Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and a world heritage site with a remarkably complex ecosystem. Its scale, vistas, diversity of experiences and special animals make it a place of exceptional beauty. We experienced Fraser Island by 4WD self drive and this gave us the opportunity to explore the island and its beauty by ourselves. Read more about our highlights and useful tips for your Fraser Island trip.
Our 4 day camping adventure on Fraser Island is one of the most spectacular travel experiences we have ever made. The combination of precious nature, exhilarating 4WD drives through narrow rain forest tracks and along an endless white beach together with the remoteness made us feel so close to nature. This trip was clearly the highlight of our Australia trip.
Self Drive, Tag Along Tour or Bus Tour to Explore Fraser Island?
There are many ways to explore Fraser Island. Most people visit by joining big bus tours or smaller tag along tours for 2 to 3 days. During the tag along tour, you have the opportunity to drive a 4WD car on Fraser Island while following a guide in a lead vehicle. It is a more exciting way to see Fraser Island than joining a bus tour. However, the most adventurous option is to rent a 4WD car so you can explore the island by yourself at your own preferred pace.
We did a lot of research before making the decision to do self driving because neither of us had driven a 4WD car “off road” before. We read about people getting bogged down in the sand and this made us hesitant about self driving. After talking to 4WD rental companies in Hervey Bay we got in contact with Ash & Jane at Fraser Dingo who told us they could make us a customised itinerary according to the prevailing weather conditions, ocean swell and tides, making it safe and easy for everybody to drive on Fraser Island.
The eastern beach is your highway on Fraser Island and most of the highlights are found along this long stretch of sand. However, it is only safe to drive on the beach around low tide, but there is more to driving on Fraser Island than just the tides. Knowing the driving times between sights, ocean swell, the inland road conditions etc is just as important and so we found it very helpful to have a detailed itinerary with all the sights for our trip.
Our Highlights on Fraser Island
See which places we visited during our four day camping adventure on Fraser Island. Thanks to Fraser Dingo we really experienced a lot during this short time. We could have stayed forever at this precious place of nature.
Relax and Sunbath in Cristal-clear Water at Lake McKenzie
If you have ever heard of Fraser Island before, you have probably seen the beautiful white sand beach and the crystal clear water of lake McKenzie on pictures. We had never seen such a beautiful lake before. It really looks more like the Maldives than a lake. This one of the highlights of Fraser Island so many people and tour groups come here. Lake McKenzie does tend to get crowded, but the beach is quite big so there is enough space for everybody. If you want to enjoy a little bit more privacy you can walk to the left site for about 10 minutes and you will find a second smaller “secret” beach.
Take a Refreshing Bath at Eli Creek
A great place to hang out on the beach and go swimming without the stingers and sharks. Eli Creek comes out of the forest and leads into the ocean so you can sunbath on the beach. The water is much cooler than the ocean but it feels amazing to dive into it in the heat of the day. Like lake McKinzie, it can also get crowded during day time but just walk up stream for a couple of minutes and you will find yourself alone with just the crystal clear creek and the rain forest. As we were enjoying the refreshing waters, we saw three dingos chasing each other to protect their territory.
Eli Creek is also a good place to take a bath. The beach camp sites don’t offer any facilities so if you need a shower during your camping trip, this is your opportunity. But remember no soap (park regulation) and be careful as there are mosquitos hiding in the forest.
Admire the Maheno Ship Wreck
Shortly after passing Eli Creek, you will come across a big ship wreck on the beach. It is quite impressive to see this huge trans-Tasman liner eroding in the waves. It is now too dangerous to go inside the wreck, but walking along it gives you a real Titanic feeling. The S.S. Maheno was beached in 1935 during a cyclone.
Spot Sharks from Indian Head
After driving more than 60km up the beautiful east coast beach of Fraser Island you arrive at Indian Head. Park your car in front of the hill and make your way up to the top. From there you are rewarded with spectacular views over two beautiful beaches on either side and the blue ocean. If it is crowded, wait shortly and suddenly you are alone as the tour groups continue on their busy schedules. Take some time to enjoy the silence and remoteness at Indian Head. You don’t need to wait long to spot some shark, rays or turtles. We spent almost an hour on there and saw three large sharks, five big rays and a turtle.
Swim in Salt Water Champagne Pools
After enjoying the views from Indian Head, take a walk along the northern beach to get to the famous Champagne Pools for a swim in salt water. While tempting, it is dangerous to swim in the blue waters off Fraser island, just think of the big sharks you just spotted at Indian Head and the marine stingers that lurk out at sea. For a sea water swim, wait until you reach the refreshing Champagne Pools. They look really spectacular from above and if you come closer you will see that there are plenty of fish in the pools.
Hike on Top of a Sand Blow and Enjoy the Singing of Tropical Birds
There are lots of sand blows on Fraser Island so don’t miss to step into the desert. Ash recommended us to visit the Wungu sand blow which you can access from Dundubara campsite. Just follow the signs to the Wungu walking track. It is just a short distance until you find your own private desert. As we visited we had the whole place all to ourself. Walking up the sand blow offers amazing views over Fraser Island and the ocean. Sitting on top of the sand blow and listening to the birds was one of our personal highlights. We could have stayed there forever, but all the other places also needed exploring.
Swim with Turtles at Lake Allom
Fraser Island has more than 100 lakes and lake Allom is a very special one because it is populated by fresh water turtles. The way to the lake is very bumpy and leads through thick rain forest, almost like in Jurassic Park. Driving with a 4WD car on such roads is really fun. After arriving at the lake we found a quiet place surrounded by big trees and thick reed. After the bumpy ride it was refreshing to jump into the cooling lake water. However, this commotion scared away all the turtles, afterwards we needed to wait still on the dock for them to dare come out of hiding. They are very shy so you really need to be quiet and not make any sudden movements in the water for them to come out. We saw about seven coming closer to inspect us. The moment they poke their heads above the surface, you can hear them breathing calmly.
Run Down the Dunes and Jump into the Refreshing Water of Lake Wabby
Another iconic lake on Fraser Island is lake Wabby. It takes about 45 mins to walk there from the beach. The walk leads through forest and all out of sudden you find yourself in a big sand blow. They path continues through the desert landscape for about 10 minutes until you reach a little hill and from top, Lake Wabby appears with breathtaking jungle in the background. After walking in the autumn heat, we couldn’t wait to run down the dune and jump into the water. Lake Wabby is an amazing place to relax, sunbath and hang out for a while. If you walk to the very right of the dune you will be totally alone, surrounded by the sounds of the jungle.
Discover a Secret Lake in the Jungle
Not many people come here or even know about Basin lake. Luckily we go all our inside info from Ash at Fraser Dingo, who knows all the hidden gems. To reach the lake you normally need to hike 2.5km from the Central Station Campsite or 4km from Lake McKinzie. However, there is also a hidden car park which is a short 5 min walk from this lake. As we arrived at the lake, we were immediately taken by its beauty. A white sandy beach, clear water and in the middle of the forest with nobody around. It looks like a smaller version of lake McKinzie. This lake has more nutrition so the underground is a bit greenish and you will find a lot more wildlife here.
Go for a Beach Walk in the Moonlight
Fraser Island has accommodation to suit everybody, resorts, organised campsites with dingo fences as well as “wild” beach camping in designated zones along most of the east coast. We told Ash at Fraser Dingo that we preferred to stay at remote camp sites and he designed our itinerary accordingly.
Camping on the endless eastern beach on Fraser Island was very special. We have visited many places but we never felt so far from civilisation as during the evenings at Fraser Island. Every evening was something out of the movie Castaway. After cooking and eating dinner under the stars, we had long walks on the beach in the moonlight and this was so incredible. During the time we were on Fraser Island, the moon was really bright and the strong moonlight made everything look surreal, like walking in a dream. So magical that it is very hard to describe, you need to experience it by yourself. The serenity, the feeling of being so small under an infinite starry sky, seeing the milky way while standing on a huge moonlit beach and hearing the sound of the waves.
Wildlife Encounter with Dingos
Fraser Island would not be as exciting without the wild dingos living there. We were happy to see some every day strolling through the wild. It is always special to have the opportunity to spot wild animals in their natural environment. Even though the dingos look very cute, we should remember that these are wild animals and that we are visitors in their territory. Dingos are an integral part of the Fraser Island ecosystem and we should not interfere in their lives by feeding them or polluting their natural environment with waste. In the past, people fed dingos on Fraser Island and some dingos came to rely on food from humans. When they did not get enough food, the dingos would get aggressive and bite people. Sadly these dingos had to be killed for public safety. So always follow the advices on the signs around the island. Be Dingo Safe! Lock away your food and secure your rubbish in the car. Also don’t run on the island as this can get the dingos riled up and then they start chasing you. For safety it is always better to walk in groups and if you have kids, always camp behind Dingo fences. We never had any problems with dingos by keeping a healthy distance and following these simple rules.
Fraser Dingo Helped us to Make the Most of our Trip to Fraser Island
We had an excellent experience with Fraser Dingo 4WD hire and we felt that the team was very professional and knowledgeable. Ash, who designed our itinerary has been guide on Fraser for many years and knows the island like the back of his hand. Before going to the island, he gave us a very detailed briefing about the predicted driving conditions during our 4 day trip, taking winds, ocean swell, tides and the status of the inland roads into account. Most importantly, from the tide and weather forecast, he calculated the time window each day when it was safe for us to drive on the beach. Following Ash’s advice, we were well prepared for self driving, we never came close to getting stuck in the sand and had an amazing time on Fraser Island. Moreover, we would have missed out on many of the above mentioned highlights, had Ash not put them in our itinerary.
We also really liked that Ash and Jane have the same passion for protecting the environment as we do. We were happy to learn that they were the first company in Australia that is actually doing composting and it is always nice to talk to likeminded people. Fraser Dingo is eco certified and is doing a great job promoting eco tourism to keep Fraser Island beautiful for future generations. All Fraser Dingo info material helps travellers reduce their impact on the environment during their visit and leaving nothing but their footsteps on Fraser Island. Most things are common sense, but would you have thought about limiting the use of soap and shampoo during your visit? As Roland and I are No-Pooers we didn’t have any problem with that. Also for washing our dishes, we just used salt water and it worked fine.
I used to collect shells on the beach, now I leave the shell where they belong and collect plastic trash instead. On the first look, Fraser Island looks rather clean, but if you take a closer look you will find plastic waste everywhere. Most of it is is not left by visitors and I believe that most people who visit this precious place want to keep it beautiful and take care of their rubbish. The pollution is coming with every high tide from the ocean. Every morning after sunrise, we had a walk along the beautiful beach and collected some trash. We didn’t really come very far until our trash box was full with ropes, plastic bottles, bags, caps from allover the world. We even found a Chinese container for cooking oil. So if you are in the nature next time, be the change and collect some trash instead of shells, sand or other things which does not belong in your home. I believe if everybody contributes a little bit we can make change happen.
Also check our drone video: