Exploring K’gari is no easy feat. As the largest sand island in the world, stretching for 123 kilometres top to bottom, K’gari is World Heritage Listed, with much of the western coastline remaining completely untouched. And there’s no better way to experience this remote region than renting your own yacht with Fraser Island Boat Charters.
A bareboat charter provides a sense of freedom unlike any other. As skipper of your own boat you can head in whichever direction you would like, finding hidden beaches, private sand cayes and stunning vistas all to yourself. There’s no time to keep, nowhere important to be, just you, your family and the sea.
The Fraser Coast is a phenomenal destination for bareboating for many reasons, especially if it’s your first time trying your hand at skippering your own boat. It’s quiet, with less crowds on the shore and boats getting around on the water. It’s more protected, with less open ocean to navigate and more calm, still bays. You will find that you have the most incredible spots all to yourself, places that literally look like they’ve never been explored before. We couldn’t believe our eyes when we arrived at Wathumba Creek in particular, it was just stunning. Absolutely breathtaking.
Plan your days around the wind forecast, hopping along different deserted beaches, jumping in for a swim whenever you get too warm and finding breathtaking views for a lunchtime barbeque. To help you plan your bareboat charter, we’ve put together everything you need to know:
Fraser Island Boat Charters
We started our charter from the Boat Club Marina in Hervey Bay, where we slept onboard the night before we were due to set off for the week. We would be spending 6 nights onboard K’gari Breeze with Fraser Island Boat Charters.
K’gari Breeze can sleep 8 people, with 4 double beds across 4 cabins. There are 2 bathrooms on board, 2 toilets and an indoor and outdoor shower. In the kitchen you will find a massive fridge and freezer space, a stove top, a small oven and a coffee machine. There is also a gas BBQ on the back deck and an extra 120L esky which was great for keeping drinks in.
To make life easy, we did a click and collect from the Woolworths on Elizabeth Street in Urangan. That way we could plan what we would need for all meals for the week, food for Macey, snacks, etc, and then we could just pick it all up without wasting time wandering around the grocery store. It was only a short drive to Woolies (less than 10 minutes and $8.50 with an Uber). The Hervey Bay Boat Club is also literally 2 minutes away from where your boat is docked if you’re looking for a meal the night before you set sail.
The following morning we were given a lesson on everything we would need to know about sailing around K’gari. The Fraser Island Boat Charters team will take you through driving the boat, understanding the maps and weather patterns, putting up sails, where to anchor and can’t miss spots to check out along the way. No boat licence is required, these guys will teach you everything you need to know. We felt so confident after the lesson, we were ready to go!
Each night morning and evening we would check in with Scott, who would advise us on the best places to stay for the night or explore during the day based on the winds and the tides. It was such a great help, we were able to plan where we were heading each evening around the calmest anchorages.
Where to stop along K’gari
You are spoilt for choice with the incredible spots to stop and explore along the western coastline of K’gari, and the best part is you can often find you have the best beaches all to yourself. Some of our favourite spots are:
K’gari’s answer to Whitehaven Beach, Wathumba Creek boasts sparkling blue water and white silica sand that stretches as far as the eye can see. It honestly felt like we were in paradise when we arrived here. The water was SO beautifully blue and crystal clear, there were turtles swimming around the boat and even stingrays in the shallow water along the shore. We took the tender into the beach for a while and it honestly just felt like a dream.
Macey loved practicing her crawling along the sand, she didn’t have to much space to really get on a roll on the boat, so it was the perfect place to stretch her little legs. Despite bareboating in winter, we all jumped into the water for a refreshing dip. It was just too inviting, how could we not!
This was one of our favourite spots the first time we visited K’gari, so we had to come back and check it out again! Your very own private sand caye, Pelican Bay is only a short distance from favourite overnight anchorages Moon Point and Big Woody Island and is the spot to pretend you’re on a deserted island.
During high tide you’re likely to find many pelicans roaming around one side of the island, while the other offers perfect swimming conditions. It doesn’t take too long to walk around the whole island, and you can jump straight into the water when you need to cool off.
One of the most beautiful anchorages along the coastline, you need to head to Arch Cliffs during the late afternoon for the ultimate golden hour and sunset spot. Also known as the coloured sand dunes, the dunes reflect a kaleidoscope of orange, yellow and red as the sun descends throughout the golden hour. Grab yourself a glass of wine and a grazing board and settle in for a truly beautiful sunset and epic after glow.
The Arch Cliffs are also a great spot for fishing or crabbing if you’re keen to try catching your own dinner.
Kingfisher Bay Resort
If you start craving some time on land it’s time for a stop at Kingfisher Bay Resort. Head up to the restaurants if you’re feeling like a bit of a pub meal, or find yourself a beanbag at the Sunset Bar on the beach and grab a cocktail for one of the best sunset spots on the island. You can often spot the famous Fraser Island dingoes running along the beach here, but make sure you keep your distance, as they can be quite territorial.
The Kingfisher Jetty is a great spot for a bit of fishing, especially when the tide is high, or take a stroll a little further down the beach to explore McKenzies Jetty, which used to be part of the first saw mill on Fraser Island.
Big Woody Island
We stayed at Big Woody Island for two nights, as the island provides so much shelter from the winds. Both evenings the sunsets here were spectacular, with dolphins jumping around the boat as we cooked on the deck. Big Woody Island is a great spot for hiking if you’re craving some time on land, with Middle Bluff Lighthouse offering the prettiest views of the Great Sandy Strait and all the way across to K’gari.
One of our favourite spots along the shore is this lone singular palm tree. It’s so easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, with the trunk of the palm tree blending in with the colours of the sand dunes behind it. To find it head towards Woralie Creek and then drive super slowly until you spot it.
For one of the most incredible experience, book your bareboat charter between July and October to experience whale season on the Fraser Coast. Throughout these months thousands of humpback whales come into Platypus Bay and the waters surrounding Fraser Island to have a rest on their migration.
On our first two days of the charter, as we were exploring the more northern parts of the west coast of K’gari we came across five different pods of whales, the largest of which was five whales swimming together. It was so incredible to watch them, slowly swimming around and playing together. At one point two huge whales actually started swimming straight for us, and came within just a couple of meters of our boat. It felt like everyone was holding their breath for those few minutes as they passed.
A few tips on whale etiquette to keep in mind:
- You must stay 100 metres away from whales at all times, this includes with a drone
- Turn your motors off if you’re watching them or if they start swimming towards you, just stay still until they pass
- No more than three boats to one pod of whales
Tips for bareboating with a baby
Macey had the best time bareboating. Between the waves rocking her to sleep for her naps and an abundance of beautiful white sand beaches for her to play in the sand and practice her crawling, she was absolutely in her element. She loved the fresh air in the morning, taking the tender to shore and trying to eat a sneaky handful of sand whenever she thought we weren’t looking. She loved sitting in the captain’s chair and moving the steering wheel, watching the dolphins jump alongside the boat, and cuddles under a blanket as the sun went down.
However there are just a few things to consider if you’re planning to bareboat with a baby:
Travel with a group
You can never have too many eyes or too many helping hands with a baby! We brought along my family for this charter and it was honestly so great to have so many people, not only to help with Macey, but also to help Thom with anchoring and taking turns driving. Since there is limited space on the boat for a baby to crawl around and play it was great to have lots of her family on board to play games and keep her entertained. Plus, it just adds to the fun of the charter if you travel with a group of family or friends.
With limited space for a portacot, we found that co-sleeping was the best option while staying on the boat. Some of the beds and bedrooms are larger than the others, so choose yours first if you’re travelling with a group!
The beds are quite high, so we bought a portable bed rail to keep us all tucked in. This was not only great for when Macey went to bed earlier than us, but it also gave my a way comfier night sleep – I could lean on it and let my muscles relax rather than trying to sleep teetering on the edge of the bed next to a starfishing baby.
It goes without saying, but make sure someone has eyes on the baby at all times – especially if they’re at an age where they’re climbing or walking and might be able to get away from you quickly. We also brought a baby life jacket with us, which we put on Macey anytime we went out in the tender, just to be safe. She didn’t mind it at all and then we would take it off her while she explored the islands.
If you’re boating in the warmer months and planning to do a lot of swimming, baby floaties would be a great idea, as well as baby safe sunscreen and a hat in the sun.
Getting to the Fraser Coast
QantasLink offers daily flights to Hervey Bay Airport (HVB) from Brisbane, with connections to all major cities around the country. From the airport we caught a taxi for the short 10 minute drive to the Boat Club Marina where we would be setting off from. There are also direct flights to from Sydney with Jetstar a few times per week.
Hervey Bay is also only just over a three hour drive from Brisbane, so it’s super easy to get to.
A bareboat charter really allows you to see more of K’gari than you ever would have expected. Between the abundance of deserted beautiful beaches explored during the day, to the spectacular sunsets that the Fraser Coast serves up each evening, we really couldn’t have asked for a more magical trip. If you’ve ever thought about bareboating before, here’s your sign – just go for it. We couldn’t recommend Fraser Island Boat Charters highly enough!
To find out more head to: fraserislandboatcharters.com.au
We explored K’gari as guests of Fraser Island Boat Charters. All views and opinions are, as always, our own.