FRASER Island is the world’s largest sand island and features a thriving ecosystem and every key element for a glorious beach getaway: it was Fraser Island 4WD adventure time!
As usual when it’s time to leave for a trip, Sammy and I headed off well and truly after our scheduled departure time. This wasn’t an issue until we hit the island and realised the consequences of running late. Inskip Point regularly lives up to its reputation of bogging cars and this day was no different.
Upon pulling up to the entrance, we found a bogged Prado towing a camper trailer. With plenty of bystanders and rigs ready to pull them out, we drove on and lined up for the barge. This was the moment we truly slipped into relaxation mode. With the Patrol loving life and a pod of dolphins playing less then 50m away, we knew this was going to be one epic trip.
In true Flexible 4WD Solutions style, we landed on the island close to high tide and of course it was a very high tide that day. We ventured up the inland track as far as we could before jumping onto the beach for a short trek and then going inland once again, heading towards our planned camp at Central Station.
Anyone who has taken on the southern leg of a Fraser Island 4WD trek at high tide will know just how soft it can be, and those few short kilometres on the beach were well and truly a slog. Once we were inland, the track was easy going and we were in our zone… until we hit a ‘road closed’ sign.
We had checked for track closures online that morning but it must not have been quite up-to-date. Back burning was taking place and of course the only closed tracks were the ones we needed to take to reach camp. As with any travels, you simply have to roll with the punches, and thankfully the land managers at Dilli Village were more than accommodating.
With some donated firewood and a borrowed extension cable, we set up camp at Dilli Village and got cracking on trying to fix some 12V system gremlins that had arisen. Fraser Island has many absolutely magical spots and we highly recommend exploring the entire island as best you can. The second day saw a mad dash up the island.
Being our first trip to Fraser, we weren’t 100 percent sure of travel times and conditions but we wanted to cram as much into this trip as possible. We hit the tracks at 7am and headed for Lake Wabby lookout, however first we had to get the obligatory and embarrassing bogged moment out of the way.
With tyre pressures sitting at 25psi, one hub unlocked and in some super-soft sand we decided it was time to make a fool of ourselves. A pair of lovely old blokes came down the cut-in at the same time as we went up, so we had to reverse out to let them pass. Now let’s set the scene: this is early in the morning, with two old blokes in their Jeep Cherokee packed to the brim with gear and not a single modification; and then there was Sam and I – a young couple with a decked-out Patrol, business stickers and some apparently undue confidence!
We hit the cut-in and what do you know, our tyre pressures were too high, a hub was unlocked and we came in too slow. Cue the old blokes who had stopped to ensure we got through without hassle, and the moment we bogged down they jumped out to give us a quick push. We were out within minutes and on our way to the lookout.
Something that stood out for us during the trip was the koala ferns. We had never seen such amusing ferns. This beautiful species of flora is native to Australia and definitely the softest plant I have ever touched. All we wanted to do was reach out and pat them as we drove past.
With such mixed reviews regarding travel times from the bottom of the island to the tip, we were keen to get some kilometres under our belt and reach our next destination: the infamous Sandy Cape. However, we had a few challenges standing in our way first.
Indian Head, Woody Point and Ngkala Rocks were our main worries after hearing horror stories of travellers being bogged for hours at a time. But the horror stories are exactly that: stories! Don’t get me wrong, these challenges are not to be taken too lightly, however we found them no harder to tackle than any extended cut-in we’ve come across before.
With correct tyre pressures, our hubs locked (this time) and some momentum, we sailed through without issue. Soon enough we hit Sandy Cape, and what a magical place it was.With camp set up just off the beach, we were nicely sheltered yet still able to whale watch while sitting under our gazebo.
Whales were absolutely abundant on this trip, and there wasn’t a day where we didn’t see at least two pods cruising around.
Speaking about fauna, Sammy was extremely excited when we got to watch a dingo hunt for its dinner right in front of camp. Bob (yes of course we named him!) showed up late at night and we had front-row seats to watch him pounce on his prey in the shrubs and eat dinner on the dunes in front of us. What a magical experience.
Our third day on the island was another adventure, with fishing – unsuccessfully of course – bush walks, hiking sand dunes, failed sand dune races and explorations, and we were buggered by the end of the day. Sandy Cape Lighthouse was absolutely worth the walk but the hill is not for the faint of heart! After the epic walk up, we were lucky enough to catch the lighthouse keepers and get a private history lesson on the island.
After chatting with them for a good hour and a half, we left with a new sense of appreciation for the poor blokes who originally built the lighthouse. Moving supplies up and down that hill without motorised assistance is genuinely admirable. The following morning, it was time for us to head to Woody Point to set up our final and main camp for the trip.
Funnily enough, we again forgot to lock one of our hubs but got back through Ngkala Rocks with no hassles and didn’t realise until much later in the day.
Woody Point is one of the only campsites on the island that permits fires and has hot showers on offer. We highly recommend stopping here midway through your trip to freshen up and take in the serenity. Wherever you plan on camping, we suggest booking at least a few weeks in advance because the island gets extremely busy over the weekends and during peak times.
There’s also minimal phone signal on the island, which can make booking on the day challenging. Woody Point was the perfect place for a base camp while exploring the island, with the ability to make it all the way to Sandy Cape and back in a day as well as being within reach of popular sights such as the Champagne Pools, Eli Creek and the Maheno shipwreck.
One of the best tips we received was to swim at the Champagne Pools during low tide due to extra safety.
The Champagne Pools had an abundance of life, with fish, crabs, coral and seaweed lining the walls and giving us plenty to look at. Eli Creek was another beautiful spot.
With running fresh water and beautiful surrounds, it’s no surprise it is one of the most popular places on the island.
For Sammy and I, this was the perfect spot to blow up our tubes, crack a cider and not so gracefully float down the creek… multiple times! While we loved four-wheel-driving on the island, our favourite experience was a 15-minute flight tour with Air Fraser Island.
Air Fraser is one of the only companies in the world that takes off and lands on the beach and provides a truly unique experience. Costing only $200 to get the plane up in the air, up to six passengers can split the bill, which makes it a very affordable experience.
Our flight took off close to Eli Creek and we flew out over the ocean to spot some whales playing around. We then headed back inland for a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful inland lakes and sand blows. Feel free to check out more of the photos and videos from our flight on the Flexible 4WD Solutions Facebook page.
We absolutely loved our adventures on the island and strongly believe everyone should explore Fraser. Just be sure to pre-plan your destinations with food, water, fuel and hygiene in mind. It is important to note that fuel isn’t cheap on the island and it is definitely not readily available, especially north of Woody Point, making it something to keep in mind if you are heading to Sandy Cape.
We felt a week was not enough time to truly explore the island and get the relaxation we so dearly want on a beach holiday.
Allow plenty of time to take in the sights, as we regret not minimising our activities during the week and will endeavour to spend more time taking in each sight in future.
Oh and take plenty of gold coins! The campsites that provide hot showers only accept gold coins and it is not easy to chase up coins while on the island. As with every 4WD trip, pack your recovery gear, ensure you have rated recovery points and are well practised in using your gear.
There is no avoiding it – either you or someone else will become bogged at one point or another. Feel free to give us a call if you need any advice on how to safely use your recovery gear. And finally, pack your camera and make sure you take plenty of snaps to remember your epic adventure.
To check out more photos of our adventure, jump onto the Flexible 4WD Solutions Facebook page.
Tune in next month to read about our trip to Landcruiser Mountain Park.