The best way to explore the world’s largest sand island is to drive across it and in Hervey Bay, you can pay to do just this. Tours include the jeep rental, the ferry to and from the island and camping equipment including cool-boxes for food and drink. So stock up on supplies and have a proper wilderness adventure, without tour guides!
Day 1: The ferry, Lake McKenzie and a shipwreck.
Up at 6:30am to get our stuff together, our groups met in the hostel bar for breakfast and to be put into smaller groups for each 4×4. They give you time to go shopping to fill your cool-boxes with food and drink, enough to last the three days and two nights. Make sure you stock up with plenty of water as it was difficult to find out on the island, and expensive if you do.
You drive yourselves to the ferry which only takes half an hour and is quite scenic. Once you arrive everyone is rushing to get off, so a lot of people get stuck in the ruts, make sure you put someone in the driver’s seat who can handle the jeep on rough roads!
Our first stop was Lake Mackenzie, a stunning lake surrounded by white sand, a ring of turquoise water surrounds the deeper blue center of the lake. It’s safe to swim in, and the beach is a great place to relax.
We eventually made our way to the east coast of the island to 75-mile beach. Eli Creek is worth checking out, it’s a freshwater river that is a great place to cool off. The next place on our must-see list was the beached wreck of the SS Maheno. The ship is completely rusted and makes for some incredible photos.
We made our way to the Beaches campsite to set up our tents, cook dinner and start the usual goon-filled night of drinking games! Just be warned, keep food away from the wild dingos and take a torch with you if you’re heading to the woods. We came across a few poisonous spiders hanging from the trees at head height and the ladies toilets were full of them. Most importantly, check under the toilet seats, a massive huntsman spider ran out from one on our last morning. I almost died.
Day 2: Indian Head, Champagne Pools and Eli Creek
Another early start to make the most of our day. We drove straight to Indian head, and after a short walk to the top, we were rewarded with amazing views up and down the island. If you’re lucky you can sometimes see sharks and manta-rays down in the water below you, so no cliff jumping.
There’s no quick way to get the trucks past Indian Head so we walked along the next stretch of beach to the Champagne Pools. You walk down the steps to a natural formation of huge rock pools, it means you can swim in the sea without worrying too much about a shark attack or getting caught in a riptide. Jellyfish could still be a problem on the rough days.
We stopped at Eli creek again and walked further upstream to float our way down like a natural lazy river before heading back to the campsite for dinner, goon and drinking games.
Day 3: Lake McKenzie, the ferry and PARTY TIME.
Up early again to pack everything up, we drove ourselves to Lake Mackenzie, along with every other person on the island apparently. We played in the water for hours, it’s nice not having to worry about sharks or jellyfish! Everyone left it until the last minute to drive back to the ferry so there was another traffic jam and even more people got stuck this time.
Once we arrived back at the hostel we were checked back in and after some well-needed showers, we had our own ‘after-party’, a huge night of drinking in the hostel bar and singing to cheesy music until they kicked us out at closing time. The bar had its own decibel meter that would shut off all the music when we got too loud, it was our goal to make it shut off as often as possible, much to the annoyance of the entire staff.
This was 9 years ago, I’m not sure if you’re still allowed to do un-guided, self-drive tours onto Fraser Island anymore due to safety issues… if anyone knows different, please let me know in the comments below!
You can view the full album here.