We’re flying along the beach in a hot pink blur, waves lapping at our wheels. It’s a race against time to exit the beach before the tide comes in. This feels like an episode of Top Gear! Vinny bounces over another heap of sand and crashes through a freshwater stream. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had behind the wheel!
Driving a 4×4 on Fraser Island is at the top of every Australia travel itinerary for good reason. The world’s largest sand island is a swathe of lush green rainforest punctuated with crystal clear freshwater swimming holes linked by a network of white sand tracks. This place really does feel like a fairytale, with days spent floating on Lake McKenzie’s turquoise waters, leaping down sand dunes and wild camping on white sandy beaches. Throw in a hot pink 4×4 and a driveable beach with generous speed limits and life is complete!
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your own trip.
Harvey Bay is the main departure point for trips to Fraser Island and there are plenty of tour companies who will help you get there. We hired our 4×4 – affectionately named Vinny – independently from Fraser Dingo 4WD Adventures so we could travel at our own pace, but it’s also possible to join a tag-along tour where you follow a guide as part of a group. Alternatively there are huge 4WD tour buses that offer single or multiday trips.
Once you’ve picked your tour company it’s a 30 minute ferry ride over to Fraser Island which most companies include as part of the hire package.
What to see and do
With 120km of beautiful beaches, lakes and rainforest, you really are spoilt for choice when it comes to things to see and do on Fraser, but there are a few key highlights that are not to be missed.
You’ve probably already seen photos of Lake McKenzie’s azure waters and dazzling white sand beach in the travel brochures as it’s the islands most picturesque swimming spot and is photographed profusely. Surrounded by lush green rainforest and with the finest sand you could imagine, you might find yourself spending longer here than planned!
Known as the Emerald Lake for its green hue, this beauty spot has one of the most appealing approaches. Park on the Seventy-Five Mile Beach and take the 2km walking track through the rainforest, soaking up impressive views of the coast en route. At the top of the hill you’ll encounter the bizarre sight of a huge sandblow stretching out before you and for a moment you might think you’ve been transported to the middle east on a magic carpet. Cross the desertscape and a pool of green will appear before you like an oasis. Now all there is to do is leap down the sand dunes and plunge into the cool green water!
Running from the rainforest into the ocean, Eli Creek is another must-see. Once you’ve driven through it in your sturdy 4×4 (which is pretty exciting as this creek carries quite a bit of water) you can swim in its transparent waters. Allow the current to carry you around each twist and turn beneath overhanging branches as you gaze skyward, letting any worries drift away.
SEVENTY-FIVE MILE BEACH
This beautiful stretch of coastline is the main highway on Fraser from which the majority of beauty spots can be reached, and wow what a highway! Bouncing over sand piles and crashing through freshwater creeks with the sound of the ocean waves drifting through the open window is driving at its finest! No traffic hold ups on here except the odd gaggle of seabirds. You will need to be aware of the tide times, as the beach can only be accessed at certain times of the day, but your 4×4 hire company will provide you with those.
It’s hard to miss this rusting hulk which dominates the top end of the Seventy-Five Mile Beach just beyond Eli Creek. The passenger liner was blown ashore by cyclone in 1935 and has remained there ever since, becoming a popular stop off on the Fraser Island circuit. Its barnacle-clad hull and rusty orange potholes makes for some pretty cool photos.
This is the ultimate hidden lake, lying deep in the rainforest at the end of a 2.5km jungle track. What’s even better is the lake can’t be accessed by the big tour buses so chances are you’ll have the place completely to yourselves. Park at Central Station and follow the sandy path through towering eucalyptus trees.
Where to stay?
With a tropical climate and beautiful beaches, wild camping is an incredible experience on Fraser Island and the presence of dingos will give your night under the stars just the right amount of edge! There are plenty of wild camping sites along the Seventy-Five Mile Beach. You’ll need a camping license but again, your tour company should provide you with that. The only drawback to wild camping is the sand flies which are relentless on Fraser! If you really can’t bear them there is some accommodation in Eurong.
General tips and info
- Be dingo safe: don’t keep food in your tent at night and don’t allow children to wander off by themselves. If you do come face to face with a dingo you should stand still at your full height then slowly back away. Do not run or wave your arms.
- Sand flies are a pest on Fraser Island so take plenty of repellent
- Most 4×4 hire companies have a clause in their contract which prohibits driving through saltwater as it damages the vehicle. So to avoid losing your bond steer clear of the waves as tempting as it may be to plough through them!
- A 2 day 4×4 vehicle hire plus overnight camping and ferry crossings for two people cost us £345 with Fraser Dingo 4WD Adventures which was the best value we could find.