Fraser Island Destination Guide

Updated: Feb 16

Everything you need to know about exploring Fraser Island by 4WD

Overlander Adventures 4WD hire cars for Fraser Island

Fraser Island is hands down our favorite south east Queensland 4WD camping destination! Not just because it's world heritage listed or because it's the worlds largest sand island, but because it has so much to offer and because there really is something magical about Fraser.


We've put this guide together to give you tips and tricks on how to get to, get around, camp and how to enjoy the best that Fraser Island has to offer.


Jump to Section:

Before you Go Beach Driving East Coast West Coast Where to Camp

Things to See and Do Shops, Facilities, Fuel 4WD Hire for Fraser Island

No Roof Top Tents on Fraser


Before you Go


​You'll need to get a couple of things before you head off on your Fraser Island 4WD adventure.


Firstly if you're camping, you'll need to book a camp site in advance. Bookings can be made via the Queensland Parks Website and will cost about A$6.70 per person, per night. Demand is often high so the early you get in the better. Read below for more information on the various camp zones options on Fraser.


​Secondly, you'll need a vehicle access permit. Permits can be purchased online, the minimum permit duration is 1 month and the cost is around A$55. ​

Getting There


Chances are that you already know that Fraser is only accessible by high clearance 4WD, but trust us, you'll need it. The sand is soft and deep in places and some of the inland tracks are rough and rutted.


Getting on the barge to Fraser Island, 4WD rental car

***Note - Due to QLD law rental vehicles going to Fraser do not come with Roof Top Tents. Instead we will supply quality ground tents. Click HERE for more info.


Fraser Island West Coast via Hervey Bay

A Little over 3 hours (286kms) from Brisbane Airport, this route will see you catch the barge from River Heads, 20 mins south of the township of Hervey Bay. Three barge services operate daily to Wanggoolba creek (southern end of the west coast) and five daily services operate to King Fisher Bay Resort. Prices range between $195 and $220 return per vehicle and can be booked via the Fraser Island Ferry Website.

Fraser Island East Coast via Inskip

The most popular route to Fraser Island takes you via the town of Rainbow Beach to catch the barge from Inskip Point, about 3 hours (249kms) from Brisbane Airport. Manta Ray Barges operate every half hour from 6am until 5pm every day of the year. The trip will cost approx. A$160 return for the average 4WD and take about 15 minutes. Tickets can be purchased onboard the barge or by contacting Manta Ray Barges


Tip: Make sure you deflate your tires before hitting the sand (18psi is recommended) and shift into high range 4WD (4H Part Time in our Jeeps). You don't want to be the one bogged on the beach right in front of the barge.


If you arrive from Inskip and the tide is high or rising, use the inland track that will take you the Dilli Village as beach access from Hook point is impassable.


Beach Driving


The Fraser Island coast line is nothing short of spectacular and driving on its wide open beaches is one of the highlights of a trip to the island. However there are a few things you'll need to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. We recommend staying in High Range 4WD (4H Part Time in our Jeeps) whilst on the sand and if you follow these rules, you shouldn't have any problems.

Jeep Gladiator 4WD rental in Eastern Beach on Fraser Island

Tides: Much of Fraser becomes impassable at high tide and you should never attempt to drive.

  • Know when high tide is due;

  • Don't drive on the beach 3 hours before or until 2 hours after high.

If you get bogged close to the top of a tide (high), it is likely that help will not arrive as other drivers will be too scared of also getting bogged trying to help you out.


Road rules apply: Normal road rules apply on Fraser Island and are enforced by Police stationed on the island. Expect them to stop you for a breath test or to check your speed or driving permits. Max speed on Fraser is 80km/h.


Tire pressures down: The number one rule for beach driving. Tire pressures, tire pressures, tire pressures! Let your tires down to 18psi before you hit the sand. If you get bogged an need a little extra traction, let them down a little lower (no lower than 12psi, go very slow and inflate them back to 18psi as soon as you are out).


Kept Left and Indicate: It's not only the law but it courtesy to other drivers. When you meet an oncoming car on the beach, keep left and put your left indicator on to let them know you have seen them and are staying left.


Don't drive through salt water: With the exception of slowly and safely traversing the numerous (freshwater) shallow washouts/creeks on Fraser at low tide, always stay well clear of the ocean/salt water. Do not cross creeks at high tide.


Fraser Island Washouts
Fraser Island Washout

Watch for washouts: Make no mistake, hitting these at speed will cause significant damage to your vehicle and have caused fatalities in the past. Washouts, ruts, undulations and rocks are almost impossible to see on the beach until you are right on top of them. Slow down and keep an eye out for them at all times.


East Coast


Eastern Beach - Hook Pont to Indian Head


The eastern beach of Fraser Island is the main beach and is approximately 90kms long. It will take about 2 hours to drive from the barge at Hook Point all the way to Indian Head in the north on low tide and a safe pace.


Eastern Beach is a gazetted highway with a maximum speed limit of 80km/h. At low tide it is an easy drive however there are numerous washouts to keep an eye out for as well as two landing zones for aircraft.

Poyungan Rocks Fraser Island
Poyungan Rocks

At high tide, there are bypass tracks at Poyungan Rocks and Yidney rocks which are steep, rocky and single lane only. You'll need to wait for traffic if it is busy but if you tackle them at a slow, steady pass they are easy to pass.


Along the way you'll pass camp zones 1 to 7 as well as many of the small permanent villages on Fraser. You will also pass the popular destinations of Maheno wreck and Eli Creek. Both are must see destinations with Eli Creek being a must do day trip with a day spent swimming in the crystal clear fresh water (Note: Do not try to cross Eli Creek at or approaching high tide)

Overlander Adventures 4WD hire at Meheno Wreck on Fraser Island
Maheno Wreck Fraser Island

Indian Head to Orchid Beach


You will reach the first cutting at Indian Head which can get a little soft when it has been dry and exposed to heavy traffic. Make sure you are in 4WD before you cross the soft sand onto and through the cutting. Keep momentum up, without going too fast and you won't have any trouble getting through. From here there is a short beach drive to get to the Waddy bypass track, onto Waddy point and Orchid Beach.


Again, before crossing the soft sand onto the Waddy bypass track, make sure you are in High Range 4WD. From the start, it's a slow and steady climb past Champagne pools and on to Waddy Point. Driving will be slow and traction shouldn't be a problem but the track has some deep ruts and is soft in places so go slow. Be prepared for cars in front to get bogged, particularly those towing campers those who might have forgotten to let their tires down.


After a couple of kilometers you'll reach a cross road. On the left is the rubbish dump, to the right is the track into the Waddy Point camp ground and straight on takes you to Orchid Beach township where you can get fuel and enjoy a cold drink and a meal at the hotel.


Orchid Beach to Ngkala Rocks

It's a relatively short drive along a wide open section of beach from Orchid Beach to Ngkala rocks bypass track. Whilst the Sand Cape at the northern end of Fraser is beautiful, it is a small section of the island and due to the nature and dangers posed by crossing the very challenging and notorious bypass track we do not recommend going any further.


Note: rental vehicles are prohibited from travelling along the track and past Ngkala Rocks due its dangerous nature.


Orchid Beach to Wathumba Spit


The road through Orchid Beach town will take you on the 16km journey to Wathumba Spit, an isolated but very beautiful inlet on the western side of Fraser. The track is the only way in and out, can by rough in places and will take about an hour to traverse.


West Coast

As mentioned earlier you can arrive on the West Coast by barge from Hervey Bay to either Kingfisher Bay or Wanggoolba Creek. Beach driving is limited on much of the west coast so if you arrive this way the only way to travel up and down the island is via the inland tracks or by crossing to the east coast and driving along the beach.


Be aware that many of the inland tracks, whilst crossing spectacular inland rainforest country, are quite rough and it will be slow going most of the way. Your average speed will be around 20 km/h. Kingfisher Bay to the township of Eurong for example (22kms) will take you at least an hour.


Many visitors to Fraser arrive on the East Coast and cross to the West coast via the inland tracks, camping at some of the many camp zones between Moon point and Towoi Creek. We highly recommend this as the evening sunsets over the bay are nothing short of amazing.


Be aware that the west coast is considered remote. There are no facilities and you will need to be fully self sufficient.


Tip: Bring mozie coils and repellant as the midgies on the west coast can be bad.


Important: If you are travelling on Fraser don't forget the tide times. The last thing you want is to be heading back to camp after a day out only find it is high tide when you get close and are forced to wait hours to get back to your campsite.


Download your Fraser Island Map here


fraser-island-map (1)
.pdf
Download PDF • 391KB

Where to Camp

Sunset Camping on Fraser Island, Overlander Adventures 4x4 Camper Rental

OK so this will depend on who is with you, how much time you have and what must see destinations are on your list. We intend on doing a comprehensive review of all Fraser Island campgrounds in the future so for now we will keep it brief.


The majority of visitors camping on Fraser will stay between Camp Zones 3 and 7 on eastern beach as these offer better access to all of the major spots such as Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek, Maheno wreck and the Champagne pools. If you only have a few days, we recommend staying within these zones.


If you want to stay close to Lake McKenzie then zones 1 to 3 are best and if you want to stay off the beach then head for Central Station which is positioned amongst the beautiful rainforest near Lake McKenzie.


If you want a couple of nights on the east coast and a couple on the west then zone 5 or 6 are best and then head for Woralie, Bowarrady or Awinya Creek camps on the West.


If you have children or don't want to be hassled by Dingos, there are camp grounds with Dingo fences located at Dilli Village, Central Station, Cathedrals, Dundubara and Waddy Point. Each of these locations also have toilets and some have showers ($2 coin operated).


Dingos

Dingos are native to Fraser Island and although not prevalent, can be found almost anywhere. The last time we were there, there were Dingos sitting on the beach within a few kilometers of being dropped by the barge.


Dingos are highly protected and you must not interact with them in any way. Most importantly, never give them food or encourage them to eat. In fact if you are caught doing so, you will be fined, even for throwing them a fish you just caught off the beach.


In order to prevent Dingos from foraging and coming into your camp, make sure all rubbish, food and other items they might pick up (including shoes) are locked away in your vehicle when leaving your camp unattended or at night when you go to bed.


Finally, while there have been incidents of dingo attacks, they are rare. To prevent attacks always keep an eye on small children and if you are approached by Dingos, do not make any sudden movements and get into your car.


Things to See and Do


Check out the Maheno Wreck

The Maheno, the most famous of the Fraser Island wrecks, was driven ashore just north of Happy Valley during a cyclone in 1935. Once a well-known trans-Tasman liner, the Maheno was bound for a Japanese wrecking yard when she met her stormy end. Today the hull lies slowly deteriorating in the harsh salt environment, about 10 kilometres north of Happy Valley.


The Maheno is a great piece of Australian history and is a must see for those visiting Fraser Island.


Float down Eli Creek

Eli Creek, the largest creek on the eastern beach of Fraser Island, pours up to four million litres of clear, fresh water into the ocean every hour. Eli Creek is a popular picnic and swimming spot, with a boardwalk that follows the creek inland through banksia and pandanus. Swimming or floating down the swiftly flowing creek from the bridge at the far end of the boardwalk is an invigorating experience.

Take care when driving through the creek on the beach, as its fast-flowing water can gouge out deep channels. At high tide it’s best to take a break and go for a swim until you can cross the creek at the lower end of the beach.


Visit Lake Mckenzie

There are many different aspects to Fraser Island, but the awe-inspiring beauty of Lake McKenzie makes it probably the most visited natural site on the island. It is a ‘perched’ lake, which means it contains only rainwater, no groundwater, is not fed by streams and does not flow to the ocean. The sand and organic matter at the base of the lake form an impervious layer, preventing rainwater from draining away.


The sand here is pure, white silica and is not only beautiful to look at but feels beautifully soft to walk on. The sand acts as a filter, giving the water its clarity and helping to make the water so pure it can support very little life. The blues and greens of the lake are endlessly fascinating and it’s well worth getting up early to look across it in the soft light of dawn.


There are great hikers camping facilities here and toilets and cold showers nearby.


Shops, Facilities & Fuel


Toilets

Toilets can be found all of the townships as well as at or near camp grounds at Lake Boomanjin, Lake Birrabeen, Ungowa, Central Station, Wanggoolba Creek, Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby, Happy Valley, Eli Creek, Cathedrals, Dundubara, Middle Rocks, Waddy Point and Orchid Beach.


Showers

Waddy Point ($2 coin operated), Dundubara ($2 coin operated), Central Station ($2 coin operated), Cathedrals (private camp ground), Dilli Village (private camp ground).


Waste Facilities

South of Cornwells camping area, south of the Maheno camping area, north of dundubara (Red Canyon), and near the Orchid Beach township.


Fuel

Fuel is not cheap on Fraser for obvious reasons so make sure you fill your tank before you hit the barge. There are several places on the East coast that you can buy unleaded and diesel (we paid $2.75 per liter for ULP last time we were there). These include Eurong, Happy Valley, The Cathedrals and Orchid Beach.


Shops

Eurong - General store, bar, cafe/bistro and fuel (diesel and unleaded).

Happy Valley - General store, bar, cafe/bistro and fuel (diesel and unleaded).

Cathedrals - General store, bottle shop and fuel (diesel and unleaded).

Orchid Beach - General store, bar, cafe/bistro and fuel (diesel and unleaded).


4WD Hire for Fraser Island


If you don't own a 4WD then renting a 4x4 for Fraser Island will allow you to explore this amazing paradise. Once you've decided on the type of 4WD hire car, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure that the vehicle you choose is in excellent condition and will be reliable enough to give you the confidence to explore far and wide;

  • Check to see where you can and can't go on Fraser. Some destinations are not allowed such as north of Ngkala Rocks.

  • Check the fine print to see how well you are covered. Insurance doesn't cover everything (like water immersion) and roadside assist is not available on Fraser Island which means if you break down, you will have to pay to be recovered.

Finally, we truly hope you join the many thousands of visitors to Fraser each year and experience all of its magical wonders.


No Roof Top Tents on Fraser Island


QLD law prohibits Roof Top Tents on Rental Vehicles, on Fraser Island (Private vehicles are OK). In fact Rental Vehicles are not allowed to carry anything on the roof on Fraser and if they do, it is a $400+ fine for the driver.


Click HERE to view the QLD legislation.


So when you hire a 4WD for Fraser Island from Overlander Adventures, we will supply you with a quick set-up ground tent and inflatable mattresses instead. If you are worried about animals, our experience is that many, many visitors to Fraser sleep on the ground in swags and tents and never have a problem. Give us a call and chat to us if you would like more information.


****Editors Note ****

We know that our pictures show our vehicles on Fraser with Roof-Top-Tents. These were taken by us during testing. We hope to update the photos soon :)








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