Fraser Island: largest sand island in the world, home to some of the purest dingos in Oz, and a World Heritage Site.
If I'm perfectly honest with you, I wasn't blown away by Fraser Island. Everyone I know raves about it and it's definitely a highlight of most people's trips, but for me it didn't quite live up to expectation. I have a few theories why, but the good news is that I'll definitely be back to give the island another go . . . just minus the camping in January next time.
Anywhoooo, Fraser Island is a pretty cool place. As I said, it's the largest sand island in the world at about 120km in length and 24km in width. I had no idea it was that big before I went, either. It's also home to over 100 freshwater lakes, which just happen to be some of the cleanest in the world. I told you it was a pretty cool place! So, without further ado, allow me to share some Fraser Island highlights with you.
It's not a trip to Fraser Island without a swim in Lake McKenzie! You almost certainly seen it in photos: it's the definition of crystal clear water. At 1200m long and 930m wide, it's pretty big. Lake McKenzie, like Whitehaven Beach, also has sand made of pure, white silica; meaning it's squeaky to walk on and makes an incredible exfoliator. Seriously, you can even use it on your hair! So not only can you get some amazing instagram photos, you can also walk away with beautifully soft skin - winner winner chicken dinner! To get technical with you, Lake McKenzie is a perched lake.
"What is a perched lake?", I hear you cry!
A perched water table (or perched aquifer) is an aquifer that occurs above the regional water table, in the vadose zone. This occurs when there is an impermeable layer of rock or sediment (aquiclude) or relatively impermeable layer (aquitard) above the main water table/aquifer but below the surface of the land. If a perched aquifer's flow intersects the Earth's dry surface, at a valley wall for example, the water is discharged as a spring.
I have no idea what that means either, but thank you anyway Wikipedia. A more simple definition would be a lake that is isolated above the groundwater table by a layer of rock or organic material. Yeah . . . maybe we can just disregard that fact altogether. I can tell you, however, that because the water is so pure, it's unsuitable for many species to live in.
Indian Head can be found on the eastern side of the island, in fact, it is the most easterly point of Fraser Island. It's at one end of the Seventy Five Mile Beach - yes, 75 miles of beach, Australia brings the goods - and was named by Captain Cook in 1770 due to the aboriginal people he saw standing on it. Off topic, but one thing I love about Australia are the no-nonsense names: Great Sandy National Park, Sunshine Coast, Great Ocean Road, Seventy Five Mile Beach . . . it is what it is.
Indian Head is actually a very sacred place for the Aboriginal people. It was used as a sort of courthouse for the communities that lived on the island. If you were found innocent, you'd be allowed to walk back down to the island; whereas if you were found guilty, you had to jump.
On a slightly more cheerful note, Indian Head is also an excellent place to see marine life. Whilst we were up there the group saw a shark - I missed it because I wasn't wearing my glasses lol.
Another must-see for the island is the SS Maheno shipwreck. The SS Maheno began life as on ocean liner that carried the wealthy across the Tasman Sea, with her maiden voyage taking place on the 18th of November 1905. During WWI, the SS Maheno was converted into a hospital ship before returning to commercial service at the end of the war. Unfortunately, in the 30s Australia entered a recession, business for the SS Maheno dried up, and the owners were forced to sell.
The ship was sold to a Japanese shipbreaker, who then ordered it's 'delivery' to Japan in July 1935. Sadly, en route, a severe cyclone magically appeared about 50 miles off of the coast, breaking the towline between the SS Maheno and its tower, the Oonah. Due to the freak weather conditions, the SS Maheno couldn't be reached, and so she drifted until she beached off the coast of Fraser Island, where she can still be found today. The ship was stripped of her fittings so all that remains is a rusty wreck, the majority of which has been buried by the sand.
It's an incredible sight - made all the more impressive when compared to the photographs of the boat in all its glory. The SS Maheno was a big ship: carrying 240 1st class passengers, 120 in 2nd, and 60 in 3rd.
Pouring 4 million litres of fresh water into the ocean every hour, Eli Creek is Fraser Island's largest creek on the eastern side. The water here is also perfect to drink as it's some of the purest in the world: it takes over 100 years for the water to filter through the sand! It also holds cultural significance for the local Butchulla people as it served as a gathering place, as well as being where they baptised their children.
Sadly no champagne here :( Fraser Island's Champagne Pools are volcanic rock pools, so called for the fizzy foam that the waves make as they break over them. It's also the only place on the island where saltwater swimming is permitted (the water surround Fraser Island is full of Australian treasures, such as sharks, stingers, and strong currents - hurrah!)