If there is one thing I believe everyone should do if they come to Southeast Queensland and Brisbane is Fraser Island. I have lived 7 years in Australia, visited countless places but Fraser Island is my personal favorite. I admit, I might be a little bias because I have lived in Brisbane most of the time, being only 3.5 hours away I explored this Island 4 times already and it has never disappointed me.
Fraser Island is a place of exceptional beauty and incredible diversity; you find empty beaches, crystal clear creeks, brown, blue and green lakes, natural swimming pool and a unique sandy rain forest.
The wildlife is also incredible you’ll be sure to see dingoes very closely, eagles and maybe dolphins, sharks and whales. The contrast of sleeping on the beach with the sound of the waves one day and then sleeping in the rain forest with the strange dinosaurs noise of Australian birds the next, make you feel like you’ve experience so much, as if you had traveled to many places.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, so getting around is tricky and you will need a good 4WD. Although there are many different tours you can choose from to visit Fraser Island, self-driving is for me the funniest and cheapest way to visit this paradise.
The comfort of a tour
Bus tour of 20 to 40 people start from 1 day at $190 to 4 days at $450, including food, accommodation, transport, park fee and a guide. I took one of these 3 days tour on my first time on Fraser and it was good, especially if you don’t want to camp but it is not the cheapest or nicest way to experience Fraser Island.
The adventure of self-drive
Hiring a car is the cheapest and funniest way to visit Fraser Island. The landscape is challenging to drive on, with soft sand, creek crossing and incoming tides but really it is easier then you think and it is a lot of fun. Accident do happen though so check your insurance policy, most of the time the vehicle is not insured if you crash it by yourself so respect the driving rule and don’t try to show off your driving skills.
If you like camping, then your main cost will be the 4WD, you can rent a 7 or 5 seats car for around $180 per day. You will need to bring food, alcohol, water (camping on the beach do not have water), and a can of petrol just in case (though there is a petrol station on the island).
Here is a map of Fraser Island, don’t worry too much about organizing your trip, the facilities are close enough and the map is comprehensive. The only thing to keep an eye on is the tide time as when high tide comes you will not be able to drive on the beach
Apart from that, everything is pretty straightforward, you can book the camping and car permit directly with the car rental company or online here and you can purchase the ferry ticket directly on the boat. Over wise check out the Fraser Island, Great Sandy National Park website for more information especially if you decide on self-driving.
Costs of self-driving on Fraser Island
- 4WD hire: $165 per day
- Car Permit: $46.65 for one month or less, book here
- Camping permit: $5.95 per night per person and $3.30 for students
- Ferry: $165.00 per vehicle (including driver and 3 passengers) and $175 during peak time
We recommend staying on Fraser for at least 4 to 5 days to be enjoyable and cost effective; you will see most of the Island, while having time to chill. The island has great weather all year round, but the best time to visit is between April and November. School holidays get very busy with fisherman, families and tourists visiting the island so avoid the two first week of April and June, the two last week of September and from the middle of December till the end of January.
Final Tips about self-driving on Fraser Island
- Bring beers in can and not glass bottle as they might break driving on Fraser’s bumpy roads.
- Know the tide’s time, as when high tide comes you will not be able to drive on the beach
- Print the map
- Bring plastic bags for your rubbishes,
- If you have trouble in deep sand on Frazer, deflate the tires a little more
- Follow the advice about the Dingoes and don’t swim in the ocean
Compromise of adventure and safety
Few companies offer self-drive tour with camping and guide on Frazer Island, I haven’t tried them but they seem like the perfect compromise between the safety of a guide and the experience of driving and camping.
It will be a small group of 4 to 6, with everything included, all equipment, food and transportation and you will be able to drive if you are over 21. Check out the Drop bear tour here, they start at $350 for 2 days / 1 night.
I am sure it is also possible to walk Frazer Island and hitchhike your way on the Island, if anyone has experience Fraser by foot I would love to hear from you so give me a shoot at [email protected].
I think it would be fun to rent a 4WD vehicle on a vacation like this. You basically could go anywhere and not have to worry about getting stuck. I know some vacations kind of require that you have a specific type of drive and 4WD is one of them. Anything that is going to be off road should have 4WD.
Yes, it is the best way to travel on Fraser Island, for sure. You do need special 4WD to go though because of the deep sand and the risk of damage of salt water.