I have a forever growing ‘travel bucket list’, filled with all of the places I want to explore in this enormous world we live in. But when it comes to Australia, I am constantly amazed and thrilled by what our diverse and glorious country has to offer and sometimes ask myself, why go overseas when there is so much to see and do in my very own backyard?
As a family, we are fortunate to have travelled quite a lot of Australia, and despite my kids often wanting to go back to somewhere that they had an absolute ball in, we rarely visit the same place twice. Except when it comes to Fraser Island!
Fraser Island is one of our all time favourite holiday destinations and proves that you don’t need to go overseas or to an expensive island resort to be surrounded by paradise. This was our third trip to Fraser Island, the last time being about 11 years ago, and each time we have added a child, added extra days and discovered more things to explore. And each time, we know that we will be back again.
Fraser Island, located on Australia’s eastern Queensland coast, is the world’s largest sand island with an area of 184,000 hectares. Stretching over 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres wide it’s not hard to see why World Heritage listed Fraser Island is ranked with our very own Uluru, Kakadu and the Great Barrier Reef.
To visit Fraser Island you must plan ahead and ensure you are well prepared so you have a safe and fun holiday.
You must have a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle as it is all beach driving with sand tracks across the island linking the lakes, rainforests, beaches and townships. Vehicle access permits are required for all vehicles coming onto the island and must be displayed on your windscreen before driving on Fraser Island. We purchased ours online at Queensland National Parks which was also our go-to site for information to prepare for our trip e.g. booking our camping site, park alerts, maps etc.
To get on the island you will need to travel by vehicle barge. Barges depart Inskip Point (a 15 minute drive from Rainbow Beach) to Hook Point and generally run from 6am to 5.30pm. Trip time is about 10 minutes and no bookings are required. If you are coming in from Maryborough, access is from River Heads to Kingfisher Bay and Wanggoolba Creek (about a 30-50 minute trip and bookings are required). Driving conditions vary with weather and tides, so make sure you check before you go (you don’t want to get caught at high tide!).
Driving along Seventy-Five Mile Beach, which is an actual highway running along the eastern surf side of the island, is an experience in itself. You not only share the ‘road’ with other four-wheel drivers, but expect to see planes taking off and landing for scenic joy flights, tourists fishing or wandering the waters edge and if you’re really lucky, dingoes playing in the waves or wandering the sand dunes.
There are speed limits on the island and normal road rules apply. Keep in mind that a safe driving speed may be lower than the signed speed limit.
- 80km/hr (maximum) on the eastern beach
- 30km/hr on inland roads
- 40km/hr in beach pedestrian areas
- 50km/hr on Hook Point inland road
- 10km/hr in shared-use areas
Fraser Island is fairly remote and facilities are limited so make sure you carry essentials with you and plan ahead. The Queensland National Parks website provides information for visitors including preparing and packing, essentials to bring (such as medication, a first aid kit and drinking water), things for the vehicle (4WD recovery equipment, spare tyre, tyre pump etc), extra tips ($2 coins for showers, mobile telephone reception), opening hours, permits and fees, climate and weather, fuel and supplies. There is also essential information for staying safe e.g. dingo safety, driving safely, beach hazards, tides, wind and swell, best beach driving times, speed limits, creek crossings and water safety to name a few.
Some other things to remember when planning your Fraser Island adventure:
- Make sure you have enough fuel for your days adventures as help may not be readily available. Fuel is also quite a lot more expensive than the mainland.
- There are no medical facilities on the island and help can sometimes be hours away.
- Pack drinking water for your day trips.
- Cover yourself in insect repellant (especially if you are inland). The mosquitos are relentless!
- Plan your meals and snacks ahead and pack your food supplies well. There are no supermarkets on the island and grocery/fresh food options are limited and expensive. Shops close around 5pm so there are no opportunities for a last minute, dinner dash.
- There are limited options for dining out. Eurong Beach Resort has a restaurant and bakery, there is a cafe at Cathedrals Beach and a restaurant at Kingfisher Bay Resort.
- Phone and internet reception is limited to non-existent. We are with Optus and had no reception at all from Eurong to the Sandy Cape, limited reception on the beach in Eurong and the western side of the island such as Ungowa and Kingfisher Bay. Occasionally we would get a brief moment of reception when travelling island.
Stay tuned for my next blog post where I’ll share our 8 days on Fraser Island – where we went, where we stayed and our favourite parts!
Disclaimer: If travelling to Fraser Island, seek independent advice from a professional travel agent or Queensland Government Department of National Parks, Sport and Racing. The information provided within this blog are from the personal experiences of the writer and are not to used solely for planning your holiday.