One of Australia’s many natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage site, Fraser island is one the big ‘must dos’. Like most things here, there’s a large number of tours, although you can drive around Fraser Island yourself. Fraser has some pretty cool things on it, but is itself a phenomenon, as it’s the largest sand island in the world. At 120km long, the whole thing is just gathered sand, with its own ecosystem and rules. Highlights are Lake Wabi, a deep green lake at the bottom of huge dunes in the woods and home of foot-nibbling fish!, Indian Head, Ely Creek, Champagne pools -it’s the bubbles-, and the showstopper, Lake Mackenzie. Like a vision, inconceivably perfect, Mackenzie is white beach, clear water and lush trees. Give a little more time for the lakes, especially as the sea is shark infested (this is Australia’s remember?). Speaking of deadly animals, Fraser is the homeland, the hub, the pit of the worlds worst. Watch out for the funnel web spider, brown
snake, red backed spider, python, death adder, golden orb weaver spider, coastal taipan…… and the not so deadly but still bite your bottom off Aussie classic Dingoes!* happy holidays.
As off the beaten track as the East Coast route will allow, is the little town of Agnes Waters, 1770 and the Castaway/Survivor experience. The idea is that you’re put on an island, with a camp, basic supplies and a camp supervisor, and then left to fend for yourself and do as you please. It wasn’t quite as Bear Grills as it sounds, but it was pretty bloody cool. In this ‘self guided tour’ we spent two nights on a stunning beach, exploring the cliffs, eating rock oysters and making friends by the campfire. Don’t expect to be babied -they have a strict ‘no princes or princesses’ rule-, but if your okay to get grubby, they have everything you could need. My favourite part was the grand entrance. The way on and off the island is by stunt plane, and the pilots do not go easy on you. The drops and turns left me giddy, I loved it! They even let me have a go at flying it myself. On the east coast, try Castaway, its bloody brilliant.
If you haven’t heard of the whitsundays, you’ve probably seen photos of it. It’s made up of a collection of 74 islands, including gorgeous Whitehaven beach, the shifting sands of Hill inlet and the fringes of the Great Barrier Reef. The best way to see it is by boat, choosing which one is up to you. Tour operators all over the country heckle you in like an overly keen waiter, showing you a menu and promising all the wonders of Aladdin’s cave. We skipped the ‘spank me’ backpacker booze cruise and went for something a bit more relaxed. With them we explored the islands, stopping at all the sights, swimming in the beautiful waters (stinger suits on people, everything kills you remember!), sailed into the open ocean, dived in the Great Barrier Reef, and then each night bunked down for forty winks under the stars. Top tip… Bring some evening entertainment and take some sea sickness tablets. Even if you’re not usually sick, the boats are small and strong stomachs can flip. It’s also nice for anyone that’s forgotten theirs, be a friend in need.
*I had a too close encounter with a Dingo, where I was unarmed and it was running straight at me. Thankfully it was just a curious pup, not aggressive, but don’t underestimate them. Less like a dog, more like a wolf.*