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Thread: Fraser Island: The things I wish I knew before I went!

  1. #1
    Leading Hand AJ's Avatar
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    Fraser Island: The things I wish I knew before I went!

    We have recently returned from our latest trip which in theory was to Fraser Island, so by now under normal circumstances I would be well into the trip report telling everyone about the fantastic time we had. However in this case we went to Fraser for 7-10 days and left after 3 and for the most part didn't enjoy it at all, truth is I pretty much hated it. So I thought I would share some of the things I learned, the things we did wrong, maybe some things we did right and hopefully make someone else's trip more enjoyable than ours.

    So in analysing what went wrong with our trip its not hard to work out what the issue was................ way too many people. I did my research and mid August when we went seemed to be as good a time as any to avoid the crowds, and given that the 2 campgrounds we stayed in were only at 10-15% of capacity I think it was a quiet time. But still too busy for us.

    Anyway it was getting on in the afternoon when we arrived at Rainbow beach and booked the ferry ride. Here I confirmed something that I was pretty sure I knew and that is the totally stupid rules QLD national parks has for camping. All camping needs to be booked in advance, which is difficult to impossible if you have never been before and have no idea where you want to camp. There are a couple of private campgrounds that you can rock up and take your chances so that's what we planned to do. Given it was late in the day we decided to get a permit to camp at Inskip Point, this was our first MAJOR Mistake. I thought Inskip point would be a bit of a spot near the beach just before the ferry where people would camp before going over to the island, which is pretty much the case. I also expected other people, I figured there could easily be a dozen or 15 other camps set up................ how wrong could I be! There were hundreds and hundreds of other camps, camping at Inskip when its quiet is like camping here at Easter In hindsight we should have crossed over to the Island.

    So after having a bit of a meltdown at Inskip and being worried about the crowds on the Island we packed up and headed for the ferry the following morning. Getting onto the ferry was really very easy and I find it hard to understand all the people who were getting bogged, we were towing the trailer as usual and the soft sand to get to the ferry was easy.

    After arriving at the Island I learned something else I didn't know, apparently there is a pot of Gold at the end of the beach and the first one there gets it, or at least I assume that is the case given that everyone was in an awful god damn hurry to get where they were going. We felt like we had barely got going and everyone else on our ferry was long gone and the next ferry load which included a few tour buses was hunting us down and flying past us like we were standing still. All the signs say that road rules apply on the beach, its just that no one follows them, its every man for himself and god help those that get in the way.

    The beach driving was again easy, in fact we didn't find any of the driving on Fraser challenging at all. The first Private camp ground we got to was Dilli Village which is run by one of the Universities and we decided to go in and book a camp. Its a typical campground with really small camp spots, but given it was only around 10% capacity that wasn't an issue as we had no one near us so took up a bit of extra room. Dianne who runs the campground with here husband was very good and she was one of the rare highlights on the island giving us some useful info.

    After setting up camp and given it was late morning we decided to go for a drive up Eastern Beach to see some of the highlights. This I think was another big mistake. All the research I did before the trip led me to believe that the crowds shouldn't be too bad this time of year, which I think was true. However "not too bad" isn't really a measurement unless you understand what bad is So our experience driving along Eastern Beach around the middle of the day and also around low tide is that "not too bad" means that in say an hours drive you will likely see or pass maybe 500 other vehicles. Eli Creek will have around 15 vehicles and 40 - 50 people there and when we arrived at the Maheno I stopped counting when I got to 100 people in front off the wreck. Our last big trip we saw 3 vehicles in 8 days of driving, so "not too bad" means a different thing to different people.

    So what I did learn. Dianne at Dilli Village told us that there are 2 different types of tides, I forget the names but basically when the moon is a half moon the tides are a lot lower, which was the case when we were there. This meant that we were able to navigate the beach successfully close to or at high tide which was the case on return trip the first day. There were still plenty of people but probably 80% of the numbers we saw at midday had dissapeared. The main lesson that I got over the 3 days was that thee is no point in going for a drive along the beach for the sake of it, think of the beach as a freeway and the inland tracks as the suburbs. You will go for a drive in the suburbs and then use the freeway to get home, so we drove the beach a lot without needing to do a special run. Driving the beach as close to high tide as possible also meant way less people and much more our style. Unfortunately by this point I wasn't in the best frame of mind to totally enjoy the experience.

    I will add a few photos from the first day.

    On our return past the Maheno later in the day there were a lot less people and I did manage to get a shot of the Prado in front of the wreck which I had hoped to do. Pictures can be deceiving because there was still quite a few people here. There are a few hidden by the Prado and a the right of the picture is cut a bit short as another group was there and more again near their vehicles. But at least I managed a half decent shot without a hoard of people crashing the picture, which would have been impossible at midday.



    Driving close to high tide meant there was a slight challenge navigating some of the creeks, this one was around 20 minutes before High tide and a little digging was needed to navigate high enough to be in fresh water and not salt water. A little bit of fun at the end of a very stressful day.





    I will add a bit more as I get time.

    Cheers Andrew
    Why would I buy something for $10 when I can make it for $20

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  2. #2
    Forum Enthusiast DrewXT's Avatar
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    We loved our trip to Fraser just before Easter, but made sure we camped at Waddy Point Top Camping Ground, as the tour buses aren't allowed past Indian Head

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    Forum Enthusiast Trinity's Avatar
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    Inskip is basically the "getaway" point for the Brisbaneites wanting to escape somewhere that's beach and not "too far away". The only time I've been there that wasn't horrendously busy was one weekend we ended up there in less than ideal weather (windy, and spatterings of rain).

    The beaches on Fraser are also basically treated like highways. Not sure that they ever police speeds, etc. either like they do between Rainbow Beach and Noosa.

    It is a crazy busy place to visit at ANY time of year now, I think. Fraser is that one place that - again - is close enough for so many people to access, isn't all that hard to drive around, etc. Every man and his dog either has been to Fraser or is planning to go... I haven't been there in roughly 20 years - even then it was busier than I'd like these days. That said, we will make the effort to go at some stage and brave the crowds. James has never been and I want to see everything there again (and in a bit more than a single day like I did last time - at least what little we got through in a day!). Its actually not a spot we plan to camp when we decide to go. In part that is because of the crowds - I'm not a fan of camping when everyone is living out of each others' pockets.

    Its unfortunate you didn't enjoy it. I remember it to be a beautiful spot, albeit too busy. The fishing is meant to be pretty awesome too (I have family in the area who rate the fishing! Not something I know anything about).

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    Forum Master Harps's Avatar
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    Thanks AJ for sharing this. I haven't been to Fraser before but have heard similar views to yours. Conversely, I have also heard about how wonderful the place is. When I go 4wding, I seek isolation and to avoid crowds and busy campsites as much as possible.
    The only thing better than fishing... is catching a fish...

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    We've been to Fraser twice. Once on a day trip and another for a few days after a trip to Arkaroola (yes I know, we took a detour home!) Both of those trip reinforced my intent to never camp there. I consider myself pretty 'bush responsible' so I don't need the rules and regulations imposed on places like Fraser. Apparently that isn't the case with everyone! If I wanted to camp right next to someone I'd go to the local caravan park. If we go again we'd stay at the resort and do day trips like we did the last time. Fraser is definitely not the place to go anymore if you're looking for solitude.

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    Junior Member Ditch's Avatar
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    Yep, pretty much sums up my trip there a few years back. Planned to stay a week, ended up back on the mainland the same day I went over. My biggest letdown was the crowds at Lake Mackenzie. Looked amazing in the brochures, pristine beach, amazing clear water but was spoiled by hundreds of backpackers & looked more like Bondi Beach. As you said, once the barge hits the beach everyone seems to be in a rush to be the first to get as far north as they can.

    Too many people at the Maheno as well, I was hoping to get some nice photo`s of it, but the amount of people there spoiled it. To be fair, I think most places along the coast these days are too overcrowded, I haven`t been to the coast in 5 years for this reason as I hate camping shoulder to shoulder.

    If I want to do a bit of sand driving I`d rather head to the deserts...............even they are starting to get a bit crowded.
    "I would rather that my bones had been left to bleach in the desert than yielded an inch of ground I had gained at so much expence" - Charles Sturt 1845

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    Senior Member 2Lost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harps View Post
    Thanks AJ for sharing this. I haven't been to Fraser before but have heard similar views to yours. Conversely, I have also heard about how wonderful the place is. When I go 4wding, I seek isolation and to avoid crowds and busy campsites as much as possible.
    I am with you HARPS. I have not been there but was on the list. Bugger the crowds, think i may give it a miss after these reports.

    In saying that. There are places that i have been to in the past, that i would recommend. Yet if i went to those areas now, i would probably be disappointed with the crowds and restricions and the signs.

    Thanks AJ and others for their honest trip reports

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ditch View Post
    Yep, pretty much sums up my trip there a few years back. Planned to stay a week, ended up back on the mainland the same day I went over. My biggest letdown was the crowds at Lake Mackenzie. Looked amazing in the brochures, pristine beach, amazing clear water but was spoiled by hundreds of backpackers & looked more like Bondi Beach. As you said, once the barge hits the beach everyone seems to be in a rush to be the first to get as far north as they can.

    Too many people at the Maheno as well, I was hoping to get some nice photo`s of it, but the amount of people there spoiled it. To be fair, I think most places along the coast these days are too overcrowded, I haven`t been to the coast in 5 years for this reason as I hate camping shoulder to shoulder.

    If I want to do a bit of sand driving I`d rather head to the deserts...............even they are starting to get a bit crowded.
    The last time we were there we did the "Lakes Loop" with our plan to have lunch at Mackenzie. Every other lake we visited that day was nearly deserted until we got to Mackenzie apparently in line with the backpackers buses! Had to have our lunch in a cage to avoid the dingos apparently....so Mackenzie? No. But any other lake,Yes!

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    Have done Fraser on numerous trips since the early 1980s and have camped, camper, rented a house and last time stayed at KingFisher Bay Resort. Must say Kingfisher is the go. As for Lakes then Lake Birrabern is the pick.
    With regards Inskip during the winter the grey nomads move in for their extended stay. The appeal is that it is cheap , not needing permits etc. We were last there just after Anzac weekend and it was ok.
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    Leading Hand AJ's Avatar
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    For those that have not been I should clarify that Fraser is indeed a beautiful place, given its beauty and proximity to a large population its easy to see why so many people go there, unfortunately like so many places that has really spoiled the place, at least for us.

    Our second day on the Island was actually not too bad and was the reason we stayed for a third day, which in hindsight was a mistake, but hey you live and learn.

    Day 2 we left Dilli village early and headed out on the southern lakes loop. We drove for some time without seeing anyone at all and passed only a handful of vehicles as we visited lake Boomanjin and the Lake Birrabeen. Lake Birrabeen was absolutely the highlight of out time on the Island. It is every bit as nice a spot as Lake McKenzie but for most of the approx 1 hour we spent there we either had it to ourselves or it felt like we did as we couldn't see the 2 or 3 other people there. That was really the only time on the Island that I truly felt that I was experiencing Fraser Island. At heart I actually don't see myself as a 4wdriver, I am a traveller who just happens to like going places that require a 4wd and I travel to places to experience them, which was difficult to do on Fraser

    Lake Birrabeen


    WE also visited a spot on the West coast called Ungowa camping area where we had lunch. Once again no people and it was an interesting spot with an old boat shed, run down boat ramp and jetty. It might have been a nice camp spot save for the Midgee's but it needed to be booked in advance which we hadn't. And a word of warning for anyone thinking they might just camp there without a permit, they have cameras hidden in the trees so they know who goes in and out and who camps and who doesn't pay.

    Old boat ramp and Jetty.




    As we got closer to the more popular spots such as Central Station and later Lake McKenzie we saw a fair few more vehicles, although a lot less than on the beach. It was somewhere around here that it occurred to me that the sense of camaraderie that we generally experience with other 4wdrivers or travellers simply doesn't exist on Fraser. Almost anywhere else in the country if you have to get off the track to let someone pass there will be at the very least a wave of the finger, if not a full wave, or a smile or a window down and a "thanks mate" or sometimes and extended conversation on more remote tracks. On Fraser most people wouldn't even look at you and would just floor it as soon as you were off the track, I assume they were also chasing that elusive pot of gold

    So Central Station was a nice spot with a typical touristy boardwalk through the rain Forrest, which was pleasant enough apart from the 4 busloads of tourists that were also there. Lake McKenzie was over run and honestly not even worth getting out to look at if you have already been to Lake Birabeen.

    Eventually we got back onto the beach and once again drove back to camp, which reinforced my thoughts that driving it the first day was pointless as we were now making our 3rd journey along it in 2 days. We also knew by that point we would drive it again the following morning as we had decided to head North to Cathedrals and see what the North end of the Island had to offer.

    Cheers Andrew
    Why would I buy something for $10 when I can make it for $20

    2009 120 Prado http://www.4wdadventurers.com/showth...AJ-s-120-Prado
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