How to tackle the Fraser Island Great Walk

How to tackle the Fraser Island Great Walk

A writer and a photographer walked onto the world’s largest sand island. No, it’s not the start of a Dad joke, but rather the beginning of a Fraser Island Great Walk adventure.

It’s fair to say that most people see Fraser Island from the window of a 4WD as they bump their way along the sand tracks from site to World Heritage-listed site.

Having spent a lot of time on Fraser, I reckon there’s something dreamlike about stripping things back to a pair of comfy hiking boots, a narrow foot track, the call of an Eastern Whipbird and plenty of pristine wild.

So, if getting back to nature’s your bag, then let your fingers do the walking down your screen and start planning your Fraser Island adventure.

Before you step out and about

Dingo on Fraser Island

Sections of the Great Walk are pretty remote, so if you’re heading out on the longer hikes you need to be totally self-sufficient – this includes compass, food, personal locator beacons and all your camping gear.

For all walks:

  • Wear tried and tested quick-dry walking boots (BYO blister kit), take plenty of water, insect repellent, sun protection and a first aid kit. Topography maps are available online.
  • Buddy up and tackle the trails at the pace of your slowest walking companion.
  • Tell someone where you’re going, your route and when you’re due back. Walkers can register these details at both resorts.
  • Jump online to sort out your hiker’s camp permit (if you’re overnighting). November to Feb are high fire danger months and tracks can close without notice, so it’s best to check the QPWS condition report before heading out. On the upside, cooler months mean lower humidity… plus it’s still warm enough to swim.
  • Applying sunscreen before swimming in the lakes can damage their fragile ecosystem. Consider a rash vest, hat and sunglasses as an eco-alternative.
  • Staying on track helps protect the flora and fauna.
  • If you’re a smoker, carry a small container to stow your butts.
  • Stay Dingo Safe – plan to reach your campsite by dark and keep food in the food lockers provided.

Short strolls

Lake Wabby Fraser Island

You don’t have to find your inner Bear Grylls to take to the walking tracks on Fraser Island, but you will need to pack a moderate level of fitness. There are plenty of well-signed, shorter walks to give you a taste of the island, without the stamina needed for the longer hikes.

Five of the best:

  • The Beerillbee Trail runs along the ridge of an enormous sand dune above Kingfisher Bay Resort (on the western side) and offers gorgeous views of the Great Sandy Strait 4km each way (90 min).
  • The uber-scenic Central Station to Wanggoolba Creek — 0.9km return (0.5– 1hr) is very easy going… just stay on the track.
  • Central Station to Basin Lake — 5.6km return (2–2.5hrs) is lovely, but don’t expect to see it solo as tour groups frequent this route.
  • Kingfisher Bay Resort to McKenzies Jetty taking in Fraser Island’s Commando School — 6.6km return (2–3hrs). Beach, sand and history to boot.
  • Lake Wabby carpark to Lake Wabby — 3.1km return (1–1.5hrs). Parts of this walk are over exposed dunes, so take plenty of drinking water (it’s totally worth it for the swim at the end).

Power walks

Lake McKenzie

Power walks offer up challenging mid-length routes against some pretty stunning backdrops. For me, the pick of the bunch is the Lake McKenzie circuit walk – 25.5km (8-10 hrs) which takes you inland to Lake McKenzie, a golden-rimed lake perched high in the dunes. Avoid walking in the midday heat, you’ll thank us!

Other routes that tickle my fancy…

  • Central Station to Lake Birrabeen — 12.8km return (4.5–6.5hrs) and equally as gorgeous as Lake McKenzie, with less people.
  • Lake McKenzie to Lake Wabby — 11.9km (4hrs) offers views to Hammerstone Sandblow.
  • Lake Wabby to the Valley of the Giants — 16.2km (7hrs) — this one is off the well-worn tourist track and is simply gorgeous.

Overnight hikes

Fraser Island Great Walk

When you’re down on the ground, you’ll really notice the ever-changing landscape as you move from coastal wallum to woodlands and subtropical rainforest at the island’s centre.

Given the entire Fraser Island Great Walk stretches for more than 90km and can take around eight days to complete, it’s not for the faint-hearted. There are hiker camps and vehicle access points in and around these trails, so you don’t have to attempt it all in one go. Plus, Lisa, the local Fraser Island taxi is happy to rendezvous at pre-arranged sites/times.

For those that like a bit more structure, Kingfisher Bay and Eurong Beach resorts have teamed up with the folks at Auswalk to offer an 8-day, self-guided Fraser trip (with 6 days of walking) and nights at both resorts along the way. There’s also a guided walking itinerary with an opt-out option for those that don’t want to cover the full trail distance.

Fraser Island Forest

So there it is, folks. Plan of attack. Check. Mountains of enthusiasm. Check. See you on Fraser Island. Check.

For more information check out the Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing website.

Have you tackled the Fraser Island Great Walk? Share your experiences in the comments below!