4X4 on K’gari: 7 days on Australia’s largest sand island

In the summer of 2015 we joined a convoy of four-wheel drives and drove from Sydney to K’gari (formerly known as Fraser Island).

With swags, fishing rods and eskis filled with beer, all we needed was good weather for a good time. If you like dingoes, dreamy sunsets, and being nibbled by thousands of sand flies, K’gari is the place to be.

Day one: Sydney to the Gold Coast

With our tummies still full from Christmas lunches and dinners, we pulled up at Thornleigh McDonalds around 3am on Boxing Day morning.

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 K’gari.

Day two: Gold Coast to K’gari

Despite the 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 inland track. For those of you who haven’t been to K’gari, if you do the inland track when it hasn’t been grated recently, it’s pretty 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 began driving on 75 Mile Beach, it was a smooth run across the sand. Watch out for the washouts 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 visitors around. I’d almost liken it to rolling into Bondi on a Sunday.

In the distance we could see some dark clouds rolling in, but with limited reception, we could only assume a bit of rain was coming.

Ignoring the imminent weather, we blew up our tubes and floated down Eli creek.

Once the wind picked up, we quickly began searching for a campsite for the evening, and set up before the wind got worse.

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 K’gari.

And supposedly 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 three: Waking up to wild weather

On our second day on K’gari, 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 buried 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 making 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 cars would head back home – leaving four of us to enjoy what K’gari has to offer.

On the way to Kingfisher Bay we stopped off at Central Station where we walked along the boardwalk.


Spot the eel.

Next, we visited Lake McKenzie – but, the stormy skies painted a very different picture to what we’d imagined. Classic case of expectation vs reality.


Day four: Wathumba Creek

Early that morning we waved goodbye to the others, and began the lengthy journey to Wathumba Creek. Located on the northwestern side of the island, this spot would not only be sheltered from the 90km+ winds, but would also have zero tourist busses.



Inland tracks to Wathumba.

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 absolute 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 five: Explore 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 breakfast, we left 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 got through without any real struggles, but one little piece of advice would be to absolutely 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.


Just a tad windy.

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.


Literally, shark bait.

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 six: Back to Lake McKenzie and camping in a carpark

In the morning we woke to a few dingoes hanging about our campsite, and unfortunately one of our friends woke to find hundreds of spots covering her from head-to-toe. She’d suffered a serious allergic reaction to sand flies, and they decided it would be best to leave K’gari and get some medical attention.


Which meant it would be Mark and I left alone to explore K’gari for one more day. With the sun shining, we decided it’d be a great time to re-visit Lake McKenzie – this time, to see the clear blue water we’d hoped for a few days earlier.


That evening we enjoyed a few drinks 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. Never drink and drive.


Top notch spot.

Day seven: K’gari to Agnes Water

On New Years Day we woke to an employee at the Kingfisher Bay Resort taking out the trash right behind our swag – 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 K’gari!

September 22, 2017

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