WHS: Fraser Island, Australia

Today we’re beginning our roundup of the World Heritage Sites and Wonders we visited in Australia in our first and only trip so far a little while back, all up and down the Pacific coast. To start out with, we landed at the Gold Coast and promptly drove up past Brisbane to Rainbow Beach, jumping off point for day tours of today’s World Heritage Site visit:

Fraser Island


Fraser Island, also known by its Aboriginal name of K’gari, lies along the eastern coast of Australia. The property covers 181,851 hectares and includes all of Fraser Island and several small islands off the island’s west coast. It is the world’s largest sand island, offering an outstanding example of ongoing biological, hydrological and geomorphological processes.  The development of rainforest vegetation on coastal dune systems at the scale found on Fraser Island is unique, plus the island boasts the world’s largest unconfined aquifer on a sand island.

The property has exceptional natural beauty with over 250 kilometres of clear sandy beaches with long, uninterrupted sweeps of ocean beach, strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and spectacular blowouts. Inland from the beach are majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on sandy dunes and half of the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes…

The property represents an outstanding example of significant ongoing geological processes including longshore drift. The immense sand dunes are part of the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world and are still evolving. The superimposition of active parabolic dunes on remnants of older dunes deposited during periods of low sea level, which are stabilised by towering rainforests at elevations of up to 240 metres, is considered unique. Fraser Island also has a variety of freshwater dune lakes which are exceptional in terms of number, diversity and age. The dynamic interrelationship between the coastal dune sand mass, aquifer hydrology and the freshwater dune lakes provides a sequence of lake formation both spatially and temporally.

The process of soil formation on the island is also unique…

Check out the video there, and you’ll see that it requires a pretty serious 4WD to manage self-driving to Fraser Island, especially when the loading ramp on the mainland is, in fact, under water!


So this is one site where we quite thoroughly recommend you get yourself a guided tour rather than dealing with that, like ours with Fraser Explorer Tours; they pick up at any of the Rainbow Beach area hotels.

You’ll definitely get to stop at a “perched” — that is, completely formed by rainwater — lake on your tour, which are more impressive than you’d expect a sand puddle to be:

and walk through a variety of the rain forests, which again are far more impressive than you’d expect to find on what’s basically a really, really, big sandbar:

And speaking of big sandbars, again check out that video for highlights of the drive along “75 Mile Beach” which is, in fact, an Australian National Highway. On the beach. Shipwrecks, colored sand at “The Pinnacles” and a stroll through a freshwater river were the stops on our particular trip —

— but the highlight, and we were extremely lucky so we were told, was that we had no fewer than six encounters with the famous dingoes of Fraser Island:

Now, we must acknowledge that the enthusiasm among our cotourists was generally at a higher level than that of our Thai companion; from her dreams of kangaroos and koalas and emus and all the rest of the iconic Australian wildlife, here we are our first full day in Australia and this is what everyone’s getting excited over seeing, which somewhat failed to enthrall her —

— “Bangkok has lots of skinny dogs!” —

— which has become somewhat of a catchphrase with us now, every time we see a skinny dog it’s “Hello, dingo friend!”


p dir=”ltr”>Any-ways, if you do have dingoes at the top of your Australia bucket list, then this is definitely the place to go! Likewise if you’re interested in exotic ecosystems, this is the world’s most exotic pile of sand, without a doubt — great place for a packed daytrip!

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  1. […] we mentioned last time in our trip report on Fraser Island, we stayed in the beach town of Rainbow Beach the jumping off point for day tours to that World […]

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