Fraser Island NP (Kgari) is a place I’ve been going since I was 20. I never get sick of going there. It is truly one of the best places you’ll ever go and it’s right on our doorstep. Fraser has something for everyone and fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your point of view) can cater for guests looking for a real natural camping escape to book-in accommodation in one of the villages.
Located 260 Km’s north of Brisbane, access to the Island is via barge only. The easiest way is to catch the barge (The Manta Ray) from Inskip Pt over to Hook Pt on Fraser Island. It’s a short barge ride across and there is no need to book.
During holiday periods the queues for the barge can get long but they do a great job of increasing capacity so the lines move quickly. You can minimise this by planning the days you go and leave early during the peak season.
Alternatively, there is also a barge service from Hervey Bay, It departs from River Heads (20 mins south of Hervey Bay) and heads across to Kingfisher bay resort or Wanggoolba Creek. These services are by booking only and run much less frequently than the services at the southern end of the island.
Coming in from King Fisher results in a long, slow drive across the island to visit most of it’s attractions and camping destinations which is why most people come in from the south on low tide.
For further information regarding the barges and pricing see the links below.
Travel up and down the island is easiest via the Eastern Beach and should be planned around the tides. Depending on recent weather and beach conditions, travel may only be possible 2 hours either side of low tide. Most of the time however, when the beach is in good condition you can navigate the island in soft sand at high tide except for a few places over the island.
Fraser Island truly has something for everyone. Many people have been going there for years to explore the island and probably only seen the same parts over and over. Some of the best parts of the island are more difficult to get to.
Our advice is to spend as much time here as you can afford to. We comfortably spend 7-9 days at Fraser Island at a time and still don’t do everything we planned. It’s a big island, so plan some slower days to just relax and take it all in.
On the world’s largest sand island, it pays to plan your trip to maximise your time having fun and minimise your time travelling around. Staying on the eastern side of the island sets you up to travel up and down the beach (surf side) which is much easier than always navigating the inland tracks. However, a high tide during the middle of the day will mean travel will still be slow as you’ll be forced to move in the soft sand.
When conditions are good, moving around most parts of the island two hours either side of the high tide is reasonably easy for most cars. Two hours either side of the low tide is the easiest time and the quickest with most areas having speed limits of 80km/hr.
While there’s never a bad time to go, if you want to travel all around the island then it would be best to consider a time where the low tide is during the middle of the day.
One of my favourite places to visit on Fraser Island is Lake Wabby. It’s barely changed since i went there some 25 years ago and if you’re clever, often you can have the place almost to yourself.
There are two ways in to Lake Wabby.
- Entrance from the Eastern Beach.
- Entrance from the west via Cornwells Road
Having done both I prefer the walk from Cornwells Road however if you were stopping on the way home to the barge, then the Eastern Beach would be easier.
When people mention Fraser Island, the picture they are probably most familiar with is one of Lake Mckenzie.
The only thing paralled by the beauty of the Lake is the drive through the rain forests to get there. Make sure you leave with time to slow down and take it all in. Getting there is a relatively easily 4WD compared to northern parts of the island but, get there early or get there late. If you’re looking to come right on lunch then expect to find it difficult to get car parking or you’ll have a long walk!
From the carpark, the lake is a short walk and the view is unmistakable.
When you arrive at Lake McKenzie at it looks busy, be sure to head left / right as the crystal clear front of the lake is long. You should easily find a place away from the crowds where you can spread out and enjoy.
One of the most popular spots on the island is Eli Creek. The water coming from the creek is some of the purest in the country, after having been filtered by the sand on the island. You’ll often see campers carrying water jerry can’s up to the top of the boardwalk to collect the pure water for drinking / cooking!
If you’re looking to have a creek side park, then best to get there early as it gets busy. It’s easy to walk along and view the creek due to the boardwalk that’s been installed. Toilets are also available at Eli Creek.
The combination of calm shallow water and the boardwalk make Eli Creek extremely popular with families. For this reason I recommend getting there early not only just to get a good parking spot, but also to enjoy floating down the creek all on your own! It’s magic.
You’ll see every possible kind of floatation device at Eli Creek, but when we go camping, in my opinion you can beat a pair of old tyre tubes. They’re cheap, strong and easy to inflate and deflate (with a valve stem remover). I do recommend bringing more tubes as adults seem to enjoy it just as much, if not more than the kids!
Another popular spot on the island is the Champagne Pools just past Indian Head. The best time to get here is 2 hours either side of the high tide, so you maximise the wash from the surf (Champagne) splashing into the pools.
It’s worth paying attention to the swell as when it’s large you can get quite a lot of wash in the pools. If you have young kids then it’s best to keep a close eye on them, or better yet get in with them!
In 1935, the Maheno was washed onto the Fraser Island coast by a cyclone. This occurred while the Maheno was being towed by it’s new owners to Japan. The force of the cyclone broke the tow line and the Maheno was at the mercy of the sea and it’s currents. The Maheno came to rest where it is today on Fraser Island before search and rescue could locate it and intercept it. While there were some attempts to refloat the Maheno, these proved futile and the Maheno has slowly corroded away to its current state today.
There’s not much left of the original ship due to the Queensland Government cutting it down for safety reasons. Despite this, it is still a popular spot to stop and stretch the legs while grabbing a few photos.
If you enjoy wetting a line then Fraser Island is for you! It supports almost every style of fishing you can think of including catching Whiting, Dart, Snapper, Tailor, Jewies, Sharks and Giant Trevally. All of these species can be caught from the beach / rocks around the island.
While all of these species are possible, what Fraser Island is famous for is Tailor. The season runs from August – October each year.
During Tailor season, if you find a nice shaped gutter where you can cast into the middle of the deep water chances are you’ll be on. Rigs are varied but most use a pilchard and three gang hook with either a running sinker or paternoster setup. When the sweep in the water isn’t strong, i prefer a running, flat sinker. When the sweep is strong I’ve had more luck with a pyramid sinker on a paternoster rig as you can stay in the water longer without having to recast.
On a recent trip with family and friends, we pulled over to a gutter at around 15:00 on the way back to camp – we found a gutter and it looked good. I started fishing with my 13′ rod and Alvey reel. Pretty much straight away my son came over and asked if he could have a go. I handed him the rod and went to setup a second for me to use. In the time it took me to rig up, my son caught three fish one after the other! An afternoon like this see’s kids get hooked on fishing, wanting to go again and again. On this particular trip we were lucky to experience this every afternoon and a lifelong memory established.
When fishing in the surf, a good quality rod around 13′ is best. I prefer to use an Alvey reel with a drag as you can get the reels wet from time to time and spinning reels (Egg beater’s) don’t do well in salt water. Alvey’s also provide better feel in my opinion as the line always runs straight through your fingers when attacking the fish. My current surf rod for Tailor is 25 years old and fingers crossed, will serve me a long time yet. It’s worth spending money on good gear that will last the test of time (The poor man pays twice).
The HEMA Fraser Island Map is great for navigating Fraser Island. It has all the tracks that we came across accurately mapped so we could work out where we were.
Permits and Fees
You need both a vehicle permit and overnight camping permit when you camp on Fraser Island. Guests in resorts / houses will only need the vehicle permit.
There are too many camping spots to list on Fraser Island. However, if it’s been a while since you’ve been you can no longer just camp anywhere on the beach. You have to nominate the zone you are staying in and are restricted to options in there.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Fraser Island is a must do destination for those that love mother nature. It has everything and to get the most out of a visit you need time and to get out and walk. If you haven’t been yet then get onto it, and once you have been I bet you go back again.