Fraser Island, off the central coast of Queensland, Australia, is the largest sand island on earth and the largest UNESCO World Heritage Site listed in the world. A visit to this enchanting paradise allows you to view shipwrecks, touch ancient forests, and be enchanted by the rich wildlife on and off shore. Here's what to do while on Fraser Island.
Take the short walk from Central Station to Pile Valley and into the heart of Fraser Island. This easy 2.4-mile one-way stroll along a well-formed track can start from either end and follows Wanggoolba Creek. Near Central Station, you’ll see the most prolific specimens of the ancient Angiopteris fern, the largest single frond fern in the world, shrouding the creek. While at Pile Valley, admire the gigantic satinay trees, some of the largest in the world. Central Station has picnic tables, gas barbecues, toilets, and a campground.
Lake McKenzie is one of forty perched lakes on the island, meaning they're isolated above the groundwater table by a layer of rock or organic material. It's also one of the best places for a swim. The crystal clear blue water, fringed by a white sandy beach, makes it the most visited lake on the island and ideal for a picnic. Around the edges of the lake you may see plants like the carnivorous fiery red sundews in bloom, turtles waddling into the lake water, and colorful reeds.
Also on Fraser Island is Lake Boomanjin, located 6.2 miles (10 km) northwest of Dilli Village. Head there for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and walking along a track leading to nearby Lake Benaroon. The lake is only a short stroll from the fenced camping area, set in a tall open forest off the usual tourist path, offering a quieter camping location. Tip: There are cold showers, flushing toilets, and picnic tables at the campground, but you must bring your own drinking water.
Drive along the 75-mile beach -- a designated road made of sand that you share with airplanes -- but be mindful: Drivers should give way to the charter planes as they land and take off. It's worth your time and money to take an aerial scenic flight while visiting.
Other features along this long, sandy stretch of beach are Eli Creek, the largest freshwater creek on the eastern coast of Australia. The walkway along the water is a terrific place to stop for a swim and picnic. For even more fun, bring a boogie board for a ride down the creek.
A little further north lies the rusting hull of the Maheno, one of twenty-three shipwrecks recorded around Fraser between 1856 and 1935. It’s become a landmark for both those that drive and fly. From the top of Indian Head, the most easterly point on the island, you have outstanding 360-degree views with sightings of dolphins, whales, turtles (in season), and sharks swimming below. Continue north to Champagne Rock Pools -- a naturally formed set of salt water pools -- where you'll want to take an afternoon dip.
Approximately 4,000 to 5,000 humpback whales venture into Platypus Bay from August to October each year. The deep, calm waters make it a popular resting place for mothers and their calves on the return journey south and for mating. You're almost guaranteed to get up close on a whale-watching tour, which depart daily from Kingfisher Bay Resort or Hervey Bay during the season. Another Australian favorite are dingos, a Fraser Island native dweller. Keep an eye out, but don't approach, as these wild animals should only be admired from afar.