Back in the summer of 2015 we joined a convoy of fourbies and headed straight for Fraser Island. With swags, fishing rods and eski’s filled with beer, all we needed was some good weather and good times. If you like dingoes, dreamy sunsets, and being nibbled by thousands of sand flies – Fraser Island is the place to be.
DAY 1: Sydney to Gold Coast
With our tummies still full from Christmas lunches and dinners, we pulled up at Thornleigh McDonalds around 3am on Boxing Day morning.
That’s right – our official meeting point for the long awaited East Coast Road Trip was McDonalds.
The plan was to weave through traffic, all the way up to the Gold Coast. We’d booked ourselves into The Wallaby Hotel –a pub just off the highway – where we’d sleep the night and get up super early to be at Hervey Bay for the 9am ferry – then, we’d finally set foot (and wheels) on the sands of Fraser Island.
DAY 2: Gold Coast to Fraser
Despite the shit-house weather, extreme tiredness and rumbling bellies, we left the Wallaby Hotel and hopped on the M1 towards Inskip point for the ferry across to Fraser Island.
We got off the ferry at high tide, so we took the in-land track. For those of you who haven’t been to Fraser, if you do the inland track when it hasn’t been grated recently, it’s pretty damn bumpy. It may have been a simple rocky track, but we managed to rack up some serious vehicle damage:
- The Ranger got a hole in the back tail light from a rock and the roof rack above the tub cracked a bolt.
- The Hilux got a squeaky bull-bar/squeaky everything.
- The shocks in another Hilux almost cracked.
- Plenty of tiny pebbles smacked into windscreens.
Once we reached the end of the inland track and hopped onto 75 Mile Beach, it was a smooth run across the sand. Just remember, watch out for the wash-outs and puddles. When you’re going fast and suddenly hit one, getting some air is inevitable – and not all that great for your suspension.
We pulled up to Eli Creek when the sun was out, with heaps of other four-wheelers around. I’d almost liken it to rolling into Bondi on a Sunday – but with less hipsters, more bogans.
In the distance we could see some dark clouds rolling in, but with limited reception, we could only assume a huge storm was coming.
Ignoring the imminent weather, we blew up our tubes and chucked them into Eli Creek to float down the creek.
Once the wind picked up, we quickly decided it was a good time to find a campsite for the evening, and set up before the winds went mental.
We struggled to find a spot. Earlier that day, the man working the barge said that the day before – Boxing day – they had over 700 cars come across to Fraser Island.
Just so happens to be, Eli Creek is the place to be.
But, we found a little area that would do for one night, and agreed to find a better spot the next day.
DAY 3: Waking Up to Wild Weather
On our second day on Fraser Island, we woke to winds lashing our campsite. Overnight I’d woken in my swag to feel the canvas on my face. I went back to sleep assuming it was the wind pushing it in. When I got up, I found out the whole right side of the swag had been burried in sand.
As we frantically packed up camp to drive inland to shelter from the storm, we struggled to fold tarps and keep our gear from blowing away.
Some of the guys were already discussing plans to leave and head back to Sydney – and as soon as they read reports that these storms were set in for the week, that was it.
A new plan emerged: we’d all book one or two rooms at the Kingfisher Bay resort for the evening, where we could shelter from an even more stormy evening, and then tomorrow four of the fourbies would head back home – leaving Bec, Matt, Mark and I on the island to enjoy what Fraser has to offer.
On the way to Kingfisher Bay we stopped off at Central Station. We walked along the board walk and waded through the clear waters of the creek (not sure if this is recommended).
After, we decided to visit Lake Mackenzie – but, the stormy skies painted a very different picture to what we’d imagined. Classic case of expectation vs reality.
DAY 4: Venturing to Wathumba Creek
Early that morning we waved goodbye to the others, and made plans to take a lengthy journey to Wathumba Creek. Located on the north-western side of the island, this spot would not only be sheltered from the 90km+ winds, but would also have zero tourist busses.
When we finally reached Wathumba, the clouds cleared and the sun came out. The clear water was all shades of green and blue, and looked like an absoloute dream. Better than Lake Mackenzie? You betcha. This spot isn’t riddled with packaged-tourists, and hopefully never will be.
That afternoon we enjoyed an unreal sunset over the ocean, and sunk a few tins.
DAY 5: Exploring Wathumba Creek, Sandy Cape and Waddy Point
Waking up after a delightful night’s sleep in Wathumba’s sheltered campsite, we woke to the lake bed almost completely exposed by low tide.
Mark and I strolled across the lake bed and went hand fishing for toadies, all while the water was slowly seeping back through the squiggles of sand beneath our feet.
After a bit of breaky, we decided to leave the swags behind for a day trip to Sandy Cape – the most northern point of the Island. But first, we’d have to pass Ngkala Rocks.
We passed through without any real struggles, but one little piece of advice would be to absoloutely floor it on that last sandy section. A few other vehicles got bogged down as soon as they slowed down – safe to say we learnt from their mistakes.
When we reached Sandy Cape, the wind was blowing a gale. High tide struck at 11am, right when we got there, so weaving in and out of cars on the high sand to and from the cape became difficult.
We couldn’t avoid spraying the other cars with sea salt on our way back, but managed to get back down to Waddy Point without getting bogged in the soft sand.
Waddy Point was pretty packed when we were there, but it’s a great spot to chill out and go for a dip.
Upon leaving Waddy point, we were reminded why shark safety is so important off the coast of Australia. When we switched on the UHF, we overheard some fellow four-wheelers chatting about a shark fisherman in the middle of the beach. It wasn’t long before we parked up behind hundreds of other cars, all waiting to see what the fisherman was about to reel in.
On the way back from Waddy Point our tummies rumbled as we zipped in and out of the sandy tracks. We returned to our swags sitting right where we left them, ripped out the camp chairs and sat around as our dinner cooked.
DAY 6: Back to Lake Mackenzie and Crashing the Resort Carpark
In the morning we woke to a few dingoes hanging about our campsite, and unfortunately Bec woke to find hundreds of spots covering her from head-to-toe. She’d suffered a serious allergic reaction to sand flies, and her and Matt decided it would be best to leave Fraser and get some medical attention – on New Years Eve.
Which meant it would be Mark and I left alone to explore Fraser for one more day. With the sun shining, we decided it’d be a great time to re-visit Lake Mackenzie – this time, to see the clear blue water we’d hoped for a few days earlier.
That evening we enjoyed a few bevvies on the pier bar with two other friends who’d been staying at the Kingfisher Bay resort the whole time. That night, we rolled the swag out in the carpark of the resort – a wise choice if you’ve having a few drinks. It’s never smart to four-wheel-drive at night after a few drinks. Especially on Fraser Island.
DAY 7: Leaving Fraser for Agnes Water
On New Years Day we woke to the luxury of a staff-worker taking out the trash in the Kingfisher Bay restaurant car-park – just the wake-up call we needed to hop on the first ferry off the island.
Next stop, Agnes Water!
If you’re busy planning your trip, take a look at the map and be sure to stop off at these places – both before, or after visiting Fraser Island!