Spectacular Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island located off the east-cost of Australia, below the Great Barrier Reef.
Credit: Tourism Australia
It is home to a 75-mile beach that doubles as a highway, complex and impressive sand dunes that date back at least 700,000 years, and rainforests that grow towering, tall trees straight out of the sand – unlike anywhere else in the world.
Swim in the exquisite crystal-clear blue waters of Lake McKenzie and hike the lush walking trails that service the world-heritage listed island. Watch dolphins swimming off the shore and set up camp for the evening, taking in a sensational sunset to close out the day.
There are over 100 freshwater lakes to find, kilometres of white sand beaches to stroll along, and impressive sandy cliffs to visit – each ranging in colour from red to orange to yellow. The island continues to change each year, with erosion, waves and wind slowly but surely altering the vast sand formations and landscape of Fraser Island.
The weather is mostly warm throughout the year, so you can visit when it suits your schedule. Summer months do see a little more rain but warmer days, while the winter months is ideal for whale watching as they make their way along the coast during their annual migration.
Things to do and see on Fraser Island
The most visited lake on Fraser Island; Lake McKenzie is a sparkling and calm freshwater perched lake, consisting of the most inviting blue waters and white silica sand banks. This is the perfect place to perch on a hot summer’s day, as the lake is perfectly safe for swimming, and the area is serviced by free public amenities.
Check out the giant sand dune surrounding Lake Wabby and snap a photo of the deep green waters.
Being an island made entirely of sand, Fraser Island is a 4WD lovers’ dream. Cruise down the 75-mile beach highway and watch light aircraft land – this beach also doubles as a runway. Always be aware of the changing tides when driving on Fraser Island, and don’t forget to grab your permit before heading over on the ferry.
Fraser Island Great Walk
Stretching along almost the entire island, this 90km hike takes avid walkers about a week to complete. Get the know Fraser Island better than the average traveller as you make your way through the unique landscape and learn about the history and culture of the island as you go.
An Island like this is incredible to see from above. Not only will a quick scenic flight give you plenty of photo opportunities, but you’ll also experience taking off and landing on a sand runway, right along the beach.
Grabbing an inflatable donut and floating down the peaceful Eli Creek is a crowd-favourite activity. For anyone who prefers to stay dry, boardwalks follow along the creek, and you can keep an eye out for wildlife and birdlife.
Hike to the viewpoint on the eastern headland, for unbeatable views of the ocean and beach, often with marine life – sharks, stingrays or dolphins – visible swimming below.
Of the 23 recorded shipwrecks around Fraser Island, none are as famous as the Maheno. In 1935 the ship was on its way to Japan after being sold for scraps following 30 years of ocean journeys. A cyclone interrupted the final trip, and the Maheno drifted to Fraser Island, which would become its final resting place. The ship is clearly visible off the coast.
Central Station Rainforest
Walk through the unique rainforest growing out of the sand and learn about the landscape and wildlife as you stroll along the boardwalks.
Explore the calm rock pools at low tide. At high tide, watch the waves crash over and create bubbles – giving this area of Fraser Island its name.
Hervey Bay is regarded as one of the best places in the world for whale watching. The calm waters between Hervey and Fraser Island see over 1000 humpback whales migrating through each winter. Join a whale watching cruise to get the best views.
Set up on the beach on Fraser Island’s east side and catch whiting, bream, and swallowtail, or head to Platypus Bay for marlin.
Join a boat cruise along the sparkling waters surrounding Fraser Island. Learn about the rich marine life below the waters surface and spot as many fish, turtles, dolphins, and dugongs as you can.
Swimming at Fraser Island
The beaches of Fraser Island are incredibly inviting – particularly during a warm summer’s day. It is important to note that swimming at the beach is not advised. This is due to unpredictable currents and rips, unpatrolled beaches, changing tides, and a larger than usual presence of sharks in the water. Fortunately – you have the stunning Lake McKenzie or Eli Creek (amongst other swim spots you’ll discover along the way) to cool off in.
What to eat on Fraser Island
Kingfisher Bay Resort is where you will find the best restaurants and bars on the island. A range of venues open for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Grab some takeaway to get out into the island as quickly as possible. Hervey Bay is filled with more eateries and bars when you make your way back off the island.
Sand & Wood
Discover the unique flavours of Australian and Asian ingredients and cuisine for dinner or pop in for breakfast and a coffee in the morning.
The Rainforest Bar
A newly renovated and ready to serve delicious cold drinks to customers after a big day of exploring the island.
Stop in for a morning espresso or a nightcap, or for guests at Kingfisher Bay, enjoy a cocktail by the pool.
The Sand Bar & Bistro
Casual alfresco dining serving up favourites like burgers, parmigiana’s and salads.
Wrap up a jam-packed day by enjoying a cocktail by the beach on a bean bag and watch the sunset. If you need something with a little more substance, opt for a prawn or cheese platter.
Where to stay on Fraser Island
Experience Fraser Island with a touch of luxury and stay at an island resort. If a nature escape is more your style – there are countless opportunities for the ultimate camping trip under the stars.
There are more than 40 camping areas across the island. Given many travellers visit Fraser Island for a nature-escape, it makes sense that many opt to spend their nights under the stars. Camping permits are required, and it’s best to plan and book ahead to avoid being stuck without a spot at your preferred location.
Spend the night in a slightly more permanent type of tent. Beachcamp Eco Retreat and Cathedrals on Fraser offer fixed canvas tents, the more luxurious options complete with air-conditioning and premium amenities.
Several holiday parks around the island offer cabins for families. Check out Cathedrals on Fraser, Fraser Island Retreat or Fraser View.
Families or larger groups can enjoy the comforts a holiday home on Fraser Island. Waiuta Retreat, KOKOMO at Kingfisher Bay and Salty Towers are three homes with plenty of room for at least 10 guests to sleep comfortably.
Kingfisher Bay Resort
One of the most well-known resorts on the island, Kingfisher Bay Resort is a top resort in Australia. The resort has varying accommodation options, plus multiple restaurants, and pools, as well as guided walks.
K’gari Beach Resort
A range of accommodation in a prime position by the beach, with Eli Creek and Indian Head around the corner.
How to get to Fraser Island
From Hervey Bay:
There is no bridge connecting the island to the mainland, so a ferry or flight is your only option.
The ferries are all passenger and vehicle friendly – allowing travellers to bring their own 4WD to the island. You cannot take a regular car onto the island. If you aren’t bringing your own 4WD you can hire one on the island or join a tour and let someone else do the driving. Beach highway and sand tracks connect the island lakes, camping grounds, resorts, and rainforests.
Ferries depart from Hervey Bay at River Heads, and Rainbow Beach at Inskip Point, and will take around 30 minutes.
Flights depart daily with Air Fraser Island – from Sunshine Coast or Hervey Bay Airport only Hervey Bay is 2 hours north of popular holiday destination Noosa by car.
It is a 3-4-hour drive north from Queensland’s capital city Brisbane. You can drive yourself up and along the Sunshine Coast to reach the ferry. Alternatively, QantasLink has direct flights from Brisbane Airport to Hervey Bay.