I wasn't sure what to expect when we got to Fraser Island. I had heard good things and I had heard bad things. Most people I talked to did a 3 day self drive and camped wherever they wanted and drove around the sand tracks and beach with a 9 to 11 person truck. Just before I went, the gossip about Fraser was about the people who had been killed when their truck flipped on the beach. They swerved to avoid some water on the beach and the truck went over. Not exactly the ideal trip.Taking this into consideration and how much time I had I elected to do a 2 day bus tour of the island. They pick you up at your hostel, drop you off at the ferry, then drive you around the island for 2 days and show you the sights. Lodgings are provided at one of the resorts on the island and food is in the form of all you can eat buffets. I didn't complain. I don't mind when other people cook, clean and drive while I take pictures and take in the scenery.The first day took us near the North end of the island to Indian Head and the Champagne Pools. You can drive almost every place on the island using the narrow tracks in the woods but it's much faster to take the highway, the sand highway that is. Complete with speed limit signs shouting 80 km/h, the beach is how most of the traffic moves around the island. There are a few points where the headlands jut out into the water or the tide is too high and the track detours up and around into the woods, but you can nearly go from end to end on the wide sand highway.On the way up there, our drive along the highway took us past he wreck of the Maheno. Only the top rusted level is visible but there are still more than 3 levels buried in the sand. It was being towed away from Melbourne for scrap metal 1935 when it was caught in a cyclone and washed up on the shores of Fraser Island.The Champagne Pools are oversized tidal pools that the brave swim in. Bubbles coming up from the sand on the bottom give the water a bubbly look. Indian Head is the only pile of rocks on the island and the rest is the sand that drifts down the coast and catches on the rocks. The view from the top is fantastic and is only a 10 minute walk up, provided the weather cooperates. Our clouds couldn't decide what they wanted to do and we had competing rain and sun for the rest of the first day.Further down the beach are some beautiful rock formations called the Pinnacles and even further is Eli Creek. The creek is a famous attraction on the island and should be on everyone's todo list. The stream itself starts about 6k inland and continues all the way to the sea flowing quite quickly the whole way. An incredible amount of water comes through this creek every year. A small boardwalk takes tourists about 200 metres up the creek so they can see the lower section of it or hop right in and float their way down. It's only about 2-3 feet deep most of the way and makes for a good place to cool off on hot days. Be careful parking near the creek though, we had to help a smaller truck out of the deep sand near the entrance.The rain started to come down hard at this point so we retreated back to the Eurong Resort to find our rooms, clean up and hit the buffet. We all had 4-share or double rooms with a kitchenette and bathroom. We made it back to the resort just in time to see the rain start to pound down. I was one of the few sitting outside, albeit covered, in the rain and taking in the sound and the smell. I do like warm sunny days but there is nothing quite like relaxing to the sound of the rain.The next day we trucked it out to Lake Mackenzie, a 45 minute ride from the resort. It's one of the few perched lakes on the island which means it's completely rain water trapped in a depression by old vegetation. It was beautiful above the water and below. The water is crystal clear and an intense blue color reflected off the sky. I managed to swim around a bit and take a look underneath the surface. It sure didn't last long though, it was incredibly cold!Lake Wabby was our next destination and it was just up the beach. Instead of parking and walking right onto the beach there is a 45 minute walk through the woods and over the Hammerstone Sandblow to get to the water. The lake is essentially a stream that's been blocked by the sand blown up over the sandblow over time. The lake gets smaller by 2 meters every year so see it while you can, it won't be there forever. The sand drops down off the sandblow right into the water turning into thick forest on the other side. A few of our crew went for a swim but I couldn't get up the guts to do it again, I was still cold from my last encounter with the water. We watched as the brave few swam around circled by Salmon-tailed Catfish.After trading a few people at the resort we were on our way back to the ferry for the 35 minute trip back to the mainland. The barge took a little bit longer than expected to get into the canal beside the ramp care of an extremely low tide but after loading people and cars we were cruising off into the sunset and already missing the island of sand.Check out my Fraser Island Photo Set on flickr[gmap]
Fraser Island and the Whitsundays are often the most talked about portion of a travellers trip in Australia.
Fraser Island is the worlds biggest sand island. Most of the trips here consist of crazy travellers driving around the island and it's beaches in large 4x4's. You can have a guided tour if you like but the cheaper and more adventurous route is the self-driven tours.The island is surrounded by gorgeous beaches and there are many trails on the island as well. The Fraser Island Great Walk is a nice way to see the island on foot. It is 90km though so be prepared!Other exciting things to do would be swimming down Eli Creek, the largest creek on the island. There is a boardwalk that provides easy access to the top. There is the wreck of the S.S. Maheno to check out, laying out in the open on one of the beaches.
There are 74 islands in total. The largest and most famous being Whitsunday island. One of the best attractions here is Whitehaven beach. Whitehaven beach on is georgeous. The beaches are almost all crushed coral which gives them their pure white color. Try and plan your sail on days with good weather as parts may be uneventful or cancelled if the sun doesn't shine.You can get to the Whitsundays fro the ports of Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. Tourism offices offer everything from sail tours of the islands to jet boat, helicopter or float plane tours. Careful of the long boat tours, they can get a bit itchy(as can any budget accomodation in Australia).When you've made it out to the islands, you can hang out on the boat and just take in the view, cruise around on ocean kayaks or rafts or hop right into the water with your scuba or snorkel gear. The diving can be exceptional in any spot you choose with some good ones being Hayman and Hook Island or Manta Ray Bay.