Discovering all the incredible things to do on Fraser Island will live long in my memory from our big 18-month lap around Australia.
Whilst Fraser Island is well known as one of the best places in the country for hard-core four-wheel driving enthusiasts, it offers so much more, for kids, for families, for everyone.
This is east coast Australia at it’s best, going off-road and creating your own tracks, or following those created by nature. The ever changing landscape of an island made of sand means no day is the same, and no return visit will be the same either.
If you’re planning your first visit to Fraser Island, below are our highlights that I encourage you to create time for in your itinerary. We didn’t get to see it all, but this list will give you more than enough inspiration and tips on things to do on Fraser Island to make your visit a reality.
Quick Fraser Island facts:
Fraser Island stretches 123 km long and 23 km wide and is the largest sand island in the world, dumped over 800,000 years ago from places as far as Antarctica when it was still joined with Australia.
Fraser is a World Heritage Site that’s constantly moving and evolving and is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres. And then there are the 1,000+ freshwater lakes.
Things to do on Fraser Island
1. Sunrise at Eurong Beach
One of the benefits of staying at Eurong Beach Resort on the east coast of the island is that you’re only steps away from 75 Mile Beach and witnessing the sunrise of a morning is a spectacular way to start your day on Fraser!
2. Drive 75 Mile Beach
75 Mile Beach is Fraser’s National Highway, the main long stretch of beach on the eastern side of Fraser Island and is classed as part of the Bruce Highway.
This is coastal four-wheel-driving at it’s best, and the first time we had experienced hard core 4×4 action in Australia, we were instantly hooked.
The ocean is wild and pounding, the beach landscape ever changing from the tides, there’s camping, beach fishing, and it’s along this stretch of sand where you gain access to many of the best things to do on Fraser Island listed below.
When driving 75 Mile Beach it’s important you understand how the tides work so you don’t get cut off and can’t make it back to your accommodation. Low tide is best, you want to drive it when it’s flat and hard, and avoid driving during the two hours either side of high tide. Check the current conditions report here.
And make sure you’re paying attention to the steady stream of other 4WD’s, the washouts, wild roaming dingos, the ambling tourists and beach fishermen, and the joy flights taking off on the beach.
Because it’s classed as a highway, strict road rules apply and there are police present ready to nab those who speed or drink drive.
And if you can time your visit for whale watching season do it. We saw humpbacks breaching and playing Another incredible experience of our drive was spotting migrating whales breaching a few hundred metres off the beach.
3. Eli Creek
Eli Creek is one of the most popular stops along 75 Mile Beach, especially busy when all the tour buses congregate so try and avoid that if possible.
The creek has water so clear you only know its there when a leaf floats past you. It’s water that’s been filtered by the sand for up to 100 years – such purity!
Eli Creek is famous for wading, tubing, or swimming through and pumps nearly 3.5 million litres of fresh water in the ocean every hour. There is no place on Fraser quite like it.
4. Maheno Shipwreck
Another spot along 75 Mile Beach that is one of the most photographed and visited sites is the Maheno Shipwreck.
The Maheno is a former Trans-Tasman luxury liner and a World War 1 hospital ship that was washed ashore in 1935 whilst being towed to Japan – a cyclone viciously ripped her from the chain and spewed her up on Fraser.
Sunrises are meant to be picture perfect here with the Maheno as the foreground, as long as the tides are favourable for gaining access. Either way, the Maheno is a postcard moment at any time of the day!
5. The Pinnacles coloured rocks
As you drive along the east coast Fraser’s sand will continue to amaze as you come alongside The Pinnacles, a small section of coloured sandy cliffs along the Surf Beach (I can’t believe they’re made from sand!), just north of the Maheno.
You don’t need much time at The Pinnacles but it’s worth getting out of your car and taking a short walk inland for a closer look.
6. Indian Head
Indian Head is a coastal headland on the eastern side of Fraser Island that you’ll get to when heading north on 75 Mile Beach, and is the most easterly point on the island.
Indian Head is one of only three sections of rock on Fraser Island, and this area was named by Captain James Cook who, whilst sailing his ship the Endeavour, spotted a group of Aboriginals standing on the headland.
It offers panoramic views over the beach and ocean, and is a prime whale watching spot – we saw a few humpbacks migrating past, just magical!
7. Champagne Pools
Just north of Indian Head is possibly the most popular swimming spot on Fraser, and for good reason, especially on a sunny day! Our kids, and us big kids enjoyed a low tide dip in the clear, bubbling sea water of Champagne Pools, which is aptly named.
The view from the top as you walk down the staircase is breathtaking and you’ll want to allocate enough time to make the most of this natural swimming spot, keeping in mind the tides for driving back down 75 Mile Beach.
8. Lake Mackenzie
In the middle of Fraser Island is spectacular Lake Mackenzie, with water that is said to keep you younger and holds the key to youth.
The temperature of the lake was quite cool when we visited, but certainly refreshing after a long day of driving and my feet sure liked it – I could see them easily enough, not a murky streak to be found.
The crystal clear water glows iridescent blue and the white silica sand so powdery soft and provides a great contrast against the lake edge.
And the famous heart-shaped-tree adds to the already pretty landscape.
9. Drive from east to west through sub-tropical rainforest
Our drive from Eurong Beach to Kingfisher Bay along the sandy tracks and through the sub-tropical rainforest was equally as spectacular. It’s hard to imagine that this whole island is made of sand and that you get these incredible trees growing to great heights.
If you have enough time, stop in for a picnic at Central Station and stroll the boardwalk next to Wanggoolba Creek, which carries clear water through tranquil rainforest filled with ancient ferns at Central Station – once a forestry township for about 150 people.
10. Photographing wild dingos
There are wild dingos on Fraser Island, and they are tamer than they should be thanks to the poor choices of humans, and if you have small children like us never leave their side, not for a second, as they have been known to attack and are very cunning.
You’re bound to have dingos coming pretty close to you on the beaches, particularly near Eli Creek, sniffing for food. And despite signs warning of the danger all over the island, we saw tourists moving close to them to get their shot of the cute wild dogs.
We kept our distance and I relied on my 300mm zoom lens to get these close-up photos.
11. Take a joy flight
A definite highlight of our visit and one of the more unique things to do on Fraser Island is experiencing a joy flight with Air Fraser Island which take off from nature’s best runway along 75 Mile Beach.
You’ll be afforded incredible views up and down the coast, fly inland over the massive sand dunes and pretty Butterfly Lake, and spot migrating whales in season.
Air Fraser run 15-minute joy flights all day long from $75 p/p.
12. Sunset at Kingfisher Bay
If you’re staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort on the west coast, don’t miss having a few sundowners at the unassuming Jetty Hut – bottles of champagne and platters of prawns, cheese and crackers are also on offer.
Check out what the adventures look like on our YouTube video. Click play and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel!
Getting to Fraser Island
Fraser Island Barges operate ferries and barges for both vehicle and passengers daily from River Heads, 20 minutes south of Hervey Bay, to Kingfisher Bay Resort and Wangoolba Creek on the west side of Fraser Island.
Manta Ray operates a barge from Inskip Point (Rainbow Beach) to Hook Point on the south of Fraser Island.
Fraser Island 4wd hire
Fraser Island is strictly four wheel drive territory as all roads on the island are sand tracks, and if you want to self-drive Fraser you’ll need a 4WD with reasonable under-vehicle clearance.
You can take your own vehicle, we only had an all-wheel-drive, or you can hire a reliable and fully maintained 4×4 from the friendly folks at Atlas 4wd hire.
They’ll get you your permit, give you helpful instructions on how to drive safely during your driver safety briefing (allow 1 hour) and they will even store your vehicle for the duration of your time on Fraser Island.
Generic Driving Distances:
These driving times are conservative and you should always drive to suit the current conditions:
- Eurong Beach to Kingfisher Bay Resort – 22km (approx 1hr)
- Eurong Beach to Eli Creek – 30km (approx 40mins)
- Eurong Beach to Maheno Wreck – (approx 45mins)
- Eurong Beach to The Pinnacles coloured sands – 35km (approx 50mins)
- Eurong Beach to Indian Head – 60km (approx 1hr 20mins)
- Eurong Beach to Champagne Pools – 63km (approx 1hr 30mins )
- Eurong Beach to Central Station/Pile Valley – 8km (approx 30mins)
- Eurong Beach to Lake McKenzie – 15km (approx 45mins)
Fraser Island Tours
- Sunset Safaris offer a 2 day and 3-day tours departing from the Gold Coast or Brisbane in their speciality designed 4wd buses and mini-coaches.
- Fraser Explorer Tours operate one and two-day tours of the island departing from Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach. For all their tour info click here.
Fraser Island accommodation
On the east coast, Eurong Beach Resort is a great base from which to explore all the things to do on Fraser Island listed above with its absolute beachfront position on 75-Mile Beach, including the world class beach fishing.
The resort is also centrally located for visiting the southern lakes, which include Lake McKenzie, Basin, Wabby, Jennings, Birrabeen and Boomanjin, as well as the sub-tropical rainforests around Pile Valley, Central Station and Wanggoolba Creek.
How does a little bit of luxury sound amidst one of the most unique and pristine parts of Australia? Kingfisher Bay Resort is on the quieter western side of Fraser Island, right where the car ferry from River Head drops you off.
Kingfisher Bay has the more upmarket buffet breakfast and dinner at Maheno Restaurant, or you can splurge at the a la carte Seabelle Restaurant.
There’s a lovely pool, cocktail bar, segway adventure tours, guided bushwalks, and different accommodation types ranging from two and three bedroom villas, multi-share Wilderness Lodges, resort hotel rooms, and Kingfisher Houses.
Camping on Fraser Island
For information about camping on Fraser Island click here.