So, you and your mates are up for a weekend of sunshine, sand and adventure on Fraser Island. You’re supplying the 4WD, and Gary’s got the esky sorted. But there are a few other things that need to be ticked off your list before you pick everyone up and head to the coast. Here’s everything you need to consider for a foolproof weekend of good times and great four-wheel driving.
Getting a Vehicle Permit
There are no bitchumen roads on Fraser Island, so a 4WD is essential. As such, every vehicle driving on the Island is required to have a permit. You can buy vehicle permits online through Queensland National Parks, or instore at a variety of venues. A vehicle permit for one month or less is $49.90, or you can buy a year-long permit for $250.80. You need to display your permit on your vehicle at all times while on Fraser Island.
Where to rest your head
Next, you’ll need to consider where you want to bunker down for the evening while you’re on the Island. Fraser Island offers a variety of accommodation, from five-star resorts to basic camping grounds. Be aware that camping also requires a permit, which will need to be attached to your tent and should to be obtained before arriving on the island. You can buy a camping permit online through Queensland National Parks, at $6.15 per person, per night. In many cases, you can purchase your vehicle and camping permits together, especially when buying them at a retailer or kiosk. It’s also worth noting that many campsites on Fraser Island do not allow open fires, so whacking a camping stove or portable BBQ in the car is a good idea. Oh, and keep all your food packed up tight – those dingoes get hungry!
Preparing your vehicle and knowing the speed limits
Even though Fraser Island doesn’t have bitchumen roads, there are still road rules that apply. An 80 KM/hr maximum speed limit is enforced on the beach, and 30 KM/hr on inland tracks. It’s also recommended that you lower your tyre pressure to 25psi, suitable for driving on soft, dry sand. Getting your vehicle serviced before you set off is also a good idea, as you don’t want any breakdowns spoiling your trip!
How to get your 4WD onto the Island
To access Fraser Island by vehicle you need to take a barge. Barges run from both Inskip Point, situated at the Northern end of Rainbow Beach, and River Heads, which is just 20 minutes South of Hervey Bay. If you’re only going for a weekend or a few days, it’s best to get a barge from River Heads as one of these will put you right in the centre of the action on Fraser Island! If you have a little longer to explore, grabbing a barge from Inskip Point is a great way to make your way across the Island, and check out Rainbow Beach beforehand.
From Inskip Point
Manta Ray Barges run daily from Inskip Point to Hook Point on Fraser Island. Booking ahead is not required, but is recommended during peak holiday periods.
Crossing time: approximately ten minutes.
Departures: 2-3 barges are constantly running from 6 am until 5.15 pm every day during peak season. The longest wait for a barge to arrive is typically 30 minutes.
Price: $120 return ticket, including vehicle and all passengers.
From River Heads
Fraser Island Barges run two barges from River Heads to two different locations on Fraser Island. Booking ahead of time is recommended, especially during peak holiday periods.
River Heads to Wanggoolba Creek
The Fraser Venture barge runs three return services daily.
Crossing time: approximately 30 minutes.
Departing from River Heads: 8.30 am, 10.15 am and 4.00 pm.
Departing from Wanggoolba Creek: 9.00 am, 3.00 pm and 5.00 pm.
Price: varies depending on the season and size of your vehicle. A return ticket for a standard 4WD crossing off-peak will set you back $175 (this price includes vehicle and driver only). Additional passengers are $5 per person. You can check prices here.
River Heads to Kingfisher Bay Resort
The Kingfisher Bay Ferry runs three return services daily.
Crossing time: approximately 30 minutes.
Departing from River Heads: 6.45am, 9.00am, 12.30pm, 3.30pm and 6.45pm. Occasionally during peak periods a 9.30am service will run – check the website for booking.
Departing from Kingfisher Bay Resort: 7.50 am, 10.30am, 2.00pm, 5.00pm and 8.30pm. Occasionally during peak periods an 11 am service will run – check the website for booking.
Price: varies depending on the season and size of your vehicle. A standard 4WD crossing off-peak will set you back $175 (this price includes vehicle and driver only). Additional passengers are $5 per person. You can check prices here.
Being aware of tide changes
When exploring Fraser Island, you’ll find that your timetable will revolve around the tides. Always avoid driving on the beach two hours either side of high tide. Check Fraser Island Tide Times regularly. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on the weekly Track Report generated by Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services to avoid wasting time during your visit, stumbling upon closed or blocked tracks.
Phew! That was a lot of information! But we promise it’s all worth it! Fraser Island is a truly unique place to visit, surrounded by jaw-droppingly magnificent scenery and an abundance of good times! So what are you waiting for? Call your mates and set a date!