Fraser Island

The largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island was inscribed on the World Heritage listing in 1992. The island has a wide variety of natural features including freshwater sand dune lakes, quiet streams, white beaches, rainforest, eucalypt forest, cliffs with remarkable coloured sand horizons and rugged headlands, making it a perfect back-to-nature destination.

Where is it?: Burnett/Fraser Coast, off the coast from Hervey Bay, some 300 km north of Brisbane and 37 km east of Maryborough.

Things to see and do

Unless you have brought or hired a 4-wheel drive vehicle, the best way to explore and enjoy Fraser Island is on its walking tracks. Choose from short walks through rainforests, strolls around a lake or longer walks across a sandblow. Long distance walkers will enjoy the 90km Fraser Island Great Walk for that special wilderness experience.

Attractions on Fraser Island include Lake Boomanjin (the largest perched lake in the world; the crystal clear water of Wanggoolba Creek at Central Station; the dazzling white shores of Lake McKenzie; Wongi, Hammerstone and Badjala Sandblows; the island's giant rainforest trees, particularly within Valley of the Giants; the historic areas of Bogimbah Creek, McKenzies Jetty and Mill and Fraser Island Commando School.

Fraser Island Great Walk

A long-distance trail on which hikers must be fully self-sufficient and carry water. The walk is rated easy to moderate on a difficulty scale being mostly at sea level and is traversed in one direction. The landscape during the walk changes between coastal heathland, mangrove forest, woodland and subtropical rainforest. The crystal-clear lakes and sand dunes are the highlights of this track. Due to the rain season it is better not to do this hike from January to March. The entire 90 km walk, which includes numerous smaller walks branching off the main trail, can be completed in 6 to 8 days. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) provides 8 walkers' camps for which a booking is essential.

Shipwrecks

Fraser Island has a number of shipwrecks, the Maheno on Orchard Beach being the most well known.

Getting There

Fraser Island is not connected to the mainland, so the only way to reach the island is by ferry, unless you have your own water craft. It is possible to take vehicles to Fraser Island by vehicular ferry, but vehicle must be 4-wheel drive as there are no made roads on the island. 4-wheel drive vehicles can be hired in the island.

Fraser Island Barges and Ferry provides a range of vehicle barge and ferry access Fraser Island. Barges and ferry services run daily via Rainbow Beach from Inskip Point, from River Heads, south of Hervey Bay, and from Urangan Boat Harbour in Hervey Bay.

Kingfisher Ferry operates 6 services to the resort each day from River Heads, Hervey Bay, and return. This ferry has seating for 220 passengers on two decks with a fully licensed bar and snack food available. The journey takes approximately 50 minutes.


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About Fraser Island

Fraser Island is 123 km long and varies from 7 km to 22 km wide. It covers an area of 184 000 sq. km and has sand dunes which rise to a height of 240 m. It is estimated that the sands which make up Fraser Island reach over 600 m below the sea.

The native plant communities support a significantly diverse fauna, due to the variety and specialisation of a large number of habitats, although diversity within habitats is low. The island is noted for its low number and abundance of introduced species, presence of false water-rat Xeromys myoides and high genetic purity of the dingo relative to other areas in eastern Australia. Over 300 bird species have been recorded including red goshawk Erythrotriochis radiatus, black breasted button quail Turnix melanogaster, beach stone curlew Esacus neglectus and ground parrot Pezoporus wallicus. Fraser Island is also rich in reptile fauna.

The forests of the island have been subject to logging for around 130 years. The mainland rain forests were largely cleared for timber and then agriculture, but the forests of the sand masses have fared considerably better. Many of the largest and oldest trees were removed, and the resource of scrub timber declined to unsustainable levels in some instances after less than 30 years of logging.

Several towns, settlements and resorts, as well as camping areas, forestry camps, roads, jetties, and airstrips lie within the nominated area. Similar developments border the area to the south and west. There are additional development proposals both within and adjacent to the nominated area, several of which have already received approval.

Fraser Island is currently estimated to receive around 300,000 visitors a year, this number having increased rapidly since 1975. A network of roads and tracks exists, comprised of approximately 1,000km of unsealed sand tracks and 44km of gravel roads, most of which are ungazetted and established originally for forestry purposes. These roads are suitable only for four wheel drive vehicles. There is a continuing and serious problem with the control of four-wheel-drive traffic on the island.

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