My memories from Fraser Island are nothing short of incredible! At 120km long, Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island… yep, a huge island made entirely of sand! It’s hard to explain how many amazing and unique things there are to see and do on Fraser Island, but I’ll give it a good try!
I reached Fraser Island on a three day and two night tour from Rainbow Beach, but it’s just as easy to get a tour from Hervey Bay if that’s more convenient for you. And, if you don’t have three days to spare, there are plenty of one-day tours available from Hervey Bay, Rainbow Beach and even the Sunshine Coast.
However you decide to travel there, you’ll need to have a sturdy 4WD, or know someone who does, to navigate the sandy roads. The bumpy rides around the island are more than worth it though, to be able to set your eyes on stretch after stretch of rugged rainforest, hidden freshwater lakes, rolling sand dunes and endless beaches! Unfortunately, we were only travelling in a Ford Falcon Station Wagon and had no experience driving a 4WD, so we decided to let the professionals drive us around and booked a tour!
Once you’ve arrived, almost all of the things to do on Fraser Island are FREE! So here are my suggestions for 14 of the best things to do on Fraser Island (that’ll cost you nothing but your time!), along with two special activities that you might want to splurge on!
- 1. Take a dip in picture-perfect Lake McKenzie
- 2. Discover the S.S Maheno Shipwreck
- 3. Explore the dunes at Lake Wabby
- 4. Relax in the Champagne Pools
- 5. Drive a 4WD along 75 Mile Beach
- 6. Go whale watching from Indian Head
- 7. Climb Sandy Cape Lighthouse
- 8. Keep a lookout for dingos
- 9. Camp in the rainforest on Fraser Island
- 10. Float down Eli Creek
- 11. Complete the Fraser Island Great Walk (or part of it!)
- 12. Indulge in a spot of beach fishing
- 13. Watch the sunrise from Eurong Beach
- 14. Admire the many shades of The Pinnacles
- BONUS: TWO unforgettable experiences to treat yourself to
- Useful information
1. Take a dip in picture-perfect Lake McKenzie
Fraser Island is home to over 40 freshwater lakes, but none of them are quite like the crystal clear waters and silky smooth sands of Lake McKenzie. There’s not a lot to do here except enjoying the scenery, taking a swim and chilling on the beach – but that was not a problem for me! I took a tour to the island with Cool Dingos and they also had a selection of blow-up paddleboards, beach balls and cricket bats to keep us entertained on the beach. Prices start from $600 for a three-day-two-night tour with Cool Dingo and include your accommodation, all of your meals and activities.
It’s said that the reason the water is so clear here is that the rainwater is filtered through the sand for up to 100 years before entering the lake!
TOP TIP: Lake McKenzie can get very busy, especially during peak season (May to August). If there are too many people for your liking when you arrive, try out Lake Birrabeen which is just off the tourist trail and sees much fewer visitors.
2. Discover the S.S Maheno Shipwreck
As you make your way along 75 Mile Beach, you won’t be able to miss the majestic Maheno shipwreck sitting in the wash of the waves. This rusty boat was once on an important mission, making its way from Sydney to Osaka, Japan. Unfortunately, on its journey, in 1935, a cyclone hit, beaching the boat and its crew onto Fraser Island. Though none of the crew were hurt, the ship could not be refloated, and was left for us all to enjoy today!
TOP TIP: The ship takes a great photo at any time of the day, but I’d highly recommend visiting at sunset when the orange and golden hues create a perfect postcard moment.
3. Explore the dunes at Lake Wabby
While Lake McKenzie wins the award for the most beautiful lake on Fraser Island, Lake Wabby wins the award for being the deepest, and perhaps the trickiest to get to. It’s only a 2km walk to Lake Wabby from the car park, but it’s not an easy one, and took us around 40 minutes to complete. You can blame this on the huge sand dune that towers above Lake Wabby that makes for a tricky end to the hike. Soft sand and midday heat is not a great combination – I’d highly recommend visiting in the morning!
The lake was a welcome sight after a very hot walk and jumping into it to refresh was just perfect! I’m going to warn you now, there’s a big population of those little fish that like to nibble at your feet in here, so be prepared for a few of those to be lurking nearby.
TOP TIP: Lake Wabby is one of those places that won’t be around forever. The Hammerstone Sandblow that looms over it is engulfing the lake at a rate of about one meter, which means eventually it’ll completely disappear.
4. Relax in the Champagne Pools
No.. unfortunately these pools aren’t made of champagne, but they are pretty cool anyway!
The Champagne Pools are actually formed from volcanic rock and get their name from the way the salty water crashes over the walls and into the pools, creating a fizz-type effect.
You’ll find these natural champagne pools near Indian Head, at the northern end of 75 Mile Beach. They’re really well equipped for visitors with a handy boardwalk and staircase that lead you down to the pools. For me, it was one of the best places to relax and rewind after a busy day exploring Fraser Island.
5. Drive a 4WD along 75 Mile Beach
Swap the bitumen highway for sand and make your way along the Great Sandy Highway on Fraser Island’s 75 Mile Beach. Despite being a glorious 120km of sand, this 4WD mecca is actually marked as a highway on Google Maps, has speed limits in place, handy road signs and even a few speed cameras to catch any daredevils out!
75 Mile Beach is the easiest way to get from A to B here. You’ll find that the main things to do on Fraser Island are easily accessed from this stretch of sand, including the Champagne Pools, Eli Creek and Indian Head. As is the case in the natural world, the beach is constantly changing due to tides and winds, so you need to be on guard when you’re driving, and always check current conditions before you head out so you don’t get stranded anywhere unwillingly.
If you haven’t got a 4WD handy but you’re itching to have a go at driving off-road, there’s a thing known as tag-along-tours. These tours lead a convoy of 4WD, allowing each person to have a go at driving on the sand every day. With rainforest on one side and the Coral Sea on the other, I think it’s one of the best ways to have your first 4WD experience.
6. Go whale watching from Indian Head
Fraser Island is known as K’gari by the Butchulla People, who originally settled here thousands of years ago. The word loosely translates at ‘paradise’ which sums up the island perfectly. Standing at the top of Indian Head, a headland located on the most easterly point of Fraser Island, it’s easy to see why this is described as paradise.
This section of rock on was named by Captain Cook. He sailed past the rock on his way to discovering the mainland and saw a group of Aboriginals standing on the headland.
Despite its tricky terrain, it only took me about 15-minutes to climb to the top of Indian Head. I spent a good hour or so enjoying the view while trying to spot any sharks, dolphins or manta rays lurking in the water below.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t there during whale watching season (August to November), but apparently this is the best spot on the island for catching a glimpse of the humpback whales. They swim past on their migration to find warm waters in which to raise their calves along the east coast – sometimes as far as Brisbane. Just keep your eyes peeled for a sudden puff of water along the horizon – a sure sign that whales are swimming below the water!
If you’re a whale enthusiast, you can even book a tour around Fraser Island that includes a chance of swimming with the whales. This particular trip costs $110 per person and departs from Hervey Bay.
7. Climb Sandy Cape Lighthouse
I think that this is one of the most underrated spots on Fraser Island!
Sandy Cape Lighthouse is often overlooked by visitors heading to the more popular things to do on Fraser Island, but I’d definitely recommend stopping off here, even if just for five minutes.
The lighthouse itself was built in 1870 and marks the northernmost point of Fraser Island. It’s also a great spot for whale watching or simply admiring the view.
8. Keep a lookout for dingos
Fraser Island is one of the places in Australia that you’re almost guaranteed to see a dingo!
And, while they’re cute as a button, there are certain rules when it comes to coming across them in the wild. Every tour to Fraser Island will give a briefing about being dingo safe, but if you want to read up on safety before you go, the Queensland Government has plenty of information available on their website.
ATTENTION: Don’t feed dingos! Unfortunately, over the years visitors have started to feed the dingos and now, instead of relying on their natural hunting abilities, the dingos are starting to expect food from humans. If you’re camping or eating on the beach, it’s important to be especially vigilant.
9. Camp in the rainforest on Fraser Island
Fraser Island is home to more than 45 campsites, many of which are set just back from 75 Mile Beach or tucked under the rainforest’s canopy.
If you’re doing a DIY tour, you’ll be able to book most of these campsites on the Queensland Park and Wildlife Service up to six months in advance. I’d definitely recommend booking in advance from June to August, as many of the popular sites fill up incredibly quickly. One campsite that I would definitely recommend spending at least one night at is Central Station – a jumping-off point for most of the hikes on the island and right next to Wanggoolba Creek.
While I was searching around for tours on my road trip, I noticed that there were also plenty of camping tours to Fraser Island to choose from. I remember the tours being a bit cheaper (around $400 for a two-day tour, everything included) than those that included stays in hotels and would be a great option for anyone on a budget or just those looking to be a bit more adventurous.
10. Float down Eli Creek
Chances are, you’ll probably cross Eli Creek while driving along 75 Mile Beach. Eli Creek is a small, might I add, very powerful, freshwater stream that pours out nearly four million litres of water into the ocean each hour.
One of the best things to do here is to grab yourself an inflatable, that is usually provided by most tour operators and, beginning at the start of the creek, float your way down to the end. I loved doing this and thought it was one of the most fun things to do on Fraser Island! Plus, a great way to cool down from that midday heat.
TOP TIP: There are changing rooms and toilets nearby if you need to get changed afterwards. So, no need for make-shift towel changing rooms on the beach!
11. Complete the Fraser Island Great Walk (or part of it!)
Most of the things to do on Fraser Island will involve a short walk from where you can park your vehicle. Flat boardwalks will take you through luscious forests and past crystal clear lakes. If you’re a keen hiker, however, I’d really recommend putting aside a day or two to complete at least one of the day hikes on the island.
Most trailheads begin from the Central Station which was once a forestry camp and now serves as a reminder as to how important it is to protect these unique habitats that thrive on the world’s largest sand island. From Central Station, you’ll have no problem finding your way along the Wanggoolba Creek all the way to Basin Lake – a 4km trail that takes around two hours to complete.
Better still, the Fraser Island Great Walk is meant to be one of the best hikes in Australia and takes you past all of the main things to do on Fraser Island. Beginning from Dilli Village, the hike weaves for 90km across the island and takes on average 6-8 days to complete – a true adventure for those who dare!
I’d highly recommend it if you’re a keen hiker to book one of the Fraser Island tours that focus mainly on hiking and camping your way through Fraser Island, Australia.
12. Indulge in a spot of beach fishing
I don’t think I’ve ever travelled to a country that enjoys fishing as much as Australia!
And where better to do it than from a sandy island in the middle of the Coral Sea. My tour guide told me that Fraser Island is, in fact, one of the best spots in Australia for sea fishing and you can pull in anything from bream, whiting, tuna and mackerel, all from the same spot!
It’s not hard to find a picturesque spot on Fraser Island to fish from but Indian Head, the estuary of Eli Creek and Sandy Cape (which sits just north of the Maheno Shipwreck) were recommended to me as some of the most lucrative spots!
TOP TIP: Apparently, from July through to November, tailor fish begin to spawn just off the coast of 75 Mile Beach and are perfect for a beach BBQ!
ATTENTION: Remember that all fishing in freshwater lakes and rivers is strictly forbidden.
13. Watch the sunrise from Eurong Beach
Watching the sunrise from a spot on Fraser Island is a simple must do – I really don’t recommend leaving the island without doing it. It might mean getting up super early, but at that time of the day, when the waters still and the beach is quiet, it’s really quite magical. My favourite spot to watch the sunrise was Eurong Beach, which is just south of 75 Mile Beach.
If getting up for the sunrise is simply out of the question, then make it your goal to watch the sunset from Kingfisher Bay, just down the road from Kingfisher Bay Resort. It’s probably the best sunset that I’ve seen in Australia, and I’ve seen a lot!
14. Admire the many shades of The Pinnacles
Rising from the sand, somewhere in the middle of 75 Mile Beach are The Pinnacles. These remarkable structures are essentially sandy coloured cliffs that have uncovered themselves over many years. I’m not sure where our tour guide got this number from… but apparently the cliffs are made up of 72 different shades of orange, yellow and brown! All caused by oxides that have coated each grain of sand!
Due to the fragile natures of The Pinnacles, you’re not allowed to climb on them. But they do make for a lovely photo opportunity.
BONUS: TWO unforgettable experiences to treat yourself to
1. Set sail around the Great Sandy Strait
So you’ve seen everything there is to see on Fraser Island. What next? Cruising along the Great Sandy Strait of course. Tours last around four hours and take passengers on a four-hour tour of Fraser Island’s west coast, allowing you to see the sights from the water. Admire Indian Head in all its glory or anchor up and take a refreshing swim, all while keeping a lookout for resident dolphins, dugongs and turtles in the water. Ticket prices start from $85 per person and include hotel transfers, refreshments and even WI-Fi onboard!
2. Take a scenic flight across to Fraser Island
Maybe you haven’t got time to a multi-day tour to Fraser Island, or perhaps you simply love flying. Whatever your reason is, flying through the air to the largest sandbank in Australia is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Air Fraser Island is the one and only tour operator organising flights to the island and come highly recommended. They can help to organise a flight from the Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay or even from the island (Fraser) itself.
PRICES: Scenic flights start from $350.
How to get to Fraser Island
Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach are the main jumping-off points for tours to Fraser Island. There’s not much difference between the locations – Rainbow Beach is simply further south along Australia’s east coast. If you’re driving yourself, both towns can be reached along the famous Bruce Highway and are no more than three hours from the bustling city of Brisbane.
If you’re coming from anywhere else in Australia, I’d probably recommend buying a plane ticket to save you some time. Hervey Bay sees daily flights from both Sydney and Brisbane. Alternatively, jump on a flight to Brisbane from any major hub and rent a car from there to drive the rest of the way.
If you’d rather rent a 4WD from either of the gateway towns, you’ll find that most major rental companies like Thrifty operate from the area, and it’s easy enough to compare prices across companies here. With extensive insurance cover, a 4WD rental can cost anything upwards of $150 to $200 per day. If you can find some friends to share the cost of the car with, it works out to an average of $50 a day per person!
Once you’ve arrived at either gateway town, and you’re doing a DIY trip, you’ll need to catch a ferry. In Hervey Bay, daily vehicle ferries leave from River Heads and arrive close to Kingfisher Bay Resort or Wanggoolba Creek. If you’re leaving from Rainbow Beach, you’ll need to head to Inskip Point to join a ferry that will take you over the water to Hook Point.
This picturesque island is home to a wide array of accommodation! Unfortunately, being a tourist hotspot, I found that accommodation doesn’t come cheaply. Saying this, I’ve managed to find the most highly-rated accommodation on the island, suitable for a range of budgets.
Luxury (215 AUD and up):
Luxury on Fraser Island doesn’t get much better than the Kingfisher Bay Resort. Offering up a choice of self-contained villas or hotel rooms, this eco-friendly resort also features four swimming pools complete with sun loungers. On the other side of the island is the Eurong Beach Resort, an equally as luxurious affair. As well as a swimming pool, tennis courts and private balconies, this resort is in prime position to visit Lake McKenzie and Central Station.
Middle (between 150 and 215AUD):
If you’re searching for something a little more middle-of-the-range, the Fraser Island Retreat is the next best thing. Guests stay in private bungalows, some of which enjoy private balconies and views over the water. Another option is The Beachcamp Eco Retreat that offers glamping style accommodation just behind 75 Mile Beach. They’re praised for their fantastic eco-facilities and very friendly staff!
Budget (up to 85 AUD):
Unfortunately, Fraser Island isn’t a cheap place, and budget accommodation doesn’t really exist. Luckily, if you’re booking a tour to go to Fraser Island, all your accommodation will be included in the price. Alternatively, consider camping to save a few pennies. Camping can cost as little as $7/night if you’re happy with slightly more basic facilities (some don’t have toilets or showers!). You’ll find all of the campsites listed on the Queensland Park and Wildlife Service website, where you can also reserve a space up to six months in advance. For a budget-friendly and centrally-located option, try Central Station out for size.
Fraser Island is up there with some of the best islands in Australia. After visiting lots of similar islands, including the likes of Keppel Island and Whitsundays, I really believe Fraser Island tops them all. It incorporates adventures, relaxation and picture-perfect beauty everywhere you look.
This roundup of how to spend your time on the island covers 14 of the best sites to see along with two unforgettable experiences as well. Hopefully, this has made planning your trip along the East Coast a little bit easier. If you still have questions, just drop me a message below and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as I can.
And, when you finally make it to the island, make sure you soak in each and every moment.