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The First-Timer’s Guide to K’Gari (Fraser Island)

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K’gari has so much to see and do it’s tough to know where to begin. Don’t worry though. Our list of essential spots has you covered for your first trip to the world’s biggest sand island.

Here’s some context for you: K’gari is larger than more than 20 of the world’s nations by land mass, which is to say it’s big. And all that space is packed with completely unique experiences, wildlife and scenery that will keep your jaw firmly onthe floor from the time you roll off the barge to when you touch down on the mainland again.
 
With all that in mind, it can be tough to pinpoint what to see and do while you’re there (and how to sort through the hype). So, to help turn your dream K’gari holiday into a concrete plan, here’s our insider’s guide to the most unforgettable experiences on the White Princess.
 
BEACHES
Most of the beach-driving action on K’gari occurs on the eastern beach (75 Mile Beach, and with good reason. The literal 75 miles from Hook Point to Sandy Cape puts you in touch with many of the island’s most postcard-ready destinations, but there’s also something cathartic about a beach drive that seems to go on forever, the wind whipping away your workday woes and leaving you feeling as light and sunny as the shoreline in front of you.
 
If you make it all the way to the top of the island – and past the tricky Ngkala Rocks – you will be treated to one of the best campsites you can imagine. With minimal campers allowed, those who book Sandy Cape are treated to some welcome privacy, meaning they can simply sit back and enjoy both sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, watch whales performing offshore, drop a line and simply carve away each hour in complete relaxation.
 
Meanwhile, for those looking for a hidden gem, the quieter western side of the island has a few spots that shine as bright as anything you can find on the east coast. A case in point: Awinya Creek. Only accessibleby boat or by 4WD along the beach at low tide, Awinya Creek is the chef’s kiss of waterside camping: a peaceful blue ocean lapping at your feet, a stunning creek at yourback and soft white sand underfoot.
 

FORESTS
K’gari is a sand island covered in dense patches of rainforest – in fact, it’s the only place in the world where tall rainforest grows in sand. The process that allows this to happen is impressive, but the outcome is even more amazing. In its deepest tracts, where cracks in the canopy send down shafts of light to ancient ferns and palms that litter the forest floor, giant brush boxes, kauri pines and satinay (which are only found in Great Sandy National Park) reach well over 50 metres into the air in search of sunlight.

If you’re after a solid dose of awe (and maybe a sore neck), head to The Valley of the Giants. The rainforest there is all-encompassing, and some of the giant satinays on show are well over 1000 years old – a fact which adds an extra twist to the sheer grandeur of the place. The loop drive is a short yet rewarding trip, and it’s closely matched by the similarly impressive Pile Valley. Meanwhile, Central Station and the nearby walk alongside Wanggoolba Creek’s glassy waters is an undisputed winner as well.

The northern forests region, which is generally strewn with paperbarks and banksia that thin as you climb to the highest points of the island, shows off K’gari’s size (as well as its impressive diversity) and is home to some good places to challenge your off-road skillset. If you’re interested, The Northern Forests scenic drive and Lake Garawongera scenic drive are both excellent.

LAKES & CREEKS
K’gari is home to an immense amount of freshwater, and it’s incredibly impressive water at that. The island boasts a unique kind of lake, called a perched lake, fed almost entirely by rainwater and holding almost no dissolved or suspended particles. This incredible level of purity is what gives the island’s most iconic lakes – Lake McKenzie (Boorangoora), Lake Birrabeen and more – the stunning colour that makes so many do a double-take. A visit to these lakes is highly recommended (take the Central Lakes scenic drive), though Birrabeen might be better if you’re looking to avoid the crowds.

As well as being home to half the world’s perched lakes, K’gari has a wealth of freshwater creeks that will certainly knock your thongs off. Awinya Creek, Wanggoolba Creek, and most famously Eli Creek, all pump out freshwater that’s unbelievably clear, and with good reason: the water in them often comes from an underground aquifer that can take over a century to filter to the surface (a fact that will make you appreciate a dip in them a whole lot more).

WILDLIFE
Thanks to its ‘no dog’ rules and its separation from the mainland, K’gari is home to Australia’s purest dingo population. The sight of Australia’s iconic outback canine strutting around on the beach or poking around the foredunes is always a welcome one, but it’s not the only wildlife encounter the island proffers. On the island’s northern interior is Lake Allom, home to a gang of turtles that break the surface around its edges at regular intervals. Offshore, dolphins, dugongs, humpback whales and rays can be spotted, while fishermen can go in search of whiting, bream, tailor, mackerel and more with solid chances of success.

 

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