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Kingfisher Bay Resort review, Fraser Island, Queensland: Weekend away

TIME : 2-26 17:46:47

Kingfisher Bay Resort review, Fraser Island, Queensland: Weekend away

DEFAULT Simon Holt

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Our rating

4 out of 5

THE LOCATION

There's a squeal from about 50 metres ahead. It's a middle-aged man, seemingly trying to leap into his wife's arms. A ranger tries to calm him down by reassuring him that the two-metre carpet python crossing the road is friendlier than it looks. This is just one of the many beauties - along with goannas, dingos, eagles, birds and insects - dished up by Fraser Island, the world's largest sand island. It's a place where those from the "concrete jungle" can hop on a guided ranger tour to learn about Australia's flora and fauna, or talk  to a chef about bush tucker and how they make that crocodile and kangaroo taste so darn good.

THE SPACE

Exploring Fraser Island (which measures 120 kilometres by 24 kilometres) with a tent and a fishing rod isn't everyone's cup of billy tea. That's why there is a resort with villas and hotel rooms, three restaurants, bars, organised activities, bitumen roads and airconditioning. Ah yes, sweet airconditioning. There is also a shop, day spa, open-air lobby and resort-style swimming pool. But the resort isn't built in a pristine, sterile kind of way. Rather, it makes use of the island's natural surrounds. A two-floor limit means the resort stretches out amid bush, ponds and streams, all leading to the beach which is about 100 metres from the room.

THE KIT

There's nothing overly special about the hotel rooms. They're clean and tidy, and feature a standard layout - beds, a mirror, a television and a bathroom with enough space to move. A balcony overlooking the ocean soaks up the croaks of frogs at night and the singing of birds in the morning. It's not uncommon to see goannas in the garden - the great outdoors is the main attraction of the resort. Those looking for a little more luxury can try the one-, two- or three-bedroom villas, some of which come with spas.

STEPPING OUT

The scheduled activities  can easily fill three to five days. There are various guided tours, including a Segway tour along the beach and canoeing into serene bays. The bush tucker tasting is a must and a "beauty spots" tour in a four-wheel-drive bus is the marquee event. A guide with a sparkling personality, expansive knowledge and seemingly endless energy takes guests to a freshwater silica lake. Lunch is at a resort which will make you feel privileged to be staying at Kingfisher, then a spin along the beach and a visit to coloured sands and a shipwreck with some funky history.

THE VERDICT

New management at the island resort has two key focuses - to make sure the service and food are of the highest standard. Seabelle is the main restaurant and can match the finest food in the state. Most of the ingredients are authentically Australiana which makes the experience as enjoyable as it is tasty. The guided tours are superb, the rangers love their job and there's a concerted effort to raise the bar a notch, hence a constant roll-out of refurbished  rooms. If you haven't been in a while, it's worth putting Fraser back on the list. And don't forget to try the brussels sprouts with lemon myrtle soy, even if you don't like brussels sprouts.

HOW TO GET THERE

The ferry is about 4½  hours from Brisbane which makes it a long weekend prospect at best for city-dwellers. From Maryborough, it's about 38 kilometres to River Heads. From there, it's another 50 minutes on the ferry, which docks at the resort.

ESSENTIALS

Standard rooms start from about $125 a night off peak. A standard room with bed and breakfast costs $138. Villas in off-peak periods start from about $220 a night but can stretch beyond $400 at peak times. Phone 1800 072 555, see kingfisherbay.com.

The writer was a guest of Kingfisher Bay Resort.