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Fraser Island view on Indian Heads

Are you planning to go to Fraser Island?

What are you waiting for?! Go!!
It’s the best trip in Australia you can do. If you do it right of course. First of all I’m not here to tell you how to do it right, ‘cause that’s totally up to you. I just want to help you and save you a lot of time if you want to visit Fraser Island in the same way as I did.

There are lots and lots of possibilities to visit Fraser. You can book a day tour, multiple day tours with all different activities or get your boat and sail there. If you want you can even go by plane. ( To get the best price on one of those mad tours, you should book with Ultimate Oz). So you see whatever you want, you can do it. You can maybe even go by dolphin, who knows.. I didn’t find it but maybe if you search the internet you’ll find a crazy company who offers it. Anyway, you get the point. Whatever you want, you got it. But my favourite way would still be to arrange everything myself and go with your own car.

Fraser Island is a magnificent island where you could stay for a long time. You have a lot of advantages if you travel by yourself, with fellow backpackers / other people of course:

  • The most important one is that it’s much cheaper! Even if you have to rent the car, it’ll be cheaper then going on an organised tour.
  • You can do whatever you want! If you want to spend four days at Eli Creek, then hey, who’s gonna stop you? You can even go skinny dipping in sea, just make sure the rangers don’t see you and watch out for stingers & sharks or you could lose some precious body parts. 
  • Drive the four wheel drive yourself. I did it and it’s the greatest feeling if you can drive the beach with some good music in the background and an awesome panorama around you.

So it’s your choice, just don’t be lazy if it comes to this destination because you’ll regret it if you can’t do everything what you want on the Island. I hope, even if you don’t travel Fraser Island with your own car, that you learn something of this article.

Fraser Island checklist to travel with your own 4WD

1. Vehicle permit

Price: $43.6 / 4WD

If you want to go on Fraser Island with your four wheel drive, you have to own a vehicle permit. You can purchase a vehicle permit online. Not to forget, you also have to ask for a vehicle sticker that you can put at your front window. Those stickers can be found in a ranger station or in an information centre, both are located in Rainbow beach and River Heads.
Even if you rent a four wheel drive, you have to buy a permit. In some rental shops in both ferry cities they can help you with the permit straight away.

2. Camping permit:

Before you get on the sandy island, you have to book all your overnight stays. You can always book a few more nights when you’re on Fraser but then you have to find a public phone and wait in a queue for 15 minutes.

As a backpacker you’ll want to save money and stay on camping grounds I guess, otherwise you can always book resorts. There are public & private camping places on the island:

  • Public camping places:
    Price: $5.6 a person/ night
    Even here, you have two options. So yes, there are a lot of decisions to make before you get on the island. But I promise you, it’s freaking worth it!!
    If you’re scared of the dingos, which you shouldn’t be but you never know, then you’ll better make use of the fenced areas. All of those fenced areas can be found on the government website or just go to a ranger station in Rainbow beach or River heads and fill in a small white paper.
  • Private camping places:
    $ ? / night
    I can’t tell you that much about the private camping spots because I don’t have any experience with them. The only thing I can tell you is that they’re more expensive but better equipped.

My opinion: Go for the beach camping! They’re magnificent! You sleep right at the beach, have a wonderfull sunset and you’ll probably experience the dingo wildlife if you make sausages on the barbie.

3. Ferry:

Even here you have more than one possibility. There are two barges to get on or off Fraser Island.

  • Fraser Island barge at inskip point

    Fraser Island barge at Rainbow beach

    Inskip point (Rainbow beach) to Hook point (South of Fraser Island):
    Price: $110 / car return (incl. passengers)
    Inskip point is the easiest place to get on the ferry. You don’t have to book this ferry in advance because it has a lot of services. Of course there can be a queue, so if you want to play safe just give them a call and make a reservation. ( More information on the company website of Manta Ray , the only ferry company in Rainbow beach)

  • River heads to Kingfisher bay or Wanggoolba Creek:
    Price: $160 / car return (incl. driver + 3 passengers)
    If you want to take this barge, you have to make a reservation in advance. You can always try your luck, but there are only three services a day so you’re warned. (You can find more information about this ferry site.)

4. Food

Fully packed four wheel drive for Fraser Island

Car space is precious on a Fraser trip

Price: $ ? – Depends of your food taste

The first three costs are necessary to get on the greatest sand island in the world. Only this one, the food, is the most important once you get on the island. Make sure you bought all your food and water (!) in advance. Because on Fraser there are little shops with a small range of products, not to mention how expensive they are. If you’re planning a Fraser trip for more then 3 days, make sure that all the food is resistant against the sunlight. Another solution to solve this is to take a cool-box, but that takes more space in the car and that’s already precious.

5. Fuel

Price: $ ? – Depends of your car & style of driving

Fuel. “Oooh no!”. That was my first thought if we started to calculate the fuel costs. In the end it turned out to be quite reasonable. The only hint I could give you here, is to get as many people in the vehicle as possible. It’s cheaper, more fun (if you choose the right backpackers!). Only make sure that it’s still comfortable to drive around ‘cause driving on Fraser isn’t like driving on a properly maintained highway. Furthermore you can think about taking an extra full fuel tank in the car. Because it’s like the food, everything on the Island is way more expensive, and Australia is already expensive!

=> Total:

We went to Fraser island for 5 days with 5 people in a Landcruiser. It was the best trip I made in Australia. So if you have the chance to do it, go! You have a checklist now, so nothing can hold you down anymore. Not even the price, because we only had to pay: $145 / pp for 5 days. We have tried to buy the cheapest food as possible and we didn’t have to fill up gas on the Island, we saved a lot of bucks there.

Tips for Fraser Island

I kept the best for last! Are you travelling alone or do you want to go on a tour, fly your own plane there. You’ll hopefully find these tips for Fraser Island useful:

  • Buy all your food before you go on the Island. On the island itself the food is ridiculously expensive and there isn’t that much to choose from. So again, it depends on how much you want to spend but if you’re a backpacker you’ll like to travel cheap.
  • Flatten the tires of the four wheel drive before you drive on soft sand. The tire pressure you should use, depends of the car and the weight of the car but normally it should be between 20-23 psi. Don’t forget this! If you do, you’ll get stuck and somebody will have to tow you.
  • Be dingo-safe! You can get brochures about “how to be dingo-safe” on Fraser Island. I certainly suggest that you get one of those and everyone of the group reads it. Because if you camp on the beach you’ll definitely come across one or more dingos. They don’t hand those brochures out so you can litter, the info is very useful.
  • Don’t forget to take a gas cooker. If you want some sort of decent meals then make sure you bring something to cook on. You can’t make fires on Fraser Island so you should have an alternative. A gas cooker is the easiest way. You can buy a cheap one for $15 in “Big W“.
  • Take good roadtrip music! Always great to drive in the dirt roads or just on the endless beaches with awesome music at the background.
  • You don’t have phone range. Make sure you notify everyone who could be worried about you if you don’t get in contact for a few days. Just a tip, because I experienced it myself. Not to be worried, you can always drive to a public phone if you’re in need to hear your boy- or girlfriend.
  • Take a water container. You won’t be able to find drinkable water everywhere and Fraser Island can be very hot. Of course it depends of your accommodations you booked but at a beach camping you won’t find drinkable water.
  • Keep an eye on the tide calendar. It’s really important if you drive yourself that you know when high tide is coming. Otherwise you’ll be stuck somewhere and in worst case your car will be flood.

Feel free to add tips if you want, you can always contact me or leave a reply!

If you want more information about Fraser & everything on or around it, you can find it on the government website.