Things to do at Orchid Beach
Orchid Beach has some safe salt water swimming in lagoons usually found around Waddy Point.
Champagne Pools are located just north of Indian Head. This is a popular swimming spot accessible at any tide on the main track south from Orchid Beach. The waves crashing over the rocks into shallow sandy pools cause the water to foam and thus the name Champagne Pools. This normally works best at about mid tide. Exceptionally strong currents occur on this part of the island and swimming around the rocks is not encouraged. Sharp rocks occur in and around the pools so caution is advised when swimming or walking in the area.
About 5 km north of Orchid Beach is a signed track to Ocean Lake. The water in this lake like many on the island is stained with tea tree but safe and refreshing to swim in. Bird life abounds on the lake. Some picnic tables and seats are provided and this is an ideal lunch spot. There is a short 15 min walking track and a lookout adjacent to the lake.
About 2km along the beach north of the Ocean Lake track is Orange Creek, its entrance often blocked by sand dunes. It is a quiet spot away from the beach traffic and has pleasant grassy areas around a lagoon which is part of the Ocean Lake system.
Wathumba Creek – South Wathumba Track
The western side of the island is easily accessible and protected when the wind direction is from the South east or East. The 16km Wathumba track takes about 40 minutes with interesting variations in landscape and changing flora. The west side of the island is a mangrove area with the track terminating at the mouth of Wathumba Creek. Typically this is a good spot for fishing for mangrove jack, bream, whiting and mud crabs. Yabbies can be pumped at low tide. Sandflies also live here – be prepared.
South Waddy Beach
From Waddy Point there is a driving track over the dune to South Waddy Beach. Access to the beach is restricted for vehicles with no traffic allowed in a southerly direction once on the beach. It is one of the few places on the Island where you can walk on the beach without vehicle traffic. An easy 30 min walk south to the end of the beach is especially enjoyable during an afternoon northerly or north westerly wind. Continue south over the headland to a secluded small beach and then to the Champagne Pools.
Sandy Cape Lighthouse
If venturing to Sandy Cape the walk up to the lighthouse though not easy is well worthwhile.
Platypus Bay – North Wathumba Track
The north Wathumba track to Platypus Bay is now accessible and open to the public. This 10 km track leads to the magnificent clear, calm waters of Platypus Bay, with its endless white sandy beach, a truly special place for a swim and picnic or a walk. Whales are often sighted in the bay.
Binngih Sandblow is located between the southern end of the Waddy Point camp ground and Waddy Point. The top of Binngih has great views to Orchid Beach in the North West and Waddy Point in the East.
Ocean Lake Sandblow
About 3km north of the Orchid Beach down ramp where the first Ocean Lake campsites begin to appear there is a walking track leading to a vast dune sand mass. A slight gradient allows easy walking and is well worth the effort to the top.
Approximately 3 km past Ngkala Rocks there is a valley with glimpses of distinctly red sand. This is the access point to Ngulumubura Blow. An hour’s walk will take you to the top of the blow. The petrified forests and striking sand formation is a remarkable feature.
Sandy Cape Dunes
An extensive system of dunes exists on the beach between the northern most tip of the island and westward to the lighthouse. Constantly changing profile and contour, they are well worth climbing to observe the varied marine life including sharks, rays, turtles in the clear, calm waters below.
This is truly a wilderness area on the Island and well worth the effort of getting there. The Ngkala Rocks track can be rough, soft and difficult as tracks on this part of the Island are not maintained. Travel time from Orchid to the Cape can take from 40 minutes to over an hour depending on track conditions. At certain times it is not possible to access the Cape. Safety is of the utmost consideration for this trip as beach conditions change dramatically. Consider tide times and for a safe trip aim to be back at Ngkala well before mid tide.
Fraser Island provides an opportunity to experience one of the regions natural wonders – the migrating humpback whale. Between July and November every year thousands of humpback whales travel from Antarctica along the east coast of Australia to give birth in the warm waters of Northern Queensland.
On their return migration they stop to rest and play and nurture their calves in the calm waters of Hervey Bay. Platypus Bay, accessed by the Wathumba Creek track, on the western side and in the protected lee of Fraser Island is a good observation spot. The whales are also often sighted off Waddy Point and in Marloo Bay just offshore from Orchid Beach.
A fisherman off Waddy Point
The annual Tailor fishing season is from June to December when enormous schools of fish migrate to spawn between the island’s only rock headlands, Indian Head and Waddy Point. During the feeding frenzy large numbers of fish are caught by beach fisherman all along the ocean beach. Size and bag limits now apply to catches of Tailor. The largest Tailor, up to 5kg, are caught here later in the season. Other varieties caught in good quantity include Dart, Flathead, Bream, Mackerel and Whiting. Although fishing on and between the headlands is closed for all August and September, to leave spawning fish undisturbed and to protect this unique resource, all other beaches are open to fishing and yield good catches.
west Fraser Island
The western side of Fraser Island contains extensive mangrove creeks where good catches of mud crabs are possible. Size, gender (only males can be taken) and bag limits apply to catches.