4WDriving On Fraser Island With Dingos
Many of you may have heard of Fraser Island on the East Coast of Australia, especially if you’re doing the typical backpacker route. Along with the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef, Fraser Island cannot be missed when travelling the East Coast.
Fraser Island is famous for being the world’s largest sand island and it’s also the only place on Earth where rainforests literally grow out of the sand! Another unique fact about Fraser Island is that is has a large pure bred dingo population which is very rare to find these days.
To drive on Fraser Island you need to have a 4WD as the ‘roads’ are just sand tracks and the ‘highway’ is the 123km beach.
If you have your own 4WD you have to be aware of the tides and plan your itinerary around it, incorporating the time it will take to drive to each point of interest so to avoid getting stuck in high tide.
I advise booking accommodation at one of the few resorts, fenced campsites or hostels beforehand. You also need to make sure you fill up on fuel and stock up on food before catching the ferry over to Fraser, because supplies on the island are limited and expensive.
Alternatively if you’re on a budget and don’t have your own 4WD then it makes a lot of sense to join a tour, as everything is organised including transport, accommodation and food. There are 4WD bus tours (that generally attract an older crowd and families) or tag-along-tours, which is the travel style I recommend.
Tag-along-tours are organised tours where you’re in a group of about four 4WD cars with a responsible tour guide leading the way in front. This means that you actually have the opportunity to take it in turns to drive (as long as you have a manual licence and are over 21 years old). So basically it feels like your car group is on it’s own little adventure, but with the tour guide organising everything so you don’t have to worry about a thing. These tours generally go for 3 days and 2 nights and with the size of Fraser Island, I don’t recommend going for any shorter time than that.
Eva and Anouk, a couple of my Dutch friends and I chose to do a tag-along-tour with Dingos Fraser leaving from Rainbow Beach. Going with this tour group meant that we had the opportunity to camp at an Aboriginal camp site on the island, which was a lot of fun and I highly recommend it!
Tip: If you aren’t a fan of camping there’s another tour group called Nomads that do a similar tour but are a little more expensive as you stay in a hostel instead. They leave from Noosa so note that you lose a bit of time driving to the destination on the first day.
For the Dingos Fraser Tour you need to arrive at the Dingos Backpackers Resort (also known as Fraser on Rainbow) by 4.30pm the night before the tour for a compulsory safety briefing, where you get to meet everyone in your group.
Tip: The backpackers resort serves $7 dinners every night and also have a bar there that serve cheap drinks. Oh and the resort has a pool too!
We woke up bright and early the next morning for free pancakes and then met the team at 7am to load the cars for the trip. We were given eskies full of food to store in the back so there wasn’t much space left for many personal belongings (keep that in mind when packing a small bag). By 8am we had set off to Inskip Point where we took the 20 minute ferry over to Fraser Island.
Once on the island the true road trip spirit began. It felt so freeing to be driving along the beach with the windows down and music up full blast!
Tip: There is no phone service on Fraser Island so make sure you tell everyone you need to tell that you won’t be contactable for a few days.
You can’t swim in the ocean near Fraser Island because of dangerous rips in the water and with there not being any lifeguards, as well as sharks regularly spotted in the area. So where do you swim?
Well Fraser Island is home to over 100 fresh water lakes, including the famous Lake Mackenzie. That was our first stop and it is literally the clearest fresh water lake I’ve ever swam in! It looks like a beach so when you jump in you expect the water to be salty but it’s obviously not so quite a refreshing surprise. It feels like you’re swimming in a clean swimming pool but without all the nasty cleaning chemicals.
Next we drove to the camp site where we got to choose our tents and cook some lunch with the group.
The camp site we stayed at had a fully working kitchen, bathrooms and showers.
Tip: Hot water showers at this camp cost $2 for 4 minutes and from what I can remember it only took gold coins so make sure to bring some of those with you, as it may be difficult to exchange cash on the island.
The site was fairly large but also fenced so that wild dingos wouldn’t surprise us at night.
Tip: If you do get the opportunity to see a dingo remember that they are not domestic animals. Although super cute, they are in fact quite dangerous so please don’t attempt to pat or feed them.
The only exception to the ‘don’t swim in the ocean’ rule on Fraser Island is if you visit the Champagne Pools. Waves crash and pour over the rocks, hence the name, and fill up the natural pools with calm water.
Tip: While you’re there, look out for the tiny little crabs that live in some of the smaller puddles.
To get to the lakes on Fraser we got to drive through the island’s stunning rainforests. Some areas weren’t as smooth as the beach front, in fact it got very bumpy very quickly, which added to the whole 4WDriving experience.
We also heard many kinds of Australian birds including the kookaburra. You’ll know when you hear one because they literally sound like they’re laughing at you.
Another really cool spot worth visiting while on Fraser Island is Eli Creek. The water at Eli Creek is so clean that even our guide told us to empty our water tanks and fill it up with the water there. At first I thought he was joking because so many people swim here, but the water is constantly flowing downstream so each day it’s actually filled with fresh clean drinking water.
We got given inflatable tubes that we took to the beginning of the creek and could peacefully flow down stream in them. It was very relaxing (but do note that the water is cold!)
If you like hiking, you’ll love getting to the top of Indian Head, the most easterly point on Fraser Island.
The views here are amazing and if you’re lucky you’ll get a birds eye view of fish, manta rays and may even spot a shark.
At some point while travelling along Seventy Mile Beach you’ll come across the Maheno shipwreck, a photo opportunity not to be missed.
Our guide taught us a bit of history about this ship back in World War II, which was really interesting.
Back at camp we had a ‘last night’ party with other tour groups who were staying there. So the following morning it was very refreshing to cure the hangover by jumping into Lake Wabby, the last stop of our tour. Though we did have to get through a 45 minute hike through giant sand dunes to get here!
Lake Wabby is also filled with those little fish that like to eat the dead skin off your feet, so we basically got a free foot massage.
After the dip we had lunch with our group and started heading back to the ferry to Rainbow beach for another night at Dingos Backpacker Resort.
Tip: While you’re at Dingos Backpackers Resort you’ve got to take a photo with the rainbow wall.
If you do this backpacker tour of Fraser Island I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll have fun and meet plenty of people that will become your friends…
…and who you may end up travelling further up or down the coast with.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and are excited to add Fraser Island to your Australian itinerary. Feel free to send me a message if you’re wanting to book a tour as I can refer you to an agent that I know will look after you.
Have you been on a Fraser Island tour before? Do you know of any other secret places on the island that tours don’t go to? Leave us a comment…
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