Fraser Island – 4×4 Tag-Along Tour Review
June 30, 2016|Posted in: Australia
Do you like driving? Do you like driving 4×4’s? Do you like driving 4×4’s on sand? Do you like amazingly beautiful views? Then, even if you’ve only said yes to one of these, I suggest going to Fraser Island.
Fraser Island is the worlds largest sand island based off the east coast of Queensland, Australia, with gateways to the island including places like Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay. The island it self has no real roads, with it’s main highway being the 75 mile long beach on the east side of the island, meaning that the only way to get around is by 4 wheel drive. There are a few options to touring the island. You can privately hire your own 4×4 (or your own if you have one in your posession already), take a guided ‘tag-along’ tour where you follow a lead vehicle but share the driving of the other 4×4 vehicles or take a bus, and when I say bus, I mean a god damn machine bus.
Peterpan’s had booked us onto a ‘tag along’ tour run through the Dingo’s hostel located in Rainbow Beach. The company (RBAC – Rainbow Beach Adventure Company) are excellent, with full briefings and safety videos beforehand as well as excellent guides, food and activities.
In the afternoon before the tour starts, RBAC come to the hostel to let people know their group/vehicle number and get you to watch a safety video. It’s mostly an exaggerated video on how to kill everyone by driving like a loon on sand as well as enticing the wild Dingo’s to attack you, but it does also give you pointers on how to drive safely on the island if you’ve never driven a 4×4 before.
The weather was miserable when we woke up, put luckily it cleared by the time the guide had come to set up everything! We started off with another talk for the drivers. Because of the nature of the conditions, to drive the 4×4’s you need to be 21 and over with a MANUAL drivers license. This left quite a few people on the tour just passengers. (Yay for being old!) The guide pointed us to our food for the 3 days, we collected our alcohol we had ordered from the bar the previous evening (make sure you do this!), packed the car and we were off.
It’s a 10 minute drive to the ferry “port”. I say port in quote marks because it’s just a beach. The ferry journey is literally like 5 minutes and your on Fraser. As we disembarked the ferry, it was low tide, so the sand was still wet and easy to drive on. We headed about 1 hour up the 75 mile beach to one of the settlements called Eurong, to which we then headed inland to our first destination, Lake McKenzie.
This is probably the most pristine lake I have ever seen. With the crystal clear fresh water and the pure white, silica sand that surrounds it, it is beauty incarnate. Because of the purity of the water it is unsuitable for many creatures. As well as lazing around in the clear waters you can also use the wet sand to exfoliate those dirty backpacker troubles away and even use it to whiten your teeth!
After a couple of hours we headed back out to the beach and headed further north to our campsite. Whilst doing so we came across a Dingo! Dingoes are wild dogs in Australia, and it is said that the Dingoes on Fraser Island are the purest kinds. In the safety briefing it tells you about a million times not to go anywhere near them. Luckily, we were still in our car so we were safe!
As we arrived at the campsite we saw it had the Dingo fence in place (phew!) so the groups set up in the tents and got set to work on dinner. You have to cook for yourselves, each car has there own stuff. It was a great little set up with long tables and lots of cookers. However, it worked as a small group (only 4 cars) so I’d hate to think what it’s like when the trip is full! Either way, after dinner, the drinks start flowing and drinking games start up. There’s even a little disco room! As you can imagine, it’s only for backpackers, so you don’t have to worry about waking up the neighbors!
There were a lot of hungover people. Goon hangovers all around! We headed out at around 9am after some breakfast, to the Champagne Pools. Due to migrating Great White Sharks, powerful tides and no life guards, it is advised you don’t swim in the sea on Fraser Island. So, if you are in need of some saltwater swimming the pools are are great idea. The pools are circles of rock that get filled with water from waves and the tide. They got the ‘Champagne’ name is from the foam that is created as the waves wash over the rocks. It’s a great little place to go, but head there early to avoid the crowds!
We then made our way back south to Indian Head. Being the most Easterly point of the island it gives you 360 degree views of the island from the beautiful clear ocean to the sand banks inland.
It is also a great place to spot sea-life from on a calm clear day. We were lucky enough to spot, what I believe, was a Great White Shark quite close to the shore line. Quite terrifying when your guide is surfing on the other side of the outlet!
We then drove 40 minutes south to Eli Creek. It’s the largest creek on the eastern side of the island, and pours around 4 million litres of fresh water into the ocean per hour! Also known as ‘hangover creek’ by visiting backpackers, the best way to experience the creek is to grab a floatie and just float your way down from the top of the broadwalk to the end nearest the ocean. It wasn’t that deep being the dry(er) season and the temperature of the water was quite… refreshing? Our guide performed one of the most amazing water activities I have ever witnessed. Calling it the ‘Migrating Salmon’ he made his way upstream by propelling himself up and out of the water using only his legs. Hilarity ensued.
With the need for dinner, we headed back to camp, where I decided that the rest of the goon could stay in it’s box.
We slowly made ourselves breakfast and got everything packed up in the cars and head out for the last day. Because of the recent weather the walking path to Lake Waddy was inaccessible. So our guide took us to Lake Boomanjin instead. This lake is notable for its reddish hue, which is created from the number of Tea Trees that surround the lake. It’s not as attractive to swim in as Lake Mackenzie, but it still a great place to spend for an hour or so.
We also finally got a chance to get out and have a proper look at the Maheno Shipwreck. We had driven past it a few times already, but luckily the tide was far enough out to see most of what was exposed.
After being sold in Sydney, the ship was caught in a cyclone in 1935 and washed ashore. The wreck is dangerous due to the amount of rusting. Tourists are advised to keep at least 3ft from the wreckage.
So as the weather cleared we had a great hour drive back to the ferry port and, sadly, back to Rainbow Beach.
Overall the Fraser Island Tag Along tour run by the Dingo Hostel in Rainbow Beach was excellent. Fraser Island was one of the first places I truly enjoyed. It was a unique part of the east coast. If your visiting the East Coast, then definitely make this a stop! Whether you take a tour, bus or DIY don’t miss out on the pure beauty of the island.
Amy is the founder of thewanderlustadventures.com. Currently residing in Reading, UK with a love of adventure travel, writing and photography - she pretty much writes about whatever the hell she wants!