Fraser Island, also known as K’Gari to the local Aboriginal people, might just be the most unique island in all of Australia. It is the largest sand island in the world. That’s right, not just Australia, but the whole world! It’s also the only place in the world where a luscious rainforest grows out of the sand, and almost all of the roads and tracks around the island are purely made up of sand.
It’s such an incomparable environment, and definitely one that needs to be included on any Australia bucket list. So let’s jump into all the details. Here’s everything you need to know to plan your visit to Fraser Island.
Quick facts about Fraser Island
To the local Butchulla people Fraser Island is known as K’Gari. Pronounced gurri, K’Gari means paradise and comes from its Dreamtime creation story.
As the largest sand island in the world, Fraser Island is 123 kilometres long and 22 kilometres wide. In fact I wasn’t expecting it to take around 45 minutes to cross from one side to the other, and it can take a couple of hours and good tide conditions to get all the way to the tip of the island.
Fraser Island is also the only place on Earth where the rainforest grows out of the sand dunes, with trees reaching more that 200 metres tall. It also has more than half of the world’s perched lakes, where depressions in the dunes are permanently filled with rainwater.
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How to get to Fraser Island
There are a couple of different ways to get to Fraser Island, with barges that drop you off at different parts of the island. Since we were staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort during our visit, we booked onto the Kingfisher Bay Ferry Service.
Kingfisher Bay Ferry Service
The Kingfisher Bay Ferry Service departs and returns from River Heads (near Hervey Bay) four times per day. The trip takes about 50 minutes and you can use this service either with your car, or just as a passenger. This ferry drops you off on the western side of Fraser Island, right at the Kingfisher Bay Resort.
Tickets: To take your 4WD across to Fraser Island on the Kingfisher Bay Ferry Service starts from $190 per vehicle in the off peak season, with an extra $5 per driver and passengers. Check out their website for all the different prices, ferry times and information for your trip.
Book your ferry tickets in advance so you don’t have to wait and secure your travel time to Fraser Island.
Manta Ray Fraser Island Barge
The other option is the Fraser Island Barge, which operates between Inskip Point and Fraser Island all day. This barge will drop you off right on Seventy Five Mile Beach, on the eastern side of Fraser Island. The barge runs all day between 6am and 5:15pm and takes about 10 minutes to cross to the island. You can’t make a booking time for this one, you just have to turn up and wait for your turn.
Tickets: 4WD tickets for the Manta Ray Barge start from $130 return per vehicle, including passengers.
The one thing to keep in mind with the Manta Ray Barge is that you have to board and disembark the ferry in sand, and people are ALWAYS getting super bogged here! Make sure your car is prepared for soft sand conditions so you don’t get stuck.
1. Take a dip in Lake McKenzie
Our favourite place on Fraser Island and maybe the most beautiful lake we have ever visited, Lake McKenzie is a sight that needs to be seen and experienced to be understood. This incredible freshwater lake has some of the clearest bright turquoise water close to the shore, before dropping off in a deep blue only a few metres from the sand.
The sand surrounding the lake is bright white, the water is super clear and warm and it’s all together just a really beautiful place to spend a few hours. Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds if you’re visiting during a peak period, and take a dip no matter what time of the day you visit. The water is perfect.
Lake Wabby is another great spot to check out on Fraser Island. it’s the deepest lake on the island, at the edge of the Hammerstone Sandblow.
2. Drive along Seventy-Five Mile Beach
One of the top reasons why people come to Fraser Island is to drive along the incredible expansive Seventy-File Mile Beach. The beach literally stretches for seventy-five miles and it actually takes hours to drive along it. If you’re trying to get to the tip you will need to check the tide times, as some parts are impassable if the tide is too high, even with a 4WD.
There is nothing better than driving down the beach with the windows down, wind blasting through the car, and just an endless beach reaching out in front of you. Stop along the way for a dip in the creek, or to fish right off the beach. It’s definitely the ultimate beach drive.
3. Check out the Maheno Shipwreck
Right on the shore of Seventy-Five Mile Beach is the Maheno Shipwreck. The Maheno was originally a Trans-Tasman luxury liner and a World War I ship hospital that was washed onto the shores of Fraser Island in 1935 while it was being towed to Japan. A huge cyclone ripped her off the towing chain and washed her up on Fraser Island.
It’s a great spot to explore, and one of the largest shipwrecks we have come across. The sand blows across the island and comes in and out with the tide throughout the day, so check the tide times and visit at low tide if you’re hoping to see more of the wreck exposed.
4. Explore the West Coast of Fraser Island
The West Coast of Fraser Island is largely untouched and inaccessible by vehicles. In fact, the only people who get to explore this untouched paradise is those with their own boat, or who jump on the Sea Explorer West Coast Explorer Tour.
Departing from the Kingfisher Bay Jetty at 12pm each day, the West Coast Explorer Tour goes for about 3 hours and you get to explore some of the prettiest places between Fraser Island and Harvey Bay. The itinerary might change slightly depending on the time of year you visit, the weather and what’s been happening in the area, with every tour a unique and special experience.
During our tour we got to stop on this remote sand caye, which we pretty much had all to ourselves, and take a swim in the beautiful clear water. Throughout the trip we spotted all kinds of wildlife including turtles, dolphins, birds, and even a dugong swimming along.
The West Coast Explorer Tour costs $149 per adult, and departs daily. Find out more and book your experience HERE.
5. Take a sunset cruise
Sea Explorer also offer a beautiful sunset cruise, which is much more leisurely and laid back than the explorer cruise, while still being just as fun. The sunset cruise departs from the Kingfisher Bay Jetty at 5pm each night, and slowly cruises down the beach as the sun begins to set. There are drinks on board, good music and incredible natural scenery, what more could you ask for?!
We spotted baby dingoes running up and down the beach on our sunset cruise, as well as dolphins jumping into the horizon, while the whole sky turned a pinky orange. It was just magical.
At the end of the night, before we headed back to the jetty, our guide really showed us what the fast boat could do, giving us a quick thrill ride whipping around and doing donuts off the jetty. SO MUCH FUN. Couldn’t recommend the sunset tour highly enough.
The sunset cruise costs $65 per person and lasts for about an hour and a half. You can book your ticket and find out more HERE.
6. Spot pure dingoes running along the beach
Fraser Island is home to the most pure strain of dingoes remaining along the East Coast of Australia. No dogs are allowed on Fraser, so the dingoes have not cross-bred with any other breeds and are truly some of the purest dingoes you can find.
You can often spot dingoes running along the beach, especially at sunrise and sunset. If you do come across them make sure you keep a respectful distance, as they are a wild animal and can have a tendency to be a little vicious if they’re uncomfortable. Join a ranger for a guided night walk to find out more about Fraser Island’s dingoes and other wildlife.
7. Check out Eli Creek
Eli Creek is another favourite on Fraser Island, with a cool freshwater creek that comes out of the rainforest and runs all the way down to the ocean. There is a pretty boardwalk that runs alongside the creek, and if you jump in at the end of the boardwalk you can float back down to your car, or the ocean. Bring your own floatie for the best experience.
Another amazing swimming spot to check out is the Champagne Pools right at the northern end of Seventy-Five Mile Beach. These are the beautiful clear rockpools you might have seen advertised before, and a great swimming spot! Unfortunately during our visit there was an out of control bush fire nearby, so the champagne pools actually looked more like red wine pools, full of dark red ashy water.
8. Try a catch a monster fish
Fraser Island is a great place for fishing, with all kinds of huge fish regularly being reeled in off the shore. Depending on the season, whiting, dart, bream, mackerel, trevally, tuna and flathead are often caught right off the beach or the jetty out the front of Kingfisher Bay Resort.
Stop anywhere around the island to try your luck fishing. There’s nothing better than fresh fish cooked the same day it was caught.
9. Try our favourite cocktail at the Sand & Wood
Head over to Kingfisher Bay Resort to taste one of our favourite cocktails ever. The Bounty Chocolada is a desert cocktail that tastes like an alcoholic bounty, and it is absolutely delicious. We loved it so much we actually had one each night for a night cap before bed!
The Sand & Wood Restaurant also has an incredible menu if you’re looking for a nice dinner during your stay. In particular, the vegetarian cauliflower dish, steak and seafood tower were especially impressive.
10. Check out The Pinnacle Cliffs
Further along the beach, just a little north of the Maheno Shipwreck you will come across the Pinnacle Cliffs. These impressive cliffs stand tall along the beach, and are a swirling mixture of red, orange, yellow and white sandstone, making them a beautiful back drop to any beach day.
There are a couple of short walking trails around the Pinnacles if you want a closer look, otherwise there are heaps of stunning photo opportunities right on the sand.
11. Take a tour of Fraser Island
If you don’t have a 4WD you can take to Fraser Island there’s no need to worry, you can still have the full Fraser Island experience with Fraser Explorer Tours. Jump on a guided 4WD tour which will take you from the mainland across to the island, and then give you a great guided tour of all the best spots around the island.
You can depart from either Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay and spend the whole day on Fraser Island. They also have a few multi-day and overnight tours, as well as private tours where you can dictate your whole itinerary. Tours start from $239 per adult for a fully inclusive all day tour.
Find out more and book your adventure at fraserexplorertours.com.au.
12. Bareboat around Fraser Island
Just like our experience in the Whitsundays, you can also rent a bareboat charter to sail at your own pace around Fraser Island. Bareboating gives you the ultimate opportunity to find all the secret hidden hot spots Fraser Island has to offer, and to have a completely unique experience in this stunning natural environment.
We didn’t get to try this time, but we’re definitely hoping to do a bareboat charter around Fraser next time we’re around. Since so much of Fraser Island is inaccessible by land, bareboating is one of the only way to see all the different corners of the island, and a great way to explore more of the tip.
Fraser Island is such as special place, there is no where else in Australia like it. From the wide open beaches and beautiful lakes, to the epic sunsets and accompanying delicious cocktails, you’re sure to have a wonderful time during your visit.