Wild dingoes, white sandy beaches, unpredictable oceans and pristine wilderness make camping one of the best ways to experience Fraser Island. With a choice of remote and private bush campsites to fenced campsites with facilities, there is something for every adventurer.
Fraser Island Barges have two ferries that depart from River Heads which is about 20 minutes out of Hervey Bay. One lands on the island at Wanggoolba Creek and the other at Kingfisher Bay. Both of these are on the west side of the island. The trip takes 30 – 45 minutes. The cost is $175 return per vehicle with up to three adults and $199 during peak dates.
The Manta Ray departs from Inskip Point at Rainbow Beach and lands on Hook Point, which is the most southern tip of the island. It takes about 10 minutes and the cost is about $120 return per vehicle.
There are 45 options for campsite areas on Fraser Island including camps with dingo deterrent fences, unfenced campsites popular with groups on the eastern beach, private eastern camps, the more secluded on the west coast, remote southern camping areas and walker’s camps.
During our camping trip, except for Central Station, we camped at the unfenced sites as they tend to be more private and there’s more chance of spotting dingoes.
If you prefer to pitch your tent only once, a good base in the centre of the main attractions is campsites around Happy Valley or Eli Creek.
Take into account how far it is to get to your campsite once arriving as you don’t want to be driving in the dark.
The unfenced is generally bush camping with no amenities. If you are concerned about the dingoes or have children, a fenced campground is your best option.
Fenced Camping is available at Central Station, Waddy Point, Dundubara and Lake Boomanjin. These campsites have amenities, coin-operated showers and toilets. They also have timber picnic tables and seats at each campsite.
Fenced camping for hikers is available at Lake McKenzie, Lake Benaroon and Lake Boomanjin.
Coin operated showers are available at Central Station, Waddy Point and Dundubara.
The bush camping on the east and west coast is very basic with no facilities. There are no toilets or showers. A toilet is a hole dug in the ground with a spade or a portable toilet. A bush shower or a swim in the lakes, creeks or ocean is perfect for refreshing! If a hot shower is necessary, have $2 coins for the coin-operated showers at the fenced camps.
On the last day, it is a good idea to camp at a campsite close to the ferry landing, especially if leaving early. This gives plenty of time if your vehicle gets bogged. If someone else gets bogged on the inland tracks that can hold up the vehicles behind. If driving on the island long enough you will more than likely eventually get bogged, but don’t worry as Fraser Island is the kind of place where everyone helps each other. Central Station, Lake McKenzie and camps close to Eurong are good options.
Fires are allowed in fire rings at Dundubara and Waddy Point camping areas, but you must bring your own firewood.
Driving on Fraser Island
It’s always a good idea before the trip to check car maintenance such as oil, water, brakes etc.
Lower the tyre pressure to about 20psi before driving on the sand. This gives the tyres more traction on the sand. We never did this until we had to shovel ourselves out after getting bogged in soft sand! A tyre pressure gauge is handy to have and only costs about $10. Remember to re-inflate the pressure when arriving back into Hervey Bay.
Make sure you have a copy of the Fraser Island map.
Check tide times. As a precaution drive along the beach two hours either side of low tide.
Driving before and after this is possible but you will have to drive higher up on the soft sand. We drove on the beach at high tide when it was going out, not coming in.
Be careful when driving in remote areas, especially on the west side when the tide is coming in. If you get stuck your vehicle may become submerged and washed out to sea.
If you stick to the main traffic routes your chances of getting stuck are very low.
Before crossing creeks, always check the depths first, slow down and don’t stop mid-stream.
Eli Creek can be impassable at high tide.
It is also handy to have jumper leads, a snatch strap and wheel tracks, though not absolutely necessary as help is generally never too far away, especially in the main areas. Remember if bogged never attach the snatch strap to the tow bar!
When in soft sand keep the vehicle speed constant.
The maximum speed limit on Fraser Island is 80 km/hour on the beach and 30 km/hour on the inland tracks.
Travelling at lower speeds allows you to sightsee, is a lot safer and also helps to avoid the washouts and other hazards.
Always check for overtaking vehicles before turning off your path.
Give way to vehicles driving uphill as it is harder for them to stop.
Don’t turn sharply and always brake slowly.
Use low gears when driving on soft sand.
After the rain, the tracks on the island are hard and firm and make driving a lot easier. In the dry, the tracks are softer which makes getting bogged easier.
Try and follow vehicle tracks that drove before you.
The further away from the beach the softer the sand. Driving close to the water on the darker sand is much easier.
Salt can be corrosive so try not to drive into the seawater and give the vehicle a good hose down after.
Water and creeks that run above the tide line and into the sea are fresh water and will not harm your vehicle.
There is about 20 km of choice for beachside camping on the more remote western side. Make sure you keep well above the high tide line while camping and driving!
Water & Supplies
Water is available at the ranger’s station and police station in Eurong.
There are also water taps at Central Point, Dundubara and Waddy Point, but it needs treating/boiling before use.
Small shops and fuel are available at Eurong, Happy Valley, Cathedral Beach, Orchid Beach and Kingfisher Bay.
Shopping in Hervey Bay is a good idea beforehand as it is less expensive and has more choice.
There are about 20 packs of dingoes on the island with each pack containing 3-10 dingoes. The pack is dominated by the breeding male and female. The subordinates compete for their place in the pack.
In all our time camping on the island, we never had any trouble when they came close and into our camp. Treat them with respect like any wild animal and they will leave you alone. The pack that came into our camp were very curious and we got to know them over the few days. If they are in your camp follow the guidelines such as keep alert, don’t panic, don’t turn your back, always walk around in pairs, don’t place yourself in a lower position in front of them and never run.
Some dingoes are inquisitive and like hanging around the camps and others are wary and will keep their distance.
The dingo pups that came close to our camp lived in a den behind the Wongai camps, so they had to travel through the camps when going to and from their den and were used to people.
They will definitely stay at your camp if they think you will feed them or if you have food that is not locked away and will tear apart your tent if they think they can get food!
Penalties apply if you are caught feeding the dingoes or don’t store food away. Penalties include fines for you and possible consequences for the dingoes, even euthanasia. Rangers do patrol the island, especially during busy periods.
Most of our dingo encounters were at Wongai campsite, Eli campsite and on the more remote west coast.
Dingoes also hang around areas that are popular with fishermen as they hope to steal the fish or the bait.
The dingo breeding season is March, April and May. During the mating season, dingoes can become more aggressive as they are competing for mates.
Puppies are born during the winter months of June, July and August. Usually, there are about 4-6 in the litter. Dens are hidden in the bush in hollow logs and under trees and are sometimes behind the camping sites.
They are independent at 3-4 months but will stay in the pack until the next breeding season begins.
We had pups around our campsite in November as they were gaining their independence and exploring outside their den.
Summer – December to February
Hot and humid and with a high chance of rain. The average temperature is about 30°C and 22°C at night.
Autumn – March to May
The average temperature is about 22°C with cool nights.
Winter – June to August
The average temperature is about 18°C and the nights can get very cold with the strong winds. This is a beautiful time to visit the island as mostly low humidity and clear blue skies. There is also a very good chance to see humpback whales migrating south. We watched them breach and they came really close to Champagne Pools.
Spring – September to November
Another perfect time to visit the island with temperatures at an average of about 24°C and can still get cold at night.
November and onwards there is a good chance of seeing dingo pups as they start exploring outside of their dens with the rest of the pack learning to be self-sufficient.
Fraser Island can get very busy during the peak season.
School holidays during Easter and September/October, campsites, swimming holes and other sites can get overcrowded.
Christmas Holidays – Especially between 23rd December and 21st January is also a very popular time for visitors.
February, May, November and early December before Christmas is a quieter time.
Check school holiday dates for each year.
The busiest times at the sites during the day is between 10 am and 3 pm when the tour buses and day tours visit. Before and after these time you will more than likely have them to yourself.
Amount of Time
We recommend staying on Fraser for at least 4-5 days. This gives enough time to see all the attractions or do a similar loop like we did.
Best Places to Swim
Fraser Island’s beaches are not safe for swimming. Sharks, strong rips and undertows lurk around the coastline. There are also stingers during the stinger season of October to April. All of Fraser Island’s creeks and lakes are freshwater and safe for swimming.
Champagne Pools – The one place it is safe to swim in the ocean, as the rocks block the crashing waves which form shallow bubbly pools. It is gorgeous here at sunrise and you will have it all to yourself with the exception of breaching whales during the whale season!
Lake McKenzie – The most photographed and famous of them all and the most visited place on the island. Crystal clear waters and white sand – what more could you ask for? Though busy here, we can always find a little bit of private beach. To get the best photos here, the middle of the day brings out the blues, and the less wind the better.
Lake Birrabeen – A favourite for many, Lake Birrabeen is not as pretty and blue as Lake McKenzie, but it is still a clear and pristine lake. The bonus with this gem is you will more than likely have it to yourself.
Eli Creek – Crystal clear water flows into the ocean from this pretty little creek surrounded by eucalyptus and lush green ferns. We came here early in the morning for a refreshing swim before all the day tours arrived and had it all to ourselves. Early morning is the best time to photograph here.
Wanggoolba Creek – Is so crystal clear that it looks like there is no water and only sand. This shallow but picturesque rainforest creek at Central Station is the best place for a cool dip on a hot and humid day.
Woralie Creek –At Woralie camp on the west coast this shallow creek isn’t as pretty at Eli Creek but is a great place for a wash and a refresh.
Lake Wabby – This green lake in the sand dunes is the deepest on the island at 11.4 metres. It is about a 40-minute walk mainly in the open with no shade and walking on hot sand in summer, so it can get very hot. Depending on the climate there are times this lake is lovely, but sometimes it can get a little stagnant.
The island has over 350 recorded bird species, with many of them rare and vulnerable. From our camp, a white bellied sea eagle watches for prey on the beach from the treetops and at night a tawny frogmouth catches insects attracted to the lights in our camp. At Central Station camp, there are lots of cockatoos and kookaburras.
From August to March the largest migratory wader the eastern curlew migrates here and another curlew – the whimbrel from September to April. The resident pied oyster catcher is regularly at the water’s edge at low tide.
Sunrise & Sunset
The sun sets on the west coast and rises on the east coast.
The west coast has the most magical sunsets.
For sunrise at Champagne Pools we camped at Marloo but if you don’t want to get up so early the best option is the campground at Waddy Point or Burad camp. From here it is about a 15-minute drive.
Some Driving Distances
Wanggoolba Creek Landing Ferry to Central Station 10 km – 1 hour
Central Station to Lake McKenzie 10 km
Lake McKenzie to Eurong 15 km
Eurong to Elli Creek 25 km – 1 hour
Eli Creek to Champagne Pools 35 km – 90 minutes
Eli Creek to Lake McKenzie 40 km – 90 minutes to 2 hours
K’gari to Woralie Creek on the west coast 35 km – 90 minutes to 2 hours
Hook Point to Eurong 40 km – 90 minutes to 2 hours
This is just a rough guide only. Driving times vary and depend on the tides, conditions of the tracks, traffic and how much sightseeing. One-way inland tracks such as the one from Woralie Creek to K’gari can have hold-ups when there is oncoming traffic.
Our Camping Gear
Camping mattress, sheets, pillows and blanket
Camp table and chairs
Single Gas Burner
Food and Drinks!
Plastic container for washing the dishes
Cutlery, Frypan and Kettle
Lamp, torches and matches
Tyre pressure gauge
Our mini iPads are an essential item for us even when camping. The perfect size for a kindle and great for reading in tents as no lights are necessary!
Vehicle and camping permits are essential. Purchase them in advance online or from the office at River Heads or Rainbow Beach before the ferry departs.
Book permits in advance during the school holidays.
When making the bookings you can check the availability at all of the campsites and see how many campers have already booked.
To drive on Fraser Island a 4 wheel drive is necessary. We take our own, but they can be hired through companies in Hervey Bay. Atlas 4WD Hire and Fraser Magic both have a good reputation and happy customers.
Drop Bear Adventures has organised 2 – 3-day tours which are very popular.
Fraser Explore Tours are known for their day trips.
Mobile coverage is scarce on the island but is available at Eurong, Happy Valley and the other townships. We had a strong signal while camping at Wongai and hotspots on the west coast.
If camping is not your thing there are other options for Accommodation on Fraser Island.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.