Beginner's Guide to Fraser Island

13 July 2016

As the world's largest sand island, the lure of Queensland's Fraser Island is hard to ignore. With freshwater lakes, rainforest trails and seemingly endless stretches of beach, there are plenty of places to explore. But there are a few things you should know before you jump the ferry and head on over. From following camping etiquette to respecting 4WDing rules, here are our tips to ensuring your first trip to Fraser is one to remember.

 Woman walking at Lake Mckenzie, Fraser Island, Australia. Woman walking by the pristine fresh water at Lake Mckenzie, Fraser Island, Australia. Picture: Getty Images.

1. Arrive Early

at the vehicular ferry departure point as it can get busy during peak holiday times. There are two ferry terminals: one at Inskip Point, near Rainbow Beach, and another at River Heads, outside Hervey Bay. The Inskip ferry will drop you off at the most southern point on the island, while from River Heads you'll disembark at Wanggoolba Creek, on the west side.

2. YOUR PRE-FRASER DAYS

will determine which ferry point you board at, but pick wisely. If you need to hire a 4WD, choose the mainland company you want to hire from first and then plan around where their office is based. You'll appreciate being close by when you have to go through all the pre-departure vehicle training.

3. PRE-BOOK

your permits before heading on holidays. Before visiting Fraser, you'll need to grab a vehicle permit from Queensland National Parks. You'll also need a camping permit if you intend on camping outside the private grounds (i.e. on the beach). You can pre-order online at the Queensland National Parks website.

4. A MUST-SEE

for every first-time visitor to the island is stunning Lake McKenzie. There are more than 100 freshwater lakes across the 1840 sq km island, and Lake McKenzie is undoubtedly the most popular. This means it can get crowded, so look up the arrival times of the major bus tours and be sure to grab a patch of sand before they arrive.

 Eli Creek, Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia Blow up an inner-tube and float down the flowing Eli Creek, Fraser Island. Picture: Getty Images.

5. ELI CREEK

is another tourist favourite and can feel even busier due to its small size. You'll also want to arrive here early. If you have space in the car, pack an inflatable inner-tube or pool noodle so you can enjoy floating down this fast-flowing freshwater creek.


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6. A RECOVERY KIT

is the most basic of 4WD items you should have on you when exploring World Heritage-listed Fraser. Make sure you're carrying items such as a shovel, snatch strap and tyre deflator, and, better yet, know how to use them.

7. SHOW RESPECT

to your fellow drivers. This is a big one, and will get you far on Fraser. With 120 kilometres of beach highway to explore, it's no surprise 4WDing is huge here. During peak travel times, the sand tracks get busy, so be patient, give way to larger vehicles and help anyone who gets into trouble.

 A four wheel drive car on a forest road on Fraser Island, Australia. A 4WD car surrounded by dense forest on Fraser Island, Australia. Picture: Getty Images.

8. DON'T BE A FOOL

and think you can get away with taking a 2WD vehicle onto Fraser. This is strictly 4WD-only territory, with mostly sand roads that can be soft and tight in places. Check the Queensland Government's Fraser Island conditions report (nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/fraser) before leaving the mainland.

9. PACK SMART

if you intend on camping. Be prepared to take all of your own equipment, as well as water. If you want to pitch a tent in the dunes you won't have access to a toilet, so pack a shovel. Don't forget to put your food away when you're not eating as well, otherwise you'll attract dingoes.

10. DINGOES ROAM

the beaches and campgrounds for food, so do not feed them. It's also wise to stay away from them, and to especially keep small children by your side. If you're concerned, stay in one of the resorts or a campground with a dingo fence.

 Dingo basking in a sunset on Fraser Island. Fun fact: Dingoes that inhabit the island travel up to 40km a day. Picture: Getty Images.

Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to Fraser Island.


Jennifer Ennion

Jennifer is a freelance travel writer, who specialises in the outdoors and soft adventure, including activities such as snowboarding, hiking, paddleboarding, scuba diving, kayaking, camping, caravanning and surfing.