All eyes were on Fraser Island today as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry knocked their Royal Tour back a gear and slipped into relaxed Queenslander mode.
It was a picture-perfect spring day to welcome the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – 26-degrees and blue skies for days – with a series of warm and welcoming low-key events on the world’s biggest sand island.
Psst! Here’s 9 reasons why Fraser Island should be the top of your bucket list if it’s not already.
Despite scaling down her official appearances on the Royal Tour to relax, Meghan Markle the Duchess of Sussex continued to make her way to the World-Heritage listed island, separating from Prince Harry at the Hervey Bay Airport and boarding whale watching boat, Tasman Venture, to cross the bay.
Meanwhile, Prince Harry took a Fraser Island Explorer Tour Bus to River Heads where he boarded the public barge for a 45-minute crossing to Fraser Island.
His first stop was Pile Valley, the only rainforest in the world that grows from sand, with towering 50-metre tall satinay trees. There he unveiled a plaque signifying the area as part of the Queens Commonwealth Canopy Initiative, a project to raise awareness of forests and preserve them for the future.
K’gari – the traditional name of the island, meaning paradise – is the first area (in Australia) to be recognised under the Queens Commonwealth Canopy Initiative, with 200,000 acres now under protection.
“World Heritage-listed areas are named for their exceptional beauty and biodiversity,” Prince Harry said in his address. “Their destruction can, and is, having devastating consequences. It’s more important than ever to protect these forests. Put simply, without them we don’t survive.”
Leaving Harry to the official duties, Meghan put her feet up at Kingfisher Bay Resort while he made a stop at the pristine Lake McKenzie, where a local Butchulla elder performed a moving welcome-to-country ceremony dipping foliage into the crystal-clear water and washing the Prince’s bare feet.
Lake McKenzie, which means “waters of wisdom” in Butchulla dialect, is considered sacred and is one of more than 40 perched lakes on Fraser Island filled with rainwater so fresh and pure it was prized as drinking water by the traditional land owners.
Prince Harry walked along the fine silica sand wading bare feet into the shallows of the water and cupping his hands to drink from the lake.
Then, the moment eager visitors were waiting for – The Prince was reunited with his wife, Meghan Markle the Duchess of Sussex, looking rested and relaxed in a white linen dress by eco-friendly clothing brand, Reformation, and sandals for a public meet and greet along Kingfisher Bay Jetty.
The Duchess has shown she’s an advocated for sustainable fashion throughout the tour, sporting a pair of Gold Coast-born Outland Denim jeans last week, that are literally changing lives; directly helping survivors of sex and human trafficking in Cambodia.
Tonight, the Royal couple are enjoying their first night off during their tour at Kingfisher Bay Resort in preparation for the next stint on their royal agenda. Perhaps they’ll have just enough time to visit the in-house spa with pregnancy-approved treatments, including Ocean Song, a 110-minute scrub, massage and facial using native Australian ingredients. The resort also offers a Bush Tucker and Bush Medicine tour and a Living Art Gallery.
(For those of us without such tight schedules, you can probably stretch out your stay to enjoy at least 48 hours on Fraser Island.)
Tourists to the island couldn’t help but wonder if the island would inspire the naming of the royal baby. For a girl, some recommended McKenzie, Sandy, Forest, or Rain. For a boy, there was only one choice: Fraser.
Have you been to Fraser Island before?
PS. Here’s how to have your own Royal holiday in Queensland.