 75 – Eastern Street, Eurong Beach Resort, Fraser Island, Queensland 4655


What to Do on Fraser Island, Queensland

Lake McKenzie

One of the most incredible sights on Fraser Island is picturesque Lake McKenzie. With deep blue water, ringed with pristine white sand, there’s truly something majestic about this lake. It was named Boorangoora by the Indigenous Butchulla people, which means waters of wisdom. McKenzie is a perched lake, meaning it only contains rainwater and is not fed by creeks and natural springs. This gives it a high natural acidity and very clear water; almost no plants or fish live in the lake so you can swim along without a care. The white sand around the lake is pure, white silica just like in the Whitsundays, which acts as a natural filter for the water. This is one of the best places to cool off after a hot day exploring the island, and can be accessed by 4WD on the inland tracks, about five- to six-kilometre drive from Central Station.


Eli Creek

Eli Creek is the largest creek on the eastern side of the island, and is one of the best spots to swim for all ages. The creek begins as a spring high in the sand dunes, morphing into a rushing creek with clear, drinkable water. Each hour around four million litres of fresh water is pumped from the creek into the ocean. One of the best things to do is grab an inflatable ring and wander up the boardwalk running parallel to the creek, through Pandanas trees and Banksia, to a spot where you can jump into the refreshing water and float all the way back. Eli Creek has a special significance for the local Butchulla people. Even though this is now a thriving tourist hotspot, it was once a meeting spot and place of baptism.


Maheno Shipwreck

A famous landmark on Fraser Island is the Maheno Shipwreck, which was washed ashore during a cyclone in 1935. You can visit the wreck 10-kilometres north of Happy Valley on 75 Mile Beach. The now-rusting ocean liner was first used as a hospital ship in World War I and then later purchased by a Sydney company to travel between Australia and New Zealand. Afterwards, the ship was sold to a Japanese company, but never made it back to Japan. The Maheno makes a surreal photo-stop with an intriguing history. If you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out the nearby Pinnacles, the awe-inspiring coloured sand formations which were formed over hundreds of thousands of years.


Champagne Pools, Fraser Island

Just below the headland on the northern tip of the island you will find the delightful Fraser Island Champagne Pools. These rockpools are one of the few places to swim in the ocean-water on the island, and certainly live up to their exclusivity. You can swim in the ponds created by volcanic rock formations of varying sizes, with some as big as swimming pools. The Champagne Pools are calm at low-tide, but at high-tide salty waves crash over the rocks and fill the water with foamy, white bubbles. This is where the name Champagne comes from! The Fraser Island Champagne Pools are found tucked away in a remote location even by the island’s standards – but they are definitely well worth the trip.


4WDing

How to get around Fraser Island? Well, are you ready to get outdoorsy? The roads on Fraser Island are made of soft sand and are 4WD only, so you will either need a 4WD or to join a tour for getting around. You can also get the unforgettable self-drive experience by hiring a vehicle. Even if you don’t have much off-road experience, the friendly staff will be able to give you some pointers to get you started, and make sure you’ve got all of the right permits and information. For beginners, 75 Mile Beach is basically a sandy highway. Other tracks can be a bit more challenging, but that’s half the fun! Be sure to check out inland tracks such as the Central Lakes Scenic Drive. If you want to stock up on supplies before you reach the island, you can also bring your own 4WD over on the ferry, making sure you have the right permits.


Central Station

Did you know Fraser Island has a history as a logging camp? Central Station was once the centre of the forestry industry on the island. Visit the station to wander through the educational displays and learn about this part of Fraser Island’s history. From the station, follow the wooden boardwalk running parallel to Wanggoolba Creek. Surrounded by lush rainforest, you will notice how clear the creek’s water is; sometimes you can’t even see the water, just the occasional stick floating along the top or sleepy fish in the current. You will also see the giant ferns, and massive satinay trees. These trees are biological marvels of the island, as the sand they grow in has almost no natural mineral fertility.


Lake Wabby

The mesmerising Lake Wabby is a deep emerald colour, and another must-see spot on Fraser Island. The lake can be found at the edge of the Hammerstone Sandblow, a mammoth sandy formation worth checking out in itself. Walk the sandy track to the lake and dive into the refreshing water; this is the deepest lake on Fraser Island. Children love to run down the steep sand dune and flop into the lake, scaring the little freshwater fish. Stretched out beside the lake is a massive sand dune, which is slowly encroaching on Lake Wabby. That means it will disappear sometime during the next century, so see it now before it’s gone.


Where to Stay on Fraser Island, Queensland

Kingfisher Bay Resort

If you’re looking for resort-style accommodation with everything you need at your fingertips, look no further. Kingfisher Bay Resort is a purpose-built eco-tourism resort which has won many awards for its sustainable design and excellent facilities. This is really a one-stop shop with an extensive program of guided walks, talks and 4WD tours on offer, as well as dolphin- and whale-watch cruises. There are three restaurants on site, a swimming pool, tennis courts, massage centre and more. Choose from a range of self-contained villas, resort hotel rooms and eco-lodges. The location is just stunning, with easy access to the ferry, surrounded by true Australian bush and a view of the Great Sandy Strait.


Kingfisher Bay Resort – Kingfisher Bay, Fraser Island QLD 4581


Eurong Village

On the eastern side of the island you will find Eurong Beach Resort, one of two resorts on Fraser Island. The resort is within Eurong Village, with beachfront access to 75 Mile Beach so you can jump onto the sandy highway with your 4WD whenever you’re ready to explore. From there it’s not far to visit most of the big sites such as Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby and Central Station. The resort has a restaurant and swimming pool, and in the small village you will find a general store, bottle shop, bakery and coffee shop. The accommodation ranges from modern, self-contained villas and one- and two-bedroom apartments, to backpacker beds and group accommodation.


Eurong Beach Resort – Eurong Beach Resort, Eurong QLD 4581


Camping Fraser Island

If you want to clear your head and immerse yourself in nature, camping on Fraser Island may be just the refresher you need. There are multiple camping zones on the island for you to choose from. Each site comes with different facilities and associated costs. All camping on Fraser Island requires a permit, and you must camp within designated zones to help preserve the beautiful wildlife. Please refer to the Department of Environment and Science website for more details on camping at Fraser Island.


Department of Environment and Science – Camping Fraser Island


For those who want to explore the road less travelled, start by ticking off these 10 unique getaways gems around Queensland that are waiting to be discovered. Or, for a taste of luxury, these luxurious seaside hotel stays will surely be a slice of beachside paradise for your next weekend getaway.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land mentioned in our article, the people of the Badtjala Nation, and we recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

Feature image: Seventy Five Mile Beach, Fraser Island. Image provided by Tourism and Events Queensland.
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