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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Fraser Island: Preamble

Mark drinking billy tea by Lake Benaroon
Enjoying a refreshing cup of billy tea in the campsite at Lake Benaroon

Hervey Bay is famous for two things: the humpback whales that hang around in the bay during the migration season, and Fraser Island. Unfortunately it isn't whale season, and the reputation of Fraser Island is slightly dubious; I'd been told by more than one backpacker that Fraser Island was 'well wicked' and that the only way to see it was to rent a four-wheel-drive in which to burn along the sandy beaches – some 20,000 vehicles visit the island every year, and doing doughnuts on the beach in a 4WD while necking slabs of XXXX seems to be the norm. Still, it's a big island – the biggest sand island in the world, no less – and getting lost by foot is a real possibility, so ignoring the island's reputation, I decided to spend a day in Hervey Bay doing some research.

Getting to the Island

A goanna hanging on to a tree
A goanna hanging on to a tree for dear life

Fraser Island is a long – actually, a very long island that is about 120km from north to south, and only about 15-20km wide, on average. The west coast, facing the mainland, is a sandfly-infested mangrove swamp, but the east coast, which is swept by north-flowing currents and trade winds, is one big, beautiful beach; they call it Seventy-Five Mile Beach, rather imaginatively. Having studied the maps and trails, I decided to attempt a long walk, taking in the central area of the island, as well as a fair stretch of beach. If you imagine the trail being a lower-case 'd', then I started on the left-hand edge of the d's circle, headed south and round to the beach, then north up the beach (the d's stalk) for some distance, eventually turning round and walking back down the beach, to cut back into the centre via the top of the d's circle, and back to square one. This meant I could tailor the walk to be as long or short as I liked by altering the distance walked up the beach (i.e. the height of the d's stalk). It turned out to be a brilliant route.