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Driving and exploring with a 4WD on Fraser Island is definitely the ultimate adventure for those who love being outdoors and remote. Known as the largest sand island in the world and located on the East Coast of Australia, Fraser Island has a lot to offer.
Picture yourself wandering in a rainforest with large ancient trees, driving on dirt sand tracks, and camping on the beach, or floating around in one of the 100 lakes on K’gari.
However there is much more to do and in this article, I will tell you about where to stay, how to get there, and the experiences from my 3-day itinerary of 4WD on Fraser Island.
Some facts about K’gari Island
A few facts about Fraser Island that make it even more special and attractive to visit.
- The island is named by the indigenous as K’gari, which means ‘Paradise’
- It is the largest island in the world formed by sand, with sand dunes over 240m.
- 75-Mile Beach is the ‘Highway of Fraser Island’ but also the landing strip for small planes.
- It’s the only place in the world where a rainforest grows on sand dunes
- It’s known for its large amount of lakes that are formed by rainwater in the dunes. Lake Boomanjin is even the largest perched lake in the world.
Before you go to Fraser Island
Visit the QPWS information center
Before you go to Fraser Island you’ll need to obtain a vehicle access permit, which you can get at the QPWS information center or online. I preferred to visit the information center to get the permits and some extra information as I planned to do this adventure by myself.
The information center is located just a few hundred meters before you enter the town of Rainbow Beach and it’s open from Monday to Friday from 8h00 till 16h00. The vehicle access permit cost about AU$ 55 for up to one month or you can even combine it with a visit to the Cooloola Recreation Area.
If you can’t go to the information center, visit the website of the Queensland Government, where you buy your permit, and find all the information that you’ll need to enter Fraser Island.
Get a Fraser Island map
WIFI or proper connection is pretty bad on the Island (except for the hotels and resorts), so I would recommend taking a paper map or downloading the detailed map below to help you out when you are driving on the Island without connection.
The Fraser Island map of the Queensland National Parks website is very detailed and I used this one to navigate around the Island. The highlights and campings on Fraser Island are marked very clearly which made it easy to use.
Check the tides!
Driving on a white soft sand beach is a unique experience but getting bogged with the tides coming up can ruin your adventure, so make sure you check the tides.
The rule on Fraser Island is to drive 2 hours after high tide (so when the water is going back) and not to drive anymore 2 hours before high tide (so make sure you arrive at a camping zone or a safe location along the beach where you can stay until the tide is going back again).
There are even some places like Eli Creek, that you cannot cross if the tides are high.
I recommend using Willyweather as it is very accurate and taking some screenshots of the days that you plan to go, in case you don’t have a connection on the island.
Before you go to Fraser Island
Before you go on this 3-day adventure make sure you are well prepared as it will make your stay more comfortable and easier. Some of the things you need to take with you or keep in mind are:
Get Enough Information From The Visitor Centre
While you can find most information about Fraser Island on their website, the QPWS visitor center in Rainbow beach is a great place to get more specific information about your tracks and camping zones. When I went there, they explained additional things like where it’s allowed to camp, which areas of the beach would be accessible during high tide, or which zones are closed due to bushfires.
Tip: Check the Website of Queensland National Parks regularly for updates
Obtain Your Permits
You will need a vehicle permit to take your car to the island. The permits can be obtained from the QPWS website and cost you about AU$54 for 3 days. You cannot drive on Fraser Island without a permit, so make sure you get this sorted out before you go.
Pack Insect Repellent
Sandflies are all over the place, and if you get bitten by one of these little insects, it will get itchy.
The sandflies are not dangerous, but they can be very annoying when camping at the beach overnight and it’s impossible to avoid them unless you stay inside your vehicle all day.
Let Someone Know Where You Are Going
Make sure someone (preferably your parents or relatives) knows where you are. If you’re using a mobile phone, make sure it’s charged before leaving the mainland! Some of the places do not have reception, and there is no way to get around that.
Take Some Cash With You
Of course, the most important thing is that you bring enough money with you to buy your daily permits and food for cooking (with a proper cooker). There are ATMs but only in the resort and it is often empty, so make sure you bring some cash with you.
However I was able to pay in the shop at Eurong and the bar at Happy Valley with a credit card and except for fuel, all the things to do on Fraser Island in this article were free.
Bring Enough Food
You will need to bring your own food if you want to save money or go camping in the bush. There are just a few shops and restaurants on the Island with basic items and products, which are very expensive as well, so make sure you stock up before leaving the mainland.
Don’t forget to store your food well as it may attract insects, reptiles, and dingoes.
Bring Enough Drinking Water
You’ll need at least 2-3 liters of water per day to keep yourself hydrated, especially when you do some walking trails on the Island. If you do some hikes or explore some beaches, this amount will increase dramatically. So make sure you have enough storage space for enough water!
At Eurong and Happy Valley, you can buy water and I even used water from the tap at the Dundubara Campground. (Check the detailed map or visit the QWPS center for more information)
Check Your Vehicle
Check your car thoroughly before leaving the mainland. This will help avoid any nasty surprises on Fraser Island, and you won’t have to pay for repairs on the island either! Make sure you have everything with you as well, as there is no way of getting more supplies once you’ve left the mainland.
Bring Spare Parts and tools
If you’re driving an off-road vehicle, it’s a good idea to bring some spare parts and tools with you. This includes things like a spare tire (or even 2 if you stay longer on the island), fan belts, a lug wrench, and spark plugs. Murphy’s law applies on the island, so if something does go wrong with your car, you’ll be glad you have the spare parts with you!
How to get to Fraser Island
4WD hire Fraser Island
To visit Fraser Island you’ll need a proper 4WD with high clearance as you might drive through creeks, loose sands, and dirt roads. In Rainbow beach are many 4WD rental companies where you can hire a 4×4 and the staff will give you an introduction on how to drive on Fraser Island.
The prices will depend on which company you choose but for a 3-day 4WD hire for Fraser Island, you can expect prices between AU$ 500-700.
I can not recommend any company as I went to K’gari with my own 4WD but here are some companies that are located in Rainbow Beach and offering great deals.
Photo credit: Fraser Dingo Hire
Go with your own 4WD to Fraser Island
If you want to go to Fraser Island with your own 4WD, I recommend doing a proper vehicle check-up before you go as there is no mechanic on Fraser Island. (In an emergency you will get help from the towing service in Eurong)
A check-up on the following things is easy to do by yourself (if you noticed any issues like weird sounds, go to a mechanic before entering Fraser Island)
- Tires and tire-pressure
- Cooling fluid
Tip: When driving on soft sand it is recommended to let your tire pressure down to 18-20 PSI. This will help you to prevent getting bogged.
What is the best time to visit Fraser Island?
The Island can be visited all year round but the best time to visit Fraser Island is Spring and Autumn when the temperatures are more comfortable and the chance of heavy rain showers is less.
Every season has its pros and cons depending on what you like to see.
Spring: September – November
- Pleasant temperatures
- Whale migration season
- Wildflower blooming season
Autumn: March – May
- Nice temperatures and cool nights
- Off-season and fewer tourists
Summer: December – February
- Warm temperatures
- Cyclone season
- Peak season & holidays
Winter: June – August
- Average temperatures
- Cold nights
- Might be too cold for swimming
Where to stay on Fraser Island
You can camp in the designated areas along the beach for only AU$ 6,5/night. Surrounded by sand dunes without water, power, or toilets, this is the ultimate camping experience for the real outdoor lover.
Besides the bushcamps, there are also fenced campgrounds on Fraser Island, which are in more controlled areas and have basic toilets, picnic tables, and some even an area for dishwashing and hot showers.
And if you are really not into camping, you can book private accommodation around the island or in one of the few resorts. The resorts have often great deals or packages to visit Fraser Island such as the Eurong Beach Resort
Tip: Download the Fraser Island map to see more details and locations of the places to stay on Fraser Island.
Wildlife on Fraser Island
Fraser Island is home to many different species of wildlife with Dingoes as its most unique one. Dingoes are actually wild dogs, roaming all over the Island, so be aware of them, while birds and reptiles are trying to find their food around campsites and picnic areas.
You’ll find also some amazing wildlife along Fraser’s coastline, such as dolphins, sharks, and during the season, whales are passing by.
Day 1: Permits & barging to Fraser Island
Inskip Point & Hook Point
It was 9 AM in the morning and I was ready for a 3-day adventure of 4WD on Fraser Island. First things first, so I went to the QPWS information center to get my permits and more information about K’gari Island.
The lovely lady behind the counter of the information center helped me out to obtain the vehicle permits for Fraser Island and the Cooloola Recreation Area. She also explained more about the tides, the environment, and the local inhabitants of the island, the Dingoes, while is I was waiting for the next ferry from Inskip Point.
As it was high tide, I had to wait 2 more hours before Hookpoint was accessible for the ferry and the vehicles.
Tip: More information about the permits and prices can be found on the website of Queensland National Park
Around noon, I went to Inskip Point where the Ferry to Fraser Island was about to leave with 20 cars on it, and where I dropped the tire pressure down to 20 PSI before entering the ferry.
As soon as the ferry was filled with all the vehicles and everyone paid his ticket (AU$ 130 return ticket), we left to Hook Point on Fraser Island.
After 15 minutes, the ferry arrived at Hook Point and I drove along the beach and sand dunes to Eurong, the first village on Fraser Island with a local shop, a resort, and a fuel station.
From Eurong, I drove inland to the main highlight of this 3-day adventure on Fraser Island, Lake Mckenzie.
This breathtaking freshwater lake – also Boorangoora is known as the most visited lake because of its coloration and organic existence. The ‘clouds’ of white sand in its pure blue water form a rustic and calm scene. This lake only consists of rainwater, sand, and organic matter.
It is also the best place for an afternoon swim as the ocean around Fraser Island is dangerous to swim in. There are a lot of sharks, jellyfish, and strong currents. So the freshwater lakes are the only places on Fraser Island where you can swim.
I spent the afternoon at Lake Mckenzie and drove back to the beach before high tide to stay at camping zone 1, which I booked in advance.
Tip: All the camping zones and areas with details are marked on the map of Fraser Island that you can download in this article.
Day 2: Exploring Fraser Island
The first morning on Fraser Island and I woke up with the sound of the waves and raindrops falling on the roof of my Toyota Landcruiser. The tide was coming up, so I prepared some delicious breakfast and send the drone out to get some pictures from a different perspective.
Around 9.30, I was able to leave the campsite and drove to the next highlight, Lake Wabby.
Lake Wabby is a green freshwater lake formed by sand dunes and surrounded by the lush green rainforest of Fraser Island. This amazing green lake will slowly disappear once the dunes take over and it’s surrounded by lots of different trees and sand. It’s also the only lake on the island where there are several species of fish.
From the Parking area, it is a short walk to the panoramic lookout over Lake Wabby, and on the left side is the start of the 4km walking track down to the lake. The weather was a bit too cold to have a swim but obviously, I took some photos.
75-Mile Beach is located on the Eastern side of Fraser Island and not so difficult to know where the name comes from. It’s also the highway of Fraser Island exclusive for 4 wheel drivers and an incredible experience to drive along.
When you want to visit some of the highlights on Fraser Island, such as Eli Creek, the SS Maheno Wreck, and the Champagne Pools, you will drive along 75-Mile Beach and enjoy an amazing coastal view on one side and a magnificent rainforest and sand dunes on the other side.
I continued my journey towards the next highlight on Fraser Island where I had to cross the Poyungan Rocks first. Once I passed this point, I could reach Happy Valley, which is another small village with a fuel station and a local shop/bar.
The Poyungan Rocks are blocking the drive on 75-Mile Beach and to continue you’ll need to drive partly inland and cross these rocks, which are very bumpy and sometimes sharp, so be careful.
I also recommend driving very carefully and slowly over these rocks because some holes are deeper than you might think, and the last thing you want is to get stuck with a broken car on Fraser Island.
Happy Valley is a great place to have a break and a coffee in the café/restaurant, before driving inland to Lake Garawongera. The drive to the lake is very rough and it takes a while to get there as you’ll drive at 10km/h however, the trip to Lake Garawongera is perhaps even more beautiful than the lake itself.
When I arrived at the parking area of Lake Garawongera, it started to rain again, so I decided to prepare my lunch at the picnic shelters until the rain stopped.
However it kept raining, I couldn’t leave this serene place without catching a glimpse of it, so I walked down the stairs to reach the beach and spent about 15 minutes here before I went back to the car.
Eli Creek is an impressive location that attracts many visitors because of its natural beauty. If you follow the wooden walk board to the end of the creek and then enter the water, you can float around and enjoy the peace and calmness of this place until you reach your car again.
It’s also the largest freshwater creek on the island and if you want to swim, picnic, or just float around in the water, this is the place to be on Fraser Island.
I had my lunch (which I prepared at Lake Garawongera) at the shore of Eli Creek and after taking a refreshing dip, it was time to continue before the tides came up again.
Make sure you arrive or leave at Eli Creek before high tide as you cannot cross the creek anymore.
SS Maheno Shipwreck
The remains of this former astonishing ship served as a hospital ship during World War One and are now Fraser Island’s most beautiful landmark attraction. The view of the Coral Sea in the background gives the wreck a different dimension. An amazing place to be photographed as you let the sea take you away from history. This incredible sight for sore eyes is truly a must-see!
Also, the perfect place to fly the drone and see the shipwreck from a different angle. or go closer with low tide and walk around the wreck, but be aware of the jellyfishes on the beach.
As the tides were coming back up and it started to rain, I decided to drive towards the Dundubara campground to cover from the rain and to stay for the night.
Day 3: The Champagne Pools and Rainbow Beach
Dundubar Camping on Fraser Island is an amazing campground with great facilities such as a basic kitchen area, hot showers (which cost AU$2), picnic areas, and firepits.
Actually, I booked a camping spot in a different camping zone on Fraser Island but as it started to pour down all of a sudden and the tides were coming up, I had to stay and shelter at the Dundubar Campsite. And I’m very happy I did because this campsite on Fraser Island is probably one of the best ones!
From the campground, you can follow a 2km walking track that leads to the stunning Wungul Sandblowes, which is one of the many big sand dunes on Fraser Island but this might be the most beautiful one.
Red Canyon & The Pinnacles
The Red Canyon & the Pinnacles on K’gari Island are a pretty unique part of the island and definitely worth to stop by. When you drive along the sand dunes and green lush bushes after you visited the SS Maheno Wreck, the landscape will change suddenly into dark red sand cliffs and rock formations.
Very obvious that I stopped to take some photos but even when I was driving past next to the Red Canyon, I couldn’t stop watching how beautiful it was.
The final stop was at Indian Head on K’gari Island. An amazing rock formation with stunning views over the ocean and the perfect place to spot whales during the season.
I didn’t spend much time here as the weather changed rapidly so I decided to drive back along 75-Mile Beach and catch the ferry to Rainbow Beach. Although it’s definitely worth visiting this place!
The Champagne Pools are probably the cherry on the cake of this 4WD on Fraser Island adventure and one of the most popular spots to visit. When the tides are coming up, the waves will crash onto the rocks and fill the rock pools so you can have a swim and relax here for hours waiting until the tides are going back again.
If you’re lucky, you might even spot some whales swimming by along the shoreline.
But unfortunately, due to controlled bushfires in this area of Fraser Island, I couldn’t visit the Champagne Pools. Nevertheless, you can not miss this spot! So make sure you’ll visit the website of Queensland National Parks for the latest updates on Fraser Island.
After a scenic 2-hour drive along 75-Mile Beach back to Hook Point, I took the ferry to return to the mainland of Australia, where I continued the journey along Rainbow Beach into the Cooloola Recreation Area.
Rainbow Beach is not only the gateway to Fraser Island but also a unique part of Australia and the Fraser Coast. One of the most incredible things overhere was watching the sunset at the Carlo San Blow, relaxing at Double Island Point and driving on the beach surrounded by epic views.
Great Sandy National Park
If you don’t have the time to visit Fraser Island and you are still looking for some beach-camping experience then is Cooloola Beach just perfect. Located in the Great Sandy National Park, this is a 60 km long beach where you drive along with a lot of camping zones in the dunes.
I drove from Rainbow Beach towards Noosa and stopped along the way at Double Island point before I continued to Cooloola Beach.
Tip: Make sure you have the permits before entering Rainbow Beach or Cooloola Beach as there is a camera-controlled section to cross the peninsula.
So, there you have it, the ultimate 4WD on Fraser Island itinerary! Fraser Island is the perfect place to relax and take it easy or to get out and explore everything that this unique Island has to offer. So have fun and enjoy your trip!
However, if you have any recommendations or tips to share with me, feel free to comment below.
Plan your 4WD on Fraser Island adventure
To plan my adventures, I use these websites as they provide the best information, the best deals and they are user-friendly.
PICTURES AND EDITING
All the pictures on this page are made and owned by me or credited to their original artist with permission. If you are interested in some pictures to use for your magazine, website, blog, or any other purpose, just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.
Do you like the edits? My Presets will be online soon so you can edit your pictures in just one click!
The camera gear I used for this trip
I never go out without my camera and many people ask me which gear I use. So to make it quite easy, I listed all the gear I used for this trip below.
Most of the time, I travel with the Sony A7III and the Sony 24-105mm/f4 as my primary lens but depending on the location, I change to another setup. However, I love the Tamron 17-28 to shoot in the big cities.