The Best of Fraser Island in a day

For years’ we had friends and family telling us tales of their experience to The World’s Biggest Sand Island ‘Fraser Island’. With its freshwater lakes, shipwrecks, sand hills, dingos, and being the only place in the world where rainforest can grow purely in sand, we were intrigued at the idea of such a place and so we couldn’t wait to experience this for ourselves.

We decided that because it was our first time on the island and with no 4WD experience, we would just do a day-trip.

We were based in Hervey Bay and booked with ‘Fraser Explorer Tours’. The price was $190 per person with an optional flight for $80 (to be booked on the day if weather is permitted).

There was free parking at our tour pick-up location at Urangan – Hervey Bay Marina, where we joined the tour departing at 7.45am for an 8am ferry from River Heads.

We boarded the passenger and car ferry from River Heads and the 45-minute journey across to Fraser Island (Kingfisher Resort entrance) was smooth and quick, with toilets on board and a little shop selling a range of snacks, pies and sausage rolls, $3 glasses of wine, and even entertainment from a gorgeous ginger staff cat.

Disembarking the ferry, we headed straight along the esplanade pier and jumped on our tour bus where our guide ‘Peter’ introduced himself. We were off to a quick start so we could get in front of the other buses, and our driver simply said, ‘You MUST put on your seatbelts folks, otherwise you will find out why there is carpet on the ceiling and NOT the floor’… 

We soon realised exactly what he meant by this. Starting the tour with a bang, we bush-bashed our way through thick forest, catching air as we flew past gigantic trees, missing them by only a couple of inches, hitting every single sand pot-hole and laughing hard at how we completely overlooked the fact we were on a complete sand island and there were NO proper roads at all!

On the bus, it is most stable in the middle but bumpy on the wheels, with the best seat in the house being right up the front in the middle of the action – right next to the driver!

First stop was the impressive Lake McKenzie, perched high in a sand dune with perfect water temperature, crystal clear visibility and pure white silica sand, we could’ve stayed here all day.

lake mackenzie view from shore
lake mackenzie aerial view
lake mackenzie aerial view
lake mackenzie flat lay aerial photo
lake mazkenzie girl in swimmers running into lake

Next up was Central Station, the historic heart of the island. Located at Wanggoolba Creek, this place was originally a women-only birthing area for the Butchulla women, then during the 1920s-1950s became the Headquarters of Fraser Island’s forestry operations.

forest opening

We took a leisurely stroll through the magnificent rainforest on a boardwalk that borders the Wanggoolba Creek. This creek was very surprising as the water is SO crystal clear that it creates the illusion of being metres deep, when really it is very shallow.

crystal clear water in a creek

We stopped for our included buffet lunch at the Eurong Beach Resort, a delicious hot meal with salads and a bar for drinks to be purchased additionally. 

After lunch, we headed to Seventy-Five Mile Beach on Fraser Island’s East Coast, this is Frasers’ beach highway where all road rules apply, the speed is 80km/h and all vehicles must give way to the planes taking-off and landing on the beach.

We drove along the beach splashing through the waters’ edge, witnessing some playful whales’ tail-slapping, a few dingos sniffing around, and typically a few cars getting bogged.

When the man at the tour office said there might be an opportunity for a scenic flight if weather permits, we were so hopeful it would turn out as it would make our Fraser Island experience that extra bit special.

Driving along the sand highway we could see a couple of small fixed-wing planes in the distance and our anticipation excelled, especially as the weather was already perfect – we couldn’t wait to get up and see this beautiful island from above!

girl jumping in between two small planes on the beach

We pulled over and as everyone naturally wanted a scenic flight, we were split into two groups. Our hands shot straight up for a chance to sit in the front seat with Amy beating me to it, so I sat behind her, still with a perfect view over the Pilots’ seat and windows all around.

After a quick safety briefing we hopped in, eagerly putting our seat belts and headset on, and we were off!

Our young Pilot Jesse didn’t hesitate in showing us the best of Fraser by first taking us straight across the island where we saw a few of the lakes including ‘Butterfly Lake’ which is inaccessible by land, and can only be seen by plane, some of the massive and constantly-changing sand hills, the unbelievable coastline and even the SS Maheno Wreck, washed up in 1935 after a tow chain snapped during her tow to Japan.

aerial view of beach
aerial view of butterfly lake on fraser island
aerial view of sand dune footprints fraser island
fraser island sand dunes
Maheno Shipwreck Aerial view

The skies were so clear we could see Fraser Island from the North tip all the way down to the southern tip.

Voted ‘The Second Best Scenic Flight in Australia’ (after the Great Barrier Reef), and the cheapest at only $80, we were so extremely grateful to have had this opportunity, and the fact that it is one of only two places in the world where you can take off on the sand, this experience is one we sure will never forget!

Our flight was with Air Fraser and we cannot thank them enough for such an incredible experience, we both agreed it was one of the best things we’ve ever done!

view of fraser island coastline from plane
fraser island coast view from plane

After being on such a high (also literally), we ventured down to Eli Creek, a freshwater stream on the Islands’ East Coast which flows over four million litres of freshwater into the ocean every hour – that is around two Olympic-sized swimming pools of water every hour!

A perfect swimming spot to sit and relax or float your way down on a donut ring.

Nearly at the end of our tour, we visited one of the most popular attractions on the island – the SS Maheno Wreck. Originally a Luxury Cruise Liner and then later enlisted as a Hospital Ship during the first World War, she was on her way to Japan after being sold for scraps when the towline snapped during a Queensland cyclone and she helplessly drifted all the way to Fraser Island.

The wreck makes for a very photogenic opportunity with the rusty ship bones buried 80% under decades of sand.

maheno shipwreck front view
maheno shipwreck fraser island close up bow
skeleton inside photo of maheno shipwreck fraser island

Our last stop of the day were the coloured sand cliffs ‘The Pinnacles’, a place of significant importance to the local Aboriginal Butchulla People. With up to 72 different colours, predominantly reds and oranges, this phenomenon was formed when the minerals filtered through the exposed cliff edge over a period of hundreds of thousands of years. 

pinnacles rainbow cliffs fraser island

We enjoyed a scenic drive back to Eurong for a quick afternoon tea pit-stop where you could purchase a coffee or ice-cream before hitting the bumpy sand road straight back to the ferry.

Our day finished on sunset as we boarded the ferry back to River Heads, saying goodbye to the rest of our group and our lovely and highly entertaining tour guide ‘Peter’. 

We highly recommend Fraser Explorer Tours, especially if you only have time for a day-trip, if you don’t have any experience in 4WDriving on sand or don’t want to run the risk of getting bogged and wasting your time – this day-trip might be perfect for you as it was for us! 

Feel free to ask us any questions about our time here, either in the comments box below or even a DM on Instagram @mooski_adventures.

Until next time, 

The MOOSKi Twins

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