Fraser Island is a unique natural wonderland for kids families. It offers spectacular swimming, super fun four wheel driving and lots of other fun ways to engage with this pristine natural environment.
Fraser Island’s national park is named K’gari (pronounced “gurri) which means paradise. It’s what the Butchella people of the island have always called it.
Why visit Fraser Island with kids?
Apart from being a postcard perfect holiday destination, Fraser is also very unique. It is famous for its dingoes but also has several other standout characteristics:
- It’s the largest sand island in the world,
- it’s also the only island where rainforest is found growing on sand dunes higher than 200m elevation, and
- it has half of the worlds perched lakes.
When to go to Fraser Island with kids
That’s a tough question… because there really isn’t a ‘bad’ time to go to Fraser Island with kids. It all depends on your preferences and priorities.
We prefer to go in September and October. The weather is pleasantly warm and (most likely) sunny. It’s also a good time of year for whale watching (July to November), bird watching (August to March) and fishing (July to October) as well as still being cool enough for long walks or hikes around the island. I like to go outside of school holidays as there’s less… erm… kids. If you are not an old grouch like me, you might actually prefer to go during school holidays. Kingfisher bay Resort (KBR) offers holiday programs that are fun and educational.
You can find the Queensland school term dates here.
January and February are the hottest, wettest and most humid months of the year in this part of the world with the temperature easily reaching 30°C plus (86°F) during the day. Its also the worst time of year for mosquitoes and sandflies which can really make a holiday with kids uncomfortable.
Getting there & getting around
The usual way to get to Fraser Island is by barge from either from Inskip point on the northern end of Rainbow Beach or from River Heads south of Hervey Bay.
If you are staying in a resort then they will usually organise your barge for you. If you are travelling independently then you need to organise the barge and your own four wheel drive (4WD) vehicle (permit required) or tour to get around.
If you are exploring Fraser Island with kids there are plenty of tours that will get you around to all the island’s stunning locations including 4WD bus tours and tag along 4WD tours. I’ve been on the Beauty Spots tour through Kingfisher Bay Resort and it was loads of fun… and they feed you! There are obvious benefits for going on an organised tour… You don’t need to worry about tide times, navigating the maze of inland roads or getting your vehicle bogged up to its belly in sand. But of course there is a price to pay, quite literally, as the tours can be expensive. You also have to share these beautiful locations with a crowd and you don’t get to choose how long you stay at each spot.
Four Wheel Drive Vehicle
You can bring your own 4WD or hire one either from the mainland (and bring it over on the barge) or hire one on the island. If you feel confident getting yourself around this way then I highly recommend it. While hiring the vehicle isn’t cheap, if you are exploring Fraser Island with kids then it’s still a very cost effective way to get around and the freedom is priceless.
We hired our vehicle from Aussie Trax, who have a kiosk based at Kingfisher Bay Resort, for two consecutive days. This meant we could keep the vehicle at our villa overnight and not be worried about getting back at 5pm. This gave us more time to explore the island on the first day. Please be aware that you can’t drive on the island at night! Aussie Trax will organise your permit and provide very useful suggested itinerary. We always hire a vehicle to get around Fraser because we can outstay the tour buses to get some peace and quiet.
Where to stay
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There are loads of accomodation options if you are staying on Fraser Island with kids… including the two main resorts, Eurong Beach Resort and Kingfisher Bay Resort. Then there are a number of other options including holiday homes, campsites and even Airbnbs.
Queensland Department of Environment and Science (Parks & Forests) have comprehensive information about campsites and camping on Fraser Island (K’gari) here.
Where we stay…
We chose to stay at Kingfisher Bay Resort in a self-contained two-bedroom Standard Villa for 5 nights (they have a stay 5 pay 4 deal). I love this resort because it’s clean, beautifully designed to fit in with the landscape. It really has so much to offer whether you are a family, a couple or an individual (and I have stayed here as all three over the years).
It also offers a range of accomodation options. I’ve stayed in their backpacker accomodation, the hotel units and the self-contained villas and its all been great. The villa we stayed in recently was starting to look a bit dated but it was well maintained and clean. Most importantly, it was in a lovely location with ocean views and we could watch the sun setting from our deck.
You can read my post here which explains why I love staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort.
Our favourite things to do or see
Float down Eli Creek on an inflatable ring. Follow the boardwalk to the end where you launch off and make your way down the crystal clear stream. The waters become broad and shallow at the end (a great area for little ones to paddle in). Our kids did this 5 or 6 times before they were done and ready for lunch. There are plenty of good toilets here, although its a bit of walk to get to them. Eli Creek is on the Eastern side of the island and only short trip south of the Maheno Shipwreck. Be warned… the dry sand in the parking area is hard going and tricky to manoeuvre through!
Take a swim in the spectacular Lake McKenzie. When the tide was keeping us off the beach we spent a couple of hours here. It really is too beautiful for words and if you are lucky enough to have the place to yourself it’s just magical. The water is quite shallow for the first few metres which made me feel really comfortable with the kids swimming and splashing around (always supervised). Apparently it makes for a great game of footy in the water… There was an extended family having a game when we arrived and even though it was disturbing the serenity I couldn’t help but smile at the fun the kids were having. There are toilets here and a fenced off picnic area so it’s a good place to stop for lunch. You could easily spend the whole morning or afternoon here.
Explore the eerie Maheno Shipwreck. Our kids loved this and wanted to come back the next day. The Maheno was built in Scotland over 100 years ago and served as a hospital ship in World War I. It was beached here in 1935 after a cyclonic storm snapped the chain attached to the ship that was towing it to Japan (it had been sold for scrap). Find out more about Fraser Island’s shipwrecks here. There are no facilities at the wreck itself but there are toilet facilities at Eli Creek nearby.
Lake Wabby & Hammerstone Sandblow
Take a walk to Lake Wabby and the Hammerstone Sandblow. While the 4WD track to get here was a bit ‘hairy’ in places, from the car park it is a reasonably family friendly 1.5 km walk to Lake Wabby (and the Sandblow). Our kids loved the walk and were captivated with some unusual tree bark and some very strange insects that were crawling through the leaf litter. We didn’t end up swimming in the lake… The kids just wanted to explore the sand blow and the big catfish swimming around put them off! It is also a very deep swimming hole and it drops off quickly. The lake is slowly being consumed by the sand and apparently won’t last another 100 years. I wish I had taken a photo 15 years ago on my first visit for comparison to my most recent visit earlier this year!
Be warned… the sand can get very very hot so take shoes if you want to explore the sand blow.
Before you go to Fraser Island with kids make sure you print out this Visitor Guide… It’s very comprehensive and includes information on facilities, driving, walking and also includes a detailed map.
Fraser Island with kids… Take your trip to the next (educational) level
Fraser Island (K’gari) is a diverse and pristine natural environment and has a rich history to explore. Fortunately, every interesting place we visited on the island featured fantastic interpretive information on the formation or features of the natural landscape. Before you go to Fraser island with kids prime them before you go so you can make the most of the visit:
- Print out the Visitor guide (mentioned above).
- Watch a 2 minute mini-doc about Fraser Island here. My 9 yo son really loved this one but my 10 yo daughter thought it was a tad boring.
- Find information about the Butchulla culture here.
- Find the Dreamtime story of how K’gari was created here.
- Learn brief European History of Fraser Island here.
- Watch an extremely informative 10 minute video about the plight of the Fraser Island Dingo here. Please be warned that this contains some footage (of culling at about 7 minutes into the video) that may distress some children. Please be discerning and if you are concerned watch it yourself first.