Fraser Island lies off the coast of southern Queensland, approximately 300 kms north from Brisbane (4 hours drive). For most four wheel drivers the trip starts either at Rainbow Beach to the south of the island, where it is a 12km trip to Inskip Point for the 10 minute barge ride across to Fraser. Two barges operate continuously at Inskip Point. Other barge access points are at River Heads (east of Maryborough) and at Hervey Bay (Urangan boat harbour). Inskip vehicle barges generally run from 6am - 5.30pm and no bookings are required. Bookings are needed for the barges departing from or returning to Urangan or River heads.
When you go to Fraser Island get used to putting your hand in your pocket.
All vehicles must have a current RAM vehicle access permit - that needs to be purchased before entering the island.
To camp on Fraser you need a QPWS?camping permit for all parks (except private campgrounds). For all holiday seasons it is suggested that you purchase a camping permit at least three months ahead of your visit. Permits can be purchased at www.qld.gov.au/camping or by phoning 13 13 04.
The opportunity to drive the Island's famous beaches is what attracts many four wheel drivers to Fraser Island. Note that, as the ocean beach is regarded as a road, normal road rules - including keeping to the left and speed limits - do apply.
Be aware of the tides, too, as this can effect what areas you'll be able to access. Set your tyre pressures before you start your drive - 25psi is a good guide for the beach sand, while as low as 15 psi for the soft inland sand may be necessary. See more in the "Driving"?part of this feature.
About Fraser Island
The world's largest sand island, Fraser Island is an area of remarkable natural beauty. It was listed as a World Heritage Area in 1992. The listing recognises the island's internationally significant natural features: evolving dune, lake, soil and forest systems, the extent and age of which are outstanding examples of ongoing geological and biological processesthat make Fraser Island a truly unique landscape. Growing on seemingly infertile sands is a great variety of plant communities, ranging from coastal heath, mangrove forests and swamps to subtropical rainforest.
The many archaeological remains on Fraser Island record thousands of years of culture and tradition, providing important links for the Butchulla people of today to their past. The island is 123km long and covers an area of 166,038ha, including more than 40 lakes, so you will need to allow plenty of time to explore and appreciate it.
Things to see...
Take some time to visit some of the major sights on Fraser Island. Stay clear of areas without formal walking tracks or designated roads. Here are some of the more popular sights to see, but there are many more for you to discover.
This is the largest 'perched' (ie. elevated abvove the existing water table) lake in the world, covering almost 200ha. Its waters are stained brown by tannins leached from the vegetation.
Many walks leave from Central Station. Stroll through the rainforest along Wanggoolba Creek boardwalk, visit the peaceful Basin Lake, or stand among some impressive satinay trees in Pile Valley.
This inland, perched lake is a popular site. White sand and sparkling blue waters attract many visitors. Parking is
limited — best to visit before 10.30am or after 2.30pm.
This is the deepest lake on Fraser Island. Its shore lies at the advancing edge of the Hammerstone Sandblow. Drive around (Cornwell's Break Road) and up to the ridge above the lake, where a short walk takes you to a splendid lookout offering a view of this barrage lake and the sandblow that is slowly engulfing it.
Cool off next to this crystal clear freshwater creek, that flows through vegetated banks and right out to the beach. Watch for eels and frogs from the boardwalk, and see small fish (empire gudgeon and jungle perch) swimming against the
Sheltered coastline, impressive views across the Great Sandy Strait and historical sites are all within easy walking distance of Kingfisher Bay.
Tucked into a rainforest hollow, this lake offers a cool respite from the beach environment. A circuit track around the lake meanders through a variety of plant communities. Wait on the viewing platform and watch for freshwater turtles, but please do not feed them.
Enjoy expansive coastline views from the first dune crest of this sandblow.
Waddy Point headland
Take in a vista of beach and ocean. Watch for sea turtles, sharks and stingrays coasting along in the clear waters.
Binngih Sandblow (Waddy Point)
Catch sweeping views across Waddy Point headland and north over Marloo Bay to Sandy Cape, the site of the only lighthouse on Fraser Island.
Ocean Lake is home to a variety of water birds taking advantage of the reeds and undisturbed sections of the lake. Nearby, an easy walk through cypress, banksia and melaleuca woodland offers a good lookout with panoramic views.
The best way to explore and enjoy Fraser Island is at close quarters on its walking tracks. Choose from short boardwalks through rainforests, to strolls around a lake or longer walks across a sandblow. Long distance walkers will enjoy the 90km Fraser Island Great Walk with walkers' camps along the way for that special wilderness camping experience.
Camping on Fraser Is.
The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) manages a number of formal campgrounds, informal beach camping zones and walkers' camps. Camping permits are required and fees apply.
Formal campgrounds include Central Station, Dundubara, Waddy Point top and Waddy Point beachfront. Smaller campgrounds are at Lake Boomanjin, Ungowa and Wathumba. Campgrounds have formalised campsites, water taps or tap stations, and toilets. Most have gas barbecues, deep sinks for washing dishes and information displays. All campgrounds have a 9pm noise curfew and generators are not permitted.
Beach camping zones
These are informal camping areas with no facilities, behind the foredunes on the eastern beach. Camp only where permitted (within signposted zones) and always at least 50m from water courses. Vehicle access is by formed entrance tracks only. Western beach camping areas are marked on the map and offer quiet, wilderness experiences. Many are accessible by boat, but permits are still required. Generators are permitted in these areas, but please consider others and only use them between 9am and 9pm. Generators are not permitted in the Garulim, Dulara and Midyim camping areas and people camping in these areas must also provide their own portable toilet.
These are small, walk-in camping areas along the Fraser Island Great Walk. Book your Great Walk campsite online.
Camping with children
Visitors camping with children up to the age of 14 should camp in fenced campgrounds. These are available at Lake Boomanjin, Central Station, Dundubara, Waddy Point (top campground) and Dilli Village
Open campfires are prohibited on Fraser Island except in the communal fire rings provided by QPWS at Dundubara and Waddy Point campgrounds. Bring your own firewood. Only bring milled timber off-cuts, not bush timber. It helps to reduce risk of introducing pests and plant diseases to the island. Collecting bush wood (even twigs) from the national park is illegal. Never leave a fire unattended, stay with your children and extinguish the fire before leaving the area, using water not sand.
Plan your trip in advance as bookings are required for most campgrounds and some beach camping zones. These are:
• Central Station campground
• Dundubara campground
• Waddy Point top campground
• Waddy Point beachfront campground (unfenced)
• One Tree Rocks beach camping zone
• Garulim, Dulara, Midyim and Coolooloi Creek camping area
• Dilli Village Environmental Education Camp. This is a University of the Sunshine Coast facility, open to groups, families and individual campers.
For bookings phone (07) 4127 9130 or (07) 54594532.
Fraser Island's beaches and sandy inland roads are suitable only for four-wheel-drive vehicles. Engage 4WD (and lock hubs if necessary on your vehicle) as soon as you start driving on sand. Read and heed all signage. All road rules apply.
Many of Fraser Island's features and walking tracks are accessed by a few scenic drives. Inland roads are only suitable for 4WD vehicles with high clearance. Trailers and caravans are not recommended. Be aware that road conditions can vary. During times of extended dry or wet weather, drivers can expect difficulties in traversing island roads. After severe
natural events such as storms and fires, roads may become impassable. Check road and beach conditions prior to travel.
If you choose to reduce tyre pressure to help with traction in soft sand, particularly at Indian Head bypass and
further north, select low gears and avoid sharp turns and sudden braking, as tyres can roll off their rims. When deflating, keep within manufacturer's recommendations. Re-inflate to resume speed on harder sand and for mainland driving. Deflate tyres to 15psi for soft sand driving.
Beaches have particular driving hazards.
• Deep washouts can happen at any time, particularly after heavy rain and rough seas.
• Wave action can expose dangerous rocks overnight.
• Big high tides can cover the entire beach, with waves washing up to the fore dunes and leaving no option but to drive through salt water. This is dangerous. Your vehicle may sink, overturn or be quickly inundated by the rising tide.
Driving on the western beach is not recommended.
• The ever changing weed banks that lie buried under the sand along the western beach (and occasionally on the eastern beach) deceive even experienced drivers. Your vehicle may sink. Tow trucks are many hours away. Drive with another 4WD or enjoy a walk instead.
Do not enter areas along the western beach, which are closed to vehicle access. Check your map for details.
Be very careful when crossing Eli, Wyuna and Coongul Creeks. Large volumes of water create steep creek banks. Never attempt to cross Wathumba Creek or Moon Point estuaries.
Normal road rules apply
All inland roads, vehicle tracks and beaches are designated roads and normal road rules apply. Police patrol all areas of Fraser Island. Speed checks and breath testing can happen at any time of day. Maximum allowable blood alcohol level for drivers in Australia is .05.
Speed limits on the island:
• 40km/hr shared zones on the eastern beach
• 80km/hr on the eastern beach
• 50km/hr on Hook Point inland road
• 35km/hr on all other inland roads.
But always drive to suit conditions. Use indicators when overtaking or turning. Keep to the left of oncoming vehicles at all times.
Right of way
All standard give-way rules apply. However, most of the roads are narrow and carry two-way traffic. When safe, give right of way to buses, trucks and to vehicles travelling downhill or towing trailers. Passing bays are frequent. If possible, drive forwards into them. Give way and drive slowly around dingoes, birds and other wildlife on the beach.
Fuel and supplies
Mishaps on Fraser Island can be costly. Rescues are difficult and may impact on the island's fragile eco-systems. Good preparation is essential. Fraser's sandy tracks or beaches are 4WD only. Vehicles with low clearance may find some inland tracks impassable. Ensure the vehicle is mechanically sound. Pack spares, water, tyre gauge, air pump, tow rope, snatch strap, and a shovel. Load the vehicle evenly. Fuel (not autogas), restaurants or takeaway food outlets, shops with gas and ice are generally open 8am–5pm at all the towns. EFTPOS is available in some places. Public telephones are located at Eurong, Happy Valley, Cathedral Beach, Kingfisher Bay, Orchid Beach, Dundubara, Waddy Point, Central Station, Yidney Rocks cabins and Indian Head. CDMA mobile phone coverage is available along most of the eastern beach.
Getting to Fraser Island
Fraser Island is about 300km north of Brisbane and 15km off the coast of Hervey Bay and Maryborough.
Vehicle access (4WD only) is via barge from:
• Inskip Point, 15 minutes drive from Rainbow Beach (east of Gympie) to Hook Point; these barges generally run from 6am to 5.30pm (trip time about 10 minutes, no bookings required);
Phone (07) 5486 3227
• Inskip Point. Manta Ray barge
Phone (07) 4194 9222
• River Heads (east of Maryborough) to Kingfisher Bay and Wanggoolba Creek (trip time 30 – 50 minutes, bookings required);
Phone (07) 4125 4444; (07) 4125 5511
• Hervey Bay (Urangan boat harbour) to Moon Point (trip time 30 – 50 minutes, bookings required).
Phone (07) 4125 4444
Vehicle barges also take walk-on passengers. Passenger launch services run daily from Urangan boat harbour.