4WD Around Fraser Island, Australia
Shall we self drive or join a tour for Fraser Island?
A 4×4 self drive on Fraser Island was the best decision we made! When Ian suggested hiring a jeep and driving around ourselves, I admit I was slightly hesitant at first. The thought of the jeep stuck in sand in the middle of the rainforest with no cell signal did come into my mind – and that was only one of the many hazards everyone has to consider …
Fraser island is the largest sand island in the world!
Fraser Island is located on the south east coast of Australia and is a World Heritage listed island. What makes Fraser Island unique is that not only is it the largest sand island in the world (measuring at 22km (14 miles wide) and 123km (76 miles) long), but also the only place to have tall rainforests grow on sand dunes (elevations over 200m!).
The 4×4 jeep was booked with Aussie Trax and arranged via the visitor tourist centre at Hervey Bay the day before travel. The following morning, we left our motorhome in the free car park, picked up our tickets and boarded the 6.45am ferry over to Fraser Island. Feeling a bit sleepy eyed, the 45 minute crossing over to the island was calm and tranquil – and I decided to miss out on some shut eye to admire the scenic views. Stepping onto the dock area, we made our way to the Aussie Trax office; we were a bit unsure which direction to walk but Aussies are so helpful they directed us which way to go with no problem.
Before letting us loose with the jeep, we were obligated to watch a safety briefing video about driving on the island. The video wasn’t too long around 30 minutes.
Some points to note when driving on the island:
- Drop your tyre pressure to between 18-20 psi for sand driving
- Drive in low gear and in second on very soft sand and keep a steady speed
- Best to drive during low tide (tide tables available)
- 2WD on paved roads – 4WD everywhere else
- Don’t drive in salt water – it can rust the vehicle and damage electrics & brakes
- Watch out for wash outs and freshwater creeks on the beach (you don’t want to get stuck/ submerged in deep water)
- Beware of tree roots on the tracks and rocks
- Speed limits apply on Fraser Island: 35 kilometres per hour on the inland tracks and 80 kilometres per hour on the beach – MAX
- Watch out for Planes landing around you
- Remember to keep to the left of oncoming vehicles at all times and use indicators when overtaking or turning.
- Don’t drive at night – unless absolutely necessary
- You’ll probably get stuck at some point on Fraser Island but it’s all part of the fun of 4×4 driving. Don’t worry as you can usually get out of most difficult situations on your own but generally help is never too far away. It is always recommended to carry a snatch strap, a shovel and wheel-tracks to help get out of trouble yourself.
We were given a small white Suzuki Jeep with a full tank of petrol and all the necessary kit – fine with us, as the jeep was light, easy to manoeuvre and zoom around the rainforest. There was quite a lot of details to take in from the briefing video which felt like information overload when it finished! If you do this, you’ll damage the jeep, if you do that you’ll damage the jeep. OK,
just don’t we won’t damage the jeep … got it. A map of the island with suggested itineraries were provided along with tide times. So off we went excited for a day of adventure and to experience driving on the world’s largest sand island.
Oh. My. Goodness. One word to describe the drive on Fraser Island. BUMPY. Don’t expect a smooth ride – it was uncomfortable at times to say the least but great fun! Our first aim was to find our way off the soft sandy ‘tracks’ and head to the 75 mile Beach ocean highway, located on the eastern side of the island.
Driving along the 75 mile Beach was AMAZING, even though we did have a speed limit to abide. Of course, there were locals who overtook us and blatantly were driving way over the speed limit (there are police patrols so beware). Driving on the beach was like driving on normal roads, except it was a bit slippy. We were in no rush, so drove at a sensible speed (well, up to the limit) whilst taking in the views and enjoying the unique experience.
You can’t miss the Poyungan Rocks on the 75 mile Beach. Be careful not to drive into them!
If you fancy a cool dip, swim in Eli Creek with crystal clear water and fantastic views of the ocean. They say that the water flowing into Eli Creek may have taken over 100 years to filter through the sand before expelling 4 million litres of fresh water into the ocean per hour!
We didn’t swim in Eli Creek due to a few tour buses full of people piling out and it all seemed a bit crowded with quite a few people having a few drinks. Too crowded for us anyway! We thought we would be one step ahead of the tour buses and instead headed to the sights before they became busier. Otherwise, if you’re spending more than a day on the island then take your time and enjoy Eli Creek.
The Maheno is Fraser Island’s famous landmark and one of the island’s famous wrecks. Maheno is situated just before The Pinnacles – can’t miss the wreck.
The SS Maheno was one of the first turbine driven steamers to be built in 1905 and made many crossings between New Zealand and Australia. In fact it actually held the title of being the first turbine steamer to cross the Pacific Ocean. During World War 1 the Maheno was commissioned as a hospital ship. Finally in 1935 the ship was sold for scrap to Japan. During the cyclone, the Maheno broke free from it’s tow and was washed ashore on the beach and is now a famous attraction on the island.
The Pinnacles are coloured sand cliffs formed by minerals leaching through the sand over hundreds of years, resulting in over 72 different coloured sands including red, yellow and brown.
The Butchulla people consider the coloured sands as a sacred place for women and that the ‘Rainbow Serpent’ created the sand formations. The Butchulla people believe that the coloured sands were formed based on a love story. An older man called Winyer was to wed a young woman called Wuru, however she fell in love with Wiberigan (the rainbow). Wuru would visit Wiberigan every day and Winyer wanted revenge. One day Winyer threw his boomerang at Wuru and Wiberigan stood in front of her to protect her. By protecting Wuru, the boomerang shattered the rainbow and the colours created the coloured sands.
Tip: Collecting the coloured sands and climbing the cliffs is illegal. Note that the red dunes are very fragile.
Cathedral Beach is close to the pinnacles; a ideal spot to take a break from driving and enjoy the sound of the ocean. Luckily I packed a few snacks to munch on and watch the cars drive by. We stopped here for a brief break before hitting the lakes on the island.
Lake Boomanjin at 200 hectares, is the largest perched lake in the world. The brown/rusty coloured water was the first thing we noticed when approaching Lake Boomanjin, which is due to the tannin from the Tea trees. It was so quiet there, not one person was in sight and the sand was ‘oh so soft’ between my toes. These perched lakes are formed by a gradual build up of organic matter (eg. leaves, dead plants etc.) which hardens thus raising the floor of the lake above sea level. Look out for some interesting carnivorous plants such as Drosera, or the Sundews as they’re commonly known, which dot the shoreline. There is a fenced camping area right by the lake which provides cold showers, flush toilets and a picnic area however it is walk in only but there are also an additional 30+ camping locations around the Island.
This lake is beautiful to say the least – clear waters with white soft sand … what a view!
The water is very clean as the perched lake is self contained, is not fed by rivers and the sand filters out any organic colloids. Here you can swim, sunbathe and relax by the lake and you might even have the lake to yourself. Lake Birrabeen doesn’t seem as popular as Lake McKenzie. Very quiet, less crowded, peaceful and only a 5 minute walk from the car park … what more do you want?!
Lake McKenzie is a popular spot on the island. Clear pristine waters glistening under the sunlight and soft white silica sand amazing to walk on (same as Lake Birrabeen) – no wonder many visitors come here. It was fairly crowded when we arrived, but if you walk further along the shore, from the parking area, you’ll easily be able to find a quiet spot.
We didn’t have time to visit the fresh water ‘Lake Wabby’, which is a fifteen minute walk from the 75 Mile Beach. Lake Wabby is known as a barrage lake and a window lake; a large sand dune borders up one side of the lake and is slowly moving into the lake. One day the lake will eventually be covered up 🙁
With all the lakes on Fraser Island, the ecosystem is so delicate that sunscreen and insect repellent should not be worn when swimming in the lakes. The chemicals can change the chemistry of the water and endanger plant and animal life.
Don’t forget to stop by Central Station to enjoy a short walk through the rainforest and a boardwalk around the freshwater Wanggoolba Creek. Central Station was once headquarters of the forestry operations housing all the loggers. Nowadays the area is a picnic area, home to many species of trees and plants eg. Kauri Pines and Flooded Gums which were planted 95 years ago.
Other sights to see on the island include climbing up Indian Head for the spectacular views and visiting the Champagne Pools to experience the natural rock pool jacuzzis.
Question you might be asking is did we say any dingos?? Well, the answer was no. They must have been hiding from us!
Another option is to take a scenic flight and enjoy the fantastic views of the island, then maybe hiring a 4WD for the day. Unfortunately for us there was no availability for the date we wanted, but we will be doing this next time!
The full tank of petrol is required upon returning the 4WD. Good news – there’s a petrol station right by the rental, so no need to frantically search for one on the island.
The price to hire our 4WD Jeep (The Jimney) was $241 per person (The Longest Day Away package). This is fairly pricey however, if you prefer the freedom of exploring the island, to experience driving on the world’s largest sand island and not be tied to a timetable, then this is a great option.
What to bring
- A day rucksack
- Bottle of water
- Comfortable shoes or trainers (His and Hers)
Dingoes are wild animals and can be very unpredictable. Here are a few tips to be dingo safe!
- Remember to take your food waste away with you or place them in secure containers. Dingoes can smell the food and rip them apart.
- If you’re camping, use the storage lockers provided. Clean up after cooking and use the washing facilities at the camp site to clean the dirty dishes. Camp in the fenced areas.
- Do not run when you see a dingo and walk in groups.
- Never feed dingoes
Have you visited Fraser Island? Did you self drive or take a tour?
* The links used are affiliate links. By buying through the links we may receive a small commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price you pay.
Other Posts You May Like ...
For All The Latest News & Posts !
Sign up now and join us at ‘WhodoIdo’