Racing over the beach in your own 4X4, swimming in beautiful blue lakes, spotting wild dogs (dingo’s) and adventuring into the tropical rainforest. Who would not want to do that? We were given the opportunity to discover Fraser Island with the Australian Offroad Academy. And that’s how we start a crazy adventure on the world’s largest sandy island, accessible only by a 4-wheel drive, right in front of Australia’s east coast.
“Good day, you must be Ydwer and Monique,” a lady with an Australian accent approaches us at the River Heads ferry, our ‘meeting point’. We meet Jax from the Australian Offroad Academy. Today she will show us the most beautiful highlights on Fraser Island while she teaches us to drive a 4X4 on the most sandy beaches of the island. We are excited!
Sitting behind the wheel in the Toyota 4X4
After Jax parks the huge terrain car safely on the ferry, we make the transfer from Hervey Bay to Fraser Island in 45 minutes. “There are also tourists who rent their own 4X4,” she says, “but that goes wrong now and again. Apart from the fact that not everybody knows how to drive a 4-wheel drive, people also forget to put their car on the hand brake on the ferry. Not long ago, a LandCruiser rolled into the water from the ferry. Fortunately nobody was in the car anymore, but the car sank to the bottom in a couple of minutes. “
Lake McKenzie; Paradise on earth
But fortunately, we got Jax, who drives the first mile to the practice area at the Kingfisher Bay Resort where we can get behind the wheel of the huge bastard. We are taught how to maneuver our Toyota through sandpaths, across big and small hills and along tropical trees. Once Jax thinks we are ready for the real work we drive straight away to one of the most breathtaking places on Fraser Island; Lake McKenzie. This lake consists entirely of clear, fresh rainwater and is surrounded by tropical vegetation. From the white sandy beach you can take a swim in the refreshing water. The pure blue and green colors of Lake McKenzie are fascinating and the sand is so soft that you can use it to polish your jewelry.
Getting stuck in the sand on Fraser Island
As we continue to drive further on Fraser Island, the sandy roads become more dusty. Pretty soon we come across the first road block; a terrain vehicle has gotten stuck on the narrow sandpath and has dug itself in. “This happens very often when people are not used to driving here,” says Jax. When you get in such a situation it is a good thing that no one can pass you, so everyone has to help to push the car out of the sand. In this case, even plastic boards are needed to give the tires some grip on the sandy road again.
Rainforest, dingo’s, whales and wild horses
Our next stop is Central Station, a camping site amidst lush rainforest. We stroll over the boardwalk along the rippling water of Wanggoolba Creek while Jax tells us about the special Fraser Island flora and fauna. The most special are the dingo’s which are on Fraser Island in large numbers. But also wallaby’s, possums, all kinds of birds, reptiles and even whales (July to November), dolphins and sea turtles can be seen on and around the island. Recently even brumby’s, wild horses, were spotted in the rugged western part of Fraser Island, for years people thought that these horses did not live there anymore.
Driving over the beach and along the airplane runway
We make a lunch stop in the town of Eurong where the local bakery sells delicious Australian ‘meat pies’. After this we arrive at the beach where we can just ride the 4X4. “Fraser Island Beach is also an official 120 kilometer long highway,” says Jax. Here at ’75 Mile Beach’ we get the chance to drive alongside the ocean with a 4-wheel drive. The road is also used by small airplanes as a runway, and thus we see a plane land just a few hundred meters before us.
Shipwreck SS Maheno
We arrive at the SS Maheno, a shipwreck that washed ashore in 1935 on the beach of Fraser Island. The ship was used for practice bombing in World War II and was then sold to Japan for scrap metal, but it never got there. During a cyclone the SS Maheno washed ashore onto 75 Mile Beach, where the red-brown wreck still exists today. The bulk of the wreck is covered under the sand. Because this is our third visit to Fraser Island, we clearly see the shipwreck disappear ever further in the sand on our photographs. Compared to our first visit, about 12 years ago, there’s almost 1/3 less of the wreckage to be seen now!
Tubing in Eli Creek
We head back towards the ferry, but still have a final stop waiting for us on the beach. We can already see it from a distance. At Eli Creek, a natural waterslide that leads to the beach, many cars and people have gathered. Most of them are Australians who went away for a weekend and found themselves sitting on their beach chair along the creek. In between the trees, children and adults slide down the creek on tubes. The clear water of Eli Creek comes from a natural spring and is therefore always nice and cool on a hot day like today.
Ferry back to Hervey Bay
In the end we cross Fraser Island and find our way back to the ferry. Which is still quite an adventure since we have to drive a long way back over the rugged sandpaths. The sandpaths have become more challenging at the end of the day. We see that a large number of 4-wheel drives got stuck during the day. Creating pitfalls trying to get free from the sandy road in any wat possible. But everything goes well and we get back in time to the ferry to make the crossing to Hervey Bay.
Cool daytrip with Australian Offroad Academy
We say goodbye to Jax, after which we get back into our own rental car to continue our journey. This feels boring, a ‘standard car’ after racing over Fraser Island for a day in a robust Toyota.
Do you also want to discover Fraser Island? This can be done in a lot of ways, from getting into a 4X4 tourbus to camping on the beach. But we found this experience with the Australian Offroad Academy to be super adventurous; learning how to drive a super rugged 4X4 while discovering the most beautiful spots of Fraser Island. This tour is also possible as a multi-day excursion in combination with overnight stays on Fraser Island. We can cross this adventure from our bucket list!
Fraser Island Tour in a 4WD with Australian Offroad Academy in 360 degrees video