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The best 4WD tracks on K’gari (Fraser Island)


K’gari (Fraser Island) is the largest sand island in the world, followed closely by two of Queensland’s other islands, North Stradbroke Island/Minjerribah and Moreton Island/Mulgumpin.

Hema Maps K’gari (Fraser Island)
Image credit: Matt Williams

With glorious stretches of beach perfect for sand driving, numerous campsites, and plenty of unique lakes just waiting to be explored, K’gari (Fraser Island) is a four-wheel drivers paradise. From day trips, to extended holidays, there's endless adventures off the beaten track at K'gari.

There’s no bad time of year to visit the island, but rainfall peaks from January to March. The busiest times of year are around Christmas, Easter, September school holidays and tailor-fishing season (July–September).

Vehicle access permit and camping permits are required for K’gari (Fraser Island) and therefore the following tracks. These can be organised via the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS).

1. Eastern (75 Mile) Beach

Rating: Easy — may require high clearance
Distance: 95km (one way)
Starting point: Hook Point
Time: 5 hours driving time, but you’ll need more than a day to complete this drive to allow for tide restrictions and sightseeing stops along the way
Permits and fees: Vehicle access permit and camping permit for the national park — fees apply for both.
Warnings and reminders: Always check the latest conditions reports on the QPWS website. Avoid driving during the two hours either side of high tide. Beach access tracks are often soft and dry. Keep below the 80km/h speed limit on the beach. Normal road rules apply. Beware of aircraft landing on the beach. Do not swim in the ocean.

K’gari (Fraser Island) is the largest island off the east coast of Australia, and the largest sand island in the world, making the drive up the eastern beach the perfect way to get a glimpse of K’gari’s size. The beach can be accessed at several locations along its length, including Dilli Village, Eurong, Cornwells Road and Happy Valley.

The beach is popular with anglers, particularly in winter and spring when the tailor are running. While the sand at the beach entry points can be quite soft (and require lowering your tyre pressure), the beach surface is generally firm and even. There is a speed limit of 80km/h, normal road rules apply, and the area is monitored by police.

The drive will take you past numerous designated beach camping areas, which are well marked and well patrolled, so be sure to have your vehicle access and camping permits on hand if you camp there.

Eastern (75 Mile) Beach K'Gari Fraser Island

Image credit: Matt Williams

The drive eventually leads to the mouth of Eli Creek, from which up to four million litres of fresh water pour forth into the ocean each hour. Take the boardwalk that follows the creek inland for a glimpse of its glassy waters or get in and float back down to the beach to fully experience Eli Creek, where you may see jungle perch swimming against the current. Dingoes frequent Eli Creek, so practice Dingo Safe behaviour: keep children close and secure all food, rubbish, bait and catch. The creek mouth may be impassable at high tide and beware of deep banks and channels gouged by its fast-flowing water.

Dingo at K'Gari Fraser Island

A short distance north is the SS Maheno shipwreck: the rusted skeletal remains of a 5000-tonne ocean liner (that also served as a hospital ship in World War I) that has been beached for over 80 years. The wreck is unsafe and there are signs warning not to get within 3m of the shipwreck.

Other sites as you drive along include the colourful sand formations of The Pinnacles (especially beautiful in a goden sunrise), and further north the multi-hued sand formations known as The Cathedrals, which stretch the full length of Cathedral Beach.

Near the end of the drive at Orchid Beach is Champagne Pools, the only place where saltwater swimming is encouraged on the island, as sharks patrol the coastline and dangerous rips are commonplace. Champagne Pools however is a natural collection of pools created by volcanic rock, meaning it is safe for swimmers. The pools are named for the way the water fizzes after crashing over the volcanic rock, making it a unique experience for any visitor.

After rounding Indian Head along a detour track, you could re-join the beach and head right up to the tip of the island, Sandy Cape. However, there is a very soft sand bypass to negotiate around South Ngkala Rocks, while access over North Ngkala Rocks is extremely rough and should only be attempted by experienced four-wheel drivers at low tide.

2. Northern Forests and Lake Garawongera Scenic Drives

Rating: Easy –but does require low range and high clearance
Distance: 71km
Starting Point: K'gari Camping Area
Time: 6 hours driving, but allow a day for stops along the way.
Permits and fees: Vehicle access permit and camping permit for the national park — fees apply for both
Warnings and reminders: Always check the latest conditions report on the QPWS website. This track is very rough and remote and only suitable for experienced and self-sufficient 4WD users with a high clearance vehicle. The Lake Garawongera Scenic Drive section is not suitable for towing trailers or camping trailers.Some sections of the road may be overgrown or blocked by recent tree falls. If you are travelling back along the beach, avoid driving during the two hours either side of high tide.

Starting at the K’gari turnoff on Woralie Road, the track begins by plunging through soft sand around the beach access track inland towards K’gari Camping Area. Be forewarned, the distance of this track does not reflect the time it takes to traverse it, as these tracks are tough going and require more time than you would expect. The drive perfectly skewers the diverse cross-section of K’gari’s natural beauty, taking you through deep, lush rainforests where the canopy blocks the sky, then through open heathland and eucalypt forest near the island’s freshwater lakes.

The first point of interest along the drive is Knifeblade Lookout 4km in, which overlooks the windswept expanse of Knifeblade Sandblow. A further 4km ahead is Lake Allom, its tannin-stained waters home to countless turtles that frequently break the water’s surface. Soon after is a crossroad where you must turn onto Northern Road and begin heading southwest, which leads to Boomerang Lakes and The Declivity. The final inland leg of the journey is Lake Garawongera Scenic Drive, a rough track that is suitable for experienced 4WD users. From there it’s out on to the beach once more, and north back to K’gari to complete this adventure-filled loop.

The day-use area at Lake Allom (Image Chris Whitelaw)
The day-use area at Lake Allom (Image credit: Chris Whitelaw)

3. Southern Lakes and Central Lakes — Lake Wabby Scenic Drives

Rating: Easy – but does require low range and high ground clearance
Distance: 75km return
Starting point: Dilli Village
Time: 6–7 hours driving time, but allow a full day for stops along the way
Permits and fees: Vehicle access permit and camping permit for the national park — fees apply for both.
Warnings and reminders: Always check the latest conditions report on the QPWS website. This drive is not suitable for towing trailers or camper trailers. In peak periods (summer holidays and Easter) the road to Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie) can become congested and parking may not be available. Plan to arrive at the lake before 10am or after 2.30pm to avoid delays. Check tide times if you plan to include the Eurong-Dilli Village beach drive as an extension of this scenic drive. Avoid driving on the beach in the two hours either side of high tide.

This full-day adventure is best turned into an overnighter if you want to fully enjoy the many lakes the track comes in contact with along the way. K’gari (Fraser Island) is home to half the world’s perched lakes, which are defined by their separation from the water table. This means most of K’gari’s (Fraser Island) lakes are fed only by rainwater, keeping them pure and clear.

Ensure your tyre pressures are lowered sufficiently for this drive, as soft, white sand abounds, and the track is narrow and winding. Follow the signposts for the Southern Lakes Scenic Drive and you will cross paths with Lake Boomanjin, Lake Barga, Lake Benaroon and Lake Birrabeen.

Lake Boomanjin (Image Chris Whitelaw)
The honey-coloured waters of Lake Boomanjin (Image credit: Chris Whitelaw)

Further along is Central Station, where once a logging village and even a school once stood, and which is now a picnic and camping area. If you take your time on the first leg of the journey, an overnight camp at Central Station is an ideal midpoint. Central Station is also the starting point for several walks and scenic drives, which are well worth exploring.

Past Central Station is Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie). This perched freshwater lake is one of the most iconic sights associated with K’gari (Fraser Island), and the perfect example of the island’s unique beauty. Pure white silica lines the edge of the lake, the water’s colour changing from glass to turquoise and then to azure as it deepens. If you want to experience the serenity of Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie), ensure you get there before 10am or after 2pm to avoid the crowds. It’s the perfect place for swimming and picnics, and there are also several scenic walks you can explore around it.

After Lake McKenzie, Bennett Road continues west before doubling back to lead you to Lake Wabby. Lake Wabby is the deepest lake on the island and pressed between Hammerstone Sandblow on one side and thick forest on the other, the lake is disappearing at a rate of one metre each year — it is expected to disappear completely within approximately 20 years. Lake Wabby is classed as a ‘women’s place’ and considered a cultural site by the Butchulla people. You can see the lake and sandblow from a lookout off Cornwells Road or via a circuit walking track that leaves from a car park on the eastern beach 3.5km north of Eurong.

Wanggoolba Road to Lake Wabby (Image Chris Whitelaw)
Wanggoolba Road to Lake Wabby (Image credit: Chris Whitelaw)

K’gari (Fraser Island) navigation and maps

Hema HX-2 Navigator

K’gari (Fraser Island) Map

K’gari (Fraser Island) Atlas & Guide 

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