Fraser Island, or K’gari in the local Indigenous language, is one of Australia’s UNESCO heritage sites alongside Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef. The island is not just a sight to behold but a site to experience as well.
One of the top things to do on K’gari is to go camping. Finding the perfect campsite on Fraser Island is a starting point for your experience and exploration of everything it has to offer.
Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. As one of Queensland’s top camping spots, it has 45 camping zones. Each one has its own character and offers a unique experience. The island is near the tropic of Capricorn, so the climate is generally mild, making it a perfect outdoor adventure all year round.
Once you’re out of your tent or RV, there’s plenty to see and do on Fraser Island. Between the history, wildlife, local landmarks and must-do activities, Fraser Island has plenty of great experiences ready and waiting for you.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about camping on K’gari (Fraser Island).
How Do I Get To Fraser Island?
You can get to Fraser Island via 4WD car or bus using a ferry from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. Other private marine vessels can also travel to Fraser Island, and you can fly via a light aircraft.
If you’re driving from Brisbane, it’s about a 3-hour drive to reach Fraser Island. From Sydney, it’s approximately 13 hours; and from Cairns, around 16 hours. Though they sound long, visitors from around Australia actually take up that challenge as the drive is quite scenic.
Private vehicles then take the ferry from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach at Fraser Coast to get to the island. If you’re self-driving, familiarise yourself with the ferry schedule.
You can also commute to Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach, then travel from there across to Fraser Island. The nearest train station to Hervey Bay is Maryborough West Train Station via Queensland Rail. The operator offers RailBus Coach Connections to Hervey Bay. Then, you can ride the ferry or barge across to Fraser Island.
Another commuting option is by bus, using Greyhound Australia and Premier coaches.
Light aircraft usually depart from the Fraser Coast. Air Fraser Island offers flights across to K’gari, and you’ll be landing in style on the 75 Mile Beach runway.
What Should I Know About Fraser Island (K’gari)?
Fraser Island, whose name in the Butchulla indigenous language is K’gari, meaning ‘paradise’, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. It is a natural heritage site known to be the largest sand island in the world. In fact, it is the only place in the world where rainforest thrives on the sand.
The island got its name from James and Eliza Fraser. James was the captain of Stirling Castle, which was shipwrecked on the island, leaving the couple beached on it. When James died, Eliza survived on the island integrated with the local indigenous people for six weeks until her rescue.
Fraser Island is found off the coast of Queensland, accessible by car from Brisbane, Sydney, and Cairns. There is no bridge crossing to Fraser Island, so usual modes of transportation to reach the island include 4WD or car (via ferry), boat, and plane.
Fraser Island is popular with tour groups and DIY campers, as it’s a great camping destination with 45 camping grounds. Each location boasts its own unique beauty—tall rain forests growing on sand dunes, mangrove forests, perched lakes, beaches, peat and wallum swamps, eucalyptus woodlands, coffee sand or coffee rocks, and secluded campgrounds only accessible by boat. Because of its rich environment, it is home to an abundance of wildlife and is a great spot for birdwatching and fishing.
Not only is the island rich with flora and fauna, but there are also quartz, monazite, zircon, ilmenite, and rutile deposits in its sand.
There are rules and restrictions for camping on Fraser Island, and some of them differ from campsite zone to zone. For instance, families are advised against using certain camping zones because they’re not fenced and dingoes roam wild on the island. Freshwater lakes and streams are also off-limits to fishers and anglers.
Exploring Fraser Island is known to be a magical experience, and you have to try it at least once in your life if you can. But you need to book ahead before you can camp at Fraser Island, so make sure to visit the Queensland National Parks Booking Service (QPWS) website.
What Are The Best Campgrounds At Fraser Island?
The best campgrounds at Fraser Island really depends on what kind of camp site you’re looking for. With 45 different camping zones available, you can choose the best location for your unique circumstances and the kind of experience you want to have.
Do you want to be on the beach? Do you want it to be family-friendly? Do you want to be close to a certain location or landmark? Is it a great spot for fishing? These are some things to consider before booking your campsite at Fraser Island. But here are two of our top recommendations for camping spots on Fraser Island.
Waddy Point Camping Area
One of the best camping spots at Fraser Island is the Waddy Point Camping Area. It is safe for families because it’s fenced, and you have access to the Champagne Pools boardwalk, which gives you a rocky headland foreground and an amazing coastal background, and the Ocean Lake area, which is open for picnics and fishing.
The camp site isn’t on the beach itself, but you’ll find yourself waking up to chirping birds and shaded by inland trees. Facilities such as toilets and hot showers are available, and it also has wheelchair access.
You can get to Waddy Point campsite by 4WD, on foot, by plane, or by private boat. Whichever means you choose, the journey there will be scenic. Be aware that you’ll need to take the Eastern Beach scenic drive to reach Wathumba camp site, which is only accessible 2 hours either side of low tide, so plan your journey in advance.
Wathumba Camping Area
Wathumba Camping Area is a designated tent site teeming with fish and birdlife. This is the go-to spot for anglers, and you can catch and cook here as it’s also an excellent picnic spot.
Wathumba campsite is on the western beachside, and access to it is via 4WD, plane, private boat, or on foot. The camp site is behind the foredunes, and you can set up right on the sand, but it still has wheelchair access.
This campsite is located on the western side of Fraser Island at Platypus Bay. Be aware that you’ll need to take the Eastern Beach scenic drive to reach Wathumba camp site, which is only accessible 2 hours either side of low tide, so plan your journey in advance.
Fraser Island Camping FAQs
Can I Camp Anywhere on Fraser Island?
No, you can’t camp anywhere on Fraser Island. You’ll need to stay in a designated camping area, and these require booking in advance.
There are 45 camping zones on Fraser Island, and each of them has capacity limits. Let’s break down some of these zones.
- Some camping zones have dingo deterrent fences for fenced camping, which is ideal for families with kids younger than 14. These are Cornwells, Eli, Lake Boomanjin, One Tree, and Wongai camping areas. Some of them are designated tent and trailer sites like Central Station and Dundubara and Waddy Point Top camping areas.
- Nine camping zones are available at the eastern beachside. They are beach camping zone 1 (Dilli Village to Eurong), zone 2 (Eurong to Poyungan Rocks), zone 3 (Poyungan Rocks to Happy Valley), zone 4 (Happy Valley to Eli Creek), zone 5 (Eli Creek to The Pinnacles), zone 6 (The Pinnacles to Dundubara), zone 7 (Dundubara to Tukkee wurroo or Indian Head), zone 8 (Waddy Point to Ngkala Rocks), and zone 9 (Browns Rocks to Sandy Cape). The designated areas are behind the foredunes, and, usually, access is via high clearance 4WDs.
- On the north-western side, between Moon Point and Wathumba Creek, lie seven remote beach camping spots. They are Coongul Creek, Woralie Creek, Bowarrady Creek, Awinya Creek, and Bowal camping areas. The last two, which are only accessible by boat, are Moon Point and Teebing (Wathumba spit) camping areas.
- Two remote camping zones are designated at the south-western area namely Ungowa and Garrys Anchorage. These are shady camp sites in the Great Sandy Straits are accessible via 4WD explorer or boat respectively.
- Even more secluded is one designated camping area called Coolooloi Creek at the southern part of Fraser Island. It is undeveloped.
- For school trips and large groups, Fraser Island has five camping areas, namely Central Station, Dundubara, Waddy Point Top, Boorangoora or Lake McKenzie, and Lake Boomanjin.
Note that each camping site each has its own character and amenities. Some have limited access, others, stricter rules and more facilities; and still others are undeveloped and waiting to be explored by adventurous campers. Each has its own appeal, so be sure to choose a campsite that suits the needs of your group.
Always remember to take only memories and leave only footprints so that these areas remain in pristine condition.
Can You Camp on the Beach at Fraser Island?
Yes, in designated camping areas. There are designated camping zones that are on the beach, like the 9 camping spots at the eastern and western beach sides.
How Much Does It Cost to Camp on Fraser Island?
To camp on Fraser Island, you’re looking at $5.75 per adult per night. Children under 5 years are free of charge. A family of two adults and accompanying children under 18, up to a total of 8 people, costs about $23.00 per family per night. If you’re bringing your vehicle, that will set you back $45.10. Vehicles and ferries on the island are $110 to $175 and $50 respectively.
How Do You Get a Camping Permit for Fraser Island?
To get a camping permit for Fraser Island, visit the QPWS website. Make sure you know the name of the site you’re camping at and input details such as the date, stay length, access type, and accommodation type. You may also request a camping permit at the QPWS office, at QPWS self-service kiosks, or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
You will receive a camping tag with a booking number, which you must show to park rangers. You can apply for a camping permit up to six months in advance.
Where Can I Take a Bushwalk on Fraser Island?
There are various walking tracks on Fraser Island perfect for bushwalking opportunities. Most of them have well-defined tracks, but, being in nature, there are some natural hazards such as fallen trees and untamed bushes.
For instance, you can start your trail at Northern Forest scenic drive and end at Boomerang Lakes, Lake Coomboo, or Forest walk (via Lake Coomboo and Hidden Lake). You can also start at Dundubara and end your walking trip at Lake Bowarrady, Wungul Sandblow walk, or Wungul Sandblow circuit. Alternatively you can start at Middle Rocks (Berebbaree/Callah) and end up at the Champagne Pools boardwalk and viewing platform.
These trails have varying difficulty, distance, and travel time, so be sure the trail is suited to your physical abilities before you set out.
What Other Things Should I Do on Fraser Island?
Explore, explore, explore! If you’re bringing a private 4WD, you can explore the island by off-road driving. You can also explore Fraser Island by mountain bike if you only have your two-wheels with you. Otherwise, walking around the island is also a nice way to unwind.
If you’re up for a historical trek, the Fraser Island Great Walk is a unique opportunity to walk the footprints of the original inhabitants of the island, the Butchulla people. The trail is believed to track the old lodging routes of the Butchulla people.
If you’re done with the relatively flat sand at the shores of the island, try exploring the sand dunes at Lake Wabby.
Swimming is permitted in some lakes, and we highly recommend taking a dip or submerging yourself in Lake McKenzie. If you don’t want to actively swim, bring an inflatable raft to Eli Creek and let the freshwater carry you. And if you want to enjoy a resort swimming pool, there are also hotels providing that amenity on the island.
If you are interested in history, hike up the Sandy Cape Lighthouse and check out the museum on-site. The lighthouse is a heritage site from the 1870s, and it is still active to this day.
There are wildlife tours on the island that will combine your interest ineducation and sightseeing. You can join whale-watching trips or wildlife walking tours or take any path you wish to. Just be careful as some of the wildlife are really wild. (Dingo alert!)
Take photos! The best way to remember the island is to not sneak a piece of rock or coffee sand but to take photos. The composition will be amazing as the natural environment is a great experience in itself. The Maheno shipwreck, the colourful Pinnacles, and the bubbly Champagne Pools are common photography subjects, but there are still many things to capture on the island, so make sure to bring your camera.
When Is the Best Time to Go to Fraser Island?
The best time to go to Fraser Island depends on what activities you want to do there.
Because of its subtropical location, Fraser Island summers are a bit hot and humid, and winters are only mild. Generally, the temperature and slowdown of rainfall during autumn and spring make it ideal to visit the island for camping during those months.
If you want to go swimming on the island in the summer seasons, you can get a safe haven in the cool waters or under the shade of the towering rainforest trees.
Likewise, when you go camping, just be careful of insects that thrive in the humid climate.
What Are Other Camping Enthusiasts Saying About Fraser Island?
“Make sure you follow the tracks and gain enough speed before hitting the soft, dry sand. This is the place where many people get stuck. Plan your arrival where the tide is low, so that you accelerate perpendicular to the ocean line and go straight to the pass. If you come when the water is close to the pass, then when accelerating you have to do it parallel to the beach and then turn left, which will take from your speed. You will also have hard time harder time to find and follow the established tracks, which will further more slow you down and get you stuck on the hill. Good luck!” – Axios76 (TripAdvisor)
“K’gari is the most beautiful place I have ever visited. This remarkable island takes my breath away every single visit. Highly recommend a trip over here. We camped for 7 nights in October in various parts of the island. Highlights were seeing the many sea turtles at sandy cape, swimming with the turtles at lake Allom, the spectacular Lake McKenzie, a cold schooner at the orchid beach pub & the indescribable beauty of the western side of the island. Do yourself a favour and get over to K’gari.” – natalieridley (TripAdvisor)
“Such amazing history and nature. There is so much to see on K’gari you could spend days exploring. Such an enjoyable experience and one of my favourite things I did when on my travels in Australia. I loved the dream-time stories about this wonderful island and all the sites to see.” – Flamingo14 (TripAdvisor)“The whole Island offers so many different sights and scenes. Crystal Clear Lakes. Stunning Beaches. Great Camping or if you desire you can stay at a resort. Love it.” – OVERSZ (TripAdvisor)
How Far Away Is Fraser Island From Brisbane?
Fraser Island is 247 kilometres from Brisbane. That’s about a 3-hour drive to Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach and then about 3 more hours via ferry to the island.
Can I Fish at Fraser Island?
Yes! Some areas of Fraser Island are fishing-friendly. In fact, Fraser Island is known as one of the best spots for beach fishing due to its diverse marine life. You can cast your poles at the 75 Mile Beach or head off to its most easterly point, at a place called the Indian Head.
Some popular catches are tailor, mackerel, tuna, bream, whiting, and flathead. But you must never cast your poles at the freshwater lakes and streams as it’s extremely prohibited. Fishers are also advised to limit their bag size and not be greedy to protect the island’s ecosystem.
Is Fraser Island good for glamping?
Of course! Fraser Island is an excellent spot to go glamping. The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to sandy beaches, a unique rainforest, and beautiful views. In fact, there are a couple of experienced glamping providers on Fraser Island like Cathedrals on Fraser and The Beachcamp Eco Retreat.