What is it?
The local Butchulla people call it K’Gari – paradise – and for good reason. Sculpted from wind, sand and surf, the striking blue freshwater lakes, crystalline creeks, giant dunes and lush rainforests of this gigantic sandbar form an enigmatic island paradise unlike anywhere else. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world (measuring 120km by 15km), and is the only known place where rainforest grows on sand.
Yeah, yeah, yeah that’s all well and good for someone looking at pictures and how pretty it is but paradise usually comes at a cost. Although it may be pleasing to the eye I’m going to tell you what I think it is so you can be prepared and learn from my naivety.
What to Prepare For
For starters, it’s in Queensland, Australia so it’s gonna be hot and there’s going to be bugs. If you think this is going to be some amazing Instagram photo shoot, maybe think again. Hot = sweaty. Bugs = irritation.
The island is also protected by The Great Sandy National Park, so there are certain rules you will have to abide by, so be aware of those.
As it is mostly made of sand there’s no way you’ll get a normal car to do anything. You MUST go in a 4×4. If you have one, then great, just get the boat over and either do a day trip or bring your camping gear. I would personally recommend paying the $6 a night for facilities rather than free camp but each to their own. Just make sure you know what you’re doing! This is the bush after all. It can be hot, sticky, uncomfortable and downright dangerous.
For everyone else, a tour is usually the way to go. There are pros and cons to tours sure. You can’t choose what you eat, go wherever you want, whenever you want and rules, SO MANY RULES. But you do get to meet some awesome people and if anything goes wrong, you have the company to fall back on I guess.
If you do go on a tour, read through the terms and conditions if you plan to drive. We had a shortage of drivers on our tour so they convinced Sean to drive waiving the fee he had to pay just in case he damaged the car. We’re wary of scams so we didn’t want to fork over hundreds of dollars just to be accused of damaging the vehicle after and be out of pocket from greedy tour guides.
Luckily we didn’t pay any extra to drive.
If you’re a passenger beware of back seats. These roads are bumpy! And you might be in a lot of pain by the end of it! My friend Ami is so light she flew out of her seat a few times and hit her head on the ceiling! This is with a seatbelt on.
Beware of dodgy roads and inexperienced drivers!
What to Bring/Have
You’ll be getting in and out of a car a lot so you don’t want to pack too much unnecessary junk with you. Think more along the lines of essentials.
- sunglasses and hat,
- insect repellent,
- water bottle,
- camera, back up batteries,
- clothes appropriate for the weather conditions/season,
- swimmers and towel,
- oh and enough clean underwear or like me you’ll go commando on the last day.
Also bring with you,
- a sense of adventure,
- some bravery,
- a good sense of humour
- and ability to laugh when things go from bad to worse!
What to Watch Out for
Again this is Australia so just assume everything is trying to kill you and respect the wildlife.
There are wild dingoes on this island and you should NOT feed them!!!! They may look like friendly doggies but these are wild animals and they are not friendly.
We had the “pleasure” of watching two of them getting it on whilst we were trying to sunbathe.
They are not afraid of humans and should be given a wide berth.
Snakes and spiders… yep. I’d been in Australia for over a year and been very wary of spiders and where to look for them but snakes? I seem to miss them every time. I just don’t look for them so I’ll walk straight past them and not even notice! I even trod on a black snake at work! At this point, though I had only ever heard of the Eastern Brown Snake and how deadly it was.
We came face to face with a baby one (which are even deadlier as they cannot control their venom output) on a midnight stroll to the beach! This thing could kill you in half an hour.
Luckily our tour guide stood between us and it and we were able to walk around but Ami and I were terrified from then onwards and clung to each other like glue!
Another nasty of the wildlife variety; chiggers. Yes, they do exist and embarrassingly I caught them. They are a type of mite/small spider that hides in tall grass and clings onto you as you walk past. You won’t know you have them straight away as they migrate to the sweaty parts of your body, usually behind the knees, arse crack and armpits. Then they bite you, inject you with acid and eat the dissolved flesh.
Sounds like a horror movie no?
The only way to get rid of them is to scrub and scratch them off till you bleed and burn your clothes. And believe me, you’ll want them off you because their bites itch more than a thousand mosquito bites combined!
There are a couple of good things to watch out for aside from the great scenery.
Pumice stone! I don’t usually like taking things off beaches or out of nature, “Take photo’s, leave only footprints.” That kinda thing, but I did borrow a pumice stone I found for a couple of days. What?! I have rough feet!
You can also hunt for your food if you’re so inclined. Pipies lay in the sand and if you know where to look, you can forage them, boil them in sea water and have yourself some dinner.
One other to watch out for is each other! It may not be your responsibility to babysit others but if you have sunscreen and someone else does not, is it really gonna hurt you to share? Sunburn is awful, sunstroke is awful, dehydration is awful. Look after each other.
But most of all… Have Fun!
Aside from all the things you have to watch out for if you prepare accordingly you can make a good time a great time!
I may not have appreciated parts of it when I was there but we did have a great time seeing some of the sights!
There are loads of things to do there.
Some of my more favourite memories are;
- taking photos of Maheno Shipwreck, shipwrecked by a cyclone in 1935,
- looking over at Lake McKenzie and being in awe of the colours,
- getting the courage to get in Lake Wabby,
- floating blissfully down Eli Creek then
- racing frantically down Eli Creek!
P.s If you do get bitten by insects, whether you put repellant on or not, tiger balm and calamine liquid can help calm itchiness.