FRASER ISLAND, a hidden paradise

Fraser Island
By Lauren Looft

The Outback, the Opera House, and Bondi Beach: all iconic images associated with Australia.  And although they are fabulous sights to be seen, after studying abroad in Australia for four months I’ve come to realize there is more to Australia than what we may think.

One of my most memorable excursions was to FRASER ISLAND, an island found along the southern coast of Queensland, Australia.  Most notably, it is the largest sand island in the world, and the only place where an ancient yet thriving rainforest can be found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 meters.

Getting around the island is difficult–four-wheel drive vehicles are the primary means of transportation to navigate the sandy dunes, but the harsh trails are a piece of cake for the expert tour guides.  We signed up for the COOL DINGO tour, where our guide Peter kept us on the edge of our seats, literally, as he twisted around the tall trees and dangerous dunes.

After an exciting 4 wheel drive adventure, we walked through the forest to reach BASIN LAKE, an eight meter black water perched lake.  The water was warm and perfect for a quick dip before taking off on a 2.5 hour nature walk.  Another area of interest is CENTRAL STATION, which used to be the island’s center of forestry operations in the 1960s.

After hiking in the rainforest for most of the day, our next stop was LAKE MC KENZI.  Also a perched lake, Lake Mc Kenzi is situated atop a sand dune 100 meters above sea level.  The lake was absolutely picturesque, something from a travel brochure.  Crystal clear waters, with pure white sand.  The sand is so fine that travelers can use it to clean old jewelry with.

We spent the night in a shockingly nice hostel.  The lodges were cute and clean and spacious.  Only a few minutes away is a lookout point that is perfect to watch the sun set.  Dinner was served at the DINGO BAR, where entertainment was provided afterwards; or you could spend a quiet night with friends having a few drinks and playing pool.

The next day we found ourselves taking a drive along what is known as 75-MILE BEACH, an endless stretch of crashing waves and the occasional brave fisherman standing in the surf.  Our guide took us to the MAHENO SHIPWRECK, a ship that crashed on Fraser Island during a cyclone.  At this point tourists were offered a chance to take a plane ride that takes off from the beach, flying above the island for approximately fifteen minutes, allowing visitors the chance to see sights not easily reachable from the ground.  The most impressive was BUTTERFLY LAKE, a lake formed in the shape of a butterfly.

The most stunning place on Fraser Island is the CHAMPAGNE POOLS, which are natural rock formations in the ocean that create a sort of lagoon on the coast.  With the rocks protecting us from the many breeds of sharks swimming along the coast of Fraser Island, we could still experience the feeling of being in the ocean, and enjoy the moment when the waves crashed over the rocks, spilling into the pools.

Next we climbed to INDIAN HEAD ROCK, a rock supposedly named by Captain James Cook when he sailed to Fraser Island in 1770 and saw the native aboriginals watching his ships approach. The rock, which juts out over the ocean, allows for an excellent view of marine life below.  Shadows of sharks are easily discernible from above.  But don’t get too close! There are no fences or gates, just the open ocean below.  I was content to just sit and appreciate the power of the ocean.

As we made our way to our final destination, we came across a wild dingo roaming along the beach.  Our guide stopped the bus and allowed us to crowd around outside to observe.  The dingo came surprisingly close to us, probably used to the presence of tourists on the beach.  After taking some pictures, we boarded the bus and drove to ELI CREEK, a continuously flowing fresh water creek that opens into the ocean.  We walked to the top and ended our trip with a beautiful and relaxing float down the creek.

Getting to Fraser Island is simple, with several flights leaving Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane each day.  After arriving at Hervey Bay, take a ferry ride to Fraser Island, and enjoy a part of Australia that few know about!

For more information on Fraser Island and possible tours visit:
http://www.fraserisland.net/

About The Author

Michael Zufolo, Producer/Co-Host of Let's Travel! Radio

Michael has been an active player in Media Relations and Marketing for the past 30 years with stints at The New York Times, Forbes, WOR Radio, TV Channel 11, Attenzione Magazine, et.al., and with participation in the Caribbean Tourism Org.,/ CTO, the Pacific Travel Assn./ PATA, the Foreign Press Assn./ FPA, and the International Society of Travel Writers/ ISTR. Libra/ America, his latest signature, provides travel opportunities to VIP travelers and groups world-wide. Let’s Travel! Radio is an extension of his experiences.

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