“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Fraser Island, Australia
As the largest sand island in the world, for a very unique style of adventure, get yourself to Fraser Island. Just off Australia’s east coast, it’s ideal for lovers of wildlife, epic drives and memorable experiences. Staying here for a while can get costly so we want to show you how we did it in just one day. We’ll also recommend a natural pool in Noosa Heads with a touch of magic, if you don’t mind a spot of rock climbing! Pack your camera, hold on tight and admire the rather bumpy but incredible views of Fraser Island and it’s surroundings.
Dedicating just a day to Fraser Island could be considered too short. A variety of adventure companies provide everything from a day trip, like we did, to a multiple-day and overnight stays. If you have many other things you want to try to experience in a short space of time, all the major highlights can be achieved in day at a fraction of the cost of longer tours. You can choose to navigate Fraser Island independent of a tour company if you have a 4WD vehicle and are confident driving on sand, monitoring tides for access and capable of getting yourself out of trouble if you get stuck. With a 2WD vehicle at our disposal, we opted for a day tour and left the driving to someone with far more experience.
Fraser Free offer a 1 Day Nature Tour for $185 per person for a full day out from Noosa Heads, inclusive of the ferry to the island and the National Park fee. The ferry runs from Inskip point on the mainland over to Hook point on the island and only 4WD vehicles are allowed across as there are no roads on Fraser. There is a resort on the island if you choose to stay for longer or most multi-day visitors will camp on the beach with their 4WD vehicles. But if you really don’t have time for all that, Fraser Free provide an awesome day out, with pick up from Noosa accommodation, an excellent BBQ lunch, a fun driver who expertly navigates the ever-changing sand under the wheels, and a drop off to your door after your exhilerating day. We loved being able to sit back and let someone else be responsible for the hard stuff whilst we enjoyed the scenery and running commentary.
The first stop of the day was at Rainbow beach on the mainland where we admired the coloured sands. This is a great reason to do the tour from Noosa as you get to incorporate this location before accessing Fraser Island. Without a 4WD of our own, this was priceless and the main reason we opted to go with this particular company. The sands are bright orange and reds with various lines running through them, built up over many years and exposed by erosion. Get some great photos, get used to the sand underfoot and prepare to leave the Australian mainland for Fraser Island.
The ferry over to Fraser from Inskip point takes approximately 15 minutes, much closer and quicker than connecting from other parts of the mainland, and most tour companies get to cheekily jump the line of independent vehicles waiting to board. Our 4WD truck had upgraded suspension for comfort and a custom-made coach body with large viewing windows for spotting birds, marine life and dingoes. As you enter Fraser Island, the tour guide begins to separate from the many vehicles who appear slightly more cautious to be driving on this strange terrain. Within minutes we were alone, flying over the sand with the sea rolling alongside us. We saw multiple vehicles get stuck as soon as they left the ferry due to a lack of knowledge on how to navigate the sand. If you are not confident or experienced, book a tour. Otherwise, you could waste most of your time here trying to free yourself and get on the move again.
Eli Creek is a beautiful stop about half way up the east coast of Fraser. There is a small boardwalk over the creek, steps up to bathrooms and a great viewing point. Paddle in the creek which is safe to swim in whilst enjoying the sound of the ocean waves just metres away. Swimming off of Fraser in the tide can be dangerous due to sharks and marine stingers. Eli Creek affords the sound of the waves with safe swimming and a much more relaxing experience than being tossed in the violent surf.
The Maheno shipwreck is further North along the coast from Eli Creek. You can walk alongside the wreck which is viewable from the beach but are not advised to climb or touch the decaying ruins. At varying times of the day, the tide makes different amounts of the wreck visible, so the other great thing about a guide is there is no need to worry about what to see in what order to benefit the most from your day. Admire the wreck and the many changes it has undergone with the exposure to the elements and imagine the stories it could tell.
Central station is your lunch spot where your guide will fire up a BBQ and cook your pre-ordered meal preference, even a vegetarian burger for little old me. There was also an impressive choice of salads and more than enough food for everyone. In fact, we took leftovers back to the camper (typical traveller on a budget moment, much to Matt’s embarrassment). Whilst your guide gets to cooking lunch, walk the small loop track through the rainforest from Central Station. The boardwalk sits under a canopy of trees, with a small stream trickling alongside and under foot. This part of Fraser is in stark contrast to the open sand dunes hugging the sea. There’s a vast array of trees and insects, birds and mammals. Take your time to explore and enjoy, before returning to Central Station to read all about the industries on Fraser previously, and the very famous dingo.
After lunch, head to Lake Birrabean, the slightly less well known silica sand lake in the centre of Fraser Island. Lake Mckenzie is more popular but for this reason attracts large numbers of people daily. At Birrabean, the silica sand is just as white and the lake makes for a wonderful refreshing swim, but you are more likely to avoid the crowds. Surrounding you sits unique vegetation and underfoot the soft sand is clearly visible through the water. This is a wonderful photo spot even on a less than perfect weather day.
We chose to be based in Noosa to enjoy Fraser Island for one day, and found that Noosa itself was a surprising treasure to enjoy. Having originally planned to only be in the area to see Fraser, we spent another half day enjoying Noosa Heads before leaving the area. We stayed at Noosa Caravan Park with excellent shower facilities and nicely pitched sites separated by palm trees, at 37 AUD a night. Your hosts are welcoming and friendly and there is a swimming pool too. To fully enjoy Noosa, we recommend having a vehicle at your disposal as there are a variety of naturally beatiful places to enjoy.
Noosa National park is the standout for us. Leave your car at the visitor centre and walk the coastal footpath that affords you wonderful views of the sea and beaches below. You can cut off the main path in numerous places to relax on the beaches before continuing your walk. Or if you fancy a little fairy magic, keep climbing up the main walkway, spotting maybe a large goanna or a yellow-tailed black cockatoo. We sought out the locally known ‘fairy pools’, small rock pools formed at certain times of day due to the changing sea level. It’s a slightly hazardous clamber down the rocks, but if you’re lucky, you will get the fairy pool completely to yourself where you can sit back and enjoy the roaring waves from the safety of the cut off pool.
World Heritage Listed Fraser Island is a wonderful adventure even if you only have a day and a small budget like us. Ensure you visit the best spots by picking a great tour company such as Fraser Free and let an expert navigate the island so you don’t miss anything. You will definately want to take the opportunity to visit Noosa and depart from this mainland point with natural beauty at every turn and a short ferry ride to Fraser. We thoroughly enjoyed picturesque Noosa and hair-raising sand dune driving on Fraser Island. Thank you Fraser Free for a great Aussie day out!
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We had an incredible day of adventure on Fraser.