Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia
For Roughing It
Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, is a mecca for the backpackers who roam Australia’s East Coast. Rent a 4x4 vehicle on the mainland, being sure to get a special permit to drive on Fraser. Stock up on groceries too, before boarding the ferry at Hervey Bay. It’s worth the trouble. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed island offers rich rewards. Dense rainforest trees tower over the sand dunes below, endless ocean beaches offer abundant privacy, and more than 100 freshwater lakes (some too murky for swimming) add to the mix.
Hike to see the colored sand cliffs, some 800 feet high, and explore part of the longest coastal dune system in the world. Start a “life list” to record sighting of rare shorebirds. Spot the occasional saltwater crocodile, and perhaps see a wild dingo. One popular overnight walk takes hikers from Kingfisher Bay, where the ferry lands, to Lake McKenzie, returning the next day. Also for the to-do-list: A guided tour of 5,000-year-old Aboriginal campsites and the wreck of the S.S. Maheno, which served as a World War I hospital ship. Accommodations on the island range from the somewhat luxurious resorts to rental apartments to campgrounds.