In case you didn’t know, Australia is a pretty phenomenal country! There is so much to see on this beautiful continent. It’s no wonder travelers often struggle to pick the best stops for their itinerary. But the truth is, if you want to spend a few relaxing couple of days surrounded by stunning natural beauty, then you’ve got to add a visit to Fraser Island to your Australia itinerary!
Fraser Island, located just off the East Coast of Queensland is the largest sand island IN THE WORLD! It also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Australia’s greatest attractions! It’s the only place in the world where the rainforest grows right out of the sand dunes, obtaining all of their nutrients from the sand and the rain. Fraser Island is home to over 350 species of birds, possums, wallabies, sea turtles, dolphins, and of course Australia’s favourite wild dog – the dingo. There are 100 freshwater lakes on the island and over 30 walking tracks – enough to keep the most adventurous nature lovers entertained. But if you want to just kick back, unwind, and enjoy the tranquillity of nature, there’s plenty of options for that on the island as well!
Have I got you hooked yet? Just wait…You haven’t seen nothing yet!
FRASER ISLAND’S TOP ATTRACTIONS
1. Seventy Five Mile Beach
The name says it all, this stunning stretch of beach streches over 75 miles and runs along most of the East Coast of Fraser Island. Unfortunately, the beach is not a great place for a swim. With dangerous currently, Tiger sharks in the water, and dingoes roaming along the beach, you are better off opting for a swim in one of Fraser Island’s beautiful lakes instead.
But the 75 Mile Beach is still an incredible sight that serves as the island’s National Highway, best explored in a 4WD. Keep your eyes out for dingoes frequently roaming around the beach. They may look friendly, but they are not, so keep your distance and admire from afar.
2. Lake Mackenzie
Probably the most visited and admired attraction on Fraser Island, Lake Mackenzie is a large perched lake with a white silica sandy beach. Perches means that it lies above the natural water sources and contains just rain water, as no streams flow in and out of it. On a sunny day, Lake Mackenzie is incredible, but even on a cloudy day its clear waters and surrounding greenery make it a picture perfect sight.
It’s a great place for a picnic lunch or to spend a few hours relaxing on the beach with a book in hand.
3. Eli Creek
A freshwater creek that’s perfect for the whole family. Its waters hardly ever rise above waist height, making it a great place for a swim with the little ones. Floating or swimming down the creek with the current is a fun activity for all ages! And for those that don’t fancy getting wet, the boardwalk along the creek offers a great alternative.
4. Lake Wabby
Located about 30 mins inland, this is my favourite place on the entire island. A short walk through the rainforest and you will arrive at the most incredible view of the Hammerstone Sandblow, a huge sand dune that’s slowly encroaching upon the lake. The contrast between the green colour of the lake and the brightly coloured sands make it a breathtaking view.
The sand dunes leading up to Lake Wabby are an amazing example of tall rainforests growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres – a phenomena that can only be found on Fraser’s Island.
5. Indian Head
Located at the Northern end of the main beach, this headland is the most easterly point on Fraser Island. You can climb up Indian Head for beautiful views of the 75 Miles beach and a chance to spot some wildlife. Sharks, dolphins, and turtles can be easily seen from the top of Indian Head, depending on the season.
6. Champagne Pools
If you want to have a swim on Fraser Island, this is the place to do it. Located between Waddy Point and Indian Head, the Champagne Pools are rock pools formed by waves crashing over the rocks. The water in the pools is normally quite warm, making it easy to spend hours enjoying the sun and the ocean.
7. Coloured Sands: Red Canyon & The Pinnacles
Unique red coloured sandstone cliffs can be seen in a few spots along the 75 Mile Beach. These sands were formed over thousands of years ago and have gained their colour from iron-rich minerals.
While it may be tempting to grab a handful and bottle it up for a nice souvenir, Don’t!
8. Maheno Shipwreck
Maheno was an ocean liner on its way to Japan for scrapping, when it was forced ashore on Fraser Island by a storm in 1935. The ship was stripped of its fittings, but could not be refloated. Since then, the majority of the ship has disintegrated, leaving only a rusty outline of what once used to be one of the fasters ships in the world.
It’s not just the natural sights and attractions that bring thousands of visitors to Fraser Island on a yearly basis. Australians have been visiting Fraser Island for decades. For many, it brings back fond childhood memories of camping on Fraser Island. Year after year, they are drawn back to the island to relive, re-create, and share those experiences with their own kids. And I can certainly relate to the appeal. After visiting Fraser Island for the second time earlier this year, I could see it being a place that I would happily go back to!
Fraser Island is one of those places that you can visit again and again. The natural beauty and jaw dropping landscapes of this unique destination make it easy to admire it for the 2nd time, the 3rd, or even the 10th.
So now that, I hope, I have convinced you to visit Fraser Island, let me share some of the nitty gritty details that will help make your trip to Fraser Island easier.
How To Get Around Fraser Island
Before you decide how you are going to get to Fraser Island, you need to decide how you are going to get around the Island. It is NOT possible to get around the island on foot or by public transport, so your only options are to
1. Join a Fraser Island Tour
2. Explore Fraser Island with 4WD (4 Wheel Drive)
More on #1 in a bit. First, let’s talk about #2. There are a few things you need to know before embarking on the 4WD adventure.
Explore Fraser Island with 4WD (4 Wheel Drive)
1. You need a 4WD to get around Fraser Island. If you don’t own a 4WD, there are lots of places to hire one. Start your search with Fraser 4WD Hire, Safari 4WD Hire, and Fraser Island 4WD. Rates for 2 people will vary from $150-$250 per day, depending on the car and # of days. You might also be able to hire a 4WD from any large car hire company.
2. All vehicles travelling to Fraser Island must have an official permit, which need to be displayed on your car while on the Island. Permits can be obtained here. You’ll need to create an account before you can log in. Click on Make a Booking, then Vehicle Permit and select Fraser Island from the list to obtain your permit. This will set you back by another $45
3. When planning driving times on Fraser Island keep in mind the low/high tide times. During high tide driving along the 75 Mile Beach is not recommended.
4. The soft sand around the island means the risk of getting stuck, even with a 4WD, is really high. Take great care while driving on Fraser Island and make sure to read some of these helpful tips before you embark on your trip.
If you do decide to explore Fraser Island by 4WD, you’ll need to arrange your own ferry transfer. You can learn more about Ferry departure points and book your ferry here.
Driving around in a 4WD vehicle is, in my opinion, the most enjoyable way to get around Fraser Island. It allows you to create your own itinerary, staying at each attraction for as long or as little as you would like. Your own vehicle allows you to get off the beaten path and explore some of the lesser known attractions on Fraser Island. But I know it’s not for everyone! The cost of hiring a 4WD, organizing a driving permit, and then dealing with the stress of driving around the island can be too much for some people.
Join a Fraser Island Tour
When I first visited Fraser Island in 2010, I was traveling by myself and there was no way I was going to hire a 4WD and attempt to explore the island on my own. So I opted to join a Fraser Island Tour.
A Fraser Island tour is a great way to see the island! There are number of different tours and tour companies to choose from. Check out some of these: Tour Fraser, Fraser Explorer Tours and Cool Dingo Tour. Most of the tours follow a very similar itinerary and charge a similar price.
I opted to go on a Fraser Island Explorer 2-day Tour. It cost me $305, which included 1 night accommodation at Eurong Resort. Tour prices for 2 day/1 night tour range from $300-400 pp. Most companies also offer a 3 day tour, which would give you a bit more time on the island and allow you to see a few more attractions along the way. The biggest difference between the various providers is the number of people on the tour and the type of accommodation included in the price. So compare a few options and choose the one that fits your style of travel.
Where to Stay on Fraser Island
There accommodation options on the island are quite limited, but there is certainly something for everyone.
Now, in my opinion, this is the way to go on Fraser Island! There are 4 large formal camping areas on the island: Central Station, Dundubara, Waddy Point (top), Waddy Point beachfront. Most of these sites have dingo fences, showers, toilets, and gas bbq facilities, making them a great and easy choice for adventurous travelers and those on a budget. Bookings for these sites must be made in advance and the booking number must always be displayed on your tent. For the more experienced and adventurous campers out there, there are 3 other bush-type of camp sites.
For more information on camping on Fraser Island and facilities at each site visit the Queensland Department of National Parks Website
Mid range: Eurong Beach Resort is the mid range resort option, offering hotel rooms from $130-$170 per night and 2 beroom apartments from $200-$260 per night. The resort is well equipped with various facilities: from swimming pools, to restaurants and a bar. It’s ideally located just off 75 Mile Beack at Central Station allowing for easy access to shops and attractions on the island.
The other mid range option is Cathedrals on Fraser offering 1-3 bedroom cabin ranging from $160-$185 per night. Cathedrals also offers powered camp sites and permanent tent options for those that are looking for a camping experience on Fraser but don’t have their own camping equipment.
Luxury: Kingfisher Bay Resort offers a more luxurious option, with basic hotel rooms starting from $148 per night, Villas ranging from $268 – $488 and Bay Houses starting at $600 and going up to $1500 a night. Kingfisher offers an array of facilities: Four swimming pools, Three restaurants, four bars, Spa Sanctuary, Child minding, conference facilities and more. The downside of Kingfisher is that it’s located on the other opposite side of the island, but the extra facilities and luxuries definitely make up for the location downside.
Hostels and Other Options
There are currently no hostels on Fraser Island, but there are a few other hostel- like accommodation options, like the Cool Dingo Wilderness Lodge although these are reserved for Cool Dingo Tour customers only.
There are a ton of other accommodation options available on Rainbow Beach and in Hervey Bay. Many hotels and hostels on shore also organize day tours to Fraser Island, allowing you to spend the day exploring the island’s main natural attractions, without the need to stay overnight.
Fraser Island is one of the few places in Australia that still retains a lot of evidence of aboriginal Australia culture that dates back to 5000 years ago. So as the Butchulla people would say, “Ngalmu galangoor Biral & Biralgan bula nyin djali!” or “May all our good spirits be around you throughout the day”
And don’t forget, when visiting any UNESCO World Heritage Site…
“Wanya nyin yangu, wanai djinang djaa.” – “Wherever you go, leave only footprints”
To learn more about living and traveling in Australia, check out these posts: