4WDing around Fraser Island

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
10
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
1
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
9
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
7
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
6
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
8
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
85 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Oceania
country
Australia
Length of time
3-4 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 500
Time of year visited
November
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
15th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 5% SUMMARY RATING: Unmissable

Summary

Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and, with practically no development, it is a truly fantastic experience when you head off for 2-3 days in a 4 wheel-drive to explore the pristine creeks, freshwater lakes and lush rainforest.  Plus, it is all interlinked by the magnificent eastern stretch of beach that runs the near full 120km / 75mile length of the island and acts as the “highway”.  Lake McKenzie, with its clean mesmerising colours, perfect white sand and backdrop of the rainforest, is worth the trip alone.  The highlight experience of Queensland, if not all of Australia, and a must for an East Coast visit

 

I’ve written a few tips below, but my biggest tips are to give yourself at least 2 days, ideally 3, and to rent a 4×4 rather than taking a tour.  The day tours can be good (I’ve done one before and we still had a great time), but there is something wonderfully adventurous about renting a 4×4 and heading off across the island at your own pace to go exploring.  Its a very accessible chunk of paradise, so very easy to do

highlights

#1 The mesmerising coloured waters and perfect white sands of Lake McKenzie

#2 Driving along the magnificent 100km+ East Coast Beach in the 4x4 with the ocean one side and the rainforest on the other

#3 Exploring the virgin rainforest all across the island

#4 Camping in the rainforest (or staying in a bed in one of the resorts - they do exist!)

#5 Swimming and exploring the rock pools of Indian Heads

#6 Nearby Rainbow Beach, one of the 2 entry points to Fraser Island

#7 Climbing over some of the large shipwrecks that have found their way to the main beach

Travel Tips

  • Renting and accessing – whilst the idea of getting a 4×4 and getting onto a sand island sounds like a bit of a logistical challenge, in reality it is very easy to do.  There are two entry point ferries to the island via Hervey Bay and River Heads to the west and Rainbow Beach and Inskip Point to the south.  Both have plenty of rental / tour option / general facilities and both have regular ferries leaving.  Both places are geared up to help you get the most of your trip to Fraser Island
  • Rent / bring your own vehicle – chances are that if you’re making your way up the East Coast that you’re driving your own vehicle.  My tip is that unless you have a very good 4×4 (you are not allowed on the island without a 4×4) and are a confident driver in it, to rent one.  There are various reasons, such as that the Fraser Island 4x4s are geared up specifically for the sand challenges of the island, but more than anything it just relieves the stress.  The internet is full of photos showing cars bogged down in the sand and the tide sweeping in – the rental insurance covers this, whereas your insurance probably doesn’t
  • You’ll get stuck – its kind of par for the course to get stuck in the sand at some point.  Feels stressful at the time, but listen to the instructions of the rental company and know that it happens all the time, with very experienced drivers all across the island more than happy (in fact they kind of have to help to get by) to help
  • Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach – Hervey Bay is the more popular jump off point to the island and geared up for the backpacker crowd with heaps of bars.  Rainbow Beach is more chilled out and also has some multi-coloured sand dunes.  If looking to party and arrange tours, go with Hervey Bay.  If not, you won’t be disappointed with Rainbow Beach
  • Don’t swim on the East Coast Beach – there are plenty of Tiger Sharks very keen to say hi
  • Accommodation – whilst the island has very little development, there is some, so you don’t have to camp if you don’t want to.  We stayed a night in the Kingfisher Bay Resort which was nice

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone