Letho's Blog

Fraser Island

by on Aug.13, 2011, under The East Coast

August 11, 2011

We left Hervey Bay for Fraser Island once more after failing the day before when we basically did only sight-seeing in the pittoresque Maryborough and had to return to Hervey Bay late in the afternoon. Our way led via Rainbow Beach to Inskip Point to take the car ferry to Fraser Island. Although there exist ferries in Hervey Bay as well, we wanted to enter Fraser Island from the south to make our way up north on the eastern beaches.

Preparing for Fraser Island we deflated the tyre pressure a lot right at Inskip Point. However, it did not even take 10 minutes until someone showed up and got bogged down in the soft sand. Using our shackles and snatch strap we recovered them within minutes. An interesting start – and we’re not even on Fraser Island yet!

See here how the recovery went – well done, Inka!

The ferry cost 100$ return, quite a lot for a 5 minute ride. They usually wait at the beach until enough cars have entered the ferry before they leave and cross the water. Generally, this takes only a few minutes, there’s a high amount of traffic arriving at and departing from the beaches on both sides. That’s how it works:

After a few minutes and a calm ride over the water we finally arrived – Fraser Island, here we come!

Fraser Island is the biggest sand island in the world, so don’t expect to find a lot of rocks. It’s famous for offroading and fishing as well, thus we started our adventure and drove along the „75 Mile Beach“ and found the „roads“ to be better than in most other parts of Australia. 🙂 The tide reshapes ad grades the beach every few hours over and over again, and we could easily hit the 80 km/h limit going north. Along the beach lots of fishermen had parked their cars and stepped into the sea for the most popular activity on Fraser: fishing. Every now and then you will not only encounter other cars, but road trains and buses as well.

After 60 kilometers which is roughly half of Fraser Island’s length we sighted the Maheno wreck and stopped. It lies directly on the beach and is rotting away so fast that it will be only a matter of time until it completely disappears. It’s still a fascinating view!

Here’s a nice clip from the next day when we returned to the wreck to go back south:

Another few kilometers further north we took a quick look at „The Pinnacles“. As Fraser Island is completely made up out of sand and has been undergoing long-time geological processes for a few ten thousand years  you can have a good view into its past here: many layers of multicoloured sands are stacked upon each other forming pinnacles in the sand dunes.

When we arrived at Indian Head and Waddy Point things got a bit tougher. To take the bypass roads (as there is no more accessible beach around these locations) we had to climb a few steep slopes. Here and there we struggled a bit, our tyres really don’t function very well in soft sand, but with a bit of momentum and skill we finally passed these obstacles.

Obstacle mastered .. soft and boggy sand down here!

Obstacle mastered .. soft and boggy sand down here!

Passing Orchid Beach we rushed up to Sandy Cape, the northernmost tip of Fraser Island. We wanted to get to the Carree campground, but the tide rolled in quicker and quicker. Of course we had a tide times table with us, still it was getting too late to get up there. We did what we could but at one point finally had to give in to the tide.

Feeling increasingly threatened by the tide we decided to get back to the nearest safe campground called Diray. Otherwise we would have had to abandon the car somewhere on the beach and stay on higher ground, hoping the tide would not catch it. We set up camp at Diray and had diner when the skies began to blacken and rain began to set in ..

Suddenly a massive hailstorm came down on us and we quickly fled into the LandCruiser, totally wet after only moments of rain. Unluckily our tent did not survive this weather condition: after a few seconds of really strong winds and rain it broke down completely, was ripped into pieces and rain flooded the inside. I finally recovered some blankets and sleeping bags to have at least some cover for the night. Having no other options and being unable to go anywhere else, we spent an uncomfortable night on our car seats.

August 12, 2011

The next morning we investigated the mess and cleaned it up.

The morning after - ripped and torn

The morning after - ripped and torn

Well, we’re here for some exploring, not whining, right? We drove the way back to Sandy Cape and walked all the way up to the lighthouse. This time the beach path was perfectly accessible.

We expected the lighthouse to be open for inspection, but as it is still an officially operating facility these days it was closed to the public. Going south again, we had more time for stops on the way and made another one at Waddy Point.

After that we stopped at Champagne Pools, a place where rock pools filled with sea water and located directly towards the water  allow for a nice bath. As sharks might roam the area around Fraser Island, this is one of the safer places to swim. Not mentioning all the great inland lakes, but we’ll come to that later on.

Champagne Pools

Champagne Pools

Our next stop was Indian Head. We had quite a bit of trouble yesterday passing here, but today and with lower tide we could easily drive through the rocks on the beach. We walked up Indian Head, an Aboriginal site. They wish no people walking up here, but we weren’t really aware of that, and honestly it would not have stopped us from doing so.

Further down south we encountered a plane on the beach. Gives you an idea of how good the beach is for driving, eh?

Even planes land on the beach

Even planes land on the beach

See for yourself what beach driving on Fraser Island is all about:

After that we stopped again at Eli Creek, a very popular spot. Busloads of daytrip travellers arrived (here as well as on other spots) to go up the boardwalk and wade through the creek out onto the beach in the crystal clear water. So did we. 😉

We wanted to do the Northern Forest Scenic Drive following Creek, but after having entered the trail and after a few kilometers we decided to skip it: it was neither interesting nor worth the bumby ride, we reckoned. So we went down the beach again and re-entered the inland again to follow the Lake Garawongera scenic drive.

And of course we made it there, although the sand was really boggy at times and the ride a quite bumpy one, too.

Lake Garawongera

Lake Garawongera

Finally we hit the beach for the last time today and reached the Comwells campground. We set up camp with our second tent, that one being far smaller than our broken one, but still better than another night in the car. After our probably last camp cooking in Australia we crawled into our tent and quickly fainted away.

August 13, 2011

Today would be our last day on Fraser Island and we wanted to spend it mainly driving in the inland. The weather was a bit greyish and cloudy, however that did not stop us from going onto the Central Lakes Scenic Drive. Our first stop was at Lake Wabby, the deepest sea on Fraser Island, and the close-by Hammerstone Sandblow.

We hit the trail again and bumped our way all along to Lake McKenzie, the probably most beautiful inland lake on Fraser Island and filled by rainwater only. Although the weather was very unsteady and rain on and off again, I decided to jump into the water at least for a short swim. With the water being cold, it actually resulted in a really short swim.

From the Central Lakes Scenic Drive we now turned to the Southern Lakes Scenic Drive. See what inland driving on Fraser is like:

The next lake on the way was Lake Birrabeen, here the sky was grey which turned the landscape into a sight that really looked like back home in Europe.

Lake Birrabeen

Lake Birrabeen

And on to the last stop on Fraser Island ..look at a typical scene from the inland trails:

Inland driving - soft sand and bumpy

Inland driving - soft sand and bumpy

Arriving at Lake Boomanjin we could not really get to the lake, but only to its shore. Really, there wasn’t much too see. And to be honest – after seeing one lake on Fraser Island the others all look alike.

That was Fraser Island for us already! We exited from the trail onto the beach and drove all the way down south to catch the ferry to Inskip Point again. Slowly rolling to Rainbow Beach on sealed road (we still don’t have a compressor and had to treat our still deflated tyres with care) we took the beach track along the Cooloola area all the way down to Noosa. Now that’s almost a 50km drive along the beach, but it saved us a big detour via Gympie and of course was much more exciting. 🙂

We stopped for some „Coloured Sands“ along the way again and were astonished as to how much people had set up their camps on the first 30 kilometers of the beach. Almost in Noosa, we gave our LandCruiser an undercar wash to get rid of all the sand and salt, a scary procedure which hopefully did more good than damage to our sensitive, precious car:

Then we caught the ferry over the Noosa river and arrived in Noosa Heads. Phew – Fraser Island: check! 🙂

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