K’gari was known as Fraser Island from the 1830s right up until 2023. But after a decades-long campaign by traditional owners, the Butchella People, the island had its original name officially reinstated in June 2023. K’gari means ‘paradise’ in the native tongue and it certainly lives up to that description.
K’gari has the most scenic of runways: 75 Mile Beach. Our eightseater plane needs only a tiny stretch of its golden sand to launch itself into the air, soaring over the rusty red Maheno shipwreck and turning all the 4WDs on the beach below into dinky cars.
World Heritage-listed K’gari is the largest sand island in the world, and up here on Air Fraser Island’s 15-minute scenic flight you can truly appreciate how big it is: 1840 square kilometres. Butterfly Lake, Lake Wabby, Lake McKenzie and Eli Creek are among the sights you can admire from on high.
The 15-minute scenic flight from the beach costs from $100 per person, but 15-, 30- and 60-minute flights are also available from Hervey Bay on the mainland.
The best place to swim in K’gari
Among the island’s many bathing spots, one stands out: Lake McKenzie. It’s an elevated “perched Lake” in the dunes, filled only by rainwater. Its sand is dazzlingly white, the water’s sparkling turquoise in the shallows and midnight blue in the depths. You couldn’t Photoshop it to make it look any prettier than it is. Here you might spot one of the island’s famous dingoes.
But, warns Fraser Explorer Tours guide Peter Meyer, don’t take any food to the beach. The dingoes will run off with your backpack if they smell something tasty inside. Just ask the German tourist he saw racing after a dingo bag-snatcher. “My passport’s inside!” she wailed. She never got it back.
What else is there to do in K’gari?
- The Forests of K’gari are a prime attraction: the only place in the world where tall rainforest grows in sand at elevations higher than 200 metres. The walking trails around Central Station, a former forestry camp, boast towering satinay trees, kauri pines and ancient giant ferns.
- Take a sunset cruise or in whale season (July to November) a whale-watching cruise in the sheltered waters of the bay.
- Treat yourself to a scrumptious meal at The Bear (469 Esplanade, Torquay, Hervey Bay). It’s run by Dan and Steph Mulheron, the season four winners of My Kitchen Rules.
- Go to the Story Bank, Maryborough, birthplace of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, is a fun museum devoted to storytelling and all things Poppins.
Where to stay in K’gari
Kingfisher Bay Resort is the best-known accommodation on the island (Prince Charles, Prince Harry and Meghan have stayed there). Its eco-style rooms and villas overlook the Wallum wetlands (see kingfisherbay.com).