I am an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at https://www.meetup.com/HikingInSEQLDandMore/ is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published January 26th 2022
Iconic World Heritage Area Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island. The island's name is set to be renamed and called K'gari, the name was given by the native Butchulla people, meaning 'paradise'. K'gari is the traditional land of Butchulla people. Many archaeological remains have been found on the island, recording thousands of years of culture and tradition. K'gari offers an incredible amount of spectacular natural features like coloured sand cliffs, lunar landscapes sandblows, pristine amazing freshwater lakes, unique wildlife and tall trees growing on sand. K'gari has rainforests growing on sand, many perched lakes, endless beaches and the purest population of dingoes.
When planning a trip to Fraser Island, make sure to have a printout of the tides, sunrises and sunsets. You have to consider the tides and the swell when travelling the eastern side beach, which is called Seventy Five Mile Beach. The beach is considered a road with Qld road rules apply. Drive two hours after the peak of the high tide.
K'gari sand tracks are only suitable for higher clearance 4WD vehicles, with low range capacity. You must buy a vehicle access permit and display it on your vehicle windscreen. For booking your permit, see here.
Months earlier we booked our accommodation in Eurong Resort, on the eastern side of the island.
Boarding the barge to Fraser Island Check in Eurong Resort Have lunch at Eurong bakery
Drive to Lake McKenzie
We started our K'gari adventure travelling on a barge with our 4WD. We crossed the sea at Inskip Point, taking about 15 minutes to reach Fraser Island. Here is the link for the barge.
Once disembarked from the barge, we drove about 40 minutes on the beach to Eurong Resort.
Vehicles boarding the barge at Inskip Point. Photo by Author.
We checked into Eurong Resort and put all our luggage in the apartment. Eurong Resort has its own bakery with fresh pies and several threats, hot and cold drinks. After lunch, we set on to visit Lake McKenzie (Boorangoora). From Eurong resort, drive to Eurong Road and then near Central Station turn onto Lake McKenzie Road.
Lake McKenzie is one of the most visited places on the island. It is a perched lake, meaning it is made by rainwater, it is not fed by streams or underwater springs and doesn't flow to the ocean. A layer of very old organic matter prevents the water to drain away in the sand.
The crystal blue freshwater of Lake McKenzie. Photo by Author.
The waters of Lake McKenzie are crystal clear, reflecting the azure of the sky. The water is filtered by the sand and it is very pure; it doesn't support much life. The silica sand is white and soft. Don't take food to the lake, it may attract dingoes and other wildlife.
Swimming in the clear and pristine waters of Lake Mckenzie is a great experience.
Cool off in the McKenzie perched lake at Fraser Island. Photo by Author.
Drive to Central Station
Hike Pile Valley Circuit
Drive the Southern Lakes Road
Swim Lake Birrabeen
Swim Lake Boomanjin
Return via Dilli Village
From Eurong Resort we drove our 4WD to the Central Station. From the Central Station, there are many walking trails. We walked the Pile Valley Circuit.
The Pile Valley Circuit is a 4 km hike. The walk starts at Central Station, the first part of the trail follows the Wanggoolba Creek Boardwalk and then it turns off to Pile Valley. Most of the walk is on a great boardwalk that prevents damage to the environment.
The trail runs parallel to the Wanggoolba Creek, which is so clear that you can hardly see the water. We spotted a catfish in the pristine creek. The trail meanders then in the forest of giant trees growing on sand, in particular, the Satinay trees stand out for their height.
The invisible Wanggoolba Creek running quietly on the sand. Photo by Author.
After returning from the hike to Central Station, we drove on the Southern Lakes Road to Lake Birrabeen, Lake Benaroon and Lake Boomanjin.
Lake Birrabeen is similar to Lake McKenzie, with crystal clear water, pure white sand and bush all around the lake. Lake Birrabeen is a perched lake and the waters are so clear because the organic matter is filtered out by the sand.
The clear waters of Lake Birrabeen. Photo by Author.
After a refreshing swim in the lake, we continue to travel on the Southern Lake Road.
Lake Bernaroon is only a short walk from the main 4WD trail which connects Lake Birrabeen to Lake Boomanjin. Lake Bernaroon has stained waters, it is very secluded due to its location and lack of carpark.
Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake in the world. The waters of Lake Boomanjin are stained by Tea Tree and therefore are red.
The stained waters of the Lake Boomanjin. Photo by Author.
There is a boardwalk to the entry of the creek. The water is clear and cold, very refreshing especially on hot summer days. It is fun to float effortlessly, especially when seated on a floater and be transported by the current to the beach.
Eli Creek is a very popular natural site on Fraser Island. Photo by Author.
After swimming at Eli Creek, we went back to the 4WD and we drove north on the beach to visit the Maheno Wreck.
The Maheno is the most famous wreck on Fraser Island. It lies ashore on Seventy Five Mile Beach, just about 7 km north of Eli Creek. When you are driving on the beach, the wreck starts to appear with its imposing shape.
The Maheno regularly transported passengers between Auckland and Sydney. During World War I, it was converted into a hospital ship. Then in 1935 a Japanese shipbreaker bought it. The Maheno was towed away when its towline parted in a severe cyclone. The Maheno drifted away and washed onto the shores of Fraser Island.
The Maheno Wreck on Seventy Five Mile Beach. Photo by Author.
After the experience at Lake Garawongera, return to the carpark and keep driving onto the Lake Garawongera Scenic Drive. Observe the change of vegetation, from the coastal woodlands to the forest of gums, bloodwoods and blackbutts. The drive finishes on the Eastern Beach.
Keep driving south until you see a sign to Cornwells Road. Turn inland and stop at the Stonetool Lookout.
The views of Stonetool Sandblow from Stonetool Lookout. Photo by Author.
Sandblows develop over thousands of years. Strong onshore winds erode and transport sand. Weak points in the shoreline dunes develop into 'blow outs'. Sand blown inland from the coast spreads grain by grain, engulfing vegetation in its path.
There is a constant battle between sand and plant life. The apex of the invading body of sand advances inland, while 'arms' of loose sand trail behind. Gradually these margins may be recolonised and stabilised by plants.
New sandblows may develop when stabilising plant cover is damaged by fire, vehicles or pedestrian traffic. Admiring these beautiful natural sites from a distance helps protect these fragile areas.
Stonetool Sandblow gets its name from Aboriginal artifacts found in the area. It rises over 125 m above sea level. It stretches more than 2 km inland and advances up to one metre each year.
From Cornwells Road, turn then into Lake Wabby Road. There is a carpark where you can park your vehicle and then start the 560 metres walk to Lake Wabby.
There is a short walk to Lake Wabby. Photo by Author.
Lake Wabby has emerald coloured waters and it is a great spot for swimming. There is fish in the lake, including the rare honey blue-eye. Lake Wabby is the deepest dune lake in Fraser Island, about 11 metres.
It is a steep incline to walk down to Lake Wabby. Photo by Author.
Keep driving on Seventy Five Mile Beach and about fifteen metres from the Pinnacle, there is another natural feature, the Red Canyon. The pile of red coloured sand calls for another stop and for more photos.
The Red Canyon is another striking natural site on K'gari. Photo by Author.
The yellow, brown and red colours are due to the iron present in the sand for thousand of years. It is the wind and the rain that erode the sandmass exposing the colourful layers of sand.
From the Red Canyon drive to Indian Head, the most easterly point on Fraser Island made up of volcanic rock. There is a walk that takes you to the top of Indian Head which provides the best views of the surrounding beaches and ocean. It is a great spot for spotting wildlife such as turtles, dolphins and whales.
We could not walk to the top of Indian Head because the Tukkee Wurro walking trail was closed due to severe erosion.
Indian Head is not passable, there is a road inland that takes you on the other side. Photo by Author.
Once you have taken the inland road to be back on Seventy Five Mile beach, you are very close to Champagne Pools.
The Champagne Pools are another unique attraction on Fraser Island. Rocks allowed sea water to come into the pools formed on the beach. All the waves that come into the pool bring in new water and even fish.
Champagne Pools are a perfect spot for a swim in a natural setting. Photo by Author.
Orchid Beach is a interesting locality on K'Gari. You can find food, accommodation and fuel.
The Orchid Beach Trading Post & Driftwood Bar is the local cafe and general store. You can find hot and cold drinks, hot food and you can buy a few grocery items. This is the perfect place to sit with friends and your family. Enjoy a meal with a beer and a hot coffee!
At the Orchid Beach Trading Post & Driftwood Bar in Orchid Beach. Photo by Author.
On our way back,we decided to stop at Dundubara. There there is a nice camping site and the walk to Wungul Sandblow. We took the walking trail but there were no further signs to indicate the direction to the Sandblow.
Dundubara is a locality south of Red Canyon. It has a camping ground and walking trails. Photo by Author.
We set off for a five days trip of to Fraser Island with the Group Hiking south East Qld and More. It wasn't easy to put together an itinerary because K'gari has many beautiful natural attractions and many walks.
On the fifth day, the swell was quite big and the waves were washing up high on the beach. The wind churned up the seawater and the seafoam was blown on the beach resembling snow. For this reason, we could not explore other places.
We spent the day in the resort, having morning tea at Eurong Bakery and swimming in the swimming pool of the resort.
The four-wheel driving on the inland tracks were good and we did not encounter any particular problems. Some tracks were bumpier than others but in overall, it was a good experience.
Eurong Resort had all the facilities we needed and we had a good time in our self-contained apartment and in the resort. We cooked our meals in the kitchen and we did not try the restaurant. Eurong bakery had sandwiches, small pizzas, sausage rolls, pies and a selection of sweet treats and every day we bought something to eat for lunch and for snacks.
There is also a shop in Eurong with fuel, grocery items and souvenirs. We bought some of the food in the shop and that it was very handy.
Fantastic article and photos Cris. Congratulations on the gold. I never realised there was so much to see and do on Fraser Island. My impression was that it was just 4WDs up and down the beach. Nice to see that you can fly in.