Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world at 1,840 km2. It’s also the largest island in Queensland and the 6th largest island in all of Australia.
In addition, this heritage-listed island has evolved to sustain a unique landscape made of tall sand dunes, lush rainforest and fresh-water perch lakes. It’s also home to the purest breed of dingo’s in Australia as no dogs are allowed on this island. It’s remote and undeveloped charm brings approximately half a million tourists each year to experience Fraser Island’s beauty.
Getting to & Traveling Around Fraser Island
You can fly into the Fraser Coast from other parts of Australia, however it may be cheaper to fly into a bigger airport (Brisbane). There you can rent a car and drive to Noosa or Hervey Bay. From either spot you will need to take a ferry and obtain a 4x4 vehicle that is able to drive on sand.
Getting to Hervey Bay: Renting cars in Brisbane can be cheap. My group of friends and I rented a car from Brisbane, drove to Hervey Bay and then left our rental car at the 4wd rental spot for the weekend. From Thursday night to Monday night our rental car cost a total of $120 which we then split amongst 4 people.
Getting to Fraser Island: From Hervey Bay, its necessary to take the barge (the ferry) to the island itself. It’s a quick half an hour ride, however the barge costs vary depending on type of vehicle and time of journey. Usually for bus & tag-along tours this cost is included. This cost was included in our 4wd rental cost as well.
Getting around Fraser Island: This includes either going on a 4wd bus tour, going on a tag-along tour with a tour company or renting a 4wd yourself. The tour options usually have 2 or 3 days options available!
Bus tours leave from both Noosa and Hervey Bay. Bus tours are a typical guided tour. The plus side is that you don’t have to go through any safety briefings about driving on the island
The other option is a Tag-along tour where you there are several 4wd cars in a line following each other. If you have a valid driver’s license you can drive on the beach after a safety briefing. Two of my friends have done the Tag-along tour hosted by Nomad’s in Noosa. With the Tag-along tour you also have hostel accommodation on Fraser Island with amenities at night such as showers, toilets, etc.
Lastly, you can rent a 4wd yourself from one of the operating tour companies. My group and I rented our 4x4 vehicle from Fraser Dingo 4wd Hire. We considered the tag along tour but we really wanted to experience camping by the ocean on Fraser Island.
They have a lot of different packages where you can choose a couple’s package, a two person package, a Tag-along tour or a group package. We chose the 3 day/2 night group package plus camping equipment. It cost $995 per car, however we had 9 people between two cars so it was quite affordable - $221 each for the whole weekend.
*Side note: the company wasn’t very happy that we had 9 people renting 2 cars because they’ve had crashes before in group situations. They suggest the tag-along tour instead. We reassured them that we were all responsible, 25 years old+ individuals that would not crash their cars. They put twice the amount of the original bond on hold because of this, but once we returned the cars in the same condition, the bond was completely released back to us.
Driving on Fraser Island
What you will and won’t be able to do on Fraser Island is determined mainly by the ocean tides. When the tides are low you’re free to drive on the beach and move around the island. However, during high tide the waves go higher up on the beach causing less wet sand to drive on. This means you may get bogged down on soft, dry sand if you’re not careful.
When we were on Fraser Island we were lucky to have had low tide during the best times of the day: approximately between 8am & 4pm. This allowed us to take our time in the mornings and to come back to camp early, set up the tents and hang out for hours into the evening. I would suggest to look into the tide times before planning your trip.
Getting bogged is pretty common on Fraser Island as the tracks go from inland to beach to inland again. Once you have momentum, the car keeps going, however it’s when you stop or slow down that the car gets stuck. When you get bogged you are not able to drive forward or backwards.
We got bogged when we were driving into one of our campsites which had us going through a stretch of soft sand not touched by the ocean waves. We jumped out of the car, cleared some sand from the front and back sides of all four tires and tried again. We had one person driving and the rest of us pushed from the back.
This option worked for us, but if that doesn’t work for you, you may have to get the plastic mats from the car and put those in front of the tires. This will give the car some flat surface to drive on to get the speed and momentum to drive out of the soft sand.
Camping on Fraser
The items on the list below are things we had for our camping trip. The bonus of renting the car from Fraser Dingo 4wd Hire was that we had camping equipment provided for us!
We were also able to receive our camping permits from the company, so if you decide to go on your own don't forget to get those! We camped at two different site. One was behind a sand dune, but basically just on the beach (see photo below). The second camp site was closer to the village and was behind bigger sand dunes and under trees. We were still able to walk to the beach, but we were not able to see it from our tents.
Bucket for dishes
Plates, cups, cutlery
Pot & pan
Other Camping Equipment
Ice Chest + Ice
3 liters of water/per person/per day
Insect repellent (Oct – March)
Plenty of Water (~ 3 liters per person)
Food Options on Fraser Island
Since we rented a 4wd that came with camping equipment we could bring food that we could cook. We had a stove, pots and pans and all the other essentials. A typical day looked like this:
Breakfast: we would have coffee, croissants and fruit for breakfast.
Lunch: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit and chips
Dinner: hot soup or pasta with tomato/pesto sauce.
By the end of our trip we also realized we had a pan and spatula. We ended up buying pancake mix at the store in town and had a hearty pancake breakfast on our last morning! If you have a strong cooler/eskie you can also bring bacon, eggs or even other meat for dinner.
Bag of apples
Loaf of bread
Cans of soup/ravioli
Bags of Chips
Beer (cans only)
However, you do not have to cook all your meals. If you do get hungry or are craving hot premade food there are a few café’s in the town that serve food and drinks.
Dressing for Fraser Island
We travelled during September so the days were very warm – all of us were wearing t-shirts and shorts or dresses. During the evenings, it cooled down where layers were necessary. I would wear leggings, long sleeve shirt and a jumper/jacket. One of the nights I ended up putting on my beanie and a second pair of pants because I was extra cold. It’s always nice to have layers if you need it.
Girls Clothing List (Guys clothing list looks basically the same, minus the dresses & leggings!)
What to do
Fraser Island is a great place to relax, swim and disconnect from the digital world (the island doesn’t get any service, expect the main village, Eurong, at times).
The main attractions are Lake Mackenzie, Lake Wabby, Indian Head, the Champagne Pools, Wungul Sandblow, Eli Creek and the Maheno Shipwreck.
Lake Mackenzie is one of the 40 perched sand dune lakes on the island and is most famous for its incredible size! Lake Wabby is located at the foot of a sand dune which makes it very unique. I did not get a chance to see it for myself, however. Both of the lakes are great places to swim as well as the Champagne Pools. The pools are salt water and right next to the ocean, just past Indian head.
Another great place to swim is Eli Creek. This is the large creek you will have to drive over on your way to camping sites or Indian Head. Many people stop to rest, swim and barbeque by the water. It has facilities as well as a little walking track. Some of the kids we saw at the creek would run to the top of the track, put in large floaties and float down the creek to their parents.
The Maheno Shipwreck is also a notable place to see. It’s interesting to learn the history of how the ship ended up on the island. It's also cool to walk around it’s disintegrating frame.
If you like hiking and exploring by foot, there are several small walking tracks off the main driving road across the island. These take you through the rain forest. There are also walking track at Indian Head which provides you with panoramic views.
For more a detailed description of what to see and do, read the Top 5 Spots to Visit on Fraser Island