My full guide to a long weekend in Fraser Island
I heard so much about Fraser Island since I arrived in Australia. And I heard many many good things about this wonderful place. So this was a natural choice when my French bestie told me she will be travelling up the East coast to choose a meeting point. Even better, it was the Labour long weekend in New South Wales so a good excuse to escape Sydney! Although if you know me, I don’t really need an excuse to escape, right?
A little bit about Fraser Island
Fraser Island is amazing for its unique features. The heritage-listed island is considered to be the biggest sand island in the world with a 1,840 km2 surface. It is Queensland's largest island and Australia’s 6th largest island.
Fraser Island's native name is actually K’Gari which means paradise. Its flora and fauna are so rich you quickly understand why it is called this way. When exploring the island, you will find endless beaches, rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, lakes, mangrove forests, sand dunes and coastal heaths. Although the island is made of sand, plants are thriving thanks to fungi present in the sand. And of course, on Fraser Island, you can find many different animals, with the probably most known as Dingo. Unfortunately, there are not many left but if you are lucky, you might see one!
How to get there
Armed with excitement and wanderlust, me and my friend Flore met in Brisbane first and then took a bus to Noosa and then a tour from Noosa to Fraser Island. There are many ways to get there but in the end, it really depends on of your availability and budget.
The closest main city and airport to go to Fraser is Hervey Bay. Noosa is only about two hours away which I think is good to include when going to Fraser Island as this is a really cool seaside town to discover as well. We chose to go through Brisbane because it was a lot easier and cheaper for me from Sydney and a good way of discovering the city as well.
Fraser Island can be accessed only by a barge and in a 4WD from Rainbow beach or by a small plane landing on the beach. There are a few options to get on the island:
- Know some locals and go with them: lucky you if that’s the case because you can get the full local experience and freedom of discovering the island with someone who knows it well.
- Hire a 4WD and go on your own: we didn’t look into this option as we were not totally confident of driving around for three days in the sand and being just the two of us, plus finding accommodation or camping on our own there. However, we’ve seen some groups of four / five friends with rented cars who were probably staying in resorts or camping. You definitely get more freedom but the costs can be higher as well.
- Tag-along tours: that’s what we did with Nomads Noosa. It was very backpacker style and adventure-like tour but amazingly well organised, all included for food and accommodation and with a top-shot guide Paul. We also got to drive the cars and had plenty of time and freedom to discover the main island gems. I think tag-along tours is the good compromise if you want to enjoy Fraser while not worry too much about the logistics and driving. It is also a really good price for the value. You have many tag-along tours to choose from with different accommodation types.
- 4WD bus tours: this is definitely the most touristy option and can get quite expensive. I would say this is good for people who don’t want something too adventurous or exhausting and keep comfort while seeing the island. You have large windows from what I've seen but you don’t get as much fun as in the cars. You cannot drive either.
What to do on Fraser Island
There is so much to do, you could easily spend a good week or more on Fraser Island! Here are some of the places I went and loved:
You can’t possibly miss it as this is the main beach you can drive on in Fraser Island. As you may guess, the beach is indeed 75 miles. All along you will find amazing ocean views and can spot many whales. Some people are also camping behind the dunes along the beach in designated areas. You will have inland tracks to go inside the island. At some point, you will also see Fraser Island Shipwreck and at the end of it, Indian Head and the Champagne Pools.
Driving on the beach is relatively easy when it is on the wet/hard sand. It gets more difficult when driving on soft sand but with a bit practice, it’s fine. Just keep the speed up and avoid slowing down or you might get bogged. You also might share parts of the beach with planes, they are pretty small but as it is their runway you have to stop when indicated. Really cool to see though! Also, it is not safe at all to swim on that beach. The currents are extremely strong and there is a very large shark population. But be reassured, there are plenty of places to have a safe and fun swim.
Along 75 miles: Fraser Island Shipwreck and Eli Creek
The Maheno Shipwreck is an impressive piece of metal sitting on the beach with a rich history. It’s pretty cool to see and to discover more about its history. It was considered as the Titanic’s sister in the years 1910’s as it was as big and luxurious at the time. Only thing is you can’t go inside as the structure is pretty unstable!
Eli Creek is a sweet little spot along the beach as well. Many locals go there and park their 4WD, get the picnic table and chairs out, and chill out by the creek for the afternoon. When you go up the creek, you can find the purest water you can drink on the island. No one can go further that point so it’s very safe to drink, I did it! Then you can float back down the creek back to the start.
At the end of 75 miles: Indian Head and Champagne Pools
This is one of my favourite places on Fraser Island! Champagne Pools are accessible through a little track leading to another part of the beach. You can already see impressive views of the ocean and then go down the little beach with the pools. They can go up to two meters deep but it wasn’t deep for us as the sand got washed into the holes. We’ve still really enjoyed the warm salty water, saw few fishes and even dipped a toe in the ocean next door. It was pretty safe conditions that but we couldn’t go further than a few meters.
Then Indian head on the other side is more than amazing to discover. Through a little hike up the headland, you will see the best view of Fraser Island. We’ve spotted dolphins, manta rays and turtles as well. No shark, though! Our guide Paul explained Indian head is also very rich in history and is a sacred aboriginal land. This is where the elders were meeting to meditate and also deciding on the fate of individuals who committed mistakes. Like a real life trial. The punishment could be as bad as being thrown from Indian head rocks.
Lake Wabby & Mackenzie
You wouldn’t guess Fraser Island has the most amazing lakes but it does! After about a 40-minute hike from the beach, you will find lake Wabby surrounded by dunes on one side and tea trees on the other side. The lake is green but so nice for the skin, you can also get some tea tree leaves and smell the delicious perfume.
Lake Mackenzie’s colours are unbelievable. Unfortunately, it was a bit overcast where we were there but we could still see the crystal clear waters, deep blues and greens further away. The water there is also very pure therefore good for the skin, the sand is a really good scrub! Oh and I forgot to mention that to get there, you have to go through inland tracks on 4WD which make it very very bumpy and fun!
How to pack and what to know for Fraser Island
Depending on which season you are going, you will need to pack different kind of clothes of course. Queensland is generally pretty warm but can get colder in winter. We were there in Spring, early October, and days were perfect although nights are a bit chilly. Just make sure you bring your swimsuits!
Good camera gear + GoPro is the best combo on Fraser Island. Camera for the amazing landscapes, nature, wildlife. Gopro for the adventure side, going under water in the pools or lakes. I did a mix of those two and it was great although annoying to carry around each time.
Mosquito repellent and sun protection
I had the great idea of googling before leaving about mosquitos on the island and I really thank myself for doing that! The day I left I bought the roll-on repellent and it has been my second best friend the whole trip. During the day on the beach, there’s not a problem but as soon as you go in the forest or in the evening, all the mosquitos are out! Believe, I’ve had the experience and I’ve seen other people with more than 1-15 bites. Either you’re lucky and they don’t like you, either you are a mosquito magnet like me and you better have your repellent ready.
Fraser Island’s sun is pretty good although can be strong. A good SPF sunscreen is recommended, you will still tan I’m sure!
Finally, bring some good music through Spotify offline or on your phone. When in the 4WD you can plug your phone and rock the beach driving with your favourite tunes. Thrilling! Oh and if I said offline, it’s because it’s pretty hard to get coverage at all on the island. The luckiest you will be is if you are with Telstra and in the main village.
Few other things
Fraser Island is an amazing piece of nature so I can’t say enough that everybody needs to be respectful of its ecosystem and not throw garbage away anywhere. (You shouldn’t do that anywhere anyway). So If you see someone not respecting that, please let them know.
Also if you see some Dingos, that’s super lucky but don’t get too close as they can be aggressive, or give them food at any time, this will do more harm than good. Just enjoy watching them quietly.
Coming next: my Fraser Island video and an amazing infographic!
Fraser Island is one of the wildest places I’ve ever visited in Australia and enjoyed every minute of it. Check my full photos below and watch out for my upcoming video and infographic.
Have you been to Fraser Island before? Please let me know what your thoughts below!