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Fraser Island- The Big Sand Pile

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After my major rant/whine about the rain last week, I started to feel like maybe I was over reacting. I’m a sunny person in generaly and I don’t like to complain or dwell on failures- I prefer to find the happier way to look at things. In this case the happier way is a steely determinism to not let the rain spoil my trip to Australia*- no matter what.

When it came time to book a trip to Fraser Island­ a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest sand island in the world, I refused to let the rain compromise my plans. I wasn’t relishing the idea of spending a swampy day on an island with no means of escape, but I clenched my teeth, handed over my credit card and booked a tour. I wanted to see a dingo damnit.

Given the strange ways the universe works, it should have been no surprise that I woke up to a bright blue and sunny sky. Of course given my luck most of that blue sky dissolved into cloud by the time I boarded the boat. Still, there was a lot on Fraser Island to make it worth my while:

Fraser Island is essentially a really big pile of sand. What makes it unique is that on that big pile of sand grows an immense amount of plant and animal life. From rainforests to sand dunes, the place has it all.

Fraser’s most famous residents are the dingos- wild australian dogs. This is the only place in Australia where dingos are still considered dangerous. There are about 150 of them, but unfortunatly (or maybe fortunately- I lose all self control around a cute puppy)I didn’t get to see any.

Mainly I just saw a lot of sand. The east side of Fraser Island is 75 mile beach which also acts as a highway for the 4WD vehicles that dominate the island.

The sand dunes can grow to be almost 250 meters high and some are thousands of years old. These colorful pinnacles are created by the minerals in the sand.

The most interesting part of the beach, for me anyways, was the decaying wreck of the SS Maheno. This freighter accidentally blew up on shore in 1935 and couldn’t be dislodged. It’s now about ¾ of the way buried into the sand, but what’s still visible is hauntingly stoic.


Fraser is a giant pile of sand, and the lakes on the island are essentially really big, beautiful puddles. They are replenished solely by rainwater, and their brilliant blue color comes from the purity of the sand underneath. Lake Mackenzie is the most beautiful and popular. I was psyched to go for a swim but of course as soon as I put on my bathing suit the skies opened up.

So yes, things didn’t work out exactly as I could ahve hoped. And no, I didn’t get the full Fraser experience (I still want to see a Dingo dammit!). But I’m still glad I didn’t let the rain bully me home.

*I’m currently traveling around Australia in a Chubby Camper Van with the generous help ofTravellers Auto Barn.

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13 Responses to Fraser Island- The Big Sand Pile

  1. Si Salter December 5, 2010 at 10:15 AM #

    Nice blog post. I never made it to Fraser Island, I thought it might be a sand lovers paradise. Keep up the good work.

    Si Salter

  2. Gray December 5, 2010 at 7:38 PM #

    Very cool shot of the SS Maheno! It immediately caught my attention. This looks like a fun island to explore–dangerous dingos notwithstanding. :-)

  3. Sharn White December 6, 2010 at 7:25 AM #

    I enjoyed your story and photographs. My parents managed Orchid Beach Resort many years ago and I spent many holidays on Fraser Island. prbably not as busy as it is now but I returned a few years ago and still love it. I had a pet dingo pup- not the done thing these days!!!

    • Steph December 7, 2010 at 7:03 AM #

      !!! I WANT A PET DINGO PUP!!!

  4. claire December 6, 2010 at 9:21 AM #

    So glad to hear the rain is no longer ruining your days!

    • Steph December 7, 2010 at 6:57 AM #

      I am triumphing through sheer willpower!

  5. Rebecca December 6, 2010 at 5:11 PM #

    I actually only saw one dingo when I was at Fraser at this time 2 years ago and it didn’t look cute at all, just very sickly.

    I saw loads more on my trip into the outback from Adelaide up to Alice Springs in late February. And they were way cuter too!

    Way too many things in Australia are way exaggerated, like seeing dingos on Fraser. The island is totally awesome, but not for dingos (or dingo spotting).

    Glad to hear that things are turning around in the weather department slightly!

    • Steph December 7, 2010 at 6:58 AM #

      Oh good, well than maybe I’ll get another chance to spot one!

  6. Theodora December 7, 2010 at 4:33 AM #

    I’m not going to ask you for an update on Australian weather, because I’m in Adelaide, my son’s in Brisbane, and it’s pelting down in both places and most places in between…

    Have you seen a roo yet (or wallaby, or euro)? They are seriously cute when they’re looking after their young, pawing them, stroking them, slapping them around (seriously!). And hilarious when they bounce off into the dusk, or wherever…

    • Steph December 7, 2010 at 6:59 AM #

      I’ve seen a couple far off in the distance but I’ve yet to see one up close! For some reason I expect Australia to just be filled with them- but maybe they don’t like the rain either?

  7. mercedes December 12, 2010 at 11:44 AM #

    Okay, Fraser Island looks SO. FREAKING. COOL.

    The idea of traversing Australia has never really interested me before. I always assumed I would go there eventually…it just wasn’t all that high on my list. Your travels (despite all the rain!) are starting to make me seriously reconsider this! I particularly an enamoured by the giant sand dunes.

    • Steph December 12, 2010 at 7:53 PM #

      Aww that’s great! I saw some truly enormous ones earlier this week- will try to get some pics up!

  8. Patrick Hearn April 10, 2012 at 11:29 AM #

    Oh man, I can imagine camping in the wreck of the SS Maneho. Do they allow that?

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