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Rookie's Guide to a Fraser Island Holiday

Trying to pack everything we would need for a week-long camping trip turned out to be quite the challenge! It would be a big enough job under normal circumstances, and we were not exactly in normal circumstances. Not only were we still settling into life on the road, life in the van and all that comes with that, Lloyd and I were both trying to crack on with our respective Fraser Island preparation jobs whilst trying to entertain two toddlers who cared little for what we needed to achieve in two short days at Rainbow Beach before leaving for Fraser.

Meals were planned, shopping was done, food was batched and vacuum sealed (once we figured out how the use the darn thing!)… laundry was up to date, bags were packed, tent, sleeping bags, camp chairs, butane cooker, plates, bowls, cutlery, chopping board, insect repellent, sunscreen… the list went on and on even though in reality we were only taking the bare minimum. The final challenge was fitting it all into the LandCruiser, but we got there in the end – great job Lloyd! In only one week on the road we had a new appreciation of the ample storage our Big Red provides for us.

Packed and ready to go!

Full to the brim! All packed and ready to go...

Taking the barge across to Fraser from Inskip Point we had arranged to leave our caravan at a storage yard at a motel in Rainbow Beach. We were parked, levelled, unhitched, wheel and coupling locks applied, gas turned on to keep our fridge running, ant sand sprinkled… good to go… woohoo… lock the van and we are off… Well that was the plan except the lock on the van door was jammed. Like was seriously stuck and absolutely not working. There was not a chance that we were going to leave our van unlocked for a week, and when all the jiggling in the world wouldn’t do the trick a mild sense of panic started to set in. It was time to bring out the big guns and turn to the Handyman Holy Trinity (cable ties, duct tape and silicone spray). This time around we prayed to the silicone spray and our prayers were thankfully answered. The lock was once again working and our Fraser plans were back on track.

Well they were until we got halfway to Inskip Point and Lloyd second guessed whether he had re-levelled the van after winding it up to allow us to drive the car out from under the hitch… normally this wouldn’t be a huge deal but in order for our van’s 3-way fridge to operate properly the van needs to be level. We couldn’t risk leaving the van not level, so around we turned returning back to Rainbow Beach, collecting the storage yard key, driving to the yard, through the gate and yep, amidst the stress of the van that would not lock we had forgotten to put the van back down to level… it was an annoying delay to the start of our trip, but given the choice between a small delay to the start of our Fraser adventure and a fridge and freezer full of spoiled food, I know what I would choose!

So that was that. Van was 100% level, the gate was locked, key returned and we were on our way. Fraser Island here we come… woohoo…

Well that was until we got halfway to Inskip Point and realised we had forgotten to stop and buy a little (maybe more like a lot of) beer and wine (how is it even possible to forget?). Back we went to Rainbow Beach only to find that the bottle shop was (predictably) shut as it was ANZAC Day. Given Lloyd had been into the bottle shop two days prior to specifically ask if they would be open, and given he had been told that they would be, and following on from the two false starts we had already had that morning, it was safe to say that Lloyd was feeling a little, well… let’s call it terse… thankfully Fraser was about to provide a nice tonic to soothe his cranks!

It has now been some time since we returned from Fraser Island and I think we are both still in awe of our Fraser Island experience. In every way our hopes and expectations were exceeded. Such a very special place and one that is like no other we have ever visited.

75 Mile Beach, Fraser Island

75 Mile Beach - Fraser Island's main highway and landing strip

I have struggled to put my finger on what it was exactly about the island that made it so special and why our visit to Fraser has left such an impression on me. On the surface it is easy for me to see that I was blown away by the beauty and diversity of the ever-changing landscapes; I was swept away by the beach vistas as we drove along 75 Mile Beach and energised by the multitude of adventures that each new day offered up.

But digging a little bit deeper I realised that amongst all the fun and adventures on the island, there was a peace and serenity unlike any I think I have ever experienced. Sitting on the pure white sands of Lake Birrabeen and Lake McKenzie, or better yet sitting in the crystal clear waters of these lakes and taking it all in, it was difficult not to feel completely at peace. Even with a bus load or two of other visitors around you, and kids doing what kids do, there was a certain peace and silence that has to be experienced to be believed.

What also struck me was how Fraser Island in all its wonder and beauty was able to make you feel completely insignificant in the best possible way. I admit that I did not have a lot of knowledge of Fraser Island before visiting; I knew it was the world’s largest sand island, I knew that there was lots of beach fishing and a few creeks along the way. Naïvely I thought this was pretty much all Fraser Island had to offer. I even recall seriously questioning Lloyd whether seven nights was too long to spend on the island – now I know it wasn’t enough! I had absolutely no idea of the size and scale of Fraser, or that that an island made entirely of sand could support so many ecosystems and forest environments. The sand dunes give way to marshes and grasslands, the grasslands give way to woodlands, and running right up the middle of the island is the most majestic rainforest I think I have ever seen. To top it all off the whole island pours the most crystal clear cool water into the ocean in unbelievable quantities. It leaves you constantly wondering how it is possible. This was completely unexpected and when you consider that Fraser Island began as a single grain of sand hundreds of millions of years ago you can’t help but be in awe of the wonder of Mother Nature and feel completely insignificant with respect to the environment around you.

I was also completely unaware of the history of logging on Fraser, and was very shocked to learn that logging only ceased in 1991. To think that logging was undertaken on this natural wonder astounded me, but equally to see the recovery of the forest was incredible to the extent that if I didn’t stop at Central Station and read about the history of logging on the island I would have had no idea of this part of Fraser Island's history and would not have believed logging was ever undertaken there.

Rainforest at Central Station

Visiting Central Station

I am going to hand the blog over to Lloyd at this point to share the ins and outs of what we did on Fraser and what we would suggest or do differently (or the same) the next time we visit (and there most certainly will be a next time!). In the years and months leading up to OUR BIG LAP Lloyd spent countless hours researching Fraser Island - what to do on Fraser and how. Fraser does offer up many new experiences and environments that you may not have encountered, not the least of which is working with the tides and understanding the art of four-wheel driving on sand. Going in armed with information and research is the best way to maximise your time on Fraser, so I would encourage you to consider our tips, and also to take advantage of the multitude of information available online and via 4WD forums, YouTube videos and the like (there is no end of online info and opinions on Fraser).

But before I go, one very hot tip from me to all the other ladies out there. If like me you tend to spend most if not all of your time in the passenger seat when travelling with your significant other, do yourself the biggest favour and spend some time in the driver’s seat when you visit Fraser Island. Be sure to do your share of beach driving and navigating the inland tracks. When we visited Fraser I spent the first two days in the passenger seat and thought it was fantastic. I got to take it all the beauty around me while not having to concern myself with anything but my sightseeing. Then Lloyd asked if I wanted to take the wheel for the day. I hadn’t given it much thought before that but had no hesitation in saying yes and I am so glad I did. Being behind the wheel is a whole new way to experience the island and your 4WD adventures will be that bit more exhilarating (for you!) when you are behind the wheel. Try it, even if you are not so inclined. You will love it!

Bec taking the wheel on 75 Mile Beach

Bec's turn behind the wheel


The best thing about Fraser is that is has a little bit of something for everyone. You can explore some serious 4WD tracks, venture to Sandy Cape (the very northern tip of Fraser) and take on all the exhilaration (and risk of expensive vehicle recovery) that a Fraser trip can provide. Or, like us, you can opt for a family-friendly Fraser experience and take a little more time, a lot less risk and explore the remarkable diversity that Fraser provides. Whichever you choose (and yes you can do both!), you will need to put some thought into your vehicle and its ability (and the ability of its driver), its ground clearance, invest in the right recovery equipment, consider some sand driving practice before you hit the barge, and above all RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!

Fraser Island is immense, and your ability to visit certain destinations on Fraser is influenced by tides and where you choose to base yourself for your holiday. Knowing what is the absolute must-see places on your list will help to you to decide the best time to visit and the best place to stay. Heading in to your trip with a planned itinerary is the absolute best way to maximise your time on the island and is one thing we will be sure to do next time we visit having now had our first Fraser experience.

Our 4WD alongside the wreck of the SS Maheno

The wreck of the S.S. Maheno


The first thing you must understand about Fraser is that your ability to traverse the island to discover your chosen destination depends largely on the time and height of the tides on any given day. The high tide, of which there are generally two each day, and many hours either side of it render 75 Mile Beach (the main highway) impassable, forcing all conventional vehicles to the limited network of inland tracks which are slow going, winding, narrow and usually single lanes which need to be shared by traffic travelling in both directions. While the tracks are great fun and take you to some amazing inland destinations (many of which are our top picks), sometimes having to head inland to get to where you want to go because you can’t hit the beach at 80km/h due to a high tide can turn a 30-minute trip into a two-plus hour ‘adventure’.

The good news is tide charts for Fraser Island are widely available via a simple Google search and if you have the luxury you can plan and book your Fraser Island adventure around the optimum tide timings which in our opinion is a low tide around midday. The beach is traversable up to three hours either side of the low tide (depending on tide height) and so a midday low tide would generally allow you to be on the beach from 9.00am to 3.00pm… stretch this at your own peril!!!

>>> CLICK HERE TO VIEW TIDE CHART FOR FRASER ISLAND (Observe tides for Waddy Point which is located on Fraser Island)


Hitting the sand in your 4WD is an awesome experience but takes some planning to get right. There are hundreds of stories (and thousands of YouTube Clips) of people buggering up their holiday burying their pride and joy in the sand and getting caught by an incoming tide, or attempting a river crossing only to find it too deep and kissing a $90k vehicle (plus the $15k worth of kit on it) goodbye for evermore. With 6 months of OUR BIG LAP ahead of us, ditching the LandCruiser in the salt had disastrous consequences for us, and so we planned, researched and kitted ourselves out with all the gear to deal with most issues we may have faced. Luckily for us all of that expensive gear I bought was left untouched and unused - just the way I like it! Store your recovery gear in an easy to get at spot in the vehicle as you may be unlucky enough to need it in a hurry and you don’t want to be shifting all your camping gear, 12 volt fridge, 3 cartons of beer and the fishing rods with a high tide lapping at your ankles.

My advice to you in a general sense is to lower your tyre pressures (we dropped to 20psi but ask some locals before you get to the island as this changes according to the sand conditions from time to time), equip yourself with recovery equipment (consider Maxx Traxx or similar, a winch, a shovel, an exhaust jack, a UHF radio on channel 40 to call for help if you do get stuck, a good quality 12 volt air compressor to re-inflate or adjust your tyres, a sand anchor, a recovery point you can slip into your rear bar, snatch straps etc…) You will drop some serious coin on some quality gear- but you will find it a worthwhile investment if it saves your rig. When your lovely significant other gets shirty at the cost of said equipment load up YouTube and type in “Fraser Island Recovery” or “Fraser Island Accident” and hand her the iPad. Job done.

You will also need to be prepared for your vehicle to handle much differently on the sand than the black top, and much differently according to the sand conditions (soft, wet, hard packed etc), and particularly with your tyre pressures lowered. If you have a modern 4WD you will need to understand how to engage 4WD and switch off your traction control for some of the really soft stuff otherwise the modern features of your vehicle can get you into a bit of strife on the sand.

It also pays to slow down. You will see knucklehead after knucklehead flying past you in a belting hurry to get somewhere or heading off the beach to an inland track at a million miles an hour with no idea of the other knucklehead behind the dune heading off the same inland track to the beach at exactly the same time. Yes you will need momentum and power to get up the soft stuff at times, but there is a difference between power and momentum, and speed.

Beach driving is great fun, takes you to some unbelievable places and for many is the first real time you get to put the 4WD to the test. Just do your planning, get the right gear, don’t be a knucklehead and I am sure you will love the experience too. Give your lady love a drive too… if she likes it (and she will) you stand half a chance of getting her back on the sand next year!


For our week-long camping adventure we chose to stay at the privately run Dilli Village campground which is the most southern accommodation option on Fraser and more or less the southern-most anything on Fraser Island!

After researching a range of camping options (including beach camping and other private campgrounds) I settled on Dilli Village as it offers grassed sites (camping on sand with toddlers – no thanks!), full amenities (excluding laundry), dingo-proof fencing and importantly I was influenced by its proximity to the barge landing (approximately 20 minutes beach driving) as it gave us greater flexibility with our arrival and departure times. Not having to travel so far along the beach from or to the barge meant we had a much larger window to get to our campground from the barge and back again when it was time to leave, with respect to the high tide.

Dilli Village was absolutely perfect for our Fraser adventure. It was as grassy as it promised, it was family friendly (Ava and Finn had a ball running around each afternoon with some other kids camping at Dili), the showers were clean and hot and the toilets flushed! The dingo risk cannot be underestimated (and the Rangers are at pains to remind you of this) with young kids in tow so knowing we were in a dingo-proof campground gave us peace of mind and the kids some freedom to explore. This would not have been possible (along with the hot showers and flushing toilets) if we had opted to camp on the beach in one of the National Parks’ beach camping zones.

The grassy Dilli Village campground

We had been allocated campsite 24 which conveniently was located right next to a BBQ shelter with three picnic tables and a gas BBQ which we were free to use. Given our minimal camping set up this was a huge and unexpected bonus for us, and better still, we rarely had any of our fellow campers wanting to use this facility so it became an extension of our campsite, and one we were grateful for later in the week when we would wake up to rain each morning.

Some other sites offer fire pits (bring your own wood from the mainland as like everything on Fraser it is expensive and you cannot collect from the island), and there was a mixture of powered and unpowered sites. There is water at each site which is supposed to be boiled before drinking however the manager advised us that she has been drinking the water for years with no apparent ill effects and so we figured we would survive for seven days!

The managers were incredibly friendly and a wealth of knowledge, especially for Fraser novices like ourselves. They were able to provide maps, travel times to various destinations and helped us to plan our itinerary for our stay with regard to the tides that we would encounter while on Fraser.

Aside from private campgrounds there are a number of campgrounds and beach camping zones run by the Queensland Government Department of National Parks which you can book. The beach camping zones are positioned in the dunes and don’t offer any protection from dingoes, whereas some of the inland camping areas, from what we observed, appeared to offer dingo fencing and basic amenities. As an aside whilst we were staying at Fraser we met up with some other families who had been moved off a beach camping area by rangers following some concerning dingo behaviour nearby. Whilst I am sure 99% of all families staying on Fraser do so side by side with dingoes without any issue, with a two year old and four year old the 1% was a worry I could do without.

There are also a number of villages along the Fraser coast (particularly the east coast) which offer a range of accommodation options – basic hotels, apartments, houses for rent and so on. If you want to do Fraser Island in luxury you can also look at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on the west coast. We visited the resort on a day trip and enjoyed watching the sting rays from the jetty, as well as playing in the park (the only playground for kids that we came across on the island). The resort has a well-stocked souvenir shop which also stocks a good range of groceries, beer, wine etc… (like most places on the island be prepared to pay a premium).

Kingfisher Bay Resort

Kingfisher Bay alongside the resort

Back on the east coast the village of Eurong is located approximately 20 minutes via the beach north of Dilli Village and is one of the bigger villages on the island offering more or less everything you could need in terms of restocking your supplies while on Fraser. There is a store offering take away and groceries, a bakery which I can highly recommend and importantly for the campers, there is a laundromat and rubbish disposal. Most, if not all of the villages offer fuel which comes in handy when short adventures turn into longer than expected ones. We paid $2.10 per litre for diesel so consider if a few jerry cans can fit in your rig.

Ultimately, regardless of how you decide to experience Fraser (camping, hotel, rented home etc), where you decide to stay on the island will greatly influence your itinerary planning in terms of travelling distances from where you are staying to the places you want to visit. Somewhere around the middle of Fraser would be the best way to hedge your bets, but there are advantages to staying further south or further north depending upon what you want from your Fraser experience.


For our first full day on Fraser Island we decided to do a bit of everything – a run on some of the inland tracks to have a look around and get a feel for that, as well as some beach driving and a trip to the ever-popular Eli Creek. On this day we stumbled across a number of the southern lakes, all very spectacular in their own way, but none more so than Lake Birrabeen. Pure white sand meets crystal clear water, and from what we could tell there seemed to be quarter of the visitors as compared to Lake McKenzie most likely owing to being further south than Lake McKenzie and more out of the way for tourists unless, like us, you are staying at Dilli Village or Eurong.

Lake Birrabeen

Morning tea at beautiful Lake Birrabeen

TIP: If you visit Lake Birrabeen enter via the steps/walkway opposite a small unmarked carpark as you first reach the Lake coming from the east. There is a marked carpark, toilets and walkway entry a few hundred metres further along the road but the best part of the lake to enjoy was accessed via that first walkway.

Once we returned back from the inland tracks to 75 Mile Beach we headed north to Eli Creek. If nothing else this was a great opportunity to get really comfortable with beach driving and also to get a sense for how long it would take to get to different destinations. Things are not usually as close as they seem on the map, especially when you need to drive to the prevailing conditions and slow down for the dozens of creek crossings that bleed down the beach to the ocean. Our experience on our first full day of the slow and bumpy inland tracks as well as driving to and from Eli Creek (Eli Creek is about 45 minutes beach driving from Dilli Village) helped to give us a guide and basis to plan the rest of our itinerary, both in terms of how long it takes to get from A to B on Fraser, and how the kids handled the, at times, long stints in the car.

The next day we decided to drive from the east coast (Dilli Village) to the west coast (Kingfisher Bay Resort). We didn’t want to leave Fraser without making the trip to the west coast, and we heard there was a playground at the resort so figured that would make it worthwhile for the kids. This did however mean backtracking over the first half of the tracks we had explored the day before, but, as we discovered, covering old ground is pretty much unavoidable on Fraser Island, especially on your first visit. Some careful, considered and astute planning can minimise the time you spend retracing your steps from earlier in your stay, but if you are touring around trying to see many of the sights on Fraser be prepared to travel the same tracks often unless you want to shift camp every other day.

The Kingfisher Bay Resort was an interesting stop. There is a magnificent jetty which doubles as the barge landing which resort guests can fish off and which you can walk to the end of. At the beginning of the jetty is a quaint little bar which no doubt would be bustling come sunset as it would be the perfect vantage point to take it all in. The kids spotted sting rays from the jetty, and we watch some fisherman haul in some impressive and not so impressive fish! The playground was a hit with the kids and the souvenir/general store was a hit with us adults as we restocked on some groceries and picked up a bottle of wine or three.

TIP: Like most things on the island, there is a premium price attached to alcohol. The cheapest bottle of reasonable wine was a Fraser Island label – we tried the sauvignon blanc and found it to be a very pleasant drop so don’t be afraid to go for this cheaper option if you are looking for a bottle or two on the island.

Not a bad drop!

The next day we planned to trek to Wathumba Creek with a stop at the Champagne Pools on the way back. The trip out to Wathumba was much slower going than we anticipated, and although we arrived at Wathumba at low tide it was still a sight to behold (do yourself a favour and Google images of Wathumba Creek at high tide). A quick tailgate sausage sizzle followed by a wander around the mangroves and we had to hightail it out of there to beat the tide back to Dilli Village… suffice to say we had to skip the Champagne Pools (much to Ava’s devastation) and promise to return there the following day.

Wathumba Creek - stunning even at low tide

As promised, the next day was Ava’s 'Boss Day' where she got to choose the itinerary and predictably she chose the visit the Champagne Pools. The high tide meant that we couldn’t hit the beach that morning and so we decided to head north via some inland tracks we hadn’t yet explored, and figured we would take in Lake Wabby along the way. What we thought would be a quick morning exploring tracks somehow turned into a marathon which saw us arrive at the Champagne Pools at around 3.00pm. It was cold. It was windy. It was also right on low tide meaning the tide was too low to produce the champagne bubble effect that the pools are famous for…

All that said, and perhaps given all these factors, we had the world famous Fraser Island Champagne Pools all to ourselves! Unbelievable. Even better was the fact that as the tide was too low to create the bubble effect in the pools, the water was still and crystal clear. We had taken some snorkelling gear along to give Ava a chance to practice in a body of water other than our pool or bath, but we could never have guessed that we would have been treated to all kinds of marine life in the pools… even some Nemo fish!!! As I said, it was cold, it was windy… the kids grizzled and huffed, but for a few minutes at least we were in absolute heaven with so many stars aligning to create an amazing moment and memory on Fraser Island.

Fun at the Champagne Pools

The fact that the kids were cold and grizzly was probably a blessing in disguise as we had quite the drive ahead of us and darkness fast approaching. We were fortunate to make it through all of the bypasses before sunset, but the last half an hour of driving before we reached our camp at Dilli Village was after dark and it just makes dealing with the changing beach conditions and seeing the washouts and creeks that much harder. We made it home safe and sound, but not without a bit of stress. Definitely try to be off the beach and back at camp enjoying a beer or two before dark – it is worth it!

Our final two days were spent at the Fraser icons of Eli Creek and Lake McKenzie, with a bit of beach fishing and 4WD GoProing thrown in for good measure. We had planned to spend the better part of a day at Eli Creek but unfortunately the weather had other ideas. The latter half of our week on Fraser was dogged by early morning rain, clearing showers and overcast, cold conditions. Thankfully we had briefly visited Eli Creek earlier in the week and done the run down the creek with the kids in the inflatable boat because on our return trip it was just too cold and rainy to want to be in the cool creek water. Nevertheless we enjoyed another tailgate sausage sizzle and a beer or two on the creek bank as the kids bickered over the one watering can amongst the thousands of sand toys we had with us. Always the way!

We saved the best, or most famous at least for our last day which also happened to be our seventh wedding anniversary. Our final day was to be spent at Lake McKenzie and we set off reasonably early to try to beat the crowds. Beat the crowds we did and it was as beautiful and spectacular as every photo you have ever seen promises it will be. But we didn’t beat the clouds, and it is amazing how the most crystal clear azure water becomes a lot less alluring when the sun is not out! So we spent the morning playing cat and mouse with the clouds trying to get some photos when the sun was out…

“Bec! Bec! Camera ready! The sun is coming…” “Kids! Kiiiiiiiiiiids! Quick over here for a photo… the sun is coming…”

The impossibly clear water of Lake McKenzie

Sun or no sun we were very grateful to be in such a miraculous place. A true wonder of nature along with the other lakes of Fraser Island, and it is sure to be a wedding anniversary that we will never forget.


Looking back on our time on Fraser we certainly made some rookie mistakes in our itinerary planning, but that said, in seven days we were able to tick off all of our must-see destinations and, as is usually the case, we probably wouldn’t change a thing for our maiden Fraser trip.

Making plans

Where to today?

When originally booking our stay at Dilli Village we had booked for four nights leaving ourselves with the option to extend or move to another campground further north. Almost as soon as we arrived and got settled we extended our stay for the full seven nights as we felt really comfortable and happy in the campground and with the facilities provided, and because the thought of packing everything up (the little that we had) to move a few hours up the beach was less appealing in practice than it had been in theory.

Knowing what we now know of distances and travel times around the island we would probably opt to spend some time further north on our next Fraser trip. By that time the kids will be a bit older as well which, in theory, *should* make packing down and moving camp a less stressful and onerous task!

This would allow us to venture further north than we did first time around and would give us more time to explore places like Wathumba Creek, Awinya Creek and other destinations on the north-west coast.

Having seen the southern lakes we would probably only return to Lake Birrabeen and we would make a day trip out of it, especially if we were staying a bit further north.

We would once again spend some time at Eli Creek and we would try to time our arrival at the Champagne Pools midway between tides so we could experience the bubble effect.

With older kids we would look into doing some more hikes. We did a quick walk through the forest at Central Station and it was absolutely magnificent. With toddlers we knew that hiking was not going to be the best choice of activity, but driving around and criss-crossing the island there seemed to be tracks heading off in all directions through the forests and I just couldn’t help but wonder what was out there waiting to be explored.

We would find more time for fishing. Again, being Fraser rookies we probably spent more time than necessary back tracking and generally getting around to places on the island than we would second time around. We love to fish, and had hoped to get a lot of fishing done but conditions were not great for fishing when we were there (wind and very strong rips), and we found that the best time for fishing with toddlers (low tide – more room on the beach making it a bit safer with kids on the loose on Fraser Island’s main highway!) was the time we were off exploring other sites and destinations. Fishing at very high tide is also ideal as there are very few cars on the beach but this rarely occurred at a convenient time. Now understanding the rhythm of a Fraser holiday, the impact of the tides and not having so many places to visit next time around, I am certain we will get more time to get our lines wet when we get a chance to head back.

There is so much to learn and discover about Fraser, and we really feel it is a destination that everyone should visit at least once in their life. The planning is all part of the fun and excitement of a Fraser trip so allow yourself plenty of time to trawl the internet for information, book your holiday and then get out there and enjoy it!

Bec and Lloyd




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