Dingos at Dinnertime
We’ve recently spent five days on Queensland’s own Fraser Island – a world heritage listed island off the coast of Queensland only accessible by barge and only passable by high clearance 4WD vehicles. The trip was a great deal of fun and a good test of our 4WD skills and gear before heading out on longer journeys into “the bush.” We were fortunate to have taken the advice of Vic and Eddy before to outfit our vehicle and camper appropriately! The driver training course with the trailer was also a must as it gave us confidence to go adventuring and also the tools to get out of sticky situations! The inland roads on Fraser were heavy with sand, bumpy and often times encroached upon by obstacles — making driving our camper trailer a challenge at times. Thanks again to all at Great Divide for the tutorial and assistance as we could not have done this trip otherwise!
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, with beautiful raw formations of stunning white sand running about 122kms long. With pristine beaches around the perimeter and forests, lakes and patches of rainforest on the interior, it really felt like we had entered another world. We left for Fraser by barge from Rainbow Beach, and moments after we drove off the vessel onto the sand, we were greeted by a small family of dolphins just a stone’s skip from the beach – paradise found! Don’t worry – I resisted the urge to skip any stones at the dolphins….
The drive to our camp site lasted over an hour and a half and consisted of beautiful beach driving set against a wide open horizon as we raced against the incoming tide to get to our camp before sunset. Unfortunately we faced a slight delay after thinking we had lost our phone in the vast white sands taking pictures – a white iPhone case lost to the dunes, and no means of communication as we hadn’t yet tested our satellite phone. Yikes! Luckily we found the phone the next day (inside the car – not on the beach), but we all would have been in a better mood setting up camp had we not encountered the mini-crisis! Lake in particular was very saddened by the loss of our phone, and asked if when we replaced it we could get the same protective case! After a while of open beach driving we got a taste of the inland 4WD tracks as the sun went down. It made for a challenging drive to take on new tracks with in the evening trying to get settled before dark (we didn’t) but eventually we arrived at our camp site unscathed! Note to all: parking the trailer in the national park campsite in the dark is not something I wish to repeat!
While we were greeted by the friendliest of animals in the sea, Fraser held many of Australia’s famous predators as well. Ocean fishing is allowed but swimming in the ocean is discouraged due to Tiger Sharks. It was fun to tell our “shark master” son Finn about the tiger sharks, but we opted not to ride the waves! Fraser is also home to about 200 of Australia’s purest breed of wild dingos, natural predators which roamed without fear on Fraser’s beaches. We were told the dingos were harmless to groups (including our group of four sticking together) but could be dangerous to lone hikers, and kids who wandered off by themselves, so we opted for the Central Station camp site, which was surrounded by a protective fence. While exploring the island through inland tracks and our beach driving we saw several dingos, but luckily all of these were from the comfort and safety of Cave Lion!
In addition to these predators, Fraser is home to some stunning natural wonders and wildlife – from colorful sand dunes to a lovely monitor lizard that frequented our camp site – and yet another shipwreck to fill the imaginations of our pirate-loving twins!
Our favorite natural wonder on Fraser was a series of perched lakes on its interior, which were accessible by moderately challenging 4WD tracks. The island is actually home to half the world’s perched lakes. Perched lakes are not connected to groundwater, and these were formed naturally through rainwater in the sand over thousands of years and are characterized by squeaky white sand and the purest blue water I have seen! The most well known of these perched lakes was Lake MacKenzie, which is a popular destination for the locals and adventure tourists. Mackenzie was stunning in its size and beauty, but we preferred making the extra effort to drive off road farther to Lake Birrabeen, which was a tad smaller but had the same raw beauty with no other visitors. Birrabeen was like entering a parallel universe. It was truly magical as we had the whole lake and private beach with swimmable waters, white squeaky sand, and even plenty of shady trees to protect us from the harsh Australian sun!