Australia & South Pacific

Fraser Island

Fraser Island

Fraser Island

On my way to Fraser Island I had to make a stop over in Hervey Bay. As I have previously stayed in YHA’s before I decided to give the Colonial YHA a try (I have a review on this hostel if you are interested). The YHA are like a chain of hostels throughout Australia.

I had previously got a YHA membership card and the prices per room are membership only prices. If you do not have a membership card (costs $37each) it will cost you $3 per person extra. This card will also get you discount for travel and tours. I would advise someone to get it if they plan to stay in a YHA for more than a week, as it will save you money.

All prices are in Australian Dollars. 

On my travels in Australia we decided when going up the coast from Brisbane to make a stop off at Fraser Island. The Cooldingo tour was the tour operator we chose. There was several to choose from. For a 3 day, 2 night quad share cost $359, twin/double $409. For a 2 day, 1 night quad share cost $289 and twin/double $339. Extra nights cost $49 quad share and $69 twin/double.

There is a National Park Permit Levy you have to pay before boarding the boat. For 3 day, 2 night it costs $24 per person and 2 day, 1 night it costs $16. This levy is additional to the above tour prices. All the prices are from Hervey Bay. You can also get the tour from Brisbane and there is flight packages available for 5 days, 4 nights and 3 nights.

For more information contact Kingfisher Bay Resort, Fraser Island, Queensland, 4655, Australia.
Telephone: 61741203333
Fax: 61741203326
Email: www.cooldingotour.com

Fraser Island is a National Park, which is heritage listed. It is completely made out of sand with some wonders to be seen in the rainforests, lakes and creeks.

*ACCOMMODATION*

You stay in the Kingfisher Resort, which is made up of timber lodges. Each lodge has 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a balcony (with chairs), an area to sit, chat and eat in which is fully screened to keep the bugs away. There is a fridge in the main area with tea and coffee making facilities. In each room, which you are allocated to, there is a ceiling fan and heaters. Your room can also be locked if you are staying in a twin room in a lodge where you don’t know anyone. Our room was larger than what a hostel room would be with two storage compartments, which could also be used as open wardrobes to hang your clothes.

The double room was two single beds pushed together which can be uncomfortable but the matrices were comfortable and the linen was crisp white, I was impressed! The bathrooms weren’t as clean, they weren’t filthy either but ants were crawling everywhere, which put me off. As gum trees and a wealth of bush plans and native birds surround the lodge, I suppose this is to be expected.

We had been warned about spiders and other crawly bugs on the first day of our trip and every time I went to the toilet I have to admit I checked under the seat of spiders, I didn’t want to get bitten lol! In the main eating area there is a warning that snakes have been spotted and to be careful when moving around at night. There were 2 bathrooms in the lodge and each had 2 showers, 3 sinks and a toilet.

*FOOD*

Included in the price are 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 2 dinners. Breakfast was buffet style. There were several different types of cereal, bread and you had a choice of also having a cooked breakfast. Lunch consisted of sandwiches, which you made up yourself. Several fillings were available with salad, cold meat and cheese.  Also buns and cookies were handed out later on in the day as a snack.

Dinner was severed at the Dingo bar it was also buffet style. On the first night we had pizza, pasta, salad and bread. On the second night it was wraps and rice. You could eat as much as you wanted on all these meals and seconds could be got if you were still hungry. If you have any dietary requirements they will cater for you but you do need to tell them in advance. At the end of the night if you wished there was a small bar for you to enjoy a drink, this however was at your own cost.

*TRANSPORTATION*

As Fraser Island is made up completely of sand they don’t have proper roads. So a 4 Wheel Drive is required. It is extremely bumpy and seatbelts are a must when travelling about. If you get motion sickness easily do beware as it reminded me of a roller-coaster ride. It was fun at the start but I soon started to feel queasy but you are never in the bus for more than an hour at any one time and believe me it was worth it. It is air conditioned for your comfort.

*SIGHTS*

DAY 1
We got picked up from our hostel in Hervey Bay and taken to the Marina were we had to pay the National Park levy and then boarded the boat. Our luggage was stored in the luggage compartment, which was then taken by porters to our accommodation. This was so we could start our tour and not have to worry about getting to our rooms and unpacking straight away. The boat took 30 minutes and was a pleasant sail. Immediately after arriving at Kingfisher Bay we were met by our tour guide and boarded the 4X$ bus to experience the roller-coaster ride over the sandy pathways. First stop was Basin Lake which was dark green in colour were we got to swim with freshwater turtles. Personally I didn’t see any but I can’t swim so I was more paddling, maybe they could have been seen in the deeper water.

Then we were sent for a 30-minute walk through a subtropical rainforest. It was very peaceful and nice to cool down in the shade. Once you finished the walk it took you to what they call Central Station. This was a place where you can get fresh water and use the toilet. We stopped here for lunch. The guide then took the opportunity t o tell us all about snakes, spiders and leeches which we had just walked through in the rainforest. He told us what to do if we got a bite and to watch out for leeches falling on us. To be honest he petrified me but I think he exaggerated and wanted the reaction as he got a kick out of it. After telling us how we could die he then sent us back into the rainforest for another 30-minute walk.

After we had finished next stop was Lake McKenzie which is the most famous lake on Fraser Island that’s what is on all the postcards. I had to admit it was lovely here we had a chance to swim in the crystal clear waters and the sand was soft snowy white. The water was turquoise and really looks like paradise. If you put some of the sand onto your hands and put some water on it, it will become a paste and is great to exfoliate and makes your skin feel great. This is because the sand is very fine. The weather was slightly overcast but it still looked great! After our swim we were taken back to the resort to have a nice warm shower and some dinner.

DAY 2
On day two we boarded a new bus as the previous one the day before had broken down. First stop today after breakfast was 75-mile beach, however we hit a problem and the tide was too far in so we couldn’t drive along so our plans had to be changed. Hammerstone sandblow viewing point is where we went and it looked like we were in a desert it was picturesque with the lush green trees surrounding it. We were then sent to trek through the rainforest again to Lake Wabby where we went to the lookout first and then walked down to it which took about 5-10 minutes. Lake Wabby is situated inside a massive sandblow.

You have to walk down a sand dune to get to it. It is an emerald green lake against a backdrop of a lush eucalypt forest and sand dunes on the other side. You can see the ocean, sand dunes and forest all at the same time. Four Eco zones all merged into one it’s breathtaking to look at. We had some time to swim here but I do advise you to go and explore as we did and seen turtles, small sharks (which were harmless and only a foot long) and small fish. A lot of people did not see this, as they were too busy splashing in the water or sunbathing.  You have to walk over the sandblow by foot it was like you were in a desert it was very tiring and I was glad to reach the beach. Some people went in the wrong direction, they were found and picked up but make sure you know where to go as getting lost can be done easily. We got lunch at 75-mile beach. Again it was sandwiches.

Next stop after we had drove along 75-mile beach was Maheno shipwreck. It was half in the water when we were there. You could touch the rusty boat and have your picture taken but there was loads of people there. Buses were everywhere and vehicles drove fast with no consideration along the beach so do be careful. Eli Creek was next where you had the chance to go for a paddle. It also was busy and there was a toilet to use if needed. Most places don’t have toilet facilities so take good use of this stop.

Then on to Champagne Pools where there were lots of tiny pools, which the ocean kept filling up with bubbling seawater, it was nature’s version of a Jacuzzi. Personally I didn’t paddle for long as the rocks were sharp and you could cut your feet easily. I found it uncomfortable walking on them. You had to be careful if you went too close to the edge as the waves crashed in and could knock you over to cause injury or you could be swept back out to sea. I didn’t really like here for that reason and would advise people who have children or who can’t swim to take extra care. As usual you will have the idiots who will go up onto the edge and take no notice of the rules but unfortunately these are the people who end up getting hurt.

On to Indian head which you had to scramble up slippery rocks to get to the top in the hope to spot pelagic sea life like turtles and sharks. Personally I didn’t see anything but it was rather stormy and the water was murky. The views were spectacular as you could see the ocean, beaches, sandblows and forest clearly. Last stop to a long day was the coloured sands for a photograph stop. They were cordoned off and you weren’t allowed to touch them. Our new bus then broke down and we were picked up by someone else and brought back to the resort.

DAY 3
Onto our third bus which thankfully didn’t break down. After breakfast we weren’t back to Lake McKenzie for a swim. The water was much clearer as it wasn’t as cloudy. After our swim we had a buffet lunch at Eurong which consisted of soup, break and cold meat. The facilities in the resort like the pool and Jacuzzi was also available if you wanted to use them. I had done enough swimming and wanted to relax and eat before getting back into the water.

Last place we were taken was Lake Birrabeen it was the most beautiful out of them all and in my opinion the best place to swim in as the water gradually got deeper and didn’t just shoot down quickly. So I didn’t need to be as cautious as I can’t swim. More importantly our group was the only people there which made it much more special I think. To end our tour we were taken back to the docks to get on the boat and go back to Hervey Bay at 5pm.

*MY OPINION*

Personally I think Fraser Island was beautiful with lots of places to swim which were very picturesque. The advantages of doing the tour were that the roads would have been extremely hard to drive and navigate on so we saved ourselves a lot of hassle. Plus we were able to fit more into our trip in the 3 days we were there. Your guide gave you useful information and told you what areas were save to swim in. If I was to go by myself I would never of known where was safe and where wasn’t.

He highlighted all dangers including wildlife. Maybe a bit too much as he scared me slightly! The group you are travelling with is small (30 people). Meals are included in the price. All planning aspects are covered which leaves you able to set back and enjoy your trip. The downside or disadvantages are that if you want to stay in an area longer you cant and have to stay with the group. If you don’t like some of the group you are stuck with them for 3 days. There aren’t many activities to do other than swim and look at the scenery and go for walks in the rainforest. So do bare this fact in mind when choosing to do this tour. Overall I would recommend this tour as it is great value for money and you see so much in 3 days.

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