Fraser is a bit of a ‘Mecca’ for 4WD enthusiasts and it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to visit. With us having to get up to Cape York and back before we head to the UK we did wonder if we had the time, but with being so close and unsure when we’d be in this area again it wasn’t too hard to commit.
Colin the service manger at Zone RV suggested we take the Van, but this early into the trip and not yet quite knowing how well I can tow tonne 3.5T through soft sand we had settled for leaving the van in Tin Can Bay, taking AUdrey the cruiser and staying at Kingfisher Bay resort on the west of the island.
We caught the ferry at River Heads, just outside of Harvey Bay. The weather was gorgeous and we could see a couple of dolphins playing just where the barge was moored before coming into pick us up.
Thirty minutes later we we’re rolling off up the wooden pier to the resort. I did wonder if I needed to deflate the tyres before getting on the island but the resort was mostly tarmaced – the sand would come later!
The bay looked fantastic with a few sailing boats moored up – reminded me very much of Monkey Mia in WA. After getting ourselves orientated we headed back down the beach to watch the sunset before dinner. What a sunset it was – the best so far of the trip.
After a buffet breakfast (the girls do love a buffet) we aimed to go visit the east of the Island and the wreck of the SS Maheno.
It was nearly right way we left the comfort of the bitumen and really got to understand what is meant by Fraser being the largest sand island in the world. Dropped the tire pressures to 25psi all round and drove over the Dingo Proof electrified cattle grid that helped protect the resort.
The tracks are narrow, with regular passing points but go straight through and up and down the island cutting through the differing forests. The tracks are not particularly tricky, but you do have to concentrate having to slow right down regularly so I don’t have our passengers and fridge bouncing off the roof or slicing open a tire with a jagged tree root.
The colours of forrest and sounds of the birds are soul warming. My new favourite – the Eastern Whip Bird – or as I like to call it the ‘Whip-Saw Bird’ sounds powerful, piercing through the trees.
It takes quite a while (at least an hour) to cross the width of the island to get to the Eastern beaches, but you are well rewarded leaving the closed in forest track and opening up to the wide expanse of Eastern beaches and the constant rolling waves of the sea.
We learned that the Western end of the Island is receding by 1cm per year while the Eastern end is growing at 2cm. So the Island is constantly getting bigger.
Driving up the beach at 80km/h is fun. You feel the sand through the steering wheel, there is a bit of looseness and a lag when turning. The word that comes to mind when trying to describe it is ‘flowing’, it kind’a reminds me of skiing!
There were a few occasions when we had to brake hard at washouts (caused by creeks running into the sea) that suddenly appeared in view, sliding 3.5 tonnes of car up the beach. A couple of times we needed to reverse a bit after these quick stops, to go either closer to the sea or island to find a less steep point to cross.
Leonie deciding to drive up one such ‘washout’ which turned out to be a reasonable creek!
When we’ve been driving north up the beach for at least 30 minutes you start to understand the scale of Fraser. It’s length is about 120km (same length as Hardrian’s Wall), and you can basically drive the whole Eastern side.
Eventually a large shape comes into view on the beach way in the distance through the sea spray, It’s awesome driving closer up the beach and seeing the shape come into focus and eventually drive right up beside Fraser’s famous landmark – the wreck of the Mahino.
Turns out the SS Mahino was built in Dumbarton, Scotland which is less than 5 miles away from where I was born!
And just to give us the prefect Fraser shot – a Dingo rocks up.
This is what the Mahino looked like in it’s heyday as an ocean liner transporting passengers between New Zealand and Australia around 1905.
All the kids wanted to do the next day was chill by the restort pool. So we went for a (long!) wander down the beach toward the old jetty. It turned out to be very long walk, but the girls had a ball especially seeing the thousands of soldier crabs marching down the beach.
Fraser’s other most famous attraction Lake Makenzie was on the agenda the next day, but the weather was looking a bit iffy!
Sure enough, we we’re on the beach for about 20 mins and it started to bucket it down. So we went to one of the fenced (dingo proof) picnic areas to have our luxury packed lunch the resort had made for us and I decided to go for a short walk along a tiny bit of Frasers great walk which goes through the length of the island.
On the walk I came across this waterhole/billabong through the trees and knew it would make some great footage/photo, which I ended up entering in a Fraser calendar competition. Of course, another downpour occurred with me 2km from the lake. Forest was beautiful in the rain though.
We checked out the fine dining restaurant that night and couldn’t go past their Fraser interpretation of Chilli Sand Crab – correct choice! The girls, with Charlotte in particular love going to proper restaurants and mostly behave brilliantly, meaning Leonie and I can have a great time as well.
Another big forest and eastern beach driving day with some great winter weather took us to Champagne Pools near the northern tip of the Island and Eli Creek on the way back.
The Champagne Pools get its name from the way the ocean waves spill over as froth into the natural pools. The girls loved it, the colours we’re magical and there we’re even a few large fish in the pools. (Nice recommendation Shane V).
It’s quite amazing to find out that Eli Creek’s flows 4 million listers of fresh water into the ocean every hour! It’s a popular spot and the girls had a ball floating down it twice.
On our final day, as we planned to leave Fraser via the other ferry point on the south of the island taking us to Inskip Point, we had time to squeeze in a sea kayak to a little mangrove lined creek just north of the resort in the morning. Leonie loves canoeing, but it turned out Llewella wasn’t that keen so it ended up being quite stressful intermingled with some real beauty.
The drive to the souther tip was majestic given the weather really turned it on. We watched a pod of dolphins while waiting on the beach for the ferry to pick us up. There is facebook page called ‘I got bogged at Inskip Point’, so I made sure I was in low-range coming off the ferry and kept the gas on till clear of the point, turned out to be a non event, the rains must have made the sand nice and firm.
Easily go back to Fraser, we really only saw a fraction of it, might even take the van next time, or better still just the 4WD and a couple mates.