75 Mile Beach

75 Mile Beach is the name given to the main beach on the eastern side of the island and it runs the length of the island. But this isn’t any old beach, 75 Mile Beach is also a gazetted highway with speed limits and all normal road rules apply, and police do definitely patrol and enforce this.

It also functions as a runway and landing strip for planes! So driving along this beach you you do need to be experienced and alert as you need to keep a constant look out for people, children, other vehicles, washouts and hazards, dingoes and planes!

It’s quite an experience the first time you are driving along and you see a plane coming in to land in front of you!

Driving along this beach is also dependent on the tides and this alone can change the landscape from one day to another. Dips and washouts can appear from one tide change to another so you do need to be alert. There are definitely many parts of the beach that are completely inaccessible and covered in water at high tide, so if you are planning a trip you must be aware of the tide times for the day and plan accordingly. As a general rule you should not drive 2 hours before or after high tide.

Whilst the beach is beautiful and a beach, you don’t want to go swimming here. There is a huge shark population that call the waters around Fraser Island home. But apparently the fishing is good, at any given time you will see fisherman lining the beach trying their luck.

Champagne Pools

Champagne Pools is one of the more isolated destinations on the island and you’ll find it on the eastern side, just past Indian Head. Once at the car park it’s a short walk via the boardwalk and stairs to get down to the pools.

Champagne Pools are just beautiful and you really must visit if you have the time. This is a group of naturally formed swimming holes which have formed among the rocks and as each wave crashes along the rocks, it foams and cascades down into the swimming holes.

With each wave, cool water bubbles and fizzes around you, creating the Champagne-like feeling.

To see this in it’s full glory you need to time your visit outside of low tide, but not at full high tide!

Due to the more remote location of the Champagne Pools, the travel time it takes to get there and the eastern beach being inaccessible at high tide, you must plan your visit well and check tides before heading here.

The natural beauty of Fraser Island

Hands up who’s never visited Fraser Island …. if you are sitting there with your hands in the air, what’s wrong with you! You really need to get off your butt and get yourself up to this amazing part of the country!

You’ll find Fraser Island located off the east coast of Queensland, about 4 hours drive north of Brisbane. Covering an area of 184,000 hectares, it is the largest sand island in the world. But it’s more than just a bit of sand surrounded by water, it’s one of the most naturally beautiful places you’ll visit.

You’ll find some of the most beautiful lakes filled with crystal clear fresh water, ancient rainforests, long white beaches, coloured sand cliffs, shipwrecks and a splash of history thrown in.

Fun facts about Fraser Island

  • Fraser Island stretches over 123 km in length and 22 km across at it’s widest point.
  • Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world.
  • Fraser Island is World Heritage Listed.
  • The highest dunes on the island reach up to 240 meters above sea level.
  • Fraser Island is home to 40 perched dune lakes (which is half the number of perched lakes in the world!).
  • It’s said that over 350 species of birds live on Fraser Island.
  • The dingoes of Fraser Island are the most pure strain of dingoes remaining in eastern Australia.
  • Fraser Island is the only place in the world where rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of more than 200 meters.
  • 75 Mile Beach is a gazetted highway and all normal road rules apply, and police do regularly patrol.
  • 75 Mile Beach is also a runway and landing strip for light aircraft.
  • Fraser Island’s dunes have the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world.
  • At 200 hectares, Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake in the world.
  • Fraser Island is home to half of the world’s perched lakes.

How the island formed

An island like Fraser Island doesn’t just pop up overnight, it has been forming over many hundreds of thousands of years and is still evolving to this day. Many years ago the wind and ocean currents moved sands from all around the world and it began to accumulate in one place and formed an island, therefore Fraser Island is made up completely of sand. Over the years animal matter and debris started to form a base which then allowed plants to start growing. A sand dune is considered stable when plant colonies start to take root and you can see this towards the centre of the island, where you’ll find huge trees and rainforests growing in the more sheltered parts of the island.

Closer to the beach where the dunes are subjected to the more fierce weather elements you will see that they often only have a small covering of grasses and smaller plants that have learned to live with the constant battering of sand and wind.

Fraser Island Lakes

There are over 100 freshwater lakes on the island. The only area in Australia that has a higher concentration of lakes than Fraser Island is Tasmania. There are Perched lakes, Window lakes and Barrage lakes.

Perched lakes form when organic matter builds up in a depression in the dune. Leaves, dead plants, bark etc collects over time, slowly decomposing into the top layer of the sand and eventually forming a cement like crust which stops water from filtering through the sand. With the water being trapped it will eventually form a lake. Perched lakes are dependent on rainfall to maintain the water levels.

Fraser Island’s Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake in the world.

Barrage lakes form when moving sand dunes block off the path of a watercourse, creek or natural spring.

Window lakes form when a depression in the dunes exposes part of the regional water table. These lakes are generally found in dune depressions where the water table is higher than the ground surface level.

Fraser Island’s Lake Wabby is actually known as both a window lake and a barrage lake.

Whilst the lakes on Fraser Island are some of the most naturally stunning sights you’ll see, many of them hold nothing but water. Because of the purity and acidity of the water, they are not home to any creatures. There are a few lakes that do have fish and turtles living in them and a particular species of frog that have adapted to survive in an acidic and nutrient deficient environment.

Fraser Island History

Captain Matthew Flinders was one of the first white men to have contact with the islanders of Fraser Island in 1802.

In 1836 the ‘Stirling Castle’ was shipwrecked and after spending weeks in a lifeboat at sea, they landed on the island. The survivors lived on the island for a few weeks before being rescued. One of these was Eliza Fraser, the wife of the Captain, James Fraser. It was after Eliza, that Europeans named the island Fraser Island.

The Butchulla people are the indigenous people of Fraser Island and their traditional name for the island is K’gari (pronounced “gurri”), which means paradise. According to Butchulla legend, Fraser Island was named K’gari after the beautiful spirit who helped
Yindingie, messenger of the great god Beeral, create the land. As a reward to K’gari for her help, Beeral changed her into an idyllic island with trees, flowers and lakes. He then added birds, animals and people onto the island to keep her company.

The island is now referred to as both “K’gari” and ‘Fraser Island” (and “Great Sandy National Park”), and whilst the Native Title rights were handed back to The Butchulla people in 2014, the day-to-day management of the island is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Heritage (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service).

Fraser Island Logging history

Logging is a huge part of the Fraser Island story. Due to the abundance of timber available and the quality of the pines, logging on Fraser Island ran for quite an extended period of time, first starting in 1863 and continuing until the end of 1991.

Logging initially started near Wanggoolba Creek by ‘Yankee Jack’ Piggott. In 1913 the first State Government Forestry Camp was set up at Bogimbah Creek, later moved to Wanggoolba Creek and in 1920 this moved to Central Station. In 1918 building began on the first and only timber mill on Fraser Island at the McKenzie’s Jetty site. McKenzie Ltd. was responsible for this mill, a jetty and a number of steam locomotives and tracks servicing its logging areas. When the Forestry Camp moved to Central Station, there were workers and their families living there and a community formed, including huts, houses and sheds, a school for the children and nurseries and vegetable gardens.

Nowadays Central Station is a camping and picnic area, but it also includes plenty of information on it’s former life as a logging camp.

Fraser Island’s WWII Connection

Many wouldn’t know, but Fraser Island played an important role in WWII.

The Fraser Commando School trained personnel for the highly secret ‘Z Force’. These personnel lived on the island and were trained to operate undercover behind enemy lines. The ruins of the training school are found on the western side of the island near Kingfisher Bay Resort.

The Maheno shipwreck, located on the eastern beach, was also used during the WWI as a target for explosives training.

Coffin Bay National Park

Coffin Bay was a place we had definitely wanted to visit, all the photos you see are stunning. We managed to incorporate a 2 night stay here on this trip and so glad we did. Would have loved to have more time to explore a little more of the coastline, but there is always next time!

After a long drive from Mildura to Coffin Bay …. with the temperature slowly rising the further we travelled (48 degrees when we stopped in Port Augusta for fuel!) we were wondering what we were in for!

Luckily the temperature at Coffin Bay was much more bearable … in fact it was quite cool at times.  We camped overlooking Yangie Bay which was great.  The local kangaroos visited and grazed right in front of our camp.  Driving around the park you’ll see plenty of kangaroos and emus.

We spent the day exploring the whole national park and it was absolutely beautiful.  Such a stunning area, the colour of the water is something you need to see to believe.  If you have been to Western Australia, it’s very similar to the waters around the Coral Bay area of WA.

 


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Fraser Island 

We are back to one of our favourite places, Fraser Island! Absolutely love this place and here are a few pics from this trip. 

On the barge on our way to the island

Sunset from our campsite

Late afternoon stop at Eli Creek

Wanggoolba Creek at Central Station

Dingo at camp

Maheno shipwreck

The Western Beach

Turtles at Lake Allom

Sandy Cape

Sunrise on Fraser Island

Getting up early to watch the sun rise over the beach would have to be the best way to start your day.  Living in the city you don’t tend to this experience this very often, but for us (well Shelly in particular) this is one of the highlights of camping.

So peaceful this morning sitting on top of the dune watching the sunrise over the water with only the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.  Most campsites are still asleep at this time of the morning so it’s the perfect time to be up and taking in the tranquil surroundings.

Keeping a watchful eye over my shoulder for any dingos that may be loitering around, I sat on the dune and watched as the sun rose up through the clouds and a new day began.

Life really doesn’t get any better than this.

Barrington Tops, NSW

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A few weeks back we headed off on a tag-a-long trip with our mates at Great Divide Tours.  We do a lot of travel by ourselves, so sometimes it’s nice to get out and meet some new people.

This tour took us up to Barrington Tops for some great 4WDing and amazing scenery and then to Myall Lakes for some beach driving.  The best thing about this trip was that it was accommodated, camping in Barrington in winter is not our idea of fun!  It was 7 degrees up on the mountain during the day!

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Saturday morning was an early start for us to drive from Sydney to meet up with everyone at 9am at Singleton.  We then headed off towards Barrington Tops National Park.  It was very foggy in the morning as you can see from the photo above and with rain on and off, combined with the recent rainfall in the area, we knew this was going to make for an interesting day on the tracks!  It was a good test for the new car to get out and play in some mud!

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Majority of people on our tour had not done a lot of, if any, 4WDing offroad, so with the muddy tracks, it was quite an adventure!  As you can imagine, they were a little intimidated with the situation and their car’s ability, but we all need to learn somewhere right!  As we are mates with the tour leader, we were put at the back as ‘tail end Charlie’, George and I joked that we needed to be put on payroll because of all the help and recoveries we undertook!  It did make for an interesting day and in a way, it was great for everyone else to experience it all in a safe environment, rather than being caught out there on their own.

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One of our stops was to visit ‘The Rock’ / ‘Cock Rock’ / Dick Rock’!  Whatever you call it, it’s a funny sight to walk through the bush and be confronted with this!  A few funny photos were taken here, as you can imagine, boys will be boys!!

Rumour has it that any couple who are having trouble falling pregnant should visit this rock.  If they manage to have sex on the rock, they will be rewarded with a pregnancy!

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After a great day of 4WDing, we arrived at Gloucester, our home for the night.  We stayed at the Gloucester Country Lodge, a great hotel, rooms were great, service was great and the view …. WOW!

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View from outside our room

Saturday night we all went to the golf club for dinner.  We had a few drinks and laughs and of course, birthday cake for Shelly!  Sunday was Shelly’s birthday, the last year of her 30’s.  We were surprised to find that the club was completely empty at about 8.30pm and when the staff started leaving to go home we got the hint that maybe we were about to be kicked out!  At that moment we realised that we certainly weren’t in the city!

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Sunday morning kicked off with breakfast in our room and then to meet up with everyone for the day’s briefing.  We headed off towards Myall Lakes via the back roads, such beautiful scenery, so lush and green.  The day was sunny and warm compared to the day before.  Morning tea was spent visiting The Grandis, the tallest known tree in NSW.  The tree and picnic area is located just off the Pacific Highway, north of Bulahdelah.

We then headed down to Bombah Point for a coffee and to catch the barge/car ferry across the river.  From there it wasn’t too long before we hit the beach for some beach driving and lunch.  Again, no-one else had done sand driving before, so we had a quick lesson and what to do and what not to do before heading down on to the sand.

Our lunch spot was great, we had a huge pod of dolphins entertaining us while we ate lunch and went for a walk up on to the headland.

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We all said our goodbyes around 4pm and headed back home after a great weekend away.  Couldn’t have asked for a better way to welcome in the last year of your 30’s!

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All good things must come to an end :(

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Unfortunately it all must come to an end at some point, no matter how long we spend on Fraser Island, it’s never enough!

This time we managed to reach the Western Beach and spent an amazing day over there, meaning that we have now driven every section of beach possible on Fraser Island.  We had some great weather, and some not so great!, as shown in the photos below, but it didn’t spoil our holiday one bit.

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We cannot tell you how badly you all need to visit Fraser Island!  It’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve been to and the track conditions change daily, the scenery changes, it’s just amazing.  One minute you are driving along the beach and the next through a rainforest.

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Anyway, after we packed up and said our goodbye’s to our good friends, we headed off around 9.30am towards the barge.  By the time we hit hook point, the tide was still a little high so we had to wait a while before we could head around to the barge (would rather do that than take the unbelievably rough inland track!).

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Goodbye Fraser Island, you’ve been great as always…. until next time.

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Lake Allom / Maheno Shipwreck / Eli Creek

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 Lake Allom (known to us as Turtle Lake) is one of our favourite places to visit on Fraser Island.  You never have a visit there without seeing turtles, they come right up to the viewing platform.  I love turtles and these little guys are so cute, it’s awesome to be able to see them this close up.

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Lake Allom is one of the inland freshwater lakes and it’s surrounded completely by Mellaluca trees.  The water of Lake Allom is black, which is as a result of the tannin from the trees surrounding the lake.

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The pic above is just one of the examples of amazing trees you will see on Fraser Island.  This tree was down at Lake Allom and was so dead straight and so tall, amazing!  And this little boy was waiting at our car when we got back to the carpark.  There is a picnic area just up from the lake so I’m sure that’s why these guys are always hanging out there!

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SS Maheno shipwreck

This is another ‘must visit’ place on Fraser Island. The Maheno was built in Scotland in 1905 and was the world’s first ever triple screw steamer.  She was built as a luxury passenger ship. During World War 1 she served as a hospital ship and later was used by a shipping company for journeys between Sydney and New Zealand.

By 1935 the ship had been declared outdated and taken out of service and was sold to a scrapping company in Japan.

On 8 July 1935, while under tow to Japan, the Maheno became caught in a cyclone and the towline broke.  After drifting in rough seas overnight, the Maheno beached on the east coast of Fraser Island.

The Maheno was unable to be re-floated and no buyers wanted her, so she was abandoned on the beach and remains there today.

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The Maheno when she first beached on Fraser Island

On the way back to camp we called in to Eli Creek.  As usual, the water was freezing and being later in the afternoon there was no way we were swimming!  Eli Creek is the largest creek on the eastern beach and up to 4 million litres of fresh water pour into the ocean each hour.

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What a beautiful way to end the day.

Wow, couldn’t have asked for a better day ….

In all our visits to Fraser Island, we had never been over to the beach on the western side of the island.  We had heard from friends how amazing and unspoiled it was, so we decided to head over and check it our ourselves.  Wow, what a day!

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This is the first sign you see when you hit the western beach!

The beach was truly amazing.  The sand was so white and the water was the bluest blue.  There was no-one around.  I think we passed 2 cars the whole day we were out there.  There were numerous water crossings to navigate and the sand was soft in certain areas so you certainly need to be experienced and know what you are doing, because there is no-one around at all if something were to happen to you.

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This whole beach was ours for a day!  How cool is that!

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If you ever get the chance, you need to head over here to experience it, it’s a relatively untouched part of Fraser Island which we are glad we found.  We can now say that we have driven every inch of the Eastern and Western beaches on Fraser Island possible (some areas are designated no-drive areas).