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Fraser Island Tips & 4WD Guide

Fraser Island is known for a handful of iconic attractions, but away from the spotlight are some equally amazing scenic highlights.

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1. The northern forests

It’s undeniable that Fraser Island’s major headliners – see Lake McKenzie, Lake Boomanjin and various spots off the eastern beach – are warranted in their popularity, but if you headed to Fraser Island in search of seclusion and some robust four-wheel driving opportunities, you won’t find it around those crowd-pullers.


However, as soon as you peel off the island’s main routes and into its northern forests, the tracks become bumpier, the crowds disperse and the adventure really begins. Almost immediately after exiting the eastern beach at Poyungan Valley, the canopy closes in and the going becomes far slower (thanks to impressively deep ruts and soft sand in some sections) than on the wide and well-travelled tracks through the centre of Fraser.

A welcome change for those in search of a fuller off-road experience, the trip through to Lake Garawongera and beyond hints at Fraser’s essence as a wild and spectacular place – and is also proof that the island’s scenic beauty extends beyond its usual highlight reel.


2. Lake Garawongera

There’s such an abundance of pristine lakes on Fraser Island to encounter that, logically, some aren’t as well-known as others. Luckily for those who want to get away from the crowds, there’s Lake Garawongera, a scenic delight that’s hard enough to reach to discourage fair-weather fans and time-poor visitors.

Reeds and melaleucas line the rounded edge of Garawongera, staining its waters the colour of tea that darkens from red to black as the lake deepens. Accessible from the aforementioned track beginning at Poyungan Valley (or more easily from Happy Valley), the drive to the lake cuts through some of the island’s deepest rainforest and along some of its most rugged tracks. Once there, visitors will find fewer competitors for a slice of paradise in and around the lake than at Lake McKenzie, Lake Boomanjin or Lake Birrabeen, which for a relaxing swim or a spot of lunch, can make all the difference.

3. Wanggoolba Creek

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Book early

It’s important to remember that Fraser’s iconic status and numerous highlights make it a busy place, especially around the school holiday periods. The busiest times are the two weeks surrounding Christmas, Easter and the September school holidays, so if you are planning your trip at these times remember to organise any accommodation early. Campsite bookings can be made up to three months in advance, which is recommended for those looking to visit at peak periods.

Camping permit

You will need a camping permit to camp anywhere on the island (with the exception of Cathedral Beach and Kgari Camping Area). You can purchase one online to book in advance. If you end up staying longer than you originally planned, you can also get your permits from the office at Eurong while you’re on the island. 


> A lesson in safe beach driving

> Minimising your vehicle impact on Fraser Island

> How to drive in sand

Vehicle permit

Next, keep in mind that Fraser Island is highly protected by various agencies, so a vehicle permit and a separate camping permit are a necessity. A vehicle permit will set you back $46.65 for a month or less, and $234.00 for a year pass. 

Getting to the island

The final piece of preparation is booking your transport to the island. The barges leave from Inskip Point (Rainbow Beach) and River Heads. The various ferries are flat-bottomed barges that run up onto the beach, with bookings required on most but not all. 

Once you have chosen your dates, purchased camping and vehicle permits and secured passage onto the island, you’re ready to pack the 4x4 and discover Fraser Island with its many charms.


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