4X4XMORE Best Beaches: Fraser Island

Posted by Motorama in 4x4xMore

Fraser Island has long been considered the ultimate destination for a serious 4X4 off road adventure. With long beaches (and I mean 75 Miles long), world heritage listed rainforests and lakes, Fraser Island is a must see for local and international tourists alike.

Interestingly, it is still one of the few places where your movements are still dictated by the tides.

Getting there

Access to Fraser Island is by ferry from the mainland and there are two services that can get you over there. The closest to Brisbane will be the Inskip Point barge that leaves from Rainbow Beach, driving east from Gympie.

This ferry will drop you at the southern end of Fraser Island, at Hook Point, taking only 10 minutes. It pays to check the tides as Hook Point can be impassable at low tide – the other option is the very bumpy inland track that cuts out the drive around Hook Point.

The more scenic route (or if you’re coming from Bundaberg or further north) will take you in from Maryborough, towards Hervey Bay to River Heads where a barge will take you to Wangoolba Creek on the western side of Fraser Island. Bookings are required on this ferry, however you don’t have to worry about tides for landing. The ferry also takes longer, at 45 minutes to cross from the mainland. To get to the surf beach, you then need to drive across to the eastern side of the island.

What to bring

Fraser Island has general stores, as it has guests at the Kingfisher Bay Resort and Eurong Beach Resort to cater for. However, you do pay a premium for the convenience of shopping on the island – it’s best to do your shopping before you come across.

There is fuel available on the island but, again, it comes at a price. If your vehicle is equipped with an auxiliary tank, make sure that’s topped up, in case you run out of fuel in the main tank from driving around. There is a large service station at Rainbow Beach for last minute supplies & fuel.

You need to ensure you’ve booked a permit for driving on the beach, and another for camping if you intend to stay for the night. You can book these in advance online, or pick them up at locations in Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay before you come over – some of the offices and kiosks that you pick up are closed on weekends and public holidays, so it’s best to plan ahead.

Preparing your 4x4 for Fraser Island

There are actually no roads to speak of on Fraser Island, so it is all sand driving, either on the beach or on formed tracks that vary in condition based on the amount of traffic, weather and time of year.  This means high clearance four wheel drives with low range capacity are a must, vehicles with ‘all-wheel drive’ systems are discouraged.

Travelling 2 hours either side of low tide is always recommended for beach driving – this is when the maximum amount of hard sand will be exposed and make for comfortable and safe driving.

The key thing is to ensure your 4x4 is adequately equipped for the beach – this includes packing the minimum:

  • Recovery gear (like a snatch strap, d-shackles)
  • Maxtrax Style Recovery treads
  • A long handle shovel (for getting out of sand)
  • Tyre pressure gauge
  • Familiarise yourself with the recovery points are on your vehicle
  • Flat piece of timber (useful if you need change a tyre on the sand and need the jack to get some leverage)
  • Tide timetable

You need to ensure you reduce the tyre pressure of your tyres down to 18 – 25 psi – this will maximise the tread pattern on the sand (due to a broader surface area of the tyre).

Driving the beach

Fraser Island is Australia’s largest sand island, which means it is essentially a sand dune – perfect for testing out your 4WD’s abilities.

If you’ve never driven on sand before, you can download a guide to the basics from the parks department.

Learn how to enter the beach, deal with washouts and read our 5 tips for driving on sand. Of course, don't forget to wash down your 4x4 after visiting Fraser Island.

You can download the latest report on the conditions of Fraser Island, so you can plan your next trip in advance.

Even though you have the whole beach to drive on, there are other drivers to think about, so you have to keep left, as well as keep to the speed limit, if not below it. The maximum speed is 80km/h on the beach and 30km/h on township roads and inland tracks – although, as on the road, conditions will dictate your speed.

What to do

There is plenty to do at Fraser Island, so make sure you allow yourself plenty of time. For a handy guide, you can print out Kingfisher Bay Resort's online magazine chock full of ideas on what to do once you're on the island!

Eastern Beach highlights:

Hook Point – stunning views south to Rainbow Beach
Maheno Wreck – iconic shipwreck nearly half way up 75 Mile Beach
Eli Creek – float / swim down the crystal clear freshwater creek
The Cathedrals – huge coloured sand dunes – these look best in the early morning when the morning sun hits them.
Indian Head (incredible views) – try to pick a calmer day for the best views or a westerly wind – great place to spot whales, sharks, schools of fish & more.
Champagne Pools – naturally occurring rock pools at Indian Head - go early or late to avoid the tour buses.
Waddy Point – Protected headland at the bottom end of Orchid. This is where trailer boats launch into the surf to head out to the locals reefs and definitely worth the drive north of Indian Head.
Sandy Cape Lighthouse – located at the very tip of the island, plan your tides and be careful of the soft sand at Ngkala Rocks. Secluded, stunning and remote – this place will blow you away. Great views from the lighthouse.

Inland highlights:

Lake McKenzie – stunningly clear perched lake as seen in the brochures – go early or late to avoid the crowds.
Central Station Rainforest Walk – history on logging on Fraser Island and a boardwalk along the crystal clear Woongoolba Creek - look for eels in the clear water. Some nice short and long walks from here also (Basin Lake is a good one). Good lunch spot.
Lake Wabby – walk the dunes to find a very isolated lake perched between thesand dunes and the forest.

When to go

Fraser is good anytime but some will find it a bit hot & windy through summer.

April – July would be the ideal time to head to Fraser to avoid the crowds. As you head later into winter, you start to pick up the start of Tailor season (August – October) – which see’s hundreds of fisherman & 4WD’s lined along the beach in chase of Tailor & Jew.

The expert team at Motorama 4X4XMORE can help you find the perfect vehicle for your next off-road adventure, and give helpful tips and tricks on how to make the most of your four-wheel drive.