After two centuries under a different moniker, the world’s-largest sand island has reclaimed its traditional name, once again boldly stamping K’gari on the world map.
From June 7, the Queensland World-Heritage listed treasure (formerly Fraser Island) will be reinstated as K’gari, the same name it has been called by the Butchulla People for more than ten thousand years.
“In our creation stories, our stories handed down by generations, it has always been K’gari and always will be,” said Aunty Gayle Minniecon, Chairperson Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation.
While the name has changed, the heart-lifting adventures on offer across the 122km length of K’gari remain unchanged. Here are 11 ways to make the most out of a visit to this World-Heritage listed wonder.
Rock out (and maybe swim) with the Humpback Whales: Every year between June and November, a convoy of Humpback Whales migrating south for the summer veer right at K’gari and make a beeline for the calm waters of Hervey Bay. Halfway through their 10,000 km round trip, the giant Cetaceans use the waters to the west of the island to rest up, fatten up, pair up and also, to teach their young calves some useful whale behaviours. For visitors to the region, this is a prime chance to get on board a half-day whale watching tour (departing Kingfisher Bay Resort) and observe as the whales as they spy-hop, mug and joyfully tail slap the water, sometimes coming within metres of the whale watching vessel itself.
See the ‘Beauty Spots’ in one day with K’gari Explorer Tours: Embark on a nine-hour binge of the world’s biggest sand island in a 4WD bus that looks fitted and kitted for a Mars expedition. The ranger-guided Beauty Spots tour visits a big tick list of distinct landmarks on the world’s largest sand island. There’s 75 Mile Beach, a stretch of pure white sand seemingly made for 80km per hour beach cruising, the Maheno Wreck, pretty Eli Creek, a stop at Boorangoora (Lake Mackenzie), the option for a scenic flight over the island, and a visit to Central Station with time to walk under a canopy of towering trees that seems so odd in the middle of a sand island.
Take a dip in a fresh-water lake: Top of the bucket list of K’gari’s beauty spots is Boonrangoora (Lake McKenzie, arguably the island’s most photographed freshwater perched lake. Here pure white silica sand contrasts dramatically with a flat body of ombre-blue water resulting in big-screen beauty – and standing room only in summer. For those looking for more space to unfurl a beach towel, thankfully K’gari is home to almost 100 freshwater lakes on the island, including the equally arresting Lake Birrabeen.
Get a bird’s eye view with Air Fraser Island: If you have to get to K’gari, let it be by plane. Start your adventure from the mainland or take off and land on 75 Mile Beach and soak in the beauty of K’gari from a birds-eye perspective. Just mind the convoy of 4WD vehicles whizzing by as you disembark the plane. Air Fraser Island caters for day trips and scenic flights, and includes whale watching tours from the air.
Toss a line off 75 Mile Beach: If you love fishing, then K’gari is the place to be. The 75 mile stretch of sandy beaches and three rocky headlands offer big targets for anglers hell bent on reeling in tailor, dart, bream, tarwhine, flathead, whiting and jew. But it’s the annual northern migratory run of tailor between August and October, that lures the locals every single year. Averaging one to two kilos, all the way up to five kilos, the reward for patience is a fisher’s feast.
Bubble away at the Champagne Pools: Wash away your worries in the Champagne Pools, located just north of Indian Head, where cooling waves crash over volcanic rocks to generate the foam and fizz of a glass of bubbles. While this immensely popular swimming hole is relatively protected, visitors should refrain from swimming in the ocean nearby where strong currents and sharp rocks can prove dangerous.
Trek the 90km patchwork of trails with Fraser Island Hiking: It’s the largest sand island in the world and it’s also home to a 90km salad of hiking trails, including the granddaddy of them all, the K’gari Great Walk. There are three options to hoof it around K’gari; go solo and carry your gear, sign up for pack-free camping and get the joys of bush camping without the burden of a backpack, or team up with a guide and spend the nights in architecturally designed beach houses on the four-day fully-guided Best of the Great Walk. Whatever your level of comfort, don’t miss the dreamy stretch between the Valley of the Giants and Boonrangoora (Lake McKenzie).
Hire a Safari 4WD: Hire a Safari 4WD at Hervey Bay and self-drive 75 -mile Beach, a sand highway with unusual road challenges, notwithstanding a twice daily incoming tide. Not a local? Not a worry. Safari 4WD hire offers customised packages that come with barge access and camping equipment including tents, esky, gas burners, pots pans and the all-important shovel necessary to round out the perfect K’gari getaway.
Take a sustainable whizz with Kingfisher Bay Resort: Quietly zoom along the inter-tidal zones and across the sandy terrain on K’gari’s western side on a one-hour Segway adventure that comes with cool ranger interpretation. These easy two-wheeled, off-road exploration machines booked at Kingfisher Bay Resort, reach speeds of up to 10km an hour and offer a sustainable and fun way to see K’gari.
Learn the lore of the land at Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours: It’s worth the trip back to the mainland to join the crew from Hervey Bay Eco Marine Tours and learn about K’gari from a Traditional Owner’s lens. Choose the sunset cruise or turtle discovery tour, or sign up for the Djinang Cultural Walking Tour and meet with a Butchulla Traditional Owner to understand the three lores that guide all Butchulla People.
Float your own adventure with Fraser Island Boat Charters: Jump on board a luxury catamaran and explore the waters around K’gari in style and at your own pace. Choose a self-drive boat hire or opt for skippered charters. Just bring your bags and essential gear and the rest will be sorted. Fraser Island Boat Charters has also introduced a Fly, Drive and Sail package incorporating a scenic flight over to K’gari, a beach landing, and a self-drive 4WD experience – all capped off by some serene days celebrating and sailing.
Want more to do, try these?
- Visit Central Station, home to the tallest gums on the island, and take a bushwalk to Wanggoolba Creek and Basin Lake.
- Encounter 325 bird species that call the island home as well as wallabies, possums, turtles, echidnas and of course, the dingo (very cute but don’t approach).
- Make a beeline for The Cathedrals, the iconic coloured sand cliffs. According to Aboriginal legend these were formed 40 million years ago when the Gods brushed up against them.
- Take a relaxing float down Eli Creek and be carried by 4 million litres of clear, fresh water that pours into the ocean every single hour.
- Learn how the Maheno Shipwreck, a vessel once renowned for clocking up the fastest trans-Atlantic crossing in World War One, ran aground during a cyclone before wrecking on the shores of K’gari.
Source: Tourism & Events Queensland