Our last day on Fraser Island was spent exploring North East Fraser Island. We would have liked to have been able to get as far as Sandy Cape, the most northern point of Fraser Island. However, as we were running out of time this trip we settled on going as far as Orchard Beach.
Heading north from Eurong Beach is mainly all beach driving and there are plenty of great spots to stop for photos along the way. The first of these is ‘The Pinnacles’. The Pinnacles are sand cliffs that over time have been formed into valleys and peaks by the wind and water. They are a rich red-orange in colour having been stained by iron-rich minerals in the sandy soil that bind them together.
They are a spectacular site and the colours in them are amazing. These coloured sand cliffs stretch right along the Fraser Coast and are interspersed with sand blows. A ‘sand blow’ is any area of sand that has little or no vegetation growing on it due to the actions of the wind.
Further along from The Pinnacles is Red Canyon, another breathtaking sand cliff of red and orange coloured sands. Both The Pinnacles and Red Canyon have fenced walk ways so as you can walk up into the middle of them and admire the colours from up close. Be aware that climbing on them or collecting sand from them is illegal and penalties do apply.
INDIAN HEAD BYPASS TRACK
To access the northern part of Fraser Island, you will need to navigate the Indian Head Bypass Track. This 500 metre track runs around the base of the rocky point known as Indian Head and consists of very deep, soft sand. We had to wait about 15 minutes to allow for the group in front of us to recover a Prado that had become stuck right at the entrance to the bypass. This was the spot that we saw 3 of the 4 bogged vehicles for the weekend. Brenden’s advice for getting through this spot without getting bogged is:-
- Reduce your tyre pressure.
- Avoid deep wheel ruts if you are not in a high clearance vehicle.
- Approach it at a reasonable pace.
- Don’t slow down or stop. Keep your momentum going and you will not become stuck.
Waiting for you at the other end of the Bypass Track is a beautiful beach. The end closest to Indian Head is relatively sheltered and there were quite a few people swimming in the shallows there even though this is not recommended. At the opposite end of Indian Head Beach is the Champagne Pools, another popular spot for swimming. There are two car parking areas at the Pools and they can be accessed by walking along a boardwalk or a bush track.
From there it is a 6.5 kilometre drive along a sandy track to get to Orchard Beach. We were highly amused to be pulled over for a Random Breath Test by a couple of Queensland Police Officers at the end of this track. A reminder that the beach and all tracks on Fraser Island are public streets and that all traffic laws apply there.
At Orchard Beach it was time for lunch. Fuel is available there and there is also a small shop and an airstrip. It would be a great place to land in a plane as it is on the edge of a cliff over-looking the ocean and that was the view we had whilst eating lunch.
After lunch we headed back south and popped out onto the beach at Waddy Point. I fell in love instantly! Waddy Point is like a little secluded bay. The tide was well out and left a crystal clear lagoon at the edge of the Binnglh Sand Blow. The kids and I were straight in the water for a quick cool off and the kids were keen to test out whether their body boards would slide down the sand – which they did!
Waddy Point also has two camping areas available. One is beach front and the other is up slightly higher and fenced. This makes the camp area Dingo safe, particularly if you have young children. The beach front area has designated areas for camp trailers and for tents. There are toilets and showers available there too. This would be a perfect spot to camp if you are planning on spending several days on the island as you would need a full day to get there depending on the tides.
LEARNING TO DRIVE ON SAND
On our way back south Brenden decided that it was time I had a go at driving on sand. Something I had never done before. Having a second person who can competently handle your vehicle is always a good idea in case of an emergency. I found that it is similar to driving on a normal road you just have to be more aware of your surroundings as conditions can change quickly from one stretch of beach to the next.
What I did find a bit hard to judge was how deep the corrugations were in the sand. I even attempted some deep sand driving as we headed in to check out the camp ground at Cathedral Beach. This is a private camp ground and therefore you do not need a QPWS camping permit. It has cabins, powered and un-powered sites available as well as a general store. Another spot I would recommend for a stay or a visit when you go exploring north east Fraser Island.
Even though we waited until 10.30am to leave which was two hours after high tide the beach was quite soft and sloppy in places. So the trip back to the barge required a little extra concentration on Brenden’s part.
When we were almost back at the barge crossing we came across a Suzuki 4WD that had stopped at the edge of the track where it leads down onto the beach. He wasn’t game to go any further as the water was still lapping on the edge. After a few minutes we were joined by four other 4WD’s.
Brenden and a couple of the others walked along the short stretch of beach that we needed to drive on and declared that the sand was packed very firmly and safe to drive on. We all made it through without incident and were all shortly on the barge back to Rainbow Beach.
Once back on the mainland we went straight to the Rainbow Beach 4WD Car Wash. It is a really good idea to use a pressure washer and remove as much sand and salt water from your car as possible. The Rainbow Beach Car Wash is purpose built for this exact task.