If it’s good enough for Meghan and Harry... Chloe Cann follows in the footsteps of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex with a visit to the Australian idyll of Fraser Island
“We call it rush hour,” says the barman, smiling as ferry passengers disembark at the end of the long wooden jetty, while others wait to board. To my left , a wedding party sporting long oaty dresses and crisp linen shirts is barefoot on the beach. Straight ahead a dusky, candy floss pink has begun to settle on the horizon as twilight unfolds. Instead of po-faced London commuters in suits clutching Oyster cards, all I can see are the relaxed grins of those cradling cold beers and glasses of sparkling wine in T-shirts and shorts. It feels as far from 5.30pm on the Tube’s Central line as I could possibly imagine.
Kingfisher Bay Resort’s Sunset Bar, perched above the beach at the base of the jetty, does a stellar job of encapsulating the rustic charm that woos so many travellers to this unique parcel of land. Here on Fraser Island, just o the coast of Southern Queensland, nature takes centre stage, but that doesn’t mean foregoing creature comforts. This heady mix may be one of the reasons that Harry and Meghan chose to visit in October last year, as part of their first royal tour – one of just four destinations the couple visited in Australia, alongside Sydney and Dubbo in New South Wales and Melbourne in Victoria.
A Unesco World Heritage Site and the largest sand island in the world, Fraser has long been a popular destination among Aussies and international tourists. Some 700,000 visitors travel here each year, of which 60-70% are Australian. And of that figure, at least two-thirds are located within a four-to-six-hour driving radius of the island. While Germany is the biggest international source market, Italy, the UK and the Netherlands trail not far behind. But the legacy of the royal visit has thrust the isle firmly into the spotlight: Kingfisher Bay Resort, where Harry and Meghan stayed, has since reported a website traffic boost of 350%, plus a booking increase of 40% and sustained demand in the five months that followed the event.