Fraser Island (Photo:Flash-ka/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Fraser Island

Fraser Island (known as K'gari in the local Aboriginal language) is the largest sand island in the world, accessible only by ferry and the occasional cruise ship.

Situated 200 km north of Brisbane, it is the largest of Queensland's 100-plus islands, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its diverse range of landscape features.

Located a few kilometres offshore from Hervey Bay across a body of water called the Great Sandy Strait, Fraser Island is 124 km long and about 24 km wide.

The west coast is sheltered, as it faces the mainland, while the east is 'wilder' and made up of a series of long beaches, collectively known as 75 Mile Beach (120 km) for obvious reasons. In between the coasts are areas of towering rainforest, more than 100 freshwater lakes, huge sand dunes and sand blows, multi-coloured sand cliffs, hiking trails and almost 1000 km of narrow one-lane 4WD vehicle tracks.

One of the main attractions of Fraser is the allure of driving a 4WD along the endless east coast shore, stopping off at fascination sites along the way such as the famous Maheno shipwreck (which has been stuck in the sand since 1935) and amazing landforms such as the Stonetool Sand Blow and Eli Creek, the largest on the island.

Camping and fishing are traditional pastimes, while today accommodation is rather more sophisticated with two resorts, a few small hotels and a variety of holiday homes. Bird and animal life is plentiful on the island, with more than 350 species of birds and many reptiles including monitor lace lizards and snakes (one or two of the poisonous variety).

Dingoes also roam the island, although you may not see one during a short port visit. Numbers are estimated to be between 150 and 200 and people are warned to keep their distance (and to especially watch their children) and not to feed these wild dogs or leave food lying around.

Cruise passengers wanting to see beyond the island's west coast-located Kingfisher Bay Resort, need to book a tour -- be it a half-day 4WD tour, a Jet Ski trip and a guide walk, or strike out on one of the many self-guided bushwalks that range in length from 1.2 km to about 6 km.

Kingfisher Bay itself has a calm beach ideal for families and swimming. It is possible to hire a 4WD for half a day -- it takes about an hour to get to the east coast from the resort, although 4WD is only recommended for experience drivers. The island's terrain is hard to tackle and time is limited.

About Fraser Island


Pro

This is the largest sand island in the world and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Con

4WD is the most ideal and the most popular way to get around, but the terrain can be challenging

Bottom Line

With its diverse landscape and plentiful wildlife, Fraser Island is an ideal destination for nature lovers


Find a Cruise to Australia & New Zealand

Top Fraser Island Itineraries

Where You're Docked

Very few cruise ships actually visit Fraser Island, as navigation along the Great Sandy Strait, the waterway that separates the island from the mainland, requires exact precision. Vessels must enter and exit the strait at specific times to coincide with the tides as the waterway is very shallow in parts. Ships anchor in the strait about 500 metres off the island on the sheltered western side, at the same point on the island as the biggest accommodation provider, Kingfisher Bay Resort. Passengers are tendered to a jetty that extends for several hundred metres into Kingfisher Bay. They then walk along the jetty to Sunset Beach. It's then a five-minute walk through bushland pathways to the resort itself. There is a day visitor pavilion near the jetty that offers a bistro, games area for teens and children and two swimming pools, while the beach itself is calm and perfect for families, although it's quite shallow at low tide.

Good to Know

Expect lots of sand on the world's largest sand island. 4WD drivers can be easily bogged and sink into the deep sand or be thrown about by the deep ruts and potholes in the tracks. Tides on the eastern side of the island mean that beach driving is only possible at certain times of the day. There are no 4WD driving tracks on the west coast.

Dingoes (wild native dogs) roam the island. While there may look like normal dogs, they are not and should not be approached and certainly not fed.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Currency is the Australian dollar (AUD). It's best to come to the island with enough cash for the day. There's just one Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) in the foyer of the Kingfisher Bay Resort, however there are EFTPOS facilities available to pay for drinks at the bar and meals at various resort outlets. Credit cards are accepted by the car hire operators, in and around the resort, and in the resort village store. For currency conversion rates, visit www.xe.com.

Language

Fraser Island is in Australia, so the language spoken is English.

Shopping

Framed photographs of majestic sand dunes and lakes, or books of these photographs by Fraser Island guide and acclaimed photographer, Peter Meyer, are good souvenirs. For those who collect fluffy toys, it's hard to go past the many baby dingo toys on offer.