FleetCrew’s Fraser Island Four Wheel Driving Guide – Part 1
What is a World Heritage Area, home to Great Sandy National Park, and is Earth’s largest sand island? Nothing else but the magnificent Fraser Island.
The island sand mass is surrounded by aquamarine waters teeming with oceanic life. On its lower Western side is the Great Sandy Strait. The strait is adorned with dozens of smaller islands and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest artificial reef, Roy Rufus Reef.
The Island’s Eastern edge meets the Coral Sea and is gifted with 120 kilometres of breathtaking beaches. In between Fraser’s coasts are over 100 freshwater lakes, towering rainforests, 43 sand blows, and stunning cliffs.
With endless sandy beaches, crystal clear freshwater lakes and streams, mammoth sand blows, striking biodiversity, and a truly exotic wilderness, Fraser Island is a paradise for every nature and adventure lover. Fraser Island is one of our favourite 4WDing destinations. We created this guide to encourage you to experience Fraser Island’s breathtaking beauty yourself. Let the adventures begin!
If you love the idea of exploring one of the world’s most magnificent islands with the freedom to avoid the crowds and do exactly as you wish, then you are in the right place.
Quick Links to FleetCrew’s Fraser Island 4WD Travel Guide – Fraser Island Part 1:
- When to Go
- Seasonal Activities
- Rent a 4WD Vehicle
- Book a Campsite
- Hotel and Cabin Accommodations
- How to Get There
- 2. Hervey Bay
- Gear Checklist
- Tips to Stay Safe
- Fraser Island is a Jewel among Islands
Fraser is a heavenly experience all year round. The island has a maritime subtropical climate. The surrounding ocean helps to moderate the island’s weather. You’re looking at temperatures around 14-25 degrees during the Australian winter (May to August). During summer (January to March), average temperatures range from 23-30 degrees, with higher chance of rainfall and thunderstorms. Check the weather forecast to plan your getaway.
- The best fishing is between July and October, when the island has a “tailor run” and schools of fish surround the island.
- Humpback Whales migrate south past the island from July to November. Whales can be seen from Double Island Point or you can book a tour. The waters of Great Sandy Strait provide calm water, perfect for watching whales rest, play, and care for their calves.
- August to March and September to April are the best times for birdwatching. Queensland is home to some of the world’s most exotic and colourful birds. At sunrise and sunset, the forest comes to life with bird songs from parrots, kookaburras, cockatoos, and hundreds more. There are over 350 bird species that call the island home. Many enjoy the island when they are migrating from southern Australia to Siberia.
The island has moderate temperatures much of the year. It does not get as hot or as cold as Australia’s interior. Many prefer the warmer temperatures, between September to April, but with summer and holidays comes larger crowds. Fraser truly is a paradise year round.
To independently explore Fraser Island, you need to reserve a campsite or book accommodation, get a barge ticket and have a way to explore the island.
Fraser Island has no roads, except in the township. The island is approximately 120 kilometres long and 25 kilometres wide. Therefore, Fraser’s gems can only be experienced if one has access to a boat, plane, or 4-wheel drive. There are inland tracks and beach tracks on Fraser Island. Between the excellent drives and natural wonders, Fraser is regarded as a one of Australia’s pre-eminent four-wheel driving destinations. If you want you can check our range of off road 4wd hire vehicles.
Please note that not all 4WD hire companies will allow vehicles to be driven off road, including the beach. Moreover, having a well maintained vehicle is critical for your safety and enjoyment.
Vehicle access permits are required to drive on Fraser Island. Permits for Fraser Island are $46.60 up to a month of access and $234 for the whole year. If you plan on 4WDing on Fraser Island and Cooloola Recreation Area (Coloured Sands) you can get permits for both locations at a 20% discount. Permits for both are $74.70 for a month or $374.80 for the year.
With 28 camping areas on Fraser Island, there are plenty of camping options. We primarily enjoy the beach camping areas, because they are remote and avoid crowds. Although they are without facilities, beach camping areas allow the visitor to truly ‘get away from it all’ and feel absorbed into the wilderness.
Top Waddy Campground is another favourite. Though frequently crowded, Top Waddy has oceanfront campsites, is protected from the ocean by sandbars and tide pools, and is an excellent fishing location. Moreover, Top Waddy has a giant sand blow to hike up and refreshing Lake Wabby to swim in. Many decide to camp at Top Waddy because it is one of the few places on the island where campfires are permitted. To learn more about camp sites available on Fraser, click here.
You can book your campsite online. It is advised to reserve in advance, especially if you plan to go during school holidays. Depending on the camping area you can book from 3 to 12 months in advance. To secure your campsite and vehicle permit, click here. Camping is affordable for families. At public campgrounds, from July 2015, the fee is $5.95 per person per night, or $23.80 per family per night (up to eight people, children under 5 are free). You can check the latest camping fees here. Pick up your camping permit at a Queensland Park and Wildlife Service Offices or permit issuing agents (the same place you will get your vehicle permit).
There are dozens of options other than camping. The island has a number of hotels and apartments for rent. Some are basic, others more luxurious.
Situated on Seventy-five Mile Beach, ocean views are a common commodity at this hotel. The facilities include two swimming pools, tennis courts, and BBQ’s. Motel rooms have a TV, private balconies or shared terraces, a small kitchenette, bathroom and telephone. Apartments have private balconies and full kitchens The resort also has a restaurant and bar overlooking the swimming pool.
Kingfisher facilities include villas and hotel rooms, three restaurants. The resort is eco-friendly offers numerous nature trails, eco-tours, and four swimming pools. Accommodations have a balcony, air-conditioning, and fabulous views. While Kingfisher Bay Resort is the better resort, it is located on the west coast which is the bay side of the island whereas a lot of the most popular destinations are easier to access from the east coast.
Bungalows with private balconies and sea or garden views, swimming pool, and dining at their bar and bistro await the guests of Fraser Island Retreat. The retreat is centrally located on the island, it is a two-minute walk from the Eastern Beaches and a 10-minute drive from Eli Creek. Bungalows include tea kettle, linens, fan and fridge. There are communal BBQ facilities, kitchen, and laundry available.
Cathedrals on Fraser is a campsite with cabins (and tents) available for rent. Some cabins have private baths, others have bathrooms shared with campers. We highly recommended this place. The facilities provide a lush environment and a place to relax and enjoy its natural beauty.
If you would like the option of having an entire home for increased luxury and comfort, Fraser Island Beach Houses is a favourite for couples, families and groups as large as six that would like their own private beach front accommodation.
For more information on cabins, apartments, hotels and resorts on the island, click here.
Ferries leave the mainland to Fraser Island from Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay. The best ferry for you depends on what you would like to see. There are a few ferry drop off points, a few drop off points can be found here. Knowing if you would rather see Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay can also help you decide which ferry to take.
The drive to Inskip from Brisbane is 246 km and takes approximately 3 hours. If you leave from Inskip Point, be sure to check out Rainbow Beach and Carlo Sandblow. You can also 4WD on the beach here to see the breathtaking Coloured Sands, which rise 200 meters up from the ocean and are 72 different shades of colour – hence the name Coloured Sands and Rainbow Beach.
The Manta Ray has a ferry service to the Island from Inskip Point Rainbow Beach to Hook Point. The fare is $120 for a vehicle including all passengers and driver. The ferry to Fraser takes 10 minutes. The ferry runs continuously between 6am to 5:30pm with 2-3 barges operating during peak season. You don’t need a booking, however please keep in mind that the Barge and Permit Office which is located on the left hand side just before Rainbow Beach is open from 6am to 4pm. Unless you plan to visit Hervey Bay or you are staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort we would recommend this ferry service.
River Heads is a 20-minute drive south of Hervey Bay. Hervey Bay is a tourist paradise with luxury accommodations, restaurants and made world famous for whale watching. Hervey Bay is a 3 and half hour drive from Brisbane.
Fraser Venture departs three times daily from River Heads, a 20-minute drive south of Hervey Bay. It heads from River Heads to Wanggoolba Creek. Kingfisher Bay Ferry has five return services daily. The ferry leaves from River Heads and lands at Kingfisher Bay Resort. To book online for either ferry, do so three days prior. Otherwise call 1 800 227 433 to book your ferry. Return fare is $165-$175 per vehicle, including three passengers and one driver. Both ferries from River Heads take about an hour to arrive at the Island.
Make sure you take what you need. When four-wheel driving, there is more to remember than your swimmers and sunscreen.
- Drivers License
- Vehicle Access and Camping Permit
- Navigation aid- compass and GPS*
- Vehicle owner’s manual*
- First aid kit*
- Prescription medications (if you need them)
- Personal Gear (such as clothes, swimsuit, toothbrush, books, etc.)
- Camping gear (such as tent, cooking gear, and torch.)
- Open fires are prohibited on Fraser Island, except in communal QPWS-provided fire rings at Waddy Point and Dundubara. Bring suitable fuel stove for cooking).
- Spare Tyre*
- Tyre Pressure Compressor”
- Tyre Pressure Gauge*
- Bring plenty of food and water (more expensive on the island)
- Water for radiator/washer reservoir (1- litres minimum)
- Portable toilet if camping where there are no facilities.
*Some of these items are already included, while others can be included for a nominal fee.
- It is not advisable to swim in the ocean for three reasons: the beaches are unpatrolled, and the current and sharks can be fierce.
- Sand driving on Fraser Island is easy to moderate, depending on the weather and tide. Please be mindful of tide times to prevent getting stranded or stuck in oncoming water. It is best to avoid driving on the beach 2 hours either side of high tide.
- Running down sand dunes can cause serious injury, as can diving in to Lake Wabby.
- Watch your speed and remember: slower is safer. In good conditions you can drive up to 80km/hr on the beach and 30km/hr in the townships and the tracks inland. However just because the speed limit is 80km/hr doesn’t mean you have to drive at 80 km/hr. It is also advisable to re-inflate tyres to the manufacturer’s recommendations to travel at fast speed on hard sand as the tyres can roll off the rims at low tyre pressures and cause accidents. Refer here for extra tips for driving on the Island
- Dingos have attacked children in the past. If you are camping with children, stay at campsites that have dingo deterrent fencing. Never feed or attract a dingo, it is against the law, and penalties apply. Dingo’s fed by humans can become aggressive. To learn more about Fraser Island dingoes click here.
- If you find that you are in need of emergency assistance for your 4WD, call Fraser Island Vehicle Recovery and Towing Service: 07 4127 9449 or 0428 353 164 or if you are in a FleetCrew 4wd Hire vehicle phone 1 300 551 400 and we will assist.
- Read Fraser Island Conditions report and Park Alerts before you go at Fraser Island info & updates. The reports contain weather conditions and important updates.
- Keep safe from crocodiles. Crocs have been spotted on Fraser’s west coast, though they are very rare and only seen in summer.
Australians and adventure lovers the world over flock to Fraser to bask in its sunshine, beaches, forests and splendour. FleetCrew has a fleet of Fraser Island 4WD hire vehicles. We have a range of diverse 4WD vehicles that vary from Tray Back Single Cab Utes to 8 Seater Toyota LandCruiser 200 series 4×4’s. Our range of vehicles allows you to select a vehicle to meet the needs of your trek and group size. All of our vehicles are exquisitely maintained. If you are interested to hire a 4WD to explore Fraser Island you can browse our recreational fleet. If you would need further assistance you can contact us here. Safe driving!
If you haven’t had enough yet, please read more in our Fraser Island 4WD Travel Guide – Part 2.