Weekend spare coming up? Need a quick island getaway? Well, look no further because K’gari (Fraser Island), just a 3.5-hour drive north of Brisbane has got the goods… I mean, K’gari literally translates to paradise. With so much to see and do on this sand island (that’s the world’s largest to you), we’ve already done all the hard work for you and planned the perfect self-drive Fraser Island trip, so all you have to do is pack the kids up into the 4WD and hit the sand!
- Reef safe sunscreen
- Swimmers and pool floaty (we’ll explain later)
- Waterproof camera
- Reef shoes and snorkel
- Insect repellent
- Extra food and drinking water
- Spare fuel and 4WD recovery kit
- Check the weather and tides to plan your trip
- Vehicle Access Permit and check-in with Park alerts before you leave
SATURDAY – LET’S GET BEACHED
6:45AM: Barge to Fraser Island
Your adventure starts at the Fraser Island Barge and Ferry services at River Heads. A 20-minute drive south of Hervey Bay, this is one of the main entry points to the island. As you cruise through the Great Sandy Straits, remember to keep your eyes peeled for marine life including dolphins, dugongs and turtles.
*Services run daily and depart 6:45am, 9am, 1pm, and 3:30pm. Read more about how to get there.
8:30AM: Dingoes, Planes & Automobiles?
Get buckled in for a cruise down Australia’s most beautiful National Highway. 75 Mile Beach, as the name suggests, consists of a 75-mile stretch of uninterrupted coastal views. Drive safely, stick to the speed limit (80km/h) and make sure you avoid making a common boo-boo and stay up to date on the tide times and avoid driving within 2-hours each side of high tide.
Watch for whales breaching off the coast from July through to October as well as wild-roaming wongari (dingoes), other 4WDs, beach fishermen, other holiday goers and Air Fraser Island‘s seaplanes. How good is your multitasking?
9AM: Stairway to Heaven
Make sure you don’t drive past road trip stop #1 because we’re calling it: nature’s best waterpark is right here at Eli Creek. Remember how we were talking about that pool floaty? Well, that and your swimmers are about all that you’ll need here, that and some great company and of course your sense of adventure.
There is a reason why Eli Creek is a must-do on any Fraser Island bucket list. It is one of the largest flowing bodies of freshwater on the island. Don’t believe us? It runs over 4-million litres of water through its mouth and out into the ocean every. single. hour. #science
11AM: Get Wrecked
The extremely photogenic S.S. Maheno Shipwreck was one of the world’s first turbine steamers (don’t worry – we don’t know what that means either) but her impressive presence on 75 Mile Beach leaves us in no wonder why she makes it into our #FraserIsland itinerary. She became shipwrecked on the island back in 1935 after a towing expedition went not-so-according-to-plan (any good 4WDer will know the value of proper tow equipment) and has been instaworthy ever since.
Any photographer (amateur included!) will love to capture the interesting angles and light hitting one of the only human-made historic sites on the island, or there is always the classic “ohwhattafeeling” Toyota jump (which, let’s be honest, you can’t really go wrong with). Either way, you’re going to ship it.
11:30AM: 50 Shades of Red, Yellow and Orange
Stop #3 leads us to the colourful sands that make up what’s known as The Pinnacles. Over 70 different colours of sand granules have been counted (no not by us), with impressive shades of reds, yellows and oranges framing the picturesque landscape.
The Pinnacles will give you a literal glimpse of history in the making of this magnificent island, with the sand formations gathering for over hundreds of thousands of years through natural forces such as wind and rain. Butchulla Legend tells us that these formations are a result of Rainbow Serpent sacrificing himself to protect his lover from her jealous husband. Either way, what we do know is that there is no shortage of rich history and beauty at this special place.
12:30PM: Champagne Shower
A couple of kilometres north of Indian Head (follow the Indian Head Bypass), you will find Champagne Pools. The rock pools are a collective group of tranquil swimming holes that fill with salty ‘froth’ at each crashing wave, which leaves you with the impression that you are swimming in a big ol’ bubbly glass of champagne. #cheers
The crystal clear rock pools hold a unique collection of marine life, including small fish, crustaceans and colourful sea sponges – so water babies remember to bring your snorkels along with you. The pools can become quite sharp to walk on, so this would be a great place to pull out those reef shoes. Be aware not to swim during the high tide or walk along the edges of the pools as large, rogue waves are common and can be extremely dangerous, even for strong swimmers.
*Please note tide times and other restrictions may prevent access to Champagne Pools. It is important to take into consideration tide times and other relevant information when planning your trip.
5PM: Rest and Recharge
So by now, after all of that swimming, exploring and selfie-taking, you’ll probably be wanting somewhere to kick back and relax for the evening. There are multiple options available, depending on whether you are a bit of a camper or a glamper. For those wanting to bring the comforts of home with them, then Eurong Resort has got you sorted. And if you really want to treat yourself (what are holidays for?!), you can check into Kingfisher Bay Resort, who offer multiple accommodation options available if you’re feeling a little bit #fancy.
If you’re looking to stargaze and get back to basics, then there are multiple zones available on the island for any happy camper. Eastern beach camping zones include fenced areas (recommended for families with children 14 years and younger) equipped with toilets and other luxuries at Central Station, Dundubara, Waddy Point (top end), Lake Boomanjin and Cornwells. The eastern beaches include 9 other free camping zones from Dilli Village north to Sandy Cape, suitable for self-contained campers only (no facilities) and providing visitors with the opportunity to truly get back to nature and get away from it all.
SUNDAY – INSIDER SCOOP
9AM: Lake Wabby
Rise and shine! It’s time to head inland. First stop, Lake Wabby. Now we must warn you, those wanting to bask in the glorious emerald-coloured waters of Lake Wabby must overcome the short (but serious) walk up the nearby sand dunes – but we promise the views make it all worthwhile! There are two hiking options available, depending on your level of fitness.
The main walk starts from the carpark, a 2.4km hike that will take approximately 40-minutes to complete. For a shorter stroll, drive past the One Tree Rocks access to Cornwells Break road for your 1.5km hike to the top. Once you reach the top of Hammerstone Sandblow, you are rewarded with not only epic panoramic views, but the opportunity to plunge into the deep greens of Lake Wabby below.
Fun Fact: Hammerstone Sandblow created Lake Wabby when it became so large it cut off a nearby creek system and will continue to move into Lake Wabby’s banks until it disappears completely!
12:30PM: The historic heart of K’gari
Keeping the green-theme alive, our next stop brings us to Central Station. You can certainly learn a thing or two about the past of the island by visiting Central Station. The historic heart of the K’gari, Central Station was originally established as a forestry camp last century, where over 30 houses and a local school once stood.
Share a picnic at the day-use area, explore the remains of the cottages and information panels, and don’t forget to look up at the jaw-dropping ancient rainforest canopies that surround you – the only one of its kind in the world growing completely out of the sand!
After lunch, follow along the boardwalk and visit the pristine Wanggoolba Creek, with tranquil crystal clear waters once used as a sacred birthing site for the Butchulla people. Here you will find unique flora and fauna found nowhere else on the island (including the rare king fern), the perfect place to rest and recharge after a busy morning!
2PM: Jewel of Fraser
Last but certainly not least, Lake McKenzie never fails to be a crowd-pleaser, and we are here to give the people what they want. The Butchulla tribe know the area as Boorangoora, meaning ‘waters of wisdom’ and the striking blue colours of the perched lake leaves visitors forever talking about this hidden gem.
The freshwater is the perfect place to cool off after a long, hot day of driving, hiking and exploring and the picturesque landscape will stay with you long after you leave the island. The pure white, silica sands are also the perfect solution to buff up your jewellery after a long weekend of exploring (because what can’t it do?!).
Join the club of over 50k and share your quintessential frolicking shot #lakemckenzie, because did you even go to Fraser Island if you didn’t snap a photo at Lake McKenzie?
5PM: Barge from Kingfisher
Now that you have completed our #FraserIsland bucket list, unfortunately, it’s time to head home. Follow the inland tracks back to Kingfisher Bay Resort, and hop on the 5pm barge back to River Heads in Hervey Bay. Unless afternoon cocktails at the Sandbar Beach have caught your eye… remember it’s not too late to chuck a sickie on Monday.