K’gari, or Fraser Island, is situated off the coast of southern Queensland and is the largest sand island in the world. A favourite for families, backpackers, and grey nomads alike, the island is packed with natural wonders and and incredible beaches. If you are in Australia this should definitely be near the top of your list.
There are lots of choices when it comes to seeing Fraser. You can come for a day trip from the mainland (departure points are Hervey Bay, River Heads, and Rainbow Beach), or stay on K’gari itself in the comfort of the Kingfisher Bay Resort, the convenience of a hostel, or get back to basics in a tent. There are guided trips on 4×4 buses, you can self drive in your own jeep (fair warning – if you are not an experienced 4×4 off road driver Fraser is not the place to give it a go without a guide), or join one of the many tag along 4×4 tours which offer trips from one to four nights. You can also see it from the air by adding a 15 minute scenic flight to an existing trip, or book yourself on one from the mainland.
It is definitely worth doing your research to make sure you get what you’re looking for depending on the time (and money!) you have available. Broadly speaking if you have the time it is much better to stay overnight as the day tours can feel a little rushed (get off for 20 minutes, have a look and get a photo, then back on to head to the next spot), but if you only have the time to do a day tour it is still absolutely worth it.
We have stayed in the Kingfisher Resort and done a 4×4 bus day trip from there, as well as the 15 minute scenic flight, so details for those are below. I enjoyed that tour so much I brought my family back to do it when they visited. I have also done a two day one night 4×4 tag along tour with Drop Bear Adventures.
Things to do on Fraser Island
Fraser Explorer Tours – Beauty Spots Tour
As we were already staying on Fraser at the Kingfisher Bay Resort, we did this one day tour (on a 4×4 bus, $200 per person) with a pick up and drop off from there. It’s also worth looking up the two night package which includes this tour and breakfast both mornings for less than $400 each. The company also offers day tours direct from the mainland (Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach), as well as multi day tours. You can see all the options on their website.
Our day started early (the bus departed around 7.45am), and it started with a lot of driving. It was well over an hour before we got off the bus, and overall you do spend a lot of time being driven around but the scenery is stunning and the commentary is great. The terrain can be very bumpy so the ride – despite the excellent quality of the vehicle and the impressive skills of our guide – can be pretty uncomfortable at times. There are no proper roads on Fraser outside of the resorts, so this will be true for any way you get around.
Martin, our guide, was absolutely excellent – incredibly knowledgable, funny, and stayed in good spirits even when one of our tyres burst(!). Changing a huge bus tyre on a sand track is an incredibly difficult job, and on this occasion was made worse by the heat of the early afternoon sun. Despite all the hard work he (and some passenger helpers) had to do, he kept making sure we were all in the shade, had enough water, and were generally OK. When I brought my family back to do this tour we had Martin as a guide again – they absolutely loved him. He is a real credit to Fraser Explorer and has now made two of my visits to the island really special.
On the Beauty Spots tour we saw 75 mile beach, Eli Creek, the Coloured Sands, the Maheno shipwreck, Central Station Rainforest, and the absolutely incredible Lake McKenzie.
I would highly recommend it if you only have the one day. Even if you have a little longer, the tour is still a great option if you want to relax and enjoy the beauty of the island without the stress of driving.
Air Fraser Island – Scenic flight
This 15 minute flight was a really fun addition to our tour of Fraser Island. You see places you can’t get to, we spotted marine life while we were flying over the sea, and you really get a sense of the sheer size of K’gari. I thought it would be much more expensive, but AUD$80 each is absolutely worth it. Just tell your guide you want to do one when you set off on your trip, or contact Air Fraser directly to set it up.
They also offer flights from the mainland, as well as other packages – find out more on their website.
Kingfisher Bay Resort
You can stay overnight at this resort, just come here for a meal, or get a day pass to access the facilities. It’s in an amazing location with lovely staff, but be prepared for the dated decor.
My initial experience with them wasn’t great – the website booking was confusing and the person who I called to talk about it was rude and patronising. If we hadn’t been set on going to Fraser for Christmas I would have cancelled the booking. However his manager intervened and offered free ferry transfers, and all other staff I dealt with from that point were very polite and helpful.
The food is good (although would definitely appreciate more vegetarian options that aren’t just sides or salads), with breakfast being particularly great, and the drinks were lovely too. The boat over there was on time and check in was easy – taking the bags from us at the mainland and then delivering them to our room was particularly appreciated!
One thing to remember is you’re paying for the location. Don’t expect modern and luxurious rooms (which you might for the price). They are clean and comfortable but they are dated and in need of a bit of love. However you don’t go to Fraser to spend lots of time in your room!
Drop Bear Adventures 4×4 tag along tour
We had an absolutely incredible time doing this tour, and all of us would highly recommend it. Drop Bear are a relatively young ethical company which places an importance on the environment and indigenous history which can be lacking in the other tag along tours. The other people on the tour ranged from young backpackers to couples in their 30s and one family with teenage daughters, which meant the vibe was fun but relaxed and didn’t involve any hardcore drinking or bad hangovers. The food was great, the guide was very knowledgable and enthusiastic (although a little too at-one-with-the-land-dude at some points), and the accommodation was comfortable and clean.
You need to be over 21 and have had a licence for a year to drive the jeeps, but you don’t have to do any driving at all if you don’t want to – I was nervous about doing it but it was so so fun! The guide worries about the route, tyre pressure, and getting you out of any sticky spots, so you can just worry about blasting the Indiana Jones theme tune and feeling like a badass.
They do pick ups from Rainbow Beach or Noosa, and if you are travelling without your own vehicle you can get picked up and dropped off in different places, and they’ll look after your main bag while you’re on the island.
Where to stay in Rainbow Beach
We left from Rainbow Beach after staying in a gorgeous little converted Queenslander house called Debbie’s Place. Debbie is really lovely and helpful, and even let us park for free while we were on Fraser (other places will charge $20+ a night). If you need anything beforehand just make sure you call instead of email, she wasn’t very responsive online. Rainbow Beach is nice enough but there’s not loads to do or see, so don’t plan to spend a lot of time here.
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