We’re making our way to the ferry where we will set sail for Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island and one of the shining stars on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. This isn’t the first time I have been warned about dingoes on the island.

The sandy coloured Asian wolves are almost synonymous with Fraser and every backpacker I meet who has spent some time on the island has their own story. From “I could hear them circulating my tent like savage beasts” to “I was too scared to use the toilet at night, I could see them around the toilet block, their evil eyes glowing against the fluorescent light.”  

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On the ferry there were even more warnings of dingoes including the fines for feeding them or leaving food out. It’s an ominous start to the trip, but one that is completely washed away once we arrive at Kingfisher Bay Resort. Named after one of my favourite Indian beers (not really) we check in and relax by the pool with some lunch. 

Even though it’s ANZAC Day, there are no signs of Two-Up or scores of drunk Aussies. Instead a calm washes over us as we lay in the sun, taking in what feels right now like paradise. 

I later learn that the traditional owners of the land, the Butchulla people called the island ‘K’gari’ meaning paradise. I couldn’t agree more. But not for long. We are called up for the 4pm sunset Segway tour. 

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A good segue 

Once the means of transpiration of Chicago police officers and ‘hip’ office workers, Segways have been welcomed onto Fraser Island. Kingfisher Bay Resort have their own spin on the two-wheeled electric vehicles, by letting guests scoot around on the sandy shores. We get helmeted-up and given a quick run-down before we’re let loose on the beach.

Being my first time, the speeds of 11km/hr feel like lightning speed and I let off a girlish scream as I roll over the wet sand, trying to avoid the natural pot holes made by crabs. It’s a lot of fun and once I have the knack we set off around the island as the sun goes down creating a gorgeous pink sunset. 

I hate to say it but several soldier crabs were injured as my driving skills could not handle the droves of them making their way up the beach. I ran them down like a mad woman with a steam-roller. It’s funny the things that make you squeamish; at a seafood buffet later in the trip, the dissociation is comfortably miles away. 

 

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Cool Dingo Tour

The next day we trade two wheels for a heavy duty four-wheel drive bus. We’re part of the Cool Dingo Tour and we’re heading inland on this great sandy island (funnily enough the island was actually known as the Great Sandy Island for some time, in that classic Aussie way of simplifying the most impressive things). 

The bright pink bus is full of bright young things eager to discover the island, but not quite eager enough to drive it themselves. With my shonky Segway handling, there is no way I could manoeuvre a 4wd through this terrain. Thankfully we have Craig, our guide extraordinaire and talented bus driver. The first leg of the journey is so bumpy I am quick to do up my seatbelt and tensely hold onto the seat. Driving over the sandy road feels like you’re on one of those simulated rides at Movie World. 

First stop is the stunning Lake Mackenzie, definitely one of Fraser’s crowning jewels. The freshwater lake is postcard perfect with white sandy shores and crystal clear blue waters. We relax by the water’s edge and, even though it’s probably the most visited spot on the island, it’s strangely quiet– but then I am used to Bondi Beach on a summer’s day. 

The water is crisp and clean, with the advantage of only containing rain water – we were exceptionally lucky to arrive after several days of rain. Today the sun is out, people are happy and there are children playing with colourful beach balls. If there wasn’t so much skin on show I would think I had been transported back into the glory days of yesteryear. 

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Tickets please

After lunch we’re back on the hot pink mobile and heading for Central Station. But no, we’re not switching the bus for the train, we’re going to explore the rainforest and the remains of an old rail system used by the logging industry. 

Fraser Island is the only known place to have a rainforest growing out of sand dunes. And what an impressive forestry it is. We see ancient trees that are 40 metres high, we see rough barked satinay and palms and – oh my god – someone has just spotted a dingo. We all race towards the cottage where it has been spotted, cameras in hand, forgetting everything we have been warned about keeping our distance, but it’s too late. The dingo has scuttled off into the forest and we’re left to discuss what colour we thought it was, how big we reckon it was, was it a mother looking for her baby? 

Craig shuffles us along like a police man ‘nothing to see here’ and directs us towards something he finds more fascinating. Wanggoolba Creek is a freshwater creek, so fresh in fact that he beckons us to drink it. Yep, fresh indeed, and no hallucinations as of yet. The British guests on the tour are bewildered by the nature, “the only plants I have ever seen have been at a garden centre,” remarks one. Some of the trees are hundreds of years old and so impressively large that we take turns posing for photos, wrapping our arms (unsuccessfully) around the gigantic trees, even the most lanky armed people in the group are made to feel minute. 

Later that night at the infamous Dingo Bar, there are tall tales told, tasty Mexican food and several tequila shots. The bar sure does live up to its name, full of all the kinds of people you’re warned about, but can’t help but want to know more about. Let’s just say these animalistic predators are given are bad rap. Or should I say (for the sake of my travel buddy) what happens on Fraser, stays on Fraser. 

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Planes, trains and four wheel drives

Day two finds us beachside on the east side, going ‘round the outside’ of the island. Even though we’re told it’s 123km in length, I don’t realise how big it is until we hit the beach and can see for miles. 75 miles, if you’re to believe the name of the beach. With the surf crashing to our right we must battle the ‘highway’ with other four-wheel drives and most hazardous of all, mother nature, who, at high tide is doing her best to stop us from passing at one particular point. 

Craig suggests we all get out of the bus, which is great because it turns into a tea break and impromptu game of beach soccer as he does his best to manoeuvre the bus through the rolling waves. It’s a great spectacle to witness, this is the closest we’ll get to ‘rush hour’ on Fraser, famous for its relaxed ‘island time’ mentality. Once he gets through we meander over the rocks and pile back on the bus and continue along the beach. 

It is here that we are welcomed to the next mode of transportation: the light plane. This particular company was voted the second best scenic flight in the country by a prestigious travel magazine that we won’t name (for the record TNT name it the number one in the country). Six of us are welcomed on board by Air Fraser for a 15 minute joy ride over the island. If I was perplexed by the size of the island before, up here I am amazed.

The island is massive with so many different eco-systems to take in at once, from the broccoli looking rainforest to the epic sand dunes and the chilling ocean which gives us a rare opportunity to spot stingrays. This is topped off by seeing a double rainbow in the distance. We are all amazed upon landing, our smiles and stories make the others on bus green with envy. 

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Tubing train

There’s plenty more joy to be had with the rest of the group once we disembark at Eli Creek, another freshwater creek that juts out into the ocean. Equipped with some rubber tubes we make our way upstream and dip into the chilly water where we peacefully float down towards groups of people setting up lunch in their bikinis and board shorts, drinking beers with blaring music from their 4wds. It feels like the Australian version of Spring Break.

Before we get lured in by a wet T-shirt competition we head off north of Indian Head lookout in search of a more natural Girls Gone Wild experience – the champagne pools. These rock pools are perched by the ocean, and as the waves crash over the rocks, a foamy layer of water glazes over the pools, it’s like a natural Jacuzzi, and possibly the most perfect way to spend an afternoon. 

On the way back we stop at one of the more iconic features of Fraser (and it has nothing to do with a dingo). The remains of the ill-fated ship, the S.S Maheno have remained on the shores since 1935 when it became shipwrecked on the island. The rusty skeleton of the ship is impressive and eerie at the same time. We learn that it’s not the only ship to have become shipwrecked, but one of 23.

Needless to say, even though we caught buses, planes, Segways and walked through an abandoned train station, there were no alighting of ships on this trip. And no close encounters of dingoes either. Some would call us soft, but after spending three days on a self-proclaimed paradise, I prefer to think of us as lucky. 

 

Damage and details: 3 day/2 night tour with Cool Dingo will cost you from $395 including accommodation, meals and transfers. 15 minute scenic flight with Air Fraser will cost you $60. To see more photos from the trip, head to our Facebook page.

 

Photos: Justin Steinlauf, Fraser Coast Tourism