Fraser Island just off the coast of Australia is one of the most famous and visited destinations in Australia. The island is famous for its wild nature, driving on sand, rock pools and big freshwater lakes you can swim in.
We did a 3-day tour of Fraser Island and it was one of the best parts of my Australia trip. In this post I’ve listed our exact 3-day itinerary and all the best things to do on Fraser Island in 3 days.
If you’re planning a brief trip to Fraser Island, this 3-day travel guide is the perfect post to help you plan your trip!
- 1 Before you go
- 2 Our Fraser Island 3-Day Tour
Before you go
Before we jump straight into my Fraser Island 3-day tour I wanted to give you a bit of an introduction about the island and some things you should know.
Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. It’s famous for the wild landscapes and rugged feel the island has, if you’re lucky enough you might even see dingoes on Fraser Island!
Driving on Fraser Island
One of the main characteristics of Fraser Island is that there are very few paved roads on the island. The vast majority of driving on Fraser Island is either on sand on the beach or dirt roads, and has to be done driving a 4WD.
To drive a 4WD on Fraser Island you have to be older than 21 and have had your licence for longer than 3 years. Regardless of how long you’ve had a driving licence though, you have to be comfortable driving on sand and do it carefully.
I’m 24 and have had a driving licence for 5 years, but I didn’t want to drive on Fraser Island (admittedly I drive very little but you get my point).
Do a Fraser Island tour instead
Which leads on to my next point, if you don’t feel comfortable driving on Fraser Island you can easily do a tour instead. We did a tour with Nomads and it was the best decision we could have made.
We had a knowledgeable and fun guide and a great group of young backpackers to share the experience with. Even if we were only together for three days, it was a good amount of time to make some new friends on the road.
How to get to Fraser Island: tour starting points
Fraser Island is 15km off the coast of Australia and can be reached by ferry. The main harbour from which you can get the ferry across to Fraser Island is Hervey Bay, which takes approximately 50 minutes.
Alternatively you can get a barge from Rainbow Beach or River Heads. We picked a tour that started in Noosa Heads since it was easier for us to fly into Sunshine Coast from Melbourne after our Great Ocean Road trip and from there to then fly out to Sydney.
From Noosa Heads we drove to Rainbow Beach and took the barge across to Fraser Island. If you’re doing an Australia east coast road trip I would recommend adding Fraser Island as a stop during that trip instead of flying in and out like we did as it saves you time.
What to pack for Fraser Island
I thought I’d include some essentials that you should pack and bring with you on Fraser Island. On our tour they told us to only bring a backpack with us and leave our big suitcases in Noosa Heads since there isn’t much space in the 4WDs for everyones bags.
So once you’ve got the essential underwear, swimwear, tops and shorts, these are some additional things I think you might need.
Fast drying towel: Bring a fast drying towel with you so that when you go swimming in the creeks or champagne pools or if the hostel doesn’t provide one you have a towel available. I love the fast drying ones because they dry super quick and take up little space so they’re easy to carry around.
Reusable water bottle: Tap water is drinkable in Australia so why pay for bottled water? Bring a reusable water bottle with you so that you can refill it on the go.
Solar power bank: Yes I spend too much time on my phone, there’s no denying that. That’s why I like to take a solar power bank with me. I can charge my phone on the go and the charger also stocks up on the road, without having to always recharge it at the end of the day. You can read my solar power bank review here.
Our Fraser Island 3-Day Tour
Day 1: Travel to Fraser Island & Lake McKenzie
We started our Fraser Island tour from Noosa Heads. Before setting off we all locked up our suitcases in the deposit of Nomads Hostel. Since we would do most of the driving there and back in 4WD jeeps with limited space we were all advised to pack a small bag for the 3 days.
We left Nomads around 8AM and after a couple hours drive we reached Rainbow Beach, where we swapped out our tour bus for the 4WD jeeps.
The tour we did was called a “Tag Along Tour”, meaning that our tour guide would be driving the first 4WD and taking turns other tour participants would be driving the other jeeps in single file following the lead of the first jeep.
From the jeep depot it was a short drive to Rainbow Beach where we then got the ferry across to Fraser Island. Don’t expect to find a harbour.
I got off the jeep and looked around for somewhere for the ferry to dock and was surprised to find we were on a beach, with nothing else in sight other than sand, sea and palm trees. The ferry docks directly on the sand and you have to drive your 4WD on it.
The ferry journey from Rainbow Beach to Fraser Island is only around 15 minutes but you can step out from the car to enjoy some fresh air and check out the view during the crossing, just make sure to be back in when it’s time to drive off.
As soon as we docked on Fraser Island we immediately had our first experience driving on sand and on dirt roads. We drove straight to the hostel to drop off our bags and have lunch.
Our group was pretty big so we had four jeeps and each car was assigned one meal duty, in turns we all had to help cook and clean. Top tip; get on a lunch duty if you can, lunch is usually wraps and sandwiches so it’s much easier to prep and clean up!
After lunch we set off en-route to Lake McKenzie, one of the most popular attractions on Fraser Island. Lake McKenzie is a huge freshwater lake with crystal clear turquoise water and surrounded by fine white sand, it basically feels like being on a tropical beach!
Our guide took out a beach volleyball, frisbee and other beach type games for us to play around with while there. On the way back we did a bit of driving both on the sand and inland in the dirt roads of Fraser Island.
In the evening we had dinner at the hostel and spent some time socialising at the hostel bar.
Day 2: Eli Creek, Champagne Pools & SS Maheno
Day 2 started bright and early and after a quick breakfast of cereal and toast we set off en-route towards Eli Creek. Eli Creek is a powerful freshwater creek that pour million of litres of clear water into the ocean every day.
There is a very strong current in the creek so no need to swim, you can just float and let the fast flowing water carry you to the beach.
We parked the 4WDs on the beach and from there followed a wooden boardwalk that follows the creek inland for about 5 minutes, where you will then find steps that let you get in the creek.
The strong current lifts a lot of sand from the bottom of the creek so you might have to jiggle a bit of sand out of your swimsuit when you decide to leave.
From Eli Creek we continued our day in search of cool swimming spots and drove onwards to the famous Champagne Pools. These are big rock pools on the coast of Fraser Island and the only place where you can safely swim in the sea on Fraser Island.
The beaches of Fraser Island are extremely dangerous, with strong waves and currents and infested by sharks and poisonous jellyfish (I’m exaggerating a little here but you get the gist of it). The rock formations of the Champagne Pools create pools of relatively calm seawater, where you can swim in safety.
Big waves will occasionally crash into the pools and cause you to get floated around a bit, this isn’t usually dangerous and just adds to the excitement of the location. Just make sure to always be careful not to slip on the rocks or swim too close to them as the current might push you against them.
After all the swimming in creeks and rock pools we then stopped at a camping ground for lunch. On the drive back to the hostel we did a stop at Indian Heads; an interesting rock formation that has epic views over the coastline of Fraser Island.
Indian Heads is also an important site for aboriginal history and should be respected. During the drive back we also stopped at the famous SS Maheno shipwreck. The ship was originally part of the New Zealand naval forces and ran aground on Fraser Island in 1935 during a cyclone.
Attempts to make the ship operational again have all failed, and it now remains on Fraser Island as a popular tourist attraction. We spent the evening once again having dinner and drinks at the hostel.
The average age of the tour we did ranged from 18 to 23, so make sure you’re ready for some evening partying.
Day 3: Lake Wabby
On our final day in Fraser Island we visited Lake Wabby, another popular freshwater lake that you can swim in. The water isn’t as clear as in Lake McKenzie, but the surroundings are more scenic.
We had to park our jeeps on the beach and then walk for 45 minutes in the trees to reach the lake. The final stretch of walk is on huge sand dunes with a rather impressive incline that ends into the lake.
Our guide drove us to the parking area but didn’t come to the lake with us. Before setting off he specifically told us not to run down the slope and jump into the lake as the water is quite shallow and you can get hurt.
Guess what the boys did? They ran down the slope and jumped into the lake. As you can imagine, one of them sprained an ankle and as a group we then had to take turns carrying him back to the beach for 45 minutes since he couldn’t walk.
Moral of the story, follow the instructions of your guide, they know better. After visiting Lake Wabby we had lunch at the hostel before leaving Fraser Island and heading back to mainland Australia and Noosa Heads.
Included in our tour package was a post-tour night at Nomads Noosa Hostel, where we had a big end of the tour party with all the other participants.
Have you been to Fraser Island before? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments below! The Fraser Island 3-day tour we did with Nomads was for me one of the highlights of my whole Australia trip.
I loved the wild beauty of the island, and exploring it with a big group of travellers my same age made it all the more fun. I hope you will find this post useful in planning your own 3-day trip to Fraser Island!
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