Visiting World Heritage List K’gari or better known as Fraser Island is a must do experience when seeing Australia. It’s a place where if there were only five things you could see in Qld, then Fraser Island needs to be one of them.
Mother nature sure as heck raised the bar when she created K’gari (Fraser Island). With what seems like endless long stretches of pristinely clean beaches, lush rainforests, clear, clean, fresh water lakes, sandy tracks that wind and intertwine through her centre and beyond, to wildlife and clear night filled star skies. K’gari Fraser Island is certainly a mecca for nature lovers.
The island does stretch over 122 kilometres, it doesn’t feel like anything is too far away or out of reach. There is still that unique island feel but with a bit of added extra space thrown in.
If you are considering a family camping holiday on K’gari (Fraser Island) where should you start?
When is the best time to visit ?
That’s like asking how long is a piece of string? For everyone, that answer will be different. We visited January of 2017, and for us, it was the perfect time. The weather was spectacular. Temperatures were not too hot for our stay to be uncomfortable and not too cold that we couldn’t enjoy swimming in the many lakes on Fraser. School holidays was in full swing, and there were loads of families visiting which made it a lovely time for our daughter to make some mates around the campsite when we were having a little downtime back at the tent. For us, it would have been so disappointing if we could not have swum and enjoyed those lovely warm summer days.
Avoid Christmas, New Year and school holidays if you don’t like crowds. If warm summer nights are not your thing, then look at visiting mid-year when temperatures cool down.
Visiting Fraser Island would be magical at any time of the year.
Is a beach permit required?
The purchase of Vehicle access permits is compulsory before entering Fraser Island
You can purchase your beach permit online HERE.
Do we need to prepay campsite grounds
Yes, you do need to book and pay for your site before setting up camp. As there is very limited phone reception on the Island, its best this is done prior to heading over. You can book up to 6 months in advance for busier times of the year to avoid disappointments as campsites do have capacity limits. You can book your K’gari (Fraser Island) campsite via the Queensland National Park Booking Service
How do we get there?
For camping – the simple answer is – Barge.
You will need a 4WD for you DIY camping trip . If you don’t have one, you will need to hire one. During our visit, there were as many hired 4×4’s on the beach as there were private vehicles. You can look at hiring at Rainbow Beach or Harvey Bay, but my advice would be to ensure you hire through a reputable business who provides insurance. Atlas 4WD Hire, hire out insured vehicles.
There are three entry locations on Fraser Island when you can arrive via Barge
- Inskip Point
- Wanggoolba Creek
- Kingfisher Bay Resort
The most popular on off location is from Inskip Point with Manta Ray Fraser Island Barges.
We arrived on Fraser from Inskip Point which was the cheapest option. With current prices displayed via their website, you can see it’s not expensive to take your 4WD over.
Just purchase your ticket at Rainbow Beach, head out and line up at the furthermost point at Inskip Point and wait in line for the barge to pick up, no need to prebook. Barge times are 6 am to 5.15pm with barges arriving at the point every 10 minutes or so. We could easily drive up on the barge. Friendly staff assisted (ensure you leave your hand brake on). Once parked you can either sit in your vehicle or walk up top to enjoy the views from their seating area.
You can bring a 2WD from River Heads over to Kingfisher Bay if you are staying at the resort, but you will need to check with the Fraser Island Barges if your vehicle meets clearance requirements.
4X4 owners can drive off the jetty and through the resort out to The Great Sandy National Park accessing the rest of Fraser Island.
We left via Wanggoolba Creek as it was much quicker for us to arrive back at Harvey Bay where we picked up Paige (our pooch) from her excellent carer – Sandra at Doggies Downunder.
Once you exit the barge from Inskip point, turn right and head up the beach to find your inland access point to your chosen campsite or point of interest. Everything is clearly signed for you to see.
BIG TIP. Choose your barge arrival time to suit low tides. This will allow you to drive along the beach at speeds up to 80 km per hour getting you from A to B much quicker. If you arrive on high tide you will have to drive on soft sand making your trip up the beach much slower. All the inland tracks are slower as well, use the tide to your advantage when heading anywhere via the beach on K’gari.
What campground is best suited for our family?
My question back to you is what type of camping does your family enjoy?
With a variety of different campgrounds on offer and varying levels of “Roughing” it, it is important to find the right campground for your family.
Do you want a fenced gated campground?
Access to showers and toilets?
Handy to particular attractions or 4×4 tracks?
Is it important to be camped on the beach?
These are all questions you need to ask yourself when choosing your campground.
You can find out more information about what campgrounds are on offer via the Queensland National Park Website
We chose two
By splitting our time evenly between the two campgrounds so we could experience two different sites plus also be closer to specific attractions (more details further down).
We liked the fact that both were fenced and that we could walk around freely at night to the amenities block without being concerned for our families safety.
Both campgrounds have toilet/shower facilities but bring loads of $2 coins as hot water is only available at Central station with coins (Cold water is free) however Dundubarra campground you only have access to cold or hot water in the shower blocks using $2 coins.
Both campgrounds have taps centrally located throughout for easy access to water and sink facilities for washing up. Yes, you can drink both campgrounds tap water. It’s the cleanest water you are likely ever to drink.
Central Station is located with in the rainforest of central Fraser Island providing beautiful large serene formal campsites allocated specifically for either tents or camper trailers. You must pay for your site before arriving and setting up however you cannot book specifically assigned sites. A quick one-way drive through the grounds will show you what is available so you can pick your most favoured spot. I don’t recommend you choose sites closest to the toilet/shower block as day visitors will stop in often using facilities making it busy.
We highly recommend Central Station for families. Sites are generous in size, giving children plenty of space to play freely, stimulating their imaginations with the moss logs and rainforest surroundings. Charlotte believed fairies lived there.
Central Station campground driving distances to the following
Central Station – 2 min drive
Eurong Village – 15 min drive
Lake McKenzie -20 min drive
Wanggoolba Creek Barge – 20 min drive
Lake Birrabeen – 30 min drive
Kingfisher Bay Resort – 30 min drive
Lake Wabby – 30 min Drive
Our time frames are subjected to road conditions and may vary at different times in the year depending on road conditions.
Dundubarra Campground is located on the central east coast beach behind sand dunes north of Eli Creek and Maheno shipwreck but south of Champagne Rock pools.
A large campground with lots of shady trees, sandy ground and only 500 metres off the beach. You cannot pre-book specific sites if camping in a tent, but a quick, easy drive around will show you what sites are empty.
The campground is well equipped and maintained. Dundubarra we got to meet a couple of local rangers who were present often. Ranger Patrick was our favourite, educating us on his elders from the Butchella Tribe, and shared with us a little hidden gem that we share with you in our 18 Top Things to Do
Dundubarra Campground driving distances to the following on low tide
Turning Right at exit
Eurong Village – 30 mins
Eli Creek – 20 mins
Maheno Shipwreck – 15 mins
Turning left at exit
Indian Head – 20 mins
Champagne Pools – 25 mins
Orchid Beach – 40 mins
Sandy Cape – 1 hour
We enjoyed both campsites for different reasons. We recommend you stay at two different sites if you are staying more than five days to experience variety.
Beach camping was very popular with many visitors. Next time we visit Fraser Island we won’t hesitate in heading over to one of the beaches for a few days of remote camping in paradise.
Is it “Dingo” safe for our family?
You need to remember that we are within the Dingo’s home environment and that Dingos are a pack animal.
It’s our job as visitors to keep ourselves and family as well as the Dingos safe. Be Dingo Wise.
I will be straight up and say we were a bit nervous about Dingo’s and our 5-year-old. We spent considerable time chatting with her about “Dingo Safety” and what to do if a Dingo approached her.
Surprisingly, we only saw two dingoes the whole eight days we were there. The first time was in the carpark of Lake McKenzie after everyone left and just before sunset. The second time was in the distance at Sandy Cape when a small Dingo came out to bath in the ocean. Both times we did not approach, and both times they were not interested in us at all.
With recent new management strategies in place, interaction between Dingos and visitors is now minimal.
Just three days after we left Fraser Island, there was an awful attack on a young woman taking an early walk over at Kingfisher Bay on the beach. Dingos may not be commonly seen but they are around, and you will need to stay vigilant at all times especially if you have small children.
Queensland National Parks give great information on Dingo Safety explains everything you need to know. Be Dingo Safe.
Where to go to purchase our camping gear?
Many years ago I purchased our first tent from Tent World and have loved their service and expert advice ever since. Products are excellent and service is second to none. If you need any camping gear before heading over to Fraser Island, click on this affiliate link below and support us by keeping the travel office lights on.
What is there to see and do.
There are so many things to see and do on K’gari (Fraser Island) that we created a separate blog post
Jump on over to read all the places we highly recommend for families and see detailed images.
If you hadn’t noticed, we made note of calling Fraser Island by its traditional name K’gari. Just like Ayres Rock is now Uluru, you should start calling Fraser Island, K’gari too 🙂
Fraser Island has long been known to local Indigenous people as K’gari, pronounced Gari. Now those traditional names have been made official alternative names for the world’s largest sand island.
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