In late October I left Brisbane for a trip to Fraser Island. After two months in the big city, I was really craving a less crowded place. As it turned out, Fraser Island was the perfect choice!
Located 200 kilometers north of Brisbane, it is the largest sand island in the world and famous for its crystal-clear lakes and pristine nature. You can find a wide variety of animals and, which is unique for a sand island, a dense rainforest. Fraser is also the home of the purest Dingo population and in 1992 the island was inscribed as World Heritage.
The tour I’ve booked was a “self drive tag along tour” by Fraser’s on Rainbow Beach. We would drive around the island in four cars, all of them four-wheel-drive land cruisers, with eight people in each. The lead car is driven by an experienced guide and the three “tag along vehicles” are driven by us.
I arrived in a hostel at Rainbow Beach the day before, so I could attend the safety and driving briefing that afternoon. We saw a short film about the dangers of driving at the beach and were told how to react if we are confronted with local wildlife.
After some more info we were done with the official part of the day and spent the rest of the day however we wanted. I would absolutely recommend the sunset walk to the Carlo sand-blow!
Day 1 – Early the next morning we met at the parking lot and gathered all of our food and alcohol to pack it on the trailer. After an introduction of whats important to know about driving a four-wheel-drive and a final motivational talk by the local, who also held the safety meeting, we finally left the parking lot, heading to Fraser Island.
You hear a lot of stories in advance of cars getting stuck in soft sand, but nobody saw it coming that the second car of our group managed to be stuck before we even reached the ferry. Anyway, they got free quickly and we were shipped over to the southern end of Fraser.
The first part of our journey was a rather long drive on an inland road. This wasn’t very comfortable but it gave us more time at our only swimming stop that day. After lunch break at a resort we left the beach and made our way through the jungle to Lake McKenzie. The fine, white sand and the crystal-clear water were completely surrounded by rainforest. We spent a few hours swimming, playing volleyball and relaxing before we headed back to the shore.
Now it was my turn driving and I have to say driving through dense rainforest on soft sand was one of my favourite parts of the trip, even if it was challenging.
Now we just had to get to our base-camp before sunset, located about half the way up the coast of Fraser. It has space for about 150 people and is surrounded by rainforest. The beach is only a five minute walk away.
Luckily the tents were already set up, so all we had to do after arriving was to unpack the cars and prepare dinner. After that we all gathered around the campfire and had a few drinks. The initial few drinks turned into a big party late into the night.
Day 2 – The next morning, We left camp around 8 in the morning after breakfast and drove all the way up to the end of 75 mile beach, where we spent a few hours at the champagne pools. These are naturally formed rock pools that get filled by the waves.
Next up was a climb on Indian Head, a rock formation just a bit south of the Champagne pools. The headland reaches into the sea, so in addition to the spectacular panorama view of the Fraser coast you can have a look at the sea life from the edge of it. We saw a dolphin, a shark, some turtles and a couple of stingrays. If you go there during whale season it is very likely you’ll see some!
On the way to our afternoon destination we stopped at the Maheno shipwreck for some pictures. It stranded in 1935 and was left at the exact spot ever since.
Only a little bit further south we arrived at Eli Creek. The largest freshwater stream on Fraser’s east coast gives you the opportunity to float down the stream in its cool, clear water. A great spot to just relax and spend the afternoon.
Day 3 – My morning started with the first and only dingos I saw on the trip. I was going to the showers and they were just sitting behind the dingo fence of our campground. Although they look like a cute little dog you shouldn’t underestimate them, some people, mostly drunk and alone, were seriously harmed by them. After all they are still wild animals.
We spent the morning of our last day at Lake Wabby. To get there we had to walk through the rainforest for half an hour. It has the highest fish population of all lakes on Fraser, so if you sit still in the shallow water some fish will come close and swim around your legs.
Because of its position at the bottom of a dune you have a very nice beach at the lake.
The path guiding you through the jungle is not too hard to walk and if you look carefully you can see some Goannas as well. At one point you can have a look at the dense rainforest of Fraser.
For lunch we made our way to the southern tip of Fraser Island before we took the ferry to the mainland. You stay with your group in one car for the whole trip. Like this, you can really get to know them and I am still in contact with half of my group.
This trip was definitely one of the best of my life! We had a great balance between the fun of driving, relaxing at some of the most beautiful spots on the planet and the camping experience. It was perfect for a person who doesn’t know the best spots, the local wildlife and how to approach a trip like this.
Since I enjoyed every single minute, I consider going back. But now that I know my basics I will gather a group on my own, hire a four-wheel-drive and explore the island with some friends on our own. In the end this might be a little more expensive and challenging, but you can take more time for your trip and you are free to go and stay where ever you want (regarding the local restrictions of course).
To break it down: if you don’t have a lot of experience in off-road driving and want to be sure to see the best spots of the island go for the guided tour. If you are very confident about your four-wheel-drive skills on difficult tracks, go for it and plan your own trip.
Stay safe while driving on Fraser!
Words and photography by
Sven Roselt – firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S After all my document cover was right…it was the trip of a lifetime!