If you love sun, sand, and adventure, then it doesn’t get much better than Fraser Island. Just off the Fraser Coast in Queensland, Australia, lies the UNESCO World Heritage listed island. It also happens to be the largest sand island on earth. Apparently that’s a thing.
Fraser Island is synonymous with adventure. You can only get there by ferry. It’s so close to the Queensland Coast that it looks like it’s connected to the mainland. There are no roads on the island other than sandy trails and beaches, so it’s 4WD all the way. It’s also well known for its wildlife – dingos, dugongs, turtles, dolphins, wallabies, possums, and the usual array of Australian fauna that wants to kill you – like snakes.
As you would expect, a place as unique as Fraser Island has some equally unique features that you’re not going to want to miss. Crystal clear streams you can float down, lakes of pure rainwater, the whitest sand you can imagine, huge sand dunes (with rainforests growing on some of them), strange cliffs and rock formations, plus a shipwreck right on the beach.
All this makes Fraser Island not only an incredible place to explore, but also a photographer’s dream. During my four-day adventure on the island as part of a Queensland Road Trip, I took over a thousand photos. The island is massive (over 120km long), so I didn’t get to see everything I wanted to. What I did see and photograph was pretty incredible.
If you’re planning to visit Fraser Island, I recommend you beg, borrow, or steal a 4WD and stay a few days. The freedom you’ll gain from going where you want when you want will be well worth the cost and effort. Driving on the island isn’t difficult if you have the right vehicle, and it’s actually a lot of fun. There are campsites all over Fraser Island, and they’re super cheap.
If self-driving isn’t an option for you, there are a ton of companies that offer Fraser Island tours. There are also a couple of resorts if camping with the snakes isn’t your idea of a good time.
Whichever way you choose to see Fraser, make sure you bring your camera because it’s a feast for the eyes. These are a few of my favourite photo locations on Fraser. None of them are difficult to get to, so don’t miss them.
Within half an hour of arriving on Fraser Island’s southern end from Rainbow Beach, we were greeted by these three magnificent Humpback whales. Over the four days on Fraser we saw dozens of groups. Some come quite close to the shore, and a couple even breached right in front of our campsite while we were eating breakfast!
Humpback whales migrate north up the east coast of Australia between June and August to mate and give birth, so that’s the time to go. The weather is much more pleasant during the Queensland winter, and there are far less people on the island.
One of Fraser Island’s most popular attractions is the SS Maheno Shipwreck. It’s located about half way up 75 Mile Beach, and it’s massive, so you won’t miss it. It’s on the east coast, so sunrise is the best time to photograph it.
We camped in the Maheno campground, which is right on the beach and a short five minute walk to the wreck. We had the whole campground to ourselves. Doesn’t get much better than that.
One of the reasons Fraser Island is a photographer’s dream is that is there’s no light pollution, so it’s perfect for astrophotography. Plan your trip around the new moon and you’ll see more stars than you ever imagined.
At the north end of 75 Mile Beach is Indian Head. It’s just a short walk up to the lookout over insanely high cliffs. You can see for miles in every direction. From up there we saw whales, dolphins, sharks, and turtles. I also nearly stood on a black python. Not the wildlife I was hoping to run into.
Our second night we camped at Waddy Point campground. It’s about half an hour from Indian Head through a sandy bush track. There are some pretty incredible sand dunes at Waddy Point. It’s a little unnerving being alone and seeing dingo tracks in the sand.
A short drive south of Waddy Point are Fraser Island’s famous Champagne Pools. The huge rockpools fill up with seawater as the waves crash over the edges. It’s one of the only places that’s safe to swim on the eastern side of the island, so make sure you take a dip.
Located in the middle of the island is one of Fraser Island’s many beautiful lakes. Lake McKenzie is made up of pure rainwater, and it has some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. The sand is 98% silica, meaning it’s pure white and filters the rainwater to give it this incredible colour.
Lake McKenzie also happens to be one of Fraser Island’s most popular attractions, so get there early to beat the crowds. We camped at Central Station campground, which is a short, but very bumpy drive to the lake.
From Lake McKenzie it’s not far to the ferry back to River Heads at Hervey Bay. There are two points you can catch the ferry from. Whatever you do, make sure you’ve booked the ferry. Don’t make our mistake and get to the ferry point only to find it’s fully booked and then have to drive all the way around to the other point.
However you choose to see Fraser Island, I promise you it will be an adventure you’ll never forget. You’ll come away with some fantastic photos and even better memories.