Tips for Surviving Fraser Island

Tip 1: Best Visited with a 4WD

Yeah Easter!!!! I make a last minute decision to escape Sydney for a few days and head to Fraser Island with some friends.  Good Friday was spent travelling (it’s a long, long, long way away), leaving us with a full day on Saturday to explore as much of the island as possible.

Lake Wabby,Fraser Island

Lovely Lake Wabby

We started at the bottom of the island, driving cross country through gorgeous rainforest, stopping at Lake McKenzie and Lake Wabby;  then driving 100 km along the beach to Waddy Point.  Fraser Island is so beautiful and there is no better to see it than bouncing up and down in a 4WD.  Actually there is no other way – there are no tarmac roads!!!

Poyungan Rocks, Fraser Island

Poyungan Rocks – The road was a wee bit rocky :o)


Tip 2: Be Wary of High Tide

After watching a stunning sunset at Waddy Point, we decided we had plenty of time to grab some dinner before high tide at 10.30pm.

Sunset with a 4WD at Waddy Point, Fraser Island

Enjoying the sunset at Waddy Point.

Quack, Quack, Oops!!!!  At 8.30pm we drive down to the beach, at Indian Head, to discover waves lapping on our sandy road.  After reading the small print in the Fraser Island brochure, I discover you need to travel on the beach 2 hours before high tide. We were stranded and our bed (and camping gear) was miles and miles away, right on the other side of the island. Shhhhiiiiiittttt!!!!!

Maheno Shipwreck, Fraser Island

Maheno Wreck – At high tide we might have ended up carwrecked :oS

We sat looking at the waves for awhile; I was bricking myself, perched on a steep slope, with the ocean lapping directly in front of me.  I felt enormous relief (aaaaaahhhh!!!) when my friends decided we’d return to Waddy Point to try and get a few hours kip, before venturing on to the beach again.

Eli Creek, Fraser Island

Eli Creek – The calm before the storm!!!

Surprisingly, sitting bolt upright in a very hot 4WD isn’t very inducive for a good night’s sleep.  We all decided to give up the attempt and to take a walk along the beach; enjoying the night sky, so clear we could even see the Milky Way.


Tip 3: Look out for Dingoes!!!

Fraser Island is famous for its dingoes, although the only evidence we had seen so far was lots and lots of signs telling us to be wary of them.  Looking out across a pitch black beach we could see two figures slinking towards us.  I had read that it was mating season and dingoes can be slightly aggressive at this time of year.  With my nerves already shattered, I and another friend were taking no chances and bolted back into 4WD.  My other 2 friends laughed at us, as we discovered it was only 2 other fellow humans also enjoying the beautiful evening – doh!!!!

Dingo Sign on Fraser Island

Look out for dingoes!!!!


Tip 4: Don’t Risk Driving in the Waves

Around 12.30am we decide to see if the tide had receded.  However, much to our horror there were waves still lapping pretty high on to the beach.  Two of the boys decided to go and explore how solid the sand was, whilst I and my dingo crusader stayed safely in the 4WD.  From where we were sitting it looked like they were doing some ancient pagan ritual.  I think sleep deprivation was playing with my mind :oS  They tapped the sand multiple times with a shovel; found the sacred spot and dug it in the sand; then constantly walked around it.  Eventually The Indicator, as they named it, told us it was safe to cross the beach and we were finally on the road again.

A shovel in the sand used to determine where the tide was

The Indicator – Finally safe to cross!!!!

It was pretty scary crossing the beach so late at night; it was pitch black except for the headlights of the 4WD and waves crashing a bit too close for comfort.  As soon as we reached the inland off-road tracks we decided to leave the horror of the beach.


Tip 5: Don’t Drive Whilst Tired

The route back to resort looked pretty straight forward, we estimated 1.5 hours.  Another big quack, quack, oops moment!!!!  We weaved off-road for hours and hours, I don’t think many other jeeps had passed this way.   With very little sleep the night forest became enchanted; the trees encroached onto our path and ghoulish faces hid amongst the trees.  Sleep deprivation really was starting to take its toll.  The next morning one of friends said he felt he was in a Harry Potter movie :o)

4 Wheel Driving at Night

Things that go bump in the middle of the night.

We drove all through the night.  Navigating was pretty tricky since they were no famous landmarks on this stretch of Fraser Island.  I had to roughly calculate how many kilometres to the next turn and when we finally saw it pray it was the right one.  Finally as sun was rising we saw a sign for Kingfisher Bay and at the godly time of 6am arrived at our resort.  That was one hell of a night!!!!!

Tip 6: Don’t Under Estimate Off-Road Distances

Luckily the resort took pity on us and allowed us a late checkout of midday, so after getting a few hours sleep we only had an afternoon left to explore some more of the island.  This time we weren’t as adventurous, we chose Lake Birrabeen since it was nearby and we allowed ourselves ample time to reach the barge destined for the mainland.

Lake Birrabean, Fraser Island

Lake Birrabean, unspoilt by the masses.

Ooooh so we thought.  My navigational skills went a bit squiffy and I accidentally took us on a minor detour, then we had the best distraction… We finally spot the elusive dingo, so of course we had to stop and take lots of piccies.

Dingoes on the beach at Fraser Island

Finally we spotted some dingoes!!!

Suddenly we were running late.  The last barge was supposed to leave at 5pm and it was now 5 past. As we are bombing down the beach we could see no sign of the barge.  Finally at 10 past, in the distance, we could make out some cars and more importantly the ferry, which was on the right side of the channel.  Woo hoooo!!!! Thank goodness for laid back Queensland, we made the barge with just a few minutes to spare.

I loved Fraser Island and I will definitely be back!!!!  Next time with a lot more know-how about high tide and 4 wheel driving.

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