The whole of the Fraser Island Great Walk is now back open after a number years with the southern sections closed. Friends from Canberra recently completed the first five sections, from Dilli Village to Lake Wabby and told the Community News all about their adventure.
Some of us were seasoned hikers while others were venturing out for the first time. Quite a few weekends of practice meant that we were confident of our fitness, but we left the longer sections of the Valley of Giants and Lake Garawongera to next time.
Starting out at Dilli we stayed at the walkers only campgrounds at Lake Boomanjin, Lake Benaroon, Central Station, Lake McKenzie and Lake Wabby.
We probably did 50km with the side-walks over the six days. Walking distances were relative short, so we often had the afternoon to explore and swim in the nearby lakes.
We had three young girls in our group that did the walk relatively easily – oh, to be that young again. Walking was fine on the well defined tracks with a solid footpad on forest leaf litter. However, walking on loose sand was a challenge and we limited that to only when we were exploring the numerous adjacent sand blows.
As you are under the forest canopy most of the time it did not get too hot. I imagine later in the year may be different. The walk was well signposted with relative distances easy to interpret, and a great comfort when approaching the next campsite. Like horses coming home, we probably increased our pace when we knew we weren’t far from ‘home’.
Highlights were the variety of wildlife, and not just the usual stuff. Large native cock roaches, giant earthworms, carnivorous little trigger plants, as well as the more secretive black cockatoos, kingfishers and echidnas. What was that large bill poking out of the water at Lake Benaroon, a platypus or a musk duck?
Away from the tourist picnic spots the, goannas and dingos seemed better behaved and left us alone. Kookaburras also left us alone at Central campsite, although at one stage they almost outnumbered our party, with eleven of them perched around our tents, checking us out and having a good laugh at our expense.
The chain of perched lakes in the central Fraser area seems to create a continual procession of fresh water paradises. All had their special charms, the red tannin water from the big lake Boomanjin, the secluded little-visited Benaroon, Lake Birrabeen with its mini Lake McKenzie attributes.
Basin Lake would be a great place to while away a day. Lake McKenzie and Lake Wabby with their well know attributes and totally justifiable reputations were great but brought us back to reality with lots of backpacker groups and four wheel drives.
At Lake McKenzie, after all the day tourists leave, it becomes really peaceful. Watching the sun go down on the shoreline with all the little turtles bobbing around was great. The night we were there was clear and still, and the stars reflecting on the glass-like surface of the lake was special. In fact many of our party had never seen a night sky so clear and as full of stars.
Walking between McKenzie and Lake Wabby campground the next day in the tall wet forest with its rainforest species, strangler figs and kauri pines, we could have been in a different world.
We had no dingo issues and we used the steel boxes provided at the campgrounds to store our food. We had a relatively big group. Mick from Fraser Islands 4WD tours took us out and picked us up at Lake Wabby carpark when we walked out on day 6. Mick also brought a food drop out to us on day three at Central Station so we didn’t have to carry too much.
It also provided us an opportunity to have a little wine dropped off and drunk that evening – whilst we partook in a spirited game of cards under flashlights. To avoid having to carry any extra weight the following day, we ensured that there was no wine left!
As for water, it was easy to quench one’s thirst as there is an abundance of water which is available at each campground and in the lakes – so you don’t have to carry much with you between campgrounds. The ladies (and the boys, if the truth be known), appreciated the toilets at every campground and especially the hot showers at Central Station.
The word is obviously not out that the whole walk is open, as we hardly saw other walkers. For most of time it felt like we had Fraser Island all to ourselves. Although we had checked online on the Parks website on camping availability and got our permits, we did have the gear to do the walk as a continuous hike and be self sufficient if needed.
We all had a fun time, took tons of photos, had great weather, and although Fraser Island is well known for its fishing and 4wd driving, we think its best kept secret is it’s walking.