Fraser Island Favourites – By Josh Behrendorff

My wife and I, as parents try very hard to expose our children to adventures beyond the boundaries of our property. Many of these adventures start with a long road trip and forced time together, free of any technology devices as I don’t want my children to miss a single moment by having their eyes glued to a screen of some sort. Last year we took on Cape York and exposed our children to living in the bush without electricity or running water for a couple of weeks. They were responsible to clean up after themselves, set up their own accommodation (swags) and help sort out each meal and snack. The memories of the team work that were created over those weeks reminded Faith and I of the importance of these type of trips.

It didn’t take too much to convince the crew that we should head down to Fraser Island, a location that I spent a lot of time with my parents as a child growing up.

Being able to spend some time surf fishing was an enjoyable trip down memory lane.

This trip we were taking on was to be more of the tourist type trip, leaving the swags at home and booking some accommodation at Kingfisher Bay so I could go and show my family some of the “must see” locations in the southern half of Fraser island as well as dusting off the old surf rod and Alvey from over a decade of storage.

4wd’ing, fishing and family fun was the intention of the trip, as we arrived at our base at Kingfisher. We soon realised after looking over the maps that it is approx. 1.5hr drive through the inland tracks to reach the eastern beach so we unpacked and made the short stroll down to the western beach. The beach in front of Kingfisher is child friendly, but more importantly, the low tide beach is littered with yabby holes, and subsequently the foreshores are home to typical SEQ bread and butter species. It didn’t take too much effort that afternoon to get a bend in the fishing rods with sizeable bream and whiting. We found the fish really came on the bite as the sun set, as did the midges so we quickly retreated to the accommodation leaving the midges and fish biting.

Whiting were plentiful on the western beach and are a sucker for a well presented fresh yabbie.

With only a few days on the island and plenty to see, we carefully planned out the following days, trying to get the balance right of family activities and a little bit of fishing. The 4wding is inevitable as all the inland tracks are soft, sandy, bumpy and require a little bit of right foot with lowered tyre pressures to aid the car to float over top of the sand. The Dmax made the tracks look easy, however it did come to the rescue to snatch a couple of un-suspecting victims from the soft powdery silica sand.

We wanted to see the big 5 picture icons of Fraser Island; Eli creek, Maheno wreck, champagne rock pools at Indian head, Lake Wabby and Lake McKenzie.

After looking over the map we decided to split these destinations across a few days and try to take a different track each time. This proved a real challenge when you start to detour away from the heavily travelled tracks and we soon found some reasonably difficult tracks with large step ups across washed out sections along with very soft sandy hills.

A snatch strap is a bare essential when planning your trip, if not for you, a fellow traveller may need your assistance.

Day one was a full day to Lake McKenzie, and wow, what a location. The sparkling crystal-clear waters and soft powdery silica sand was the perfect backdrop for a day of swimming and despite its popularity among tourists we didn’t feel crowded even during the peak season of school holidays. The media has recently been making a big hype about the dangers of dingo’s, however we found that while they were patrolling the outskirts of the carpark, they were very timid. There was a family friendly fenced BBQ area and very clear signage telling everyone how to be ‘dingo safe’.

Day two was the eastern beach and the surf, a real novelty for us northerners who rarely get to see surf waves. We headed up to cathedral beach to explore the coloured sands before heading back south to learn the history of the Maheno, and finishing off the day at Eli creek with a sneaky beach fish. Eli creek is an amazing spot, very different now from what  it was a couple of decades ago with board walks and amenities. This was destined to be our lunch stop, yet after reversing the ute up to the river and rolling out the awning we soon lost track of time as we floated down the cool spring fed creek meaning we missed the tide and had a tough run back down the beach on high tide. But it was worth it, even if I still didn’t get the time to re-acquaint myself with my old Snyder glass surf rod.

Pictures just don’t do Lake McKenzie justice. It would be easy to spend a whole day here.

Day three was all about the surf fishing on the eastern beach. My fondest memories of surf fishing were created fishing up around Indian Head and Waddy point during the peak of the tailor season standing side by side, fishing waist deep in the surf gutters. This was in direct contrast to what I encountered this time around during a very different time of the year and down the bottom end of Fraser. I was targeting bream, whiting or dart on beach pippies. The fishing was slow but I was in my element. It was excellent to be back in the surf showing my children what I used to do. Again, time washed away with the tide and we soon found ourselves racing the tide to make the beach exit with no time to trek down to visit Lake Wabby.

And, like that, we were packing up in preparation for an early morning barge back to river heads. The stand out from our trip was impossible to determine, the whole concentrated experience has been a talking point for the family since we got back. We have un-finished business as my family still missed out on viewing Lake Wabby and the Champaign rock pools, not to mention the awesome tailor fishing north of Waddy point. It’s pretty safe to say that we’ll be back but basing ourselves on the eastern beach next time around. Until next time, stay safe and tight lines.

The skeleton of the Maheno was washed onshore in 1935 during an out of season cyclone.