Ashley Needham, owner of Fraser Island Hiking, loves showcasing K’gari’s wonderful coastal and wilderness areas.
GRW: What got you into the walking tour business?
My passion for walking and hiking and getting people to enjoy the beauty of K’gari Fraser Island on foot and fill a gap that wasn’t offered. I wanted to show people another way to see this magical World Heritage sand island than to only travel in a 4wd. It was also a good opportunity to meet likeminded people who enjoyed the nature experience and appreciated the beauty of the Australian bush.
GRW: What’s the name of your tour company and where do you take your clients?
We started transferring walkers to K’gari Fraser Island from 2013 (10 years ago now); over the years we have developed our hike packages into packfree and luxury options along with the adventure hiking transfers. Our business is K’gari Walking Tours, formerly Fraser Island Hiking. We specialise in offering the supported camping walks so walkers can walk pack-free along the 90 kilometres of Great Walk track on K’gari Fraser Island. We also offer luxury accommodated walks that cover the best of the Great Walk over four days.
GRW: Are you finding Frasers Island’s new name K’gari is becoming more known?
We are finding that most operators have taken on the new name and added it to their products. Most travellers are using it and getting to know Fraser Island as K’gari. It will take time for people to accept the name change but it is great to see that this is being embraced as it is a beautiful story to celebrate a magical remarkable place.
GRW: What's a highlight of your clients’ trip?
The highlight of our walk/s is the Valley of the Giants where the largest giant satinay trees and tallowood trees stand, they are over 1000 years old. We are the only supported walking company with the permit to offer supported camping walks and guided walks to this area. The trees are so tall you are craning your neck to see the top canopy. We go to the Valley of the Giants on our three day K’gari Rainforest Walk and our K’gari Luxury Walk.
GRW: Why do you love the area you explore?
This pristine World Heritage space is a magical place that everyone should see at least once in their lives. Rainforest growing on sand, freshwater lakes with white sand beaches. The walking on K’gari is so diverse. In a matter of kilometres you are walking from wallum bush with banksias and wild flowers, then next it turns into rainforest where giant trees are growing. This makes the walking experience exceptional.
We need to give thanks to those before us that fought to preserve this area from development and save it for future generations. We are lucky to have it preserved as there was a time when it was getting extensively logged and also they had started to do sand mining. We can now celebrate 30 years of World Heritage.