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Extraordinary K’gari Why this Island Should be on Your Bucket-List

Extraordinary K’gari: Why this Island Should be on Your Bucket-List

“Extraordinary” is the perfect word to describe K’gari as it’s teeming with natural world wonders that could only be found on this 166,000-hectare sand island. 

From lush rainforests thriving on sand to lakes perched hundreds of meters above sea level, this UNESCO World Heritage site is truly a unique gem. 

Read on to find out why K’gari Island should be on your bucket-list! 


K’gari Island is located off the east coast of Australia and just a 40-minute ferry ride from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. The jump off points are approximately 250 to 300 kilometers from central Brisbane or around a three hour drive. 

How to Get There

How to Get There

You can reach K’gari island by ferry from River Heads, which is 20 minutes from Hervey Bay, or from Inskip Point located north of Rainbow Beach. Ferries can carry passengers as well as 4WD vehicles. 

If you’re bringing your own vehicle, take note that only 4WD vehicles are permitted on the island. You can hire a 4WD vehicle during your stay or book a tour or transport service. 

Another exciting way to travel to K’gari is by air through Air Fraser Island. You can take a scenic flight to the island from the airports at Hervey Bay or Sunshine Coast.

During the flight you’ll be able to get a spectacular view of the island and its attractions such as Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby, Kingfisher Bay, and the Great Sandy Straits. 

You might even spot an array of marine creatures before landing on the magical world-heritage island such as dolphins, dugongs, rays, turtles, and humpback whales! 

Things to Know About K’gari Island

Things to Know About K’gari Island
  • K’gari, formerly known as Fraser Island, is a UNESCO world heritage site and is the largest sand island in the world. Three more sand islands can be found in Queensland: Minjerribah (North Stradbroke), Moreton, and Bribie Islands. 
  • K’gari is a world heritage site because of its unique qualities. It’s home to majestic remnants of ancient rainforests that thrived on sand – a phenomenon which is rarely seen elsewhere on earth. 
  • Another thing that makes the island unique is that it has more than half of the world’s perched lakes. 

Perched lakes are freshwater dune lakes found inland which are formed through the combination of sand and decomposed organic matter. It creates a somewhat impermeable layer that traps rainwater in a depression well above sea level. 

Some of the island’s lakes include McKenzie, Birrabeen, Wabby, and Boomanjin, which is the largest perched lake in the world. 

  • The island’s original inhabitants, the Butchulla people, named the island K’gari, which means “paradise.” 

Why is K’gari Island Worth Visiting? 

K’gari is worth visiting because it has one of the world’s most majestic landscapes with natural wonders that you can’t find anywhere else. A plethora of explorations awaits, from sand dunes and ancient rainforests to enchanting lakes and diverse wildlife! 

An Endless Stretch of Sand

K’gari boasts a vast expanse of sand that coexists with dense rainforests. It kind of feels like stepping on another planet – which makes the island even more fascinating. 

The best way to get around the island is on board a 4WD vehicle. You can drive down 75 Mile Beach, otherwise known as K’gari’s Sand Highway located on the eastern coast of the island. 

When you’re on K’gari, a drive through this iconic stretch of sand is a must! In fact, a lot of people visit the island for this unique off-road driving experience where you can take in ocean scenery on one side and lush island foliage on the other. 

You’ll also get to see several attractions along the way such as the Maheno Shipwreck, Indian Head Lookout, and Champagne Pools. 

What’s more, you might even spot humpback whales breaching offshore during migration season! 

Meanwhile, dingoes can be spotted usually at sunrise or sunset, but bear in mind that they’re not your typical dogs as they’re wild animals, too. It’s best to keep your distance as these wild dogs can be dangerous to humans.  

Before you go on your off-road adventure, just take note that driving on 75 Mile Beach would also depend on the tides as it can be completely inaccessible at high tide. 

So if you’re bringing your own vehicle, you should be aware of tide times before heading out. We also recommend joining a group or booking a tour so you can have a guide who’s familiar with the tide conditions.   

Adventure at Every Turn

You’ll never run out of things to do in K’gari as a plethora of adventures await on land, in the water, and even on air! 

Here are the top things to check off your K’gari adventure list: 

  • Explore the Lakes

The lakes found on K’gari are one of the things that make the island a special place. The most popular lake on the island is Lake McKenzie known for its pristine white sand and turquoise waters.  

This dune perched lake nestled in the heart of K’gari sparkles amidst its lush surroundings. It’s a favorite spot for swimming, sunbathing, and simply basking in the natural beauty.

Other must-visit lakes are Lake Wabby (along with the Hammerstone Sandblow), Lake Birrabeen, and Lake Garawongera. The largest perched lake in the world, Lake Boomanjin, can also be found on the island.  

  • Drive the 4WD Tracks

The best way to get around K’gari is by driving a 4WD vehicle where you can experience beach driving at its finest. Driving down the iconic Sand Highway or 75 Mile Beach should definitely be a part of your itinerary. 

Apart from driving the long sandy stretch, there are other scenic drives to explore. This includes the Central Lakes, Southern Lakes, Northern Forests, and the Lake Garawongera scenic drives. 

  • Go with the Flow at Eli Creek

Eli Creek is a perfect place to take a dip or have a picnic on the island. It’s the largest creek on K’gari’s eastern coast and you can swim or float down this natural water slide until you reach 75 Mile Beach. 

  • Unwind at the Champagne Pools

The sea that surrounds K’gari isn’t suitable for swimming due to strong waves, powerful riptides, sharks, and jellyfishes. But that doesn’t stop this island gem from offering some of the best swimming spots in the world!

It’s amazing that K’gari is blessed with a number of lakes, creeks, and natural pools that are perfect for a dip! And one of these is the Champagne Pools which is the only spot on the island where you can swim in saltwater.  

The Champagne Pools were formed by volcanic rocks that serve as protection from the large ocean waves. And thanks to these rocks, taking a relaxing dip in this natural jacuzzi became possible.

  • Hike through the Rainforests

Dense rainforests not only survive in K’gari, but continue to thrive for thousands of years. The island is special because it’s the only sand island in the world that’s known to possess this quality. 

That’s why exploring its lush rainforests is one of the must-do activities on the island! You can walk or hike through the ancient landscape and take in the beauty of this unique ecosystem. 

There are a number of walks or hikes that you can do on the island. This includes walking to Lake Wabby, Pile Valley, Lake Boomanjin to Wongi Sandblow, Valley of the Giants, and more. 

If you’re up for it, you can even do the K’gari Great Walk which starts from Dilli Village to Happy Valley and spans a total of 90 kilometers. This can be done in 6 to 8 days, and of course, you can opt for shorter variations, too. 

  • Visit the Maheno Shipwreck

One of the highlights of driving along 75 Mile Beach is getting to marvel at the S.S. Maheno wrecks that lie static on the eastern coast of K’gari. 

The S.S. Maheno was a large ocean liner with a turbine-powered steam engine built in Scotland in 1905. It had served as a passenger transport vessel between Auckland and Sydney, and eventually, a hospital ship during World War I. 

In 1935, during its voyage from New Zealand to Japan, the ship encountered a cyclone and met its stormy end on K’gari shores. 

The site is a great stop to behold a massive piece of history and offers an amazing photo opportunity during sunrise or sunset.  

  • Go Whale Watching

You can spot the gentle giants from the island during humpback whale migration season from June to November. 

You don’t even have to go on a cruise to spot them as you can already get a good view on land. You can catch a glimpse of the whales from Indian Head Lookout, while driving down 75 Mile Beach, or from the Champagne Pools! 

But if you want a more up close and personal encounter with these majestic mammals, it’s best to join a tour that leaves from Hervey Bay. 

  • See the Pinnacles

The Pinnacles is another attraction that was formed through a unique natural phenomenon on the island. Because of coastal erosion, unique sand formations were created in varying shades of brown, orange, red, and yellow. 

You can access the multicolored sand dunes from 75 Mile Beach and it’s a great stop for a little exploring and picture taking after Eli Creek. 

  • Take a Scenic Flight

Getting a bird’s eye view of K’gari lets you experience the island in a unique and exciting way. Air Fraser Island has been offering scenic flights since the 1970’s from Hervey Bay and Sunshine Coast. 

You’ll get to take in the beauty of this World Heritage site from up high and if you only have a day to explore the island, this is the best way to cover more ground. 

Rich Biodiversity

K’gari is home to diverse flora and fauna as well as magnificent marine life which makes it a fantastic destination for wildlife enthusiasts. 

Some of the species that can be found on the island include dingoes, reptiles such as goannas and snakes, rainforest birds, and birds of prey. Meanwhile, you can spot turtles in the lakes as well as dolphins, manta rays, dugongs, and whales in the ocean. 

A UNESCO World-Heritage Site

What makes K’gari worth visiting is because of the unique ecological phenomena that is living proof of the earth’s ever-evolving nature. 

The island reached UNESCO World Heritage status in 1992 because of its rare natural qualities such as rainforests thriving on sand and perched lakes. Furthermore, its stunning beauty, rich biodiversity, and fascinating history surely make it one-of-a-kind.

You might be wondering how ancient rainforests could thrive on sand, which isn’t typically rich in nutrients for plants to grow or survive. Well, this was made possible thanks to fungi.

Yes, fungi! As the fungi grows on the decaying vegetation, it restores essential nutrients and minerals to the soil, and in time, these minerals become concentrated in the sand. 

As new sand dunes form successively, a deeper level of nutrients is cultivated, enabling the sand to support a more complex forest ecosystem.

So when you find yourself deep in the rainforests of K’gari (or any other forest), make sure to pause for a moment to admire the vibrant fungi at your feet. Now you know that these small organisms play a crucial role in sustaining life!

Tips to Enjoy Your Visit

Tips to Enjoy Your Visit
  • It’s best to purchase your ferry tickets to K’gari in advance. While walk-ins are permitted, it’s better to book ahead as passenger or vehicle slots might be full. 
  • If you’re bringing your own vehicle and setting up camp, take note that you need to secure a vehicle and camping permit prior to your trip. You can learn more about how to acquire permits here
  • Keep in mind that the sea that surrounds the island is not suitable for swimming. If you want to take a dip, the lakes, pools, and creeks are safe and enjoyable spots for a swim. 
  • Remember that dingoes are wild animals and it’s important to keep your distance from them. Keep your food secure and dispose of your garbage properly to avoid attracting them to your campsite. 
  • Always check tide times especially if you’re heading out on a drive as some parts can be inaccessible at high tide. 
  • If you’re driving your own 4WD vehicle, it’s important to learn some driving tips around the island. You should always have a recovery kit in the vehicle in case you get bogged, follow the speed limit, and be careful of wildlife roaming around. 

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