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Driving off-road round Okay’gari (Fraser Island) is likely one of the most enjoyable adventures we had in Queensland, Australia.
We cruised on lengthy seashores and bumped down sandy forest tracks, swam in a turquoise lake and floated in a crystal clear creek, hiked down sand dunes and thru rainforest, and noticed the long-lasting dingo.
Okay’gari is a particular place—it’s the world’s largest sand island (122km lengthy) and is UNESCO World Heritage-listed for its distinctive landscapes.
It’s the one location on Earth the place subtropical rainforests develop fully on sand, and it’s dwelling to half the world’s perched freshwater lakes, which type on sand dunes.
Many individuals go to Okay’gari on a tour (driving here’s a problem), however we actually loved the liberty to discover on our personal.
Listed below are our prime picks for the very best issues to do in Okay’gari (Fraser Island) plus the two night time/3 day itinerary we adopted.
You’ll discover a map with all these Okay’gari should see locations close to the top of the submit.
A Few Issues to Know About Okay’gari
- The Butchulla folks are the normal house owners of Okay’gari.
- In 2023, its title was formally modified from Fraser Island to its aboriginal title, Okay’gari (the Okay is silent), which implies paradise.
- You’ll be able to solely drive on the island with a 4WD and you must prepare a allow earlier than you arrive.
- As the primary “freeway” is a seaside, the tides have an effect on the time you may go to many locations. You’ll be able to’t drive on the seaside for two.5 hours on both aspect of excessive tide. Test tide tables right here.
- The 2 gateways to the island are Rainbow Seaside and Hervey Bay (3-4 hours north of Brisbane and 1.5-2.5 hours north of Noosa).
- Okay’gari is dwelling to dingoes (wongari), Australia’s solely wild canine. Don’t feed or strategy them.
- Cell sign could be very restricted on the island.
Greatest Issues to Do in Okay’gari (Fraser Island)
1) Drive a 4WD Off-Highway
For an journey, drive your self on Okay’gari. A 4WD is important as there aren’t any paved roads. As an alternative, driving takes place on lengthy seashores and sandy tracks by means of the forest.
It’s doable for assured drivers who haven’t pushed off-road earlier than. We managed to not get caught in sand, however it might occur (we employed Maxtrax simply in case).
We rented from Rainbow Seaside Journey Centre 4WD Rent who had been actually useful. They gave us driving suggestions, organized our ferry ticket and driving allow, and helped plan our itinerary.
Their recommendation was important as we realized that the tracks to 2 of the lakes we wished to go to (Lake Boomanjin and Lake Birrabeen) had been a large number (the remaining had been dangerous sufficient so we didn’t need to deal with even worse).
They even allow us to do the paperwork the afternoon earlier than our rental began so we might get an early begin. (We stayed the night time earlier than at Debbie’s Place in Rainbow Seaside, which was excellent).
As they’re primarily based in Rainbow Seaside, we took the Manta Ray Barge from Inskip (quarter-hour from the workplace) to Hook Level on the southern finish of the island.
The choice (in the event you hire a 4WD in Hervey Bay) is taking the Sealink automobile ferry from River Heads to Kingfisher Bay Resort or Wanggoolba Creek on the east aspect of the island.
We most popular the barge possibility because the journey is shorter (simply 10 minutes) they usually run roughly each half-hour between 6am and 5pm, so that you don’t need to ebook a selected ferry time as you do with the opposite route.
As soon as on the island, driving on the seaside is the better, smoother possibility (with a velocity restrict of 80 km/hr).
The inland tracks are extremely bumpy with a velocity restrict of 30 km/hr (and we not often bought to that). Taking journey illness drugs was important for me.
They really feel like an actual journey, although, and also you received’t need to miss the attractive rainforest and lakes within the centre of the island.
2) Keep at Kingfisher Bay Resort
Tenting is the traditional solution to expertise Okay’gari, but when that’s not your factor (like us), there are a few snug accommodations and vacation leases.
We stayed at Kingfisher Bay Resort on the west coast of the island and beloved it.
Okay’gari Seaside Resort in Eurong on 75 Mile Seaside would have been extra handy (no bumpy inland driving to get to the east coast), however Kingfisher has a extra lovely forest setting, higher facilities (4 swimming pools and varied bars and eating places), and is positioned on a calmer, swimmable seaside (you may’t swim on the east coast).
Better of all, the sundown views on this aspect of the island are wonderful, and the resort has a Sundown Bar proper on the sand subsequent to the jetty. It’s the right solution to finish the day on Okay’gari.
Dune is the very best restaurant on the resort with tasty Asian fusion delicacies (bookings are important). The Sand Bar is a extra informal spot with pub grub and Sand & Wooden overlooks the pool (breakfast and lunch solely).
Even in the event you don’t need to drive your self on Okay’gari, a keep at Kingfisher Bay is likely one of the greatest methods to expertise the island in consolation.
You’ll be able to take a passenger ferry direct to the resort from Hervey Bay, chill out in a lovely setting, and take one of many resort excursions to see extra of the island.
3) Swim within the Turquoise Waters at Lake Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie)
Lake Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie) is likely one of the hottest spots on the island and for good cause—it’s completely beautiful.
The white sand and turquoise water seem like they need to be on a Caribbean Island, however that is one among Okay’gari’s distinctive perched sand lakes which can be crammed fully with rainwater.
Swimming within the crystal clear water was a Okay’gari spotlight for me regardless of it being a bit of chilly on our winter go to.
The lake is within the centre of the island accessed down a kind of bumpy inland tracks.
The bogs subsequent to the automobile park have altering areas so get into your swimwear there. It’s a 100-metre stroll right down to the seaside.
You aren’t allowed to take meals or drinks (besides water) right down to the lake shore as they appeal to dingoes. We had lunch within the fenced-off picnic space subsequent to the automobile park as an alternative.
We bought fortunate on our noon go to and missed the tour teams. It could actually get busy, however the seaside is an efficient dimension (the left aspect is quieter) and also you’ll need to chill out on this lovely spot for some time.
Lake Birrabeen is a quieter different, however the street there was very tough on our journey so we skipped it.
4) Drive Down 75 Mile Seaside
Driving a 4WD on the sandy 75 Mile Seaside on the east coast is likely one of the greatest issues to do on Okay’gari.
It’s the most well-liked driving route because it’s smoother than the inland tracks and takes you to prime sights like Eli Creek and Champagne Swimming pools (extra on these beneath).
It feels unusual driving on sand at first however you do get used to it. Simply keep away from the shiny sand so that you don’t get splashed by the surf (rental corporations will change if there’s salt water within the engine).
Some elements of the seaside are tougher the place the sand is deeper (the trick right here is to maintain momentum) or you need to detour off the seaside round some rocks.
You’ll additionally go by means of many shallow creeks—go very slowly (strolling tempo).
A lot of the seaside is wild and empty with varied tenting areas (most with no amenities). Seaside fishing is in style however swimming isn’t allowed as a result of rips and sharks.
You’ll be able to cease wherever you want however park above the excessive tide mark at 90 levels to the ocean so it’s apparent you might be stationary.
Small planes even land on the seaside so preserve a watch out when passing by means of the marked touchdown areas (we did see one take off!).
5) Look Out For Wongari (Dingoes)
Dingoes (wongari) are wild canine which will seem like rangier pets, however they are often harmful (principally as a result of people feed them and encourage them to strategy).
When you do get fortunate and see a dingo, preserve your distance, don’t feed them, and don’t run (in the event that they strategy, keep eye contact and again slowly away).
We noticed dingoes on three events whereas driving on 75 Mile Seaside (we didn’t get out of the automobile) and it was very thrilling to see these traditional Australian animals.
Learn extra about being dingo protected.
6) Benefit from the Coastal Views at Champagne Swimming pools
Champagne Swimming pools is the furthest north that rental corporations let you go on 75 Mile Seaside.
It’s an extended drive up right here (about 2.5 hours from Kingfisher Bay), but it surely’s effectively value it because the coast turns into extra dramatic.
You’ll have to plan the timing of the drive rigorously to be sure you get again down and off the seaside earlier than excessive tide.
Champagne Swimming pools is the one protected saltwater swimming spot on the east coast of the island, however I loved it extra for the unimaginable coastal views on the quick stroll there over Center Rocks.
We parked on the Southern automobile park the place there are bogs with altering areas in the event you plan to swim.
Then it’s a 10-minute stroll on a boardwalk across the headland with unbelievable views again to 75 Mile Seaside and Tukkee Wurroo (Indian Head), a rocky headland attributable to volcanic exercise 30 million years in the past (observe you may not climb it as a result of extreme erosion).
After strolling down the steps you’ll attain the Champagne Swimming pools, which bought their title from the effervescent water after the waves crash over the rocks into the swimming pools.
The swimming pools are fairly small so it’s extra of a wading spot, but it surely’s good if it’s scorching. (On a cool morning we saved our swim for Eli Creek).
Once more, we bought fortunate and had been simply forward of the tour teams—heaps arrived as we had been leaving at 9.45am (tour instances differ with the tides although).
7) Float Down Eli Creek
Eli Creek is one other in style spot on 75 Mile Seaside that you just received’t need to miss. Tubing down this clear, freshwater creek is likely one of the most enjoyable issues to do on Okay’gari.
From the parking space you’ll have to wade by means of the creek so don’t trouble with footwear. You’ll be able to then comply with the boardwalk subsequent to the creek (possibly a 5-minute stroll) earlier than stepping into the water on the different finish to comply with the present again down.
Our 4WD rental firm offered a tube, however in the event you don’t have one, you might float or stroll by means of the creek, which is about knee-deep. It’s value stepping into the water because it’s a extremely fairly journey.
There are bogs with altering areas, however they’re fairly removed from the beginning of the boardwalk.
There’s no picnic space at Eli Creek and dingoes are widespread, so watch out when consuming (don’t eat on the bottom).
8) Stroll Down a Sand Blow to Lake Wabby
Lake Wabby is one other distinctive, beautiful place to go to on Okay’gari.
Like Lake McKenzie, it’s a perched lake, however that is the deepest on the island, and the water is a superb olive inexperienced color.
It’s important to stroll to the lake but it surely’s effectively value it. The beginning of the monitor is simply north of Eurong on 75 Mile Seaside. There’s an indication and bogs a bit of means down the path.
The 5km return stroll took us 1 hour and 10 minutes (plus a break on the lake) with a 138m elevation achieve. There are some small ascents, but it surely isn’t too difficult.
A lot of the stroll is thru the forest earlier than you emerge on the golden sand of the massive Hammerstone sand blow with ocean views.
Head down the dune (operating is unfortunately not allowed) to achieve the beautiful lake. I had severe regrets about not bringing swim gear—don’t make my mistake and plan to chill out on this peaceable spot for some time (once more, picnics aren’t allowed as a result of dingoes).
9) See the Maheno Shipwreck
In 1935, the Maheno steamer was shipwrecked and deserted on 75 Mile Seaside and it has remained there ever since.
Situated 5 minutes north of Eli Creek, this can be a Okay’gari must-see, though it’s only a fast cease to see the rusty, barnacled stays.
Its decay was accelerated when it was used as goal observe throughout WWII.
There aren’t any amenities.
10) Admire the Colors at The Pinnacles
5 minutes north of the Maheno Shipwreck is one other fast cease (no amenities).
The Pinnacles, also called the colored sands, are a set of sand dunes which were sculpted by wind and water into rifts and crumbling spires.
Supposedly there are 74 totally different colored sands within the craggy dune in variations of crimson, brown, and yellow.
11) Hike Via the Rainforest at Central Station
Central Station is within the centre of the island and is the very best place for a forest stroll.
There are many choices, however the best is the 0.7km Wanggoolba Creek circuit on a boardwalk subsequent to a crystal-clear freshwater creek.
In order for you one thing longer, the 5.6km/1.5-hour return hike to Basin Lake is meant to be pretty and also you’ll possible have the lake to your self.
There are picnic tables and bogs on the Central Station day-use space and there’s a campsite close by.
Our Okay’gari Self Drive Itinerary
This was our 2-night/3-day Okay’gari itinerary that covers the entire Okay’gari actions above.
The order and instances you’ll be capable to go to locations will rely upon the tides, although. After we visited low tide was round 8am – 10am.
- 8.15am Go away Rainbow Seaside (we did the paperwork for our 4WD rental the afternoon earlier than)
- 9.15am Arrive at Hook Level, Okay’gari after getting the barge
- 10.30am – 11.40am Central Station stroll
- 12.10pm – 1.30pm Lake McKenzie picnic and swim
- 2.15pm Test in at Kingfisher Bay Resort
- Discover grounds, Sundown Bar, dinner at Dune
I’m glad we bought an early begin as we had been about an hour forward of the excursions. Everybody follows the same route as a result of limitations of the tides.
- 6.40am Go away Kingfisher Bay
- 7.30am Arrive on 75 Mile Seaside Seaside and drive north (we handed Eli Creek at 8.05am however didn’t cease as we wished to ensure we had sufficient time later)
- 8.10am – 8.30am Maheno Shipwreck
- 8.35am – 8.40am The Pinnacles
- 9.15am – 9.50am Champagne Swimming pools
- 10.40am – 12.10pm Eli Creek tube float and picnic
- 1.30pm Again at Kingfisher Bay
- Loosen up, Sundown Bar, dinner at The Sand Bar
- 9am Go away Kingfisher Bay
- 10am – 12pm Lake Wabby hike
- 12.45pm Arrive at barge touchdown at Hook Level
- 1.25pm Get off barge at Inskip Level
- 1.40pm – 3pm Rainbow Seaside (refuel, vacuum automobile, get the surface washed, return 4WD)
Map of Issues to Do in Okay’gari
Is Okay’gari Price Visiting?
Okay’gari is unquestionably value visiting. This particular island was one among our favorite locations in Queensland.
We beloved the journey of off-road 4WD driving (regardless of the nausea-inducing forest tracks) and the pure landscapes are really beautiful from numerous forests to vibrant lakes and wild seashores. Seeing a dingo is enjoyable too!
Whether or not you determine to drive your self or take a tour, we extremely suggest a go to to Okay’gari.
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