We first set foot on the soft white sand of Fraser Island’s Lake McKenzie as a well rested couple without kids. After roaming the world, we discovered one of the most beautiful places on earth had been in our very own backyard.
Lake McKenzie’s tranquil sapphire blue lake stole our hearts and we vowed to return to the World Heritage-listed island.
Less rested and with two kids aged 5 and 3 we kept our promise and returned to Lake McKenzie, surrounded by bushland a vision of powder white sand, vivid blue water and the odd paperbark tree. Once again it had us hooked.
That’s the thing with Fraser, it captivates and keeps you wanting more.
Highlights of Fraser Island with Kids
- Sand driving on Fraser Island with kids
- Swim at Lake McKenzie
- Splash at breathtaking Lake Birrabeen
- Drift along Eli Creek
- See Fraser Island’s Maheno Wreck
- Watch a beach sunset at Kingfisher Bay Jetty
- Soak at Champagne Rock Pools
- Picnic and Play at Lake Boomanjin
- Walk over a sand dune to Lake Wabby
- See dingoes from a distance
- Spot whales at Fraser Island with kids (seasonal)
- Fish on Seventy-Five Mile Beach
- Drag the kids out of Eurong Beach Resort pool
- What to pack for Fraser Island with kids
- Check tide times
- Read the Fraser Island Condition Report
- Purchase a QWPS Vehicle Permit
Highlights of Fraser Island with kids
Lake McKenzie maybe the headliner of Fraser Island, however there are other fabulous sidelines and most can be done with kids.
Driving on Fraser Island with kids
The best way to explore Fraser Island with kids is to self-drive. Getting around the world’s largest sand island requires a high clearance 4WD, to travel along the Seventy-Five Mile beach, it’s main highway or inland along sandy 4WD tracks.
Four wheel driving around Fraser Island can be a daunting task. For us suburban novices, kitted out convoys of 4WD’s were intimidating, there was also the added fear of getting bogged in soft sand.
Once behind the wheel, briefed with the right 4WD knowledge, road rules and tips, taking a 4WD off-road was half the fun.
With our fully equipped Landcruiser, hired from Atlas 4WD, we had the freedom to see Fraser Island’s attractions at our own pace, visiting places that suited our family.
Having control of our own itinerary allowed us to go off the beaten track, able to discover hidden gems often overlooked on a tour itinerary. The freedom of our own vehicle meant we avoided the big tourist busses and on some occasions had Fraser Islands’s beauties, all to ourselves.
It takes time to build up confidence when navigating the narrow sandy tracks, there are steep sections and tricky maneuvering along one-way lanes. With a little practice, driving on sand became second nature. Click here for tips on sand driving on Fraser Island.
Once confident, there is still the exercise of driving around, Fraser Island is big island with lots of ground to cover. Surprisingly, rather than the ceaseless petitions of “Are we there yet?” The kids settled into the rhythm of the car as it traversed the sand tracks.
Even after the initial novelty wore off, little resistance came from the kiddos as they succumb to the islands unique landscapes.
Not a single iPad request was made as we drove through rainforest valleys, where every now and again rays of sunshine broke through the dense green canopy.
The kids were content to spot scribbly gums as we ambled past forests of tall satinay trees, banksias and ancient ferns.
At the slightest chance of a grimace, a snack or two subdued complaints and before they knew it, the scenery changed subtly enough to keep the kids occupied.
Two content kids checked out giant rainforest trees, bounced along on the look out for dingoes in the bush and cruising Fraser’s glimmering coastline, where waves lapped the shore.
Swim at Lake McKenzie, one of the most beautiful places in the world
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, Lake Mckenzie has a beach of soft white silica sand and fresh water collected from raindrops, so pure and clear that hardly anything lives in it.
Much to the delight of my 5 year old, who doesn’t like to swim in places which may occupy octopuses or sharks.
The perched lake of Lake McKenzie is the prettiest natural swimming pool in the world, free from pounding waves, undertows and saltwater stings.
When the sun is high in the sky and hits the lake just so, the sky blue water glimmers against the power white sand and it’s pure magic at Lake McKenzie. The best time to go to Lake McKenzie is early morning through to midday.
Splash at breathtaking Lake Birrabeen
One of Fraser Island’s hidden gems is the emerald waters of Lake Birrabeen. Just like it’s more popular sister Lake McKenzie, it’s a perched lake that is fed from the clouds. The sand is pure white silica, so fine it can polish jewellery.
Noticeably different is Lake Birrabeen’s beach, with smooth powdery white sand compared to the well trodden shores of Lake Mckenzie.
Unlike Lake McKenzie’s hues of blue, Lake Birrabeen’s has tones of emerald green. The most distinguishing difference is Lake Birrabeen’s popularity. Less famous and a little forgotten, just the way the locals like it.
We certainly appreciated having the whole lake to ourselves.
Drift along Eli Creek
Numerous freshwater creeks flow into the ocean from Fraser Island, the largest is Eli Creek. Water fed from a freshwater spring further inland, pours a staggering four million litres of fresh water into the ocean every hour.
Floating downstream was one of the kids favourite things to do on Fraser. Even though the water was chilly, they kept racing along the boardwalk for another paddle downstream.
If intending to spend some time at Eli Creek, leave all the belongings including shoes in the car. On a hot summers day, towels may even be optional.
For those that feel the cool, the boardwalk offers a lovely walk along the creek, amongst banksia and pandanus plants. The downside, the designated walker is also the one left carrying the towels, hats and other abandoned goods at the end of the stream.
A popular picnic spot, you will find many 4WDs parked, with their tail gate down and chairs set up for a picnic facing the gentle stream at the mouth of Eli Creek.
Tips to avoid getting bogged at Eli Creek
- The well used entrance is also a notorious spot to get bogged, the soft sand is caused by the volume of cars digging up the surface. It’s not so much of an issue during the cooler months. Much trickier during the warmer months when the sand is soft and dry.
- To avoid getting bogged, park uphill facing the ocean. Otherwise, if facing the entrance a three-point turn is required to reverse out. Soft sand, extra movement and little momentum causes vehicles to become bogged.
- When parking at Eli Creek, find a quieter spot away from the entrance along the beach. In one steady and controlled motion, turn the car to face the ocean. This way, when ready to leave, you are facing the ocean and it’s only one forward movement out of the soft sand, without any turns.
- Avoid parking right at the base of the entrance to the creek where families play and pedestrians walk around. Go around and park a little further down.
See Fraser Island’s Maheno Wreck
Fraser Island’s rugged coastline has claimed 23 wrecks, the most famous is the Maheno Wreck. The 5000 ton steel-hulled vessel served as a hospital ship during World War I and transported the wounded during the Gallipoli Campaign and also from France to England during the Battle of the Some.
In 1935, Maheno was sold for scrap metal to Japan. It was being towed by sister ship, Oonah from Sydney to Tokyo.
A cyclone snapped the tow rope, setting it adrift along with a small crew. With no propellers to steer the ship, the Maheno stranded on Fraser’s Eastern Beach. The crew was then recovered by the Oonah and the Maheno was stripped bare and abandoned.
Today the Maheno lays rusted and battered by the Fraser Coasts relentless waves. Besides the stern, used as bombing target practice during WWII, the ship remains in one piece and provides picture perfect photo opportunities.
Tips for Fraser Islands Maheno Wreck with kids
The Maheno is in a state of disintegration with many sharp and rusty edges. Adhere to the sign posts and keep a safe distance from the wreckage.
The Fraser Island Landmark is very popular and there are many tours that make Maheno a stop on their itinerary. To fully appreciate the Meheno away from the crowds, linger a little longer as the busses leave for their next scheduled stop.
Watch a beach sunset at Kingfisher Bay Jetty
It’s rare to find a sunset on the water along the East Coast of Australia, but Fraser has it all including spectacular beach sunsets.
The Kingfisher Bay Jetty located on the Western side of the Island, is a great spot to catch the sun setting over the water.
When the last ferry departs, tables and chairs are laid out along the jetty for guest to view the sunset in style. There are sunset libations, prawn and cheese platters and sweet treats for the kids. Alternatively, families can pack a picnic and take in the sunset from the beach.
The most picturesque sunset can be found 2km’s south of Kingfisher Bay Resort at old McKenzie’s Jetty. It was once used by loggers to transport timber from Central Station during Fraser Island logging era. It now rests in ruins, framing sunsets perfectly.
Soak at Champagne Rock Pools
At low tide, waves crash over pools of volcanic rock, forming champagne bubbles in pools of water. The natural jacuzzi of Champagne Rock Pools can be found on Seventy-Five Mile Beach just North of Indian head.
Indian Head bypass track is a notorious spot for getting bogged
To see Champagne Rock Pools requires navigating the Indian Head bypass track. The 500 meter wide soft sandy track around Indian Head is a notorious spot for getting bogged, especially for novices.
Do not be afraid, the 4WD code is strong on Fraser and there are very helpful and experienced 4WD enthusiasts ready to help.
Spectators do line the side of the track to watch cars drive through, particularly common on a hot day when the sand is soft. Rest assured there is a strong 4WD community that do help each other out.
4WD recovery at Indian Head
Two English backpackers were stuck for over an hour at Indian Head. The attempts to dig themselves out was futile and both were drenched in sweat. The rescue was performed by Christopher of Atlas 4WD and took 45 minutes. There are good people out there, however it’s best not to get bogged.
Tips on navigating Indian Head Bypass
- During the cooler months, the sand is firm and makes for easy driving. From April – October, tyre pressure of 24psi is adequate.
- In the hotter months from November – March. The sand can get extremely hot and very soft, this is when vehicles sink down. Reduce tyre pressure to 20psi.
- Know your 4WD, there are lots of factors to consider including diesel vs petrol, tyre types, gearing and automatic vs petrol engines. Adjust the tyre pressure accordingly. There are 4WD enthusiasts that encourage 16-18 psi on soft sand in their own cars.
- Stop 30m from soft sand to assess conditions.
- It’s best to watch a few cars go through Indian Head Bypass first to check conditions and see how successful cars get through. If cars are getting bogged, reduce tyre pressures to 20 psi.
- If there are no cars around, walk through the track first and judge the terrain and softness of the sand.
- If you are not confident in driving the track, or if it’s a bad day where lots of cars are getting stuck on hot sand. Try another day at another time when the sand is firmer. It’s no fun being bogged.
- If you smell asbestos burning, the clutch is burning and you must stop and allow the car to cool down before continuing on. Otherwise the car will be destroyed.
- Mornings are easier than afternoons as the sand is firmer.
- When reducing tyre pressure, its important to reduce speeds to protect the tyres. Keep speeds to a maximum of 60 km/hr.
Tips courtesy of Atlas 4WD Hire.
Driving Indian Head Bypass when the sand is firm
The following is based on a Landcruiser 100 series petrol Automatic:
- Check pressure is at 24 psi.
Engage High range.
Wait for the track to clear so no one will stop your run.
- Have the vehicle at 2500 – 3500 rpm
Do not slow down or stop. The deep soft sand requires steady momentum to clear the track.
- Stick to the formed tracks and keep going.
Do not turn or veer along the track, this can cause loss of power and traction.
If the car begins to fail, stop and reverse out. Do not spin the wheels. A common mistake is continuing to drive, resulting in getting bogged down.
If making another attempt, consider lowering the tyre pressure to 20 psi and keep speed up.
If you fail again, reverse back. Try another day or another time when it’s cooler and the sand is firmer.
Driving Indian Head Bypass when the sand is soft
- Check tyre pressure is at 20 psi
- Engage High range
- Select 2nd gear
- Wait for the track to clear so no one will stop your run
- Have the vehicle at higher revs of 3000 – 4000 rpm. People think speed is the thing that gets them over. This is not correct its momentum and the right amount of revs (RPM) to suit your vehicle.
- Do not slow down or stop. The deep soft sand requires steady momentum to clear the track.
- Stick to the formed tracks and keep going.
- Do not turn or veer along the track, this can cause loss of power and traction.
- If the car begins to fail, stop and reverse out in low range. Do not spin the wheels. A common mistake is continuing to drive, resulting in getting bogged down.
- Once back on the hard sand. Wait for the track to clear so no one will stop your run
- Select low range.
- Select 3rd gear
- Get a bit more of a run up and make another attempt. (revs of 3000-4000 rpm, keep going, sticking to the track).
- If you fail again, reverse back. Try another day or another time when it’s cooler and the sand is firmer.
- Although you can keep attempting the Indian Head Bypass track and may make it over, there is a very good chance of also getting bogged. Which requires digging yourself out or waiting to coordinate a rescue.
Picnic and play by Lake Boomanjin
Fraser Island is home to half of the world’s population of perched lakes, these are lakes that gather water purely from rainfall.
What makes Lake Boomanjin special is that it is the world’s largest perched lake, stretching over 200 hectares. Such a title deserves a visit to it’s powder white sandy shores and waters of red and amber hues.
Though a red lake is not as easy on the eye as Lake Boomanjin’s blue hued sister lakes, this lake has it’s benefits. With far less people flocking to it’s shores, Lake Boomanjin offers a sense of calm and serenity. Tranquility may not win the kids over, but a playground and picnic area might.
Walk over a sand dune to Lake Wabby
The green hued Lake Wabby is an example of a barrage lake, formed when sand particles cross a fresh water creek. Over time, the sand dune dams the creek, becoming a lake. This is how Fraser Island’s deepest lake, at 12 meters was created.
Take a look while it’s still there as the huge Hammerstone Sandblow, the sand dune adjacent to Lake Wabby will one day engulf the lake.
Unlike the other pure freshwater lakes, the salt spray from Eastern Beach has made the water less acidic and is home to small fish that nibble your toes and swim by your feet.
The walk to Lake Wabby with kids
There is a 2km trek from the beach, on soft white sand and over Hammerstone Sandblow to get to Lake Wabby’s beach. It takes approximately 1 hour one way to walk the soft sand to Lake Wabby. During the summer the sand gets hot and there is little shade, pack sunscreen, wear hats and bring water. This walk may not be suitable with young kids, as little legs get tired.
Consider using a baby hiking backpack or baby carrier for toddlers.
Lake Wabby Lookout
Rather than the 2km one way walk to Lake Wabby, there is Lake Wabby Lookout (off Cornwells Break Road).
See dingoes from a distance
The Fraser Island Dingoes are the purest strain of dingoes in Australia and the population of 200 dingoes are protected on the World Heritage-listed island.
It’s estimated twenty percent of visitors to Fraser Island do not get a chance to see the dingoes of Fraser Island. This was the case when we first visited Fraser Island.
For us, the Fraser Island dingoes have been quite elusive. This time around we were fortunate to glimpse a couple of dingoes, before we departed the island on the barge, near Wanggoolba Creek.
Fraser Island dingo safety
A 9 year old child was mauled to death by dingoes in 2001 and in October 2014, two women were attacked by dingoes, whilst running along a western beach on Fraser near Yidney Rocks. Dingoes are wild animals and to be admired from afar.
In order for the wild dingoes to co-exist with the many visitors to the island. It is up to visitors to be aware of surroundings and follow dingo safety rules. The actions of visitors to the island effects the humane treatment of it’s dingoes.
- Never feed a dingo. Feeding dingoes causes them to lose their hunting skills and dependent on hand-outs. They become aggressive towards people.
- Do not approach dingoes, this includes luring them closer to snap selfies.
- Keep food, fish and bait sealed.
- Camp at fenced campsites or stay at a resort or township which is protected by an electric grid to the entrance.
- Do not walk alone, especially at night when dingoes hunt.
- March – May is mating time and dingoes are more active in protecting territories and testing dominance.
- In the summer from December – February pups show aggressive behaviour to gain dominance. Be more vigilant on the island, especially around children.
Read more about dingo safety by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, who also have a base at Eurong for any concerns.
Dingo safety on Fraser Island with kids
- Chat about the dingoes on Fraser Island with the kids and the importance of sticking close to adults. To not run away or wander off without a parent.
- Explain that dingoes are not like dogs, that they can bite and must be seen from a distance.
- Young children and even small teenagers are easier prey for dingoes. Keep kids within arms distance.
- If dingoes show negative behaviour like circling, lunging, chasing, nipping, have it’s head lowered, ears back and tail curled. Do not run or wave arms. Stand still. Make yourself as tall as possible and be brave. Face the dingo. Calmly but loudly call for help. Practice this with the kids.
The ‘Dingo Lady’, Jennifer Packhurst was fined $40,000 with a suspended jail term for feeding a pack of Fraser Island dingoes over a period of time. The same pack of dingoes were later responsible for very serious attacks to two children and were ultimately euthanised.
Her direct actions caused harm to visitors of Fraser Island. However, she does raise concerns whether rightfully or wrongfully of ear tagging, dingo hazing and food shortages and addresses a healthy debate on what is the right way to manage the dingo population on Fraser Island.
The most significant message in her video is at minute 8:18, where a man on the beach, becomes very alarmed by a pack of dingoes surrounding him. Standing still and calm was the key to his safety.
Spot whales on Fraser Island with kids (seasonal)
From August to October Fraser Island receives an estimated 20,000 humpback whales into the calm waters off Platypus Bay, located off the North Western coast of Fraser Island. These gentle creatures stay awhile to rest, play and nurture their calves before migrating south to the Antarctic.
Where to spot Whales on Fraser
- Seventy-Five Mile Beach. The whales can be sighted on Seventy-Five Mile Beach. They can get very close to shore as captured on Kingfisher Bay Resort’s instagram feed last season.
Indian Head and Waddy Point offer great vantage points to spot whales on Fraser Island.
From the skies with Air Fraser Island.
Whale watching tour
The best way to see whales on Fraser Island is up from the water.
Kingfisher Bay Resort’s QuickCat II runs whale watching cruises from the start of August to late October. Tours depart from the jetty at 7:45am returning 12 noon. Adults $115 and Child 4-15 $70. Kids under 4 are free.
Swim with whales
You can swim with humpback whales and kids (15+) are able to join in on this amazing experience. Kingfisher Bay Resort whale watching tours has an optional extra to get into the water with these gentle giants.
Fish on Seventy-Five Mile Beach
Whilst you can’t swim on Seventy-Five Mile Beach, with rips, severe tides and unforgiving surf, it’s a perfect spot for fishing.
A common sight are the 4WD’s seen with several beach fishing rods strapped to it’s body, traversing the sandy shores. They’re hoping to reel in the big one along the beach, where surf gutters run Whiting, Bream, Mullet, Dart and the prized Tailor during the winter season, from July to November.
Fishing on Seventy-Five Mile Beach isn’t just for fishing enthusiasts, kids get a kick at learning to fish.
Fishing supplies including tackle box, bucket, knife and rods can be hired at the Eurong Beach General Store. Have a chat to the many fisherman popping in for bait, they may share with you their favourite spots. Popular gutters include just north of Maheno Wreck or near Waddy Point.
Drag the kids out of Eurong Beach Resort pool
If the kids had their way, the Eurong Beach Resort pool would goto the top of the list of must-do’s on Fraser Island, trumping the stunning inland lakes.
The super family friendly Eurong Beach Resort has everything a child needs for a happy holiday – a huge and inviting lagoon shaped pool and spa.
Even on a cold and wet day, kids can’t help but jump into the unheated pool. On a hot summers day, relaxing poolside would be the perfect way to cool off after a day of sight seeing.
Sometimes the simplest and easiest ways to enjoy a family holiday is to listen to the kids. If it means reserving some time on a busy holiday schedule to hop in the pool, there’s really no reason not to. It’s all part of travelling with kids.
Kingfisher Bay Resort Pool
Lucky kids have four resort pools to choose from if staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort. The main resort pool by Maheno Restaurant is very inviting with an elevated spa overlooking the resort.
Before you go
What to pack for Fraser Island with kids
Eurong Beach Resort has a small store to pick up any items that were missed, including meat, vegetables, basic clothing, ice, fuel and camping supplies. Similarly the village at Kingfisher Bay Resort has a series of shops for emergency items and a small general store. Expect island prices for the convenience.
The beauty of self-drive means packing without weight restrictions. It’s best to stock up on groceries and essentials and load everything you need in the car for a self sufficient family trip to Fraser Island.
Essential items to pack for Fraser Island with kids:
- Pack casual resort wear for Fraser Island. During the winter it does get cool, particularly at night where a warm layer is needed.
- Thongs, crocs or sandals for easy slip on and off for a sand island.
- Pack some closed toed walking shoes, in the summer sand gets very hot.
- First aid kit for the car and a smaller one in the backpack when going for a walk or visiting attractions.
- Bring an esky with food and drinks, condiments for self-catering such as: salt, pepper, sauces, oil and long-life milk,
- Swimming gear: bathers, goggles, beach towels, hats and sunnies.
- Beach toys such as bucket, spade, football etc.
- Inflatable floats or boards are great for Eli Creek and the lakes.
- Medicines such as Children’s Panadol, Ibuprofen and any medication for asthma or allergy.
- Insect repellent and sunscreen.
- Stock up on groceries in a chilled Esky before taking the barge over to Fraser Island.
- Condiments for self catering including: salt, pepper, sauces, oil, bread, long-life milk and butter.
- Baby carrier for infants and young toddlers. Leave the pram at home.
- Kids snacks and treats.
- In the summer, a beach tent or umbrella as there is little shade at the lakes and on the beach.
- Camera and video camera, absolutely essential to capture the beauty of Fraser Island.
- Alcohol, it’s expensive on the island.
- Umbrella or raincoat just in case it rains.
Check tide times
Checking tide times allows you to plan a trip around Fraser Island to maximise your time on the island. Cars cannot drive on the Eastern beach two hours either side of high tide. The tides dictate where you can go and when you need to be back at a certain place before Eastern beach is not passable.
Midday high tidesWhen high tide occurs during the middle of the day, consider spending the day exploring the in-land tracks and Lakes.
Read the Fraser Island condition report
Department of National Park, Sport and Racing update a fortnightly report on the current conditions on Fraser Island.
Buy a QPWS Vehicle Permit
A vehicle access permit must be obtained before driving on Fraser Island. Payment grants a sticker permit to be clearly displayed on the interior window of the car.
A 1 month or less permit costs $46.65. There is also an annual permit at $234. Price as of July 2015, see latest fees.
Getting to Fraser Island
Driving to Fraser Island with kids
From Brisbane: The journey is approximately 4 – 4 1/2 hours drive north of Brisbane City.
Join the Bruce Highway north of Brisbane.
From Bundaberg: The journey is approximately 1.5 hours drive south.
Follow the Bruce Highway south. Turn off at Torbanlea and follow signs to Hervey Bay (21kms). Turn left onto the Maryborough-Hervey Bay Road. Travel 0.7kms and turn right on to Booral Road. Travel for approximately 12 kms, then turn right into River Heads Road and travel 9.6kms to arrive at Kingfisher Bay’s Mainland Reception located at River Heads Shopping Village (on your right hand side). River Heads Road is locally named Ariadne Street.
Ferry crossing to Fraser Island with kids
Part of the fun of going to Fraser Island is crossing the Sandy Strait. Look out for dolphins and maybe whales during the migration season from August – October each year.
River Heads Ferry
Fraser Island Barges operates daily passenger and vehicular transfer from River Heads to Kingfisher Bay Resort via Kingfisher Bay Ferry or Wanggoolba Creek vis Fraser Venture Barge. Click here for more details.
The River Heads ferry terminal is located 18km south of Hervey Bay, if arriving from Brisbane, take the Booral turnoff.
Reverse drive on and off from the mainland
The River Heads ferry requires vehicles to reverse onto the barge on the way to Fraser Island.
Vehicles need to reverse off the ferry when coming back from Fraser Island.
Don’t worry there is someone on the ferry to assist.
Which ferry to take? Kingfisher Bay Ferry vs Fraser Venture Barge (Wanggoolba Creek)
For visitors staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort the Kingfisher Bay Ferry is best, which is a 45 minute journey. It’s also ideal for visitors taking a 2WD or AWD vehicle for getting around the resort.
For Eurong Beach Resort visitors either the Kingfisher Bay or Fraser Venture Barge can be used.
The key differences between each ferry are:
- Service times operating daily at different times (see below)
- The duration of the ferry crossing. It takes 45 minutes to cross from River Heads to Kingfisher Bay Resort landing and 30 minutes from River Heads to Wanggoolba Creek Barge Landing.
- A high clearance 4WD is required to drive around the island from Wanggoolba Creek.
- The Wanggoolba Creek Ferry has a resident ferry cat by the name of Flinders.
About the Kingfisher Bay Ferry
The whole family can drive onboard, unlike other ferries, there is no need for one adult to drive whilst the other walks on foot with the kids.
Once onboard there are toilets and a cafeteria serving light snacks, coffee, tea and drinks. Pies $4.50, coffee $2.50, can of beer $6.00 and soft drink $2.70. Prices as of May 2015.
Both indoor seating or upstairs where the captain is, there are rows of seating both shaded and not shaded for the trip to Fraser Island.
One hour drive to Eurong Beach Resort
Either from Kingfisher Bay Resort Landing or from Wanggoolba Creek Land to Eurong Beach Resort takes approximately 1 hour of driving across in-land tracks.
Ferry times from River heads
6.45am, 9.00am, 12.30pm, 3.30pm and 6.45pm
The 9.30pm service ex River Heads is no longer operating. This service will resume during peak periods
The 11.00pm service ex Kingfisher Bay Resort is no longer operating. This service will resume during peak periods.
Ferry times from Wanggoolba Creek
8.30 am, 10.15 am and 4.00 pm
Crossing times subject to change during cases of extreme low tides and passengers notified.
Ferry costs from River heads
Vehicle tickets cost $175 return including a driver and up to 3 passengers off peak. Off peak is $165.
Other fares applies to walk on passengers, trucks and caravans. Click here for latest prices and more details.
Rainbow Beach Ferry
Manta Ray Fraser Island Barges operate an on demand barge during daylight hours. The ferry crossing takes 10 minutes with 2-3 barges running throughout the day during peak season.
4WD ferry ticket costs $120 return (or $75 one way) inclusive of all passengers.
Flying to Fraser Island with kids
Virgin Australia flies daily from Melbourne and Sydney to Hervey Bay / Fraser Coast airport.
Qantaslink flies three services a day from Brisbane and return.
Kingfisher Bay Resort operates an Air transfer service from Hervey Bay / Fraser Coast airport for resort guests.
Air Fraser Island also operates charter services from Fraser Coast / Hervey Bay Airport or from Sunshine Coast Airport (in the south) to Fraser Island. Air Fraser Island is the only commercial operator with permits to land on 75-Mile Beach. Alternatively Air Fraser can make arrangements to land at Wanggoolba airstrip (will require a 4WD transfer).
Driving on Fraser Island with kids
Things to consider when driving on Fraser Island with kids:
High clearance 4WD recommended
A high clearance 4WD is needed to drive around Fraser Island. Soft sand and deep sand ruts makes 2WD unsuitable on Fraser Island.
We own a Ford Territory, and although the dealer said you can take it off road, it’s never seen a dirt track. It is not advisable to take AWD vehicles on Fraser Island as they do not have the clearance to drive the soft sand tracks. However, this is only a recommendation there were many ‘soft-roaders’ (mid range AWD, SUVs) such as a Kia Sorrento doing just fine in the sand.
The question is do you want to risk your vehicle on Fraser Island?
For novices, it’s best to practice in another hire car rather than risking your own family car. There’s rust and salt water, getting bogged, and sharp drop offs on the beach to worry about.
Taking your own 4WD
Hiring a 4WD
You can hire 4WD’s either on the island at Kingfisher Bay Resort Village or from specialist 4WD hire companies that allow driving on Fraser Island. Generally, car hire companies such as Hertz and Avis do not permit their vehicle’s on Fraser Island.
Atlas 4WD Hire
We hired our Toyota Landcruiser from Atlas 4WD Hire, located 8km’s from River Heads ferry landing in Hervey Bay. After picking up the car, it’s a short drive to the ferry at reduced speeds of 60 km/ hr due to reduced tyre pressure.
4WD Safety Briefing
Before you can hire a car on Fraser Island a mandatory, 1-1.5 hour safety briefing is required. If travelling to Fraser Island from Brisbane or further south, allow some time for this training.
A safety briefing requiring both parents becomes a difficult exercise when young kids are involved. Hiring from Cristina and Anthony at Atlas 4WD feels like borrowing a car from a family friend, where our kids have a playdate with their very patient children. We were able to give our undivided attention to Anthony, in their family home.
Having hired a car before, the briefing was a lot less dry than the back to back government safety videos we watched on our first trip to Fraser.
Anthony with a typical appearance of a sparky, rugged in appearance, has a most gentle demeanour. As he explains about the wildlife dangers of Fraser he weaves in tails of encountering brown snakes under air-conditioning covers and waiting patiently for a large python to cross a sand track. It’s the opposite of what a sparky would do, either run it over or wrestle it to the side of the road.
Anthony stepped through everything we needed to know about driving on Fraser Island as well as providing the confidence and encouragement to tackle sand driving.
There are several government safety videos to watch, but it’s broken up between stories of cars being written off in the tides and a demonstration on how to fend off a dingo. Afterwards, Anthony showed us our 4WD and explains how to use a Snatch Strap well as the 4WD settings on the vehicle.
Snatch Strap rescue
A handy YouTube demonstration on how to use a Snatch Strap, in case a rescue is needed.
The 4WD comes equipped with a few nice touches: a quick reference guide for using 4WD settings, instructions on how to drive to River Heads, a map of Fraser Island and all the equipment needed if the car gets bogged including: Max Trax, shovel, Snatch Strap and tyre gauge.
It’s reassuring hiring from Atlas 4WD as we had the support of Anthony and Cristina, in the event we experience any troubles with the car. They’re the people that help rescue backpackers out of bogs and then hand them a cold coke for their troubles.
TIP – purchase travel insurance with rental vehicle excess reduction
The insurance premiums on Fraser Island 4WD hire is eye brow raising high at $4,000. Read the rental agreement before committing your initials. Atlas 4WD emails the rental agreement along with the quote for your perusal.
By purchasing travel insurance that has a rental vehicle excess reduction coverage will alleviate concerns. This coverage either pays the $4,000 excess or the damage caused if below $4,000. Read the fine print of your PDS as not all policies are the same.
Things to look out for include:
- Whether the policy covers rental vehicle excess reduction on domestic (within Australia) travel as well as international travel.
- Some policies deem a ‘Trip’ a distance of 200km away from primary residence. Therefore if you lived in Hervey Bay, chances are you will not be covered for excess vehicle reduction.
- $0 excess, pay higher insurance to reduce the excess to zero. This way, you will not be out of pocked if making a claim.
Road Rules on Fraser Island
The same road rules apply on the mainland as they do on Fraser Island. This includes using the appropriate car seats, wearing belts and obeying the speed and blood alcohol limit. Police have been known to use speed radars and take random breath testing.
The speed limit on Seventy-Mile Beach is 80km/hr. However top limits of 60km/hr is recommended, especially for new drivers. Going slower means hazards such as wash outs, creek crossings and other 4WD cars ahead can be managed easier.
On Inland tracks the speed limit is 30km/hr. However, 15-20km/hr is a more comfortable journey.
Planes also land on Seventy-Mile Beach, there are markers to section of the temporary airstrip. If a plane is landing, keep clear. Approach the marked area with caution, usually there is someone on the ground to guide you.
Sand driving tips for Fraser Island
- Be cautious at creek crossings along the beach. There are large wash outs which can have a sharp drop off.
- Be cautious of sand gutters, depressions and ridges as these can cause severe accidents.
- At creek crossings, look at where other tracks have crossed and follow.
- Be on constant alert on Seventy-Five Mile Beach for the unexpected, which includes other cars, plane take-offs and landings, creeks, wash aways, fishermen, dingoes and pedestrians.
- As Seventy-Five Mile Beach is a two way sand highway without marked lanes, cars may not be driving in lane order. If an oncoming car approaches, indicate left or right to let the car know which side to stick to.
- Do not drive over salt water.
- Look out for 4WD tour busses, they are fast and need to make it to a particular place in time. When a bus approaches let them overtake on the beach. Give them right of way on an in-land track.
- On the inland tracks, give way to oncoming traffic by using the passing bays. Convoys have right of way, to prevent a bank of cars having to reverse to a passing by.
- On the inland tracks, give way to 4WD tour busses as it’s harder for such large vehicles to manoeuvre.
- Do not drive 2 hours either side of high tide.
- 4WD tour buses have limited rear visibility, drive behind them at good distance so they can see you.
- Do not drive at night, at sunset or sunrise.
- Do not drive on the Western beaches as they have soft sand and easy to get bogged.
- For hire cars, do not drive further North than Orchid Beach, as the terrain gets difficult.
Where to stay on Fraser Island with kids
Here are some family friendly options when staying on Fraser Island with kids.
Eurong Beach Resort – perfect for families
The three-star Eurong Beach Resort, located on the sand dunes, overlooking Seventy-Five Mile Beach, is an ideal location for exploring Fraser Island’s landmarks. A short drive to Maheno Shipwreck and Eli Creek and within easy reach of Fraser’s beautiful southern lakes, including Lake McKenzie, Lake Birrabeen and Lake Boomanjin.
Eurong Beach Resort facilities
Overlooking Seventy-Five Mile beach, Eurong Beach Resort is a laid resort with a village vibe, where fishermen, 4WD enthusiasts, campers and Fraser Island locals, pop into the resort’s Beach Bar for a casual drink and a game of pool.
Another bar can be found at the sizeable McKenzie Restaurant which offers theme buffet dinners and a la carte dining.
The kids loved the sizable lagoon swimming pool with another smaller pool by the Beach Bar. Other facilities include: tennis courts, guest laundry and BBQ area.
Eurong Beach resort conveniently has a small general store for last minute supplies such as ice, bait, fuel and fishing rod hire. There’s also a small bottle shop, a bakery serving fresh bread, cakes, slices, hot pies and chips. The small coffee shop attached to bakery servers a decent coffee to go. All these shops charge island prices.
Eurong Beach Resort accommodation options
Eurong Beach Resort offers, basic, clean and comfortable Resort Hotel Rooms which comes with: a balcony, fully-equipped kitchenette (minus oven), hot shower, toilet and a small screen TV. Bedding configuration is a double or twin beds. Some rooms allow quad-share, which can be requested on booking. A separate roll-away bed can be arranged for kids aged 4-14 at a cost of $25 a day.
Resort Hotel Rooms start from $129 off peak per night. Book your stay with Eurong Beach Resort here.
For a little extra, the Superior Resort Hotel Rooms offer pool views and air-conditioning.
A little extra still, the family can trade up to more space in a standard Two Bedroom Apartment. The spacious apartment features a full kitchen with oven, shower over bath, living space with small screen TV, outdoor balcony and overhead fans. Air-conditioned apartments are available in the superior apartments at an extra fee.
Eurong Beach Two Bedroom Superior apartments
What makes Eurong Beach Resort perfect for families are the spacious superior two bedroom apartments which offer:
- Two bedrooms and a separate living area, allows parents to unwind when the kids finally get to bed. There’s a breezy balcony with pool views.
- A fully-equipped kitchen with fridge, freezer, microwave, oven and everything to cook your own meals and save money from dining out. Unfortunately, there is no dishwasher.
- Creature comforts including: tea and coffee making facilities, a large flat screen TV, reverse cycle air-conditioning and WIFI (at a cost of $5.95 per hour or $19.95 for 24 hours).
- Bathroom with a bath tub, handy for bathing young kids.
Eurong Beach Resort Superior Two Bedroom Apartments from $259 per night off-peak. Find the best deal at TripAdvisor
Sunrise over the beach
With Seventy-Five Mile Beach at Eurong Beach Resort’s doorstep, it’s easy to catch a beach sunrise. Unfortunately, this activity calls for the family to be awake during the early hours of the morning.
Kingfisher Bay Resort
The 4 star eco-friendly Kingfisher Bay Resort is the most popular choice for visitors to the island. The resort offers a range accommodation options from hotel rooms, one, two and three bedroom villas as well as spacious modern houses set up the hill, perfect for large families or families sharing. For more details visit Kingfisher Bay Resort.
What sets Kingfisher Bay Resort apart from it’s smaller, less polished cousin Eurong Beach Resort, is not needing a 4WD to access this resort. Visitors can arrive on foot and enjoy a nice escape from the mainland, with plenty on offer within the resort, including: food and wine tastings, evening dinner cruises and chefs table dinners.
Fancy dinners and nights out is often impossible travelling with young kids, however the resort offers child minding and an award winning Junior Eco Rangers program that conveniently run on Friday and Saturday nights. For kids aged 5 – 14 years of age.
Cost of Kingfisher
Resort Hotel Rooms from $138. Find the best deal at TripAdvisor
Family friendly activities to do in Kingfisher Bay Resort include:
- Guided walks and talks.
- Guided 1.5 canoe tour from the Jetty to Dundonga Creek.
- Fishing clinics along the jetty.
- Non-motorised water sport on the beach including paddle boards and sea kayaks.
Resort facilites at Kingfisher Bay Resort include:
- Four bars
- A great little playground with slide, swings and things to climb to exert any pre-day trip energy.
- Four swimming pools, the main lagoon pool by Maheno restaurant is a spectacular kid magnet.
- Tennis courts.
- BBQ area.
- Coin operated guest laundry.
Where to eat on Fraser Island with kids
Dining options on Fraser Island is limited, with bare bones selection of restaurants and shops. For families it’s best to self-cater as eating out does come at a cost.
There is always the dilemma of not wanting to cook on holidays, here are some places to eat on Fraser:
McKenzies Restaurant, Eurong Beach
The kids found it a novelty to dine out buffet style. McKenzies at Eurong Beach Resort is the most family friendly dining out option. Food is immediate and kids can pick and choose from a large selection.
There is a good selection of food on offer with soups, salads, several meat and vegetable options as well as a variety of dessert’s.
Each night offers a different themed buffet, the most popular being Australian and Mexican.
McKenzies is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a la carte dining. The breakfast is good, with a large assortment of cereals, toast, eggs three ways, hot selection including sausages and bacon as well as fruit, yoghurt and muesli.
Buffet Breakfast runs from 6am – 9am and is $16.50 for adults and $10 for children ($4.50 for kids under 4). Continental brekkie is $10 for adults, $6 per child. Dinner buffet is from 6pm – 8pm and is a three-course themed buffet. $24.50 per adult, $13 per child and $5 for under 4. Dinner is similiar to the quality and variety you would get from a RSL buffet, it was good enough and better than cooking!
Maheno Restaurant, Kingfisher Bay Resort.
The Maheno Restaurant overlooks the sparkling pool and a great little spot for a lunch, with a nice kids menu serving very generous portions. The adult lunch menu is a good serving and quite tasty.
Eurong Beach Resort Bakery
You can order a picnic hamper to explore the island from the bakery or alternatively pick a few pies or sausage rolls to be eaten later.
Best time to go to Fraser Island with kids
Fraser Island is sub-tropical and has two distinct seasons.
May to August are the dry months on Fraser Island, with less rainfall and cooler temperatures (average 25 degrees Celsius).
For locals, winter is the best time to go with signature clear blue skies that Queensland is famous for, less humidity, cooler temperatures and free from mossies and other insects.
The bonus of travelling to Fraser Island with kids during winter are lower rates on accommodation and less crowds. The drawback of going in the winter (Jun-Aug) is the water is slightly chilly but that doesn’t stop the kids.
For residents South of Queensland, the weather is perfectly balmy.
The summer months from September to April finds Fraser warm and sunny with average temperatures of 29 degrees Celsius, though it feels hotter due to the humidity. However, this is also the wet season with tropical storms and unpredictable weather.
The wettest months are between January to March. Chances of rain decreases from late April.
The September school holidays and Christmas break are very popular times to visit Fraser. It’s the ideal weather to swim all day long with slightly longer sunny days (there is hardly any twilight in Queensland even during the summer). The compromise to warm waters and hot sunny days are the storms and mosquitoes.
The best time to go to Fraser Island with kids
The best time to goto Fraser Island with kids is during the winter and spring.
Winter, from June to August for clear blue skies and cool sunny days.
K’gari and the Butchulla people
Fraser Island’s Tradtional owners, the Butchulla people have given Fraser island the perfect name of K’gari meaning ‘a beautiful place’.
What makes K’gari so special is it’s raw and almost untouched natural attractions. Vsitors can connect with the island and see it as it has been since the Butchulla people lived there over 5,000 years ago (perhaps as many as 50,000 years).
A self-drive itinerary does mean families miss out on the culture and heritage of Fraser Island. Unfortunately without a guide and the lack of a cultural centre, it’s easy to overlook the island’s rich and turbulent history for it’s wonderful natural attractions.
Glimpses of the K’gari culture can be found along the cultural walks run by Kingfisher Bay Resort and at the islands old logging headquarters of Central Station. Unfortunately, the history of Fraser Island requires visitors to proactively seek information.
The historical record Search of the Sea Belle Castaways on Fraser Island provides an indication of how the Butchulla people were treated. An account by L.E Skinner, whom brought back two white children from Fraser Island, thought to be castaways of the wrecked vessel named Sea Belle.
The tragic story ends in two children, most likely albino Aboriginals never being returned and died shortly after being institutionalised.
Leave only footprints
Despite atrocities to the Aboriginals and the decimation of the Butchulla people’s population from European colonisation including: murder, forceable removal from their land and death from foreign diseases. Today, the Butchella people welcome visitors with open arms.
There are welcome messages sign posted across the island, embracing guests and wishing them well. All they ask is to leave only footprints.
Our little family were guests of Eurong Beach Resort, all opinions are my very own.
Have you been to Fraser Island with kids? Heading over to the sandy island soon? Love to hear about it, please reply below: