I highly recommend doing a tour of Fraser on your first trip or at least once.
Why you ask? There a few reasons, first off, is local knowledge. I learnt so much from our guides about the island, the rain-forest, the lakes, wildlife, history, you name it! While there is signage around to fill you in and you could always just google, the guides are local and have great stories to share which provide charm and depth to the facts. You just don’t get that from doing your own tour.
The next reason, you don’t have to worry about anything. Everything is taken care of. No packing lunches, bedding, camping gear or worrying about whether you will get the 4×4 stuck. No wondering what to do when the dingoes come by, how long or difficult the walking or driving tracks are or which way to go.
Another reason, is it makes is fun! The guides go out of their way to make the trip a load of fun. Music, great convo, entertaining stories and adventures. Plus, you get to meet and spend a few days with like-minded people in a 4×4!
If you’re going to do an overnight camping tour with Sunrover Tours like I did, here’s a few hot tips…
Bring a big torch, it’s really dark out there.
Back up chargers for your phone are a great idea, you’ll want to capture all the beauty!
Take the front seat if you can, it’s the best spot!
For a small luxury, a mini fan for the tent would be amazing
Do not leave your towel outside. It may rain. Then it will be wet. And not ideal for drying off with…
Read about my experience at Fraser Island here and here.
The day started with a 6am wake up in preparation for a 7am take off from camp. We had fruit and cereals for breakfast, swept out our tents and hit the road.
We drove straight up to Eli Creek, stopping only to see jellyfish that had washed up overnight.
Eli Creek was beautiful. Crystal clear water (like most of the fresh water creeks all over the island), beautiful lush rainforest all around and fish in the water. Even a giant, brown cricket welcomed us! I immediately fell in love with him but our guide (from Sunrover Tours) said I couldn’t keep him.
Originally everyone said it was too cold to walk down the creek. Our guide, Charlie, coached us in and in the end the entire tour group of nine walked down the creek together. The water was much cooler than Lake McKenzie, very refreshing.
We drove north to Maheno wreck, a beautiful ship which lost its pull rope when it was being towed to Japan to be fixed and washed up on the shore of Fraser Island. The Maheno is 70 years old and surprisingly still quite together. I was captivated by it. The barnacles growing all over the sides, the rich colours of the rust and the sharp shapes created by the holes left in the ship. I could have taken hundreds of pictures and still not been done. I wanted to climb it but apparently it’s off limits…
Next up, we drove south toward the Lake Wabby entrance. A 40-minute walk through the rainforest and you reach the sand dunes that lead to the lake. There’s a desert-like scene at the top, all different coloured sands creating beautiful wave patterns across the dunes. A steep dune takes you down to the lake where tour groups play in the shallows. While it wasn’t as pretty as Lake McKenzie, the lake was charming and warm. Little fish (the ones that eat the dead skin off your feet) played in the shallows but the lake quickly became dark and deep.
I smashed the walk back, walking fast to beat my time in and knowing it was more downhill than before. Always good to get some exercise in while you can.
On the way back to the barge our guide told us more about the history of the island, the different formations and a few terrible Dad jokes for good measure. We came across another dingo on our way back before lining up for the barge.
A short boat ride and we were back on the mainland. We stopped for fish and chips in Rainbow Beach then drove back to Brisbane. I slept from Rainbow Beach to Caloundra (approx. 3 hours), a fair effort. Something about the lolling of that truck makes me weary.
Back in Brisbane 45mins early at 5.15, we all said our goodbyes and thanked Charlie our tour guide who did a fab job, especially considering it was his first trip!
I saw some pics of a friend at Fraser Island over Christmas and decided then and there I would visit and ASAP!
After some googling I decided on a two day, one night tour at the island and ensured it was visiting Lake McKenzie, the location of the pic I originally saw.
The tour (Sunrover Tours) started out from Brisbane at 6.45am (not a morning person but it wasn’t terrible) and we hit the road straight away in our older Land Cruisers.
A truly authentic experience, there’s no aircon, there’s bugs and the tour guide was a real Aussie bloke. Charlie was his name and he chose me (okay, I nominated myself) as the front seat driver with him.
A few stops later we arrived at Rainbow Beach and the fun started! We couldn’t even make it through the entrance to the point where you catch the barge to Fraser Island, we got stuck immediately. Thankfully some lovely young guys pitched in and pulled us out. Good fun!
Fast forward a ten min ride on the barge and we arrived on the island. We screamed down (80kms is the legal and policed limit) the beach along the shoreline to Dilli camp where we were spending the evening.
We ditched our stuff, had some fresh ham salad buns and fruit for lunch and were back on the road again.
We stopped at Central Station which used to be the main location for logging many years ago. Got a bit of a history lesson before a little rain-forest walk. I loved the strangling tree – a tree that wraps around another tree and steals its nutrients until it eventually dies. I really disliked seeing where the Fraser Island Funnel Web spiders lived as I got the heeby jeebys.
Next up, the highlight of my trip, Lake McKenzie. Unfortunately for us, the sun wasn’t out, however the lake was still sparkling, clear and inviting. Tours can only have 1.5 hours at the lake and we made the most of it. The water is 25 degrees and we were straight in there. I swam across to a secluded point and walked around the corner – I wish I could have taken a picture – the serenity! A vast, deserted and picturesque space. The water is crystal clear, the sand glowing white and you got the feeling of being really alone – I loved it.
The trip back to camp took longer than I remembered, as it turned out I had been asleep half the trip out there! Couldn’t keep my eyes open. The roads are stunning. Fraser is the largest sand island in the world, so low and behold, the roads are all sand! Incredibly, a rain-forest thrives in that environment. The trees created a beautiful canopy above us as we cruised through. There’s bumps and it’s fun – I enjoyed the city kid’s reactions.
At camp, we had a BBQ dinner – burgers and sausages – beaut. There are two other Sunrover tours here making the campsite busy and fun. Huge variety of people on the tour, lots of different nationalities. The guides are knowledgeable, likable and funny. I enjoyed watching them bond over a beer at the end of the day.
We retired to bed in our tents and slept soundly all night… That’s a total lie – I woke up with a full bladder at midnight and didn’t want to make a dash to the bathroom as it was raining hard, which sounded great in the tent but wasn’t great for my needing to run to the bathroom!
We changed our bus to an earlier one from Seville to Granada as we had done most of what we wanted there. Luckily it was an easy exercise.
In Granada we had booked a really cute hostel which was more like a BnB. Decorated modernly, a lift (thank god) and an awesome view with a great location.
We checked out the area, grabbed some tapas for lunch then hit the Hammam, an Arabic spa right in Granada. For 40€ we had a 2hr soak and 15 minute massage. There’s a lot of tradition in the baths, you don’t wear shoes, drink tea and shower before you get in. You start in the medium temp pool before moving to the hot, really hot, steam room, throw cool water over yourself from a bowl then jump in the ice bath and start all over again.
It was really like stepping back in time. Stunning rooms, like being in an underground cave with strategic patterns on the roof to let in a small amount of mood lighting to compliment the candles everywhere. There’s tea in many corners, pepperminty and sweet. I felt a little like a roman princess.
I felt completely relaxed and blissed out. I chose pomegranate oil for my massage and the lady soothed away my aches and pains. Highly recommend if you’re in the area. I had to take pics from Google, you can’t use your phone in there.
We did some shopping, had a snack of ceviche (amazing to have fresh, raw food again) then went back to get ready for our Flamenco booking.
Venta El Gallo picked us up, took us out to a the caves where the gypsies live and led us in. Inside we had a beverage and watched 3 beautiful flamenco dancers, two singers and a guitarist dance/ sing / play with passion and emotion. Very cool experience.
We stopped at the bar outside our hotel and that the most fantastic food. Gemma had a smoked salmon salad, I had a tuna tataki salad and we shared some exceptionally tender beef. Beautiful meal washed down with a few wines.
A lovely man bought us a rose each and made some light convo in Spanish / English before returning to his smoke.
Back up in our room we ripped off some of the petals and threw them around like true romantics – ha!
We made it inside the Cathedral, the 3rd biggest in the world after St Peters and St Pauls (of which I’ve visited both), another beautiful piece of architecture. We looked around with our audio guides (which were very thorough / boring) and walked up to the top tower to the lookout. Gem nearly crapped herself when one of the giant bells went off over her head! The crown there has the second largest pearl in the world.
From there we got lost walking to Plaza de España, where Star Wars was filmed. It’s a big U shaped building with stunning mosaics all around. I was exhausted and in a silly mood, we took some funny pics around the place!
Lunch time on the river (decidedly average tapas) then into the bull ring! Unfortunately there was no bull fighting on for another month, I would have loved to visit. We signed up for the next guided tour and was taken around the stadium which is the oldest in the world still in use. It’s privately owned and absolutely stunning. There’s a hospital, a museum and the grounds are the brightest yellow/ orange sand you’ve seen!
We learnt about the history of bullfighting and the toros (Bulls), little things like the ear of a bull is cut off as a trophy if the fight goes well and if it goes really well both the ears and tail are cut! Also the best ending for a bull fight is when there is a great bull and fighter who put on an incredible show and the judges wave a yellow flag, signalling to finish the fight with no death. The bull is then taken off to make little toros and treated like a king and the fighter is held in highest regard. Everyone wins.
Interestingly the Bulls only ever fight once and when they die, their meat goes to the local restaurants to be made into yummy tapas. Lots of the restaurants have bull heads on their walls, I wish I could have visited a stud farm.
From there, more gelato then out for dinner at a place where there was no English menu (clearly a local joint finally) and we had a lovely tapas dinner.
A friend from NZ put me in touch with her friend from NZ who live here and said we should catch up. We’ve been meaning to for ages but between had cancelled about three times. I nearly cancelled this day too as I had been out till one the night before and though I wasn’t drinking I was really tired at 6.30am when I woke up. I managed to haul my ass out of bed and I’m so glad I did!
I met Nick at the supermarket and from there we picked up two of his mates. Considering he’s lived overseas for 6 years he has the thickest kiwi accent I’ve heard in a long time!!
I didn’t realise that Harrison Lake and Hale Creek was actually out by Harrison Hot springs, it’s a fairly decent drive away. When we arrived we met the group. There was one quad, 3 utes and a side by side to be making the trek with us.
We set off in the dust, quads going everywhere – it was a beautiful day.
Eventually we turned off down a less ‘main’ road and that’s where the fun really started.
The road is just rocks and dirt. There’s an occasional bridge but mainly puddles you get to drive through. It was too rough going down but could tell it would be more interesting going back up.
Once we arrived at Hale Creek we set up fishing lines and threw them out for the trout. It is so pristine and gorgeous down there. All you hear is the roar of the quads and you can sit and marvel at how beautiful it is. From the snow capped mountains to the turquoise lake and surrounding wilderness, I could have stayed there for days.
We got a fire going and cooked some wieners and meat patties for lunch.
Went for a ride in the side by side – they are like a quad base but wider and with a roll cage like a buggy. This one was bought new for 13k. An auto but lots of grunt and a $600 sound system in the roof. Like any good Canadian, they hoon around with country and western blasting in their ears.
About 4pm we packed up and started the journey back. After much skidding, slipping, sliding and banging we made it to the top. Only got properly stuck once and we still managed to get out ourselves.
It was when we were nearly back that my phone came back into service and I realised how late I was going to be for my friends coming over to get Halloween ready. Phone died within a few mins and the race to get back was on.
Lots of laughs and so much fun! Can’t wait to do it again.
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