For a large number of southern Queensland anglers, Fraser Island is a ‘must visit’ fishing location. This is certainly not surprising, considering how exceptional the beach fishing – and at times rock fishing – can be.
However, I believe it is the sheer beauty, tranquillity and unique spectacle of Fraser Island that is the real attraction. The charm and attraction of Fraser Island really has to be experienced to be believed: beautiful coloured sand cliffs where wind whistles through the oaks and bread fruit trees, the soft glow of a 50m-wide beach at dawn or the unbelievable sight of a huge humpback lifting itself from the water. These are the real attractions of Fraser Island; the fishing is a fortuitous bonus.
A reliable four-wheel drive with plenty of ground clearance is the only way to see the island in comfort. Most people planning to travel up the ocean beach arrive via the barge at Inskip Point out from Rainbow Beach, but barges at River Heads (20 minutes from Hervey Bay) and Hervey Bay proper also provide access to the island. Once on Fraser, you’ll need to take a bit of care to ensure a safe and successful trip and a falling tide, not far from dead low water, makes things easiest.
The major obstacle encountered when arriving from Inskip Point is Hook Point on the island’s southeastern corner. This ever-changing area will often be impossible to pass through unless the tide is right out. The beach is extremely narrow, with fallen trees an ever-present threat to successful negotiation. The only alternative in many cases is to wait until the tide is lower in order to negotiate hazards.
Alternatively, there is the inland ‘road’ which is a nightmare of potholes and ruts. This goat track joins the beach at Dilli Village and from here on, heading north is usually pretty easy. Between Dilli Village and Indian Head the only obstacles are two sets of coffee rocks, both of which have inland bypass tracks that are in quite good order.
A hint on beach driving: reduce the pressure in your tyres to assist in negotiating the soft sand. While the sand on the beach is, for the most part, nicely packed down, the areas where you leave or re-enter the beach can cause problems. And although the speed limit is 80km/h, remember that washouts at creek crossings are common and semi-buried logs or debris can also be a hazard. If there are big seas or rain, the beach can become full of humps and bumps, so an 80km/h run might change to a 40km/h drive overnight. Slow and steady is definitely the way to go.
Well set-up camping grounds are available at Dilli Village, Dundubara and other venues on the ocean side of the island, however, I will be concentrating on the wonderful beach camping that is on offer. There was a time when you could camp virtually anywhere on the island, but these days certain areas are off-limits for regeneration or other reasons. Despite this, there are still plenty of great places to drive into from the main beach and enjoy some privacy behind trees or a low frontal beach dune. In general, unless a sign indicates that camping is not permitted, you may do so. And in most cases, there will be shade not far away, and fishing straight out in front!
You’ll need to be pretty self sufficient on Fraser. It’s wise to take your own water, although many people do fill up from Eli Creek (this water should be treated before use). Otherwise, water is available at Eurong Central Station and Dundubara campgrounds.
Campfires were banned early this year, so gas or fuel stoves are the only way to go on Fraser Island. Note that communal fireplaces are provided at Waddy Point and Dundabara campgrounds but you’ll need to bring your own untreated milled timber, because bush timber must not be used.
All of these details, and more, are in the pamphlet you will receive from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service when you obtain your permit to enter the island.
It would also be handy to take along a Glind Aussie shower set-up in the car’s engine well, an Alvey bucket with various compartments and a shovel to bury fish offal at the prescribed areas or to help a bogged vehicle.
Much has been written about the dingoes on Fraser, but the reality of the situation is that dingoes are as much a part of the island as the beachworms, pipis and oyster-catcher birds. However, don’t lose sight of the fact that these are wild animals and should be treated as such. Food and bait should be kept in sealed containers and all rubbish similarly locked in a bin or receptacle. No food waste should be disposed of near camp and fish offal should be buried at least 50cm deep below high tide mark, and in designated places.
I’ve left the fishing for last simply because it is so darned easy on Fraser, given any sort of reasonable weather. At this time of year virtually any gutter or hole along the beach should yield tailor, whiting, dart and bream, with the odd flathead thrown in as well.
Tailor are so prolific that many anglers simply use spinners to take their bag limit. Beachworms can be found anywhere, while pipis are mainly in the northern half of the island. It’s fair to say that if a likely hole is found, there should be tailor in it, particularly if the tide is on the make. Whiting bite well on the dropping tide and prefer shallow, sandy gutters.
If a decent southerly is blowing, the places to fish are the northern sides of Indian Head and Waddy Point, both easily reached with a four-wheel drive vehicle.
Do remember that there is a closed-to-fishing area extending south of Indian Head to north of Waddy Point during this month. The signs are hard to miss.
If you decide to take a trip to Fraser, you’ll need to obtain a permit from Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. This can be done by visiting www.qld.gov.au/camping or by phoning 131 304. The QPWS office at Brisbane can be reached on (07) 3227 8185.Reads: 781