Discover the Great Southern Lakes section of the K’gari Great Walk; over three inspiring days you’ll connect the world’s largest sand island and its intricate ecosystems.
Over an approachable 40km this epic hike explores six perched freshwater lakes, including the famous Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie), through the diverse and captivating backdrops that K’gari (Fraser Island) has to offer.
We used Fraser Island Hiking to hike the Great Southern Lakes self-guided. While the three day route can technically be done without a tour, you’ll need a coupla 4WDs for transport as well as transfers, permits, and hiking gear.
Acknowledgment of Country
We would like to acknowledge the Butchulla people, Traditional Custodians of the land on which we explored and pay our respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging.
The Butchulla people are the Traditional Owners of K’gari / Fraser Island. For more than 5000 years, perhaps as many as 50,000 years, Butchulla people lived in harmony with the seasons, the land, and sea, maintaining a balance between spiritual, social and family connections. Since creation, Butchulla people have lived by three lores:
- What is good for the land comes first
- Do not take or touch anything that does not belong to you
- If you have plenty, you must share
- Explore vast coastlines, ancient rainforests, pristine freshwater lakes, sand blows, and panoramic scenic views all on foot
- Ascend the dune ridges through open forests and scribbly gum Eucalyptus racemose woodlands
- Admire the crystal-clear waters of Wanggoolba Creek fringed by king ferns
- Wade in the tea tree tannin-stained ripples of Lake Boomanjin
Please note! There’s a population of wild dingoes that live on Fraser Island. They have the potential to be dangerous to visitors, so make sure you understand what safety precautions to take before you visit!
Day 1 – Dilli Village to Lake Benaroon via Lake Boomanjin
Distance: 13.5km / Elevation: 192m / Walking Time: 5 hours
Dilli Village to Lake Boomanjin
6.3km (2-3 hours)
From Dilli Village, we walked 100m inland along the tourist drive, crossed the boardwalk over coastal swamp and instantly felt at home. Melaleucas, banksia, sedges, and ferns thrived along the swampy verges, framing our childlike enchantment.
Slowly ascending the dune ridges through open forests and Scribbly gum Eucalyptus racemosa woodlands, we reached the side of the Wongi Sandblow. We dropped our packs for a quick, albeit sweaty, scramble up the soft sand where we were met with a landscape that gently took our breath away.
Heading back to the track, we collected our packs before continuing through the mixed eucalypt forest and banksia woodland and descending to the rich copper-stained waters of Lake Boomanjin – the largest perched lake in the entire world.
The fascinating patterns on the shores of the lake are made by the translucent, copper-coloured water rippling across the stark white sand.
Lake Boomanjin to Lake Benaroon
7.2km (2.5 – 3.5 hours)
Almost ready to call it quits and enjoy our new lakeside life, we begrudgingly continued on, strolling around Lake Boomanjin’s north-western beach en route to Lake Benaroon.
Keep a good eye out for the small track markers that define the path, otherwise you’ll find much like us, wandering aimlessly too distracted by the dreamy landscape to realise that we’d just added a few extra kilometres onto our itinerary – no complaints!
Read more: How To Hike Off-Track
Following the track up to a ridge, we ventured through open woodland and regenerating forests of blackbutt and brush box. Here, the vegetation transforms into an oasis of rainforest plants such as kauri pines, vines, stag horns, palm lilies, and mosses.
We descended along the shoreline fringed by delicately curled melaleucas and arrived at the walkers camp at Lake Benaroon.
Read more: How To Poo in The Bush
Day 2 – Lake Benaroon to Lake McKenzie via Central Station and Basin Lake
Distance: 14.1km / Elevation: 150m / Walking Time: 5.5 hours
Lake Benaroon to Central station
7.5km (2.5 – 3.5 hours)
Entirely out of character, morning two found both of us late to rise. We rose well rested and eager, enjoying freshly brewed coffee and breakfast at the walkers camp, before making our way down to Lake Birrabeen where the melaleucas and sedges line the water’s edge.
Read more: Remember to leave no trace!
This part of the trail welcomed bare feet and so did we. Following the old logging road and entering the tall forests on the high, central dunes, we were transported into a renewed world.
The unmistakable crack of the male Eastern whip bird’s call echoed through canopies of massive brush box and satinay Syncarpia hillii forests.
Enchanted by the historic forest, we took another unexpected detour and spent an extra hour with the sand between our toes, gazing upward at thousands of years’ worth of living history. Another welcomed addition to our epic trip.
Once our bearings were gathered and attention focused, we descended into historic Central Station, set among vine forests with kauri pines and palms.
Central Station to Lake McKenzie via Basin Lake
6.6km (2.5 – 3.5 hours)
We stopped at the Central Station day-use area for a sit-down lunch, enjoying the luxury of a table. Afterwards, we dropped our packs and followed the Wanggoolba Creek boardwalk for around 100m, sitting and admiring the crystal-clear water defined by King ferns.
We followed the boardwalk back to our packs and continued on to the creek, crossing the bridge, and venturing into the rainforest.
We were welcomed back to the track with a climb up a steep sandhill. Keep an eye out for Chain-fruit bushes with their inedible clusters of bright orange fruit, like native Christmas ornaments catching the sun as it drips through the canopy. As the track levelled, we walked through open eucalypt forests governed by scribbly gums and bloodwoods.
The track soon diverted to the mystical Basin Lake. Almost the size of a footy field and up to eight metres deep, Basin Lake is home to acid frogs and freshwater turtles.
The lake is fringed by reeds and vegetation creating a natural windbreak, making for a truly surreal swimming experience. Remember to remove your sunscreen and bug spray before swimming as it compromises the delicate ecosystem.
The climb to Boorangoora / Lake McKenzie’s walkers camp was spent already reminiscing about this little green lake.
Arriving and settling in at the walkers camp, we made it just in time to watch the sun slink below the horizon over Boorangoora / Lake McKenzie.
Read more: How To Get to Lake McKenzie Without a 4WD
Day 3 – Lake McKenzie to Kingfisher Bay via McKenzies Jetty
Distance: 12km / Elevation: 14m / Walking Time: 5 hours
Boorangoora / Lake McKenzie is a place for reflection. We sat, we wrote, and we immersed ourselves in the silence, enjoying the freedom of total presence before starting the last leg of our journey via McKenzies Jetty to Kingfisher Bay.
Heading north, we chatted and snacked our way through the open forests and coastal dune vegetation before deviating west, allowing the track to return us to the western coastline. Stepping out of the coastal shrub, we arrived at McKenzies Jetty, another truly surreal swim spot.
From McKenzies Jetty, we strolled seaside heading north to Kingfisher Bay where we were met with the most unique experience of all – a coupla cold schooeys and some fresh prawns – setting the bar pretty high for the next trip! Saying our goodbyes, Tyson stayed on the island while I took the barge back to the mainland, elated by what we had just experienced.
Timing our lives by the tides, I’ll forever be on island time.
How To Get There
Travelling to Fraser Island Hiking in Urangan on the outskirts of Hervey Bay takes 2.5 hours from Noosa Heads.
Leaving my car safely at Fraser Island Hiking, at 8am we took a 4WD transfer from Urangan to the barge at River Heads, about 15 minutes south-east. The barge takes approximately 60 minutes to reach K’gari / Fraser Island.
Arriving by barge at the finishing point of the hike at Kingfisher Bay, we jumped in an ‘80s series Land Cruiser and headed across the island to reach the eastern beach of K’gari, before travelling south to arrive Dilli Village at 11am.
- 50L-70L pack (pack as light as possible due to the soft sand)
- Min 1.5L water reservoir
- Water purification tablets
- First aid kit
- Organic sunscreen and bug spray (organic is important to protect the delicate ecosystem)
- Lightweight dehydrated food and sealed rubbish bag for scraps
- Rain jacket
- Sleeping system
- Fuel stove and gas
- Head torch
- Worn in walking/hiking boots with gaiters to keep the sand out
- A cheeky little night cap – whisky is highly recommended!
The trail itself isn’t overly demanding with approachable elevation gains and distance, however hiking on soft sand can be taxing, so hiking experience while packing light and good general fitness is recommended.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration
39.6km / 192m / 3 days