Who knew how much fun could be had driving a 4X4 on sand for two days?! Camping overnight on Fraser Island is without a doubt, one of my best travel recommendations of 2017!
First things first for those of you who have never heard of Fraser Island, it just so happens to be the world’s largest sand island. It’s situated on the east coast of Australia and accessible via seaplane or ferry from River Heads, Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach.
The island has so many incredible natural attractions from champagne rock pools to pristine freshwater lakes so it is easy to see why this particular haven is a popular destination to spend a few days, it’s also a great day trip for those of you more pressed for time.
The only way around the island is by four wheel drive, so there’s two options for those of us travelling from outside of Australia – hire your own 4×4 car or take a guided tour. We personally did a lot of research before travelling out because there’s so many options to explore, you can take one of the scheduled day trips with a larger tour company or you can join a 2/3 day tour that includes a driver and guide.
We really fancied the idea of hiring a 4×4 and taking on the terrain ourselves as we always love to explore tourist spots at our own leisure but after reading a few posts and watching some videos about the drive we were definitely apprehensive. The track is super tricky as you are driving on soft sand so it’s not for the faint hearted!
With that being said, Mems and I have always been a little crazy and adventurous 😉 So we took the plunge and decided to hire a car and make our own itinerary.
We hired our car from Aussie Trax and I can honestly say it was the BEST decision we made! As we travelled to Australia in peak season (the christmas period) we had to be savvy to avoid the crowds at all times so hiring our own car made it easier to arrange our day around the larger group tours. The car hire also included camping equipment for two which was awesome. All we needed to take with us is a change of clothes, our swim stuff, cameras and sunscreen 😉
We picked up the car from the offices in Hervey bay and then drove down to River heads to catch the Ferry. It leaves four times a day and you have to pre-book it to guarantee a space for you car, otherwise you do have the option to try your luck on the day. It takes half an hour to cross the waters and then it’s time to drive!
The guys at Aussie Trax gave us a full briefing before heading out but essentially you need to make sure your tyre pressure is super low (18 PSI) to tackle the sands, we let them down before driving off the ferry. There’s little signal on the island so you need to be able to navigate ‘old skool’ style with a paper map whilst keeping your eye out for signposts. There’s you thinking those orientation classes in school were pointless 😉
We stayed on the island for two days and camped up on the beach for the night’s stay, it.was.magical!
There’s a few group trips that stay over for two nights allowing you to explore the island for three days but I personally think the one night stay is perfect. A day trip, in my opinion, wouldn’t be long enough. To fully enjoy the experience of the island you need to stay over, and most definitely camp! There are a few resorts on the Fraser but they can’t compare to sleeping beneath a blanket of a million stars (it’s one of the best star gazing locations I have ever been to!) and waking up to the gentle crash of the tide. It’s a once in a lifetime experience for sure.
There are some campsites that have showers but there’s also a number of gorgeous fresh water creeks so they are an easy way to freshen up during a two day stay 😉
Our favourite was Eli Creek, if you can get there before the crowds which is early in the morning when the tide is too high for the group trips then you will have the fresh waters to yourself. You’ll also experience the sun peeking through the trees waking you up with your own pretty little rainbow.
Another great spot is the most famous and largest lake on the Island, Lake Makenzie. A gigantic pool with beautiful white sand fringes, it can get super busy here as the water is so appealing! So the trick is to find your own little section of sand to spend the day. We had an ocean bag with us so threw in our cameras and beach towel and then swam across the lake to find our own private beach 😉 Hang on, do you still call it a beach when there’s no ocean?!
You have all the awesomeness of the beach but no salty sticky aftermath and no scary jellies or sharks in the water, actual bliss if you ask me!
Another treat is the Champagne pools, these wonders are located far North East of the island so they aren’t easy to get to! In fact if you watch my video about our personal experience you will see just how difficult, they are so worth it though!
Pretty salt water rock pools with huge waves crashing over to create a foam, hence their name, the champagne pools 😉 Nature’s very own water park.
The real highlight of Fraser Island isn’t just the individual sights and tourist spots though, for me it’s was all about the driving, driving on the sands for hours on end, getting stuck and jiggling around like a fair ground ride for the most part, it’s hilarious! You have the ocean on one side and the rainforest on the other, fully aware that there’s only a few hundred people on the island with you. There’s two or three shops only, no wifi, no electrical charge points – it’s the perfect escape from reality and the most refreshing way to enjoy the wonders of nature in some of it’s purest forms.
I highly recommend this island if you are travelling the East Coast of Australia, there’s no place in the world quite like it! We did come up against some issues whilst we were there though so I feel it’s my duty to pass on my experience and travel wisdom;
Top Tips for Travelling to Fraser Island
- Make sure all your devices and charged to the max as you won’t get change to plug in while you are there.
- Take enough food for the evening and days, we didn’t pass one cafe or shop the whole time.
- If you are going for a sunset walk make sure you take a torch and mark where you tent is pitched – the sun goes down quicker than you think and it’s impossible to find your tent in the pitch black. (We learnt this the hard way!)
- Wear a long sleeved top in the car, that seat belt and all those bumps are not comfy on bare skin!
- Start pitching up your tent a few hours before sundown as you aren’t able to drive on high tides and you don’t want to be fumbling in the dark
- Find out the group trip schedule so you know how best to divert the crowds when visiting the attractions