Fraser Island October 2014

Submitted: Monday, Nov 24, 2014 at 18:24
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G’day all
First post on ExplorOz. I wrote this wrap up when I got back over a month ago but totally forgot to post it after waiting for my account to be registered. Anyway, I found these posts extremely helpful in planning my recent trip to Fraser Island so I figured I should pay it forward and write something myself that will hopefully be of value to anyone planning their own trip.

We spent a week earlier this month (October) camped on Fraser Island. Enjoyed it a lot. Such an iconic Aussie destination. I hadn’t been there for almost 20 years so it was great to see it again. Set up camp about half way up 75 Mile beach near the Maheno. Had good weather for the most part after a series of showers on the first day. Tides weren’t ideal with a midday high tide on our first day on the island but we weren’t in any hurry so this wasn’t much of a problem.

We crossed on the Manta Ray barge from Inskip Point. Current prices are $110 per car and (I think) $170 for car+trailer.

The sand getting on to the beach at Inskip Point was quite soft but had no dramas and neither did anyone else. Provided tyres are aired down to <20 PSI as you leave the bitumen it shouldn’t be a problem. In fact we only saw one bloke bogged the entire time and managed in about 60 seconds to push him back down the hill for a second try with a bit more right foot.

At this time of year we pretty much had a stretch of dunes to ourselves. It wouldn’t be hard finding a quiet spot to yourself in any of the beach camping zones. Ranger turned up promptly at 0800 h after our first night there to check permits and run us through dingo safety. Dingoes didn’t give us any trouble in camp the entire time, but we were careful with foodstuffs and rubbish. Checked for tracks each morning but never saw any definitive prints. Did see two dingoes, one on the Indian Head bypass and one on the beach down towards Hook Point.

Dunduburra and Waddy Point are both excellent camp grounds with good facilities. Didn’t see the hordes of backpackers that have been rumoured to occupy Dunduburra at times. Dunduburra was probably half full, Waddy Point probably 2/3rds but the beach area was close to full. Wasn’t impressed by Central Station. No idea why anyone would want to stay so far inland unless you were doing the hiking trails.

A few march flies about our beach camp site at times but for the most part didn’t have a problem with pests while we were there.

Driving

Our camp spot gave us a good view of the beach so we could watch the traffic throughout the day. Plenty of soft-roaders on the island (including a Lexus!) not seeming to have much difficulty and quite a few caravans being towed up the beach. Heaps of tours including the convoys of four 4WDs (mostly Troopies and Landcruisers) with backpackers at the wheel of the back three cars following a lead vehicle with the guide. These cars were always filled to capacity with seven or eight people per car. We would sometimes hear them giving driving instructions over the UHF. New rules limit hire cars to 60km/h and ban the use of roof racks to carry gear due to the number of rollovers.

The news is reporting as I write this that an English tourist has been killed and seven injured in a rollover on the bypass (high tide) road at Hook Point. Tragic and completely unnecessary.

Despite this in all honesty the whole time we were there we didn’t see any really stupid driving. Saying that though, we did see a bloke knock over a coppers log barrier at Lake Garrawongera because he didn’t know where his front end was. Overshot it by about a foot. Also saw a number of completely overloaded roof racks with four or even five (presumably full) jerry cans on the roof plus other gear. Not a good idea.

It is best to follow the common advice and stay off the beach for two hours either side of high tide. Although it is still possible to drive on the beach, you may be blocked by landmarks such as Eli Creek or the rock formations and the rest of it will be hard going in the soft sand above the high tide mark. We would still see 3-4 cars an hour going past our campsite during this period so it doesn’t stop everyone.

As usual, keep your speed down, as the beach is full of washouts that are constantly changing the conditions as fresh water runs down the beach to the sea. These are easier negotiated on the outgoing tide when they haven’t had as much time to dig large ditches into the sand.

Police were out enforcing the 40km/h zones, particularly around Yidney Rocks/Happy Valley. Barge operator told us not long ago they got a bloke going up the beach and then the same bloke on his way back. A slow learner apparently.

Prices

As we were on the island for a while it was necessary to do some shopping. I also took notes of prices even when I wasn’t buying because it’s always useful and I reckoned other people might be interested.

Fuel
Eurong: $2.13/L
Frasers on Cathedral: $2.20/L
Happy Valley: $2.20/L
Orchid Beach: $2.12/L

Groceries.
Best place for groceries we saw was probably Eurong for selection and price. We thought Kingfisher might have had a good range being straight off the barge but it wasn’t any better than Eurong and the prices were high.

Eurong: $4.10 for a cuppacino, $4.50 for a premium pie, $15.10/kg for frozen mince.
Frasers on Cathedral: Frozen mince $18/kg. Firewood $22.50 for 20kg. Tap water for filling jerries etc $1 for 10L.
Happy Valley: Frozen mince $10.34/kg
Kingfisher Bay: No mince. Frozen BBQ steak $25/kg.

Didn’t check booze prices because that was what was taking up all the room instead of groceries when we came over from the mainland! :-D

Climate

October was an extremely pleasant time to be on the island. A little bit cold some nights, getting down below 15 degrees but comfortable days.

Other misc information

Make sure you take $1 coins for the NP showers at Waddy Point and Dundaburra if you plan on using them. $1 gets your three minutes of hot water at a good rate of flow. We found one coin was enough time even for the ladies.

If you’re using an old Hema map as I was, you might also wonder like me why K’Gari Campground is not signposted from the beach. It’s a private campground now that appears to be the exclusive domain of tour groups and the indigenous peoples. So don’t plan on rocking up there unannounced and getting a site.

There’s not much information on how the beach landing sites for the light aircraft are supposed to work. Honestly the whole time I was pretty confused by them. They mark them out with traffic cones and there are ground vehicles that I presume stop traffic as the planes are landing. The cones are there all day every day so not really helpful in knowing whether the beach is about to be used by a plane. I think they need to publicise this information a bit better.

Overall we had a great time and I would definitely say Fraser Island is not over-hyped as a 4WD destination. The camping is fantastic and it doesn’t take much gear or beach driving experience to get around the island, just the basics and a bit of care. Highly recommended if you can get there, especially outside of school holidays. Hopefully this information will be of use to those planning their next trip.
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Reply By: OBJ - Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014 at 08:06

Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014 at 08:06
Good write up. Thanks.

I stopped visiting Fraser a few years ago because I had become sick of the backpackers and the enviro-Nazis with their camp fire rules up there. Your write up almost rekindled by desire to return, but I will remain firm :)

Glad your visit was a good one.
OBJ
AnswerID: 542169

Reply By: Pushy - Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014 at 09:27

Tuesday, Nov 25, 2014 at 09:27
Iosef,

Thanks for the write up.I was up there in October as well and saw the unfortunate result of an over loaded roof rack. At the Indian Head bypass we let a fairly new Prado, with a fully loaded roof rack, towing a brand new camper trailer go ahead of us as we were waiting for one of our group.

We passed him again just before the top of the rise. He had either stopped suddenly or hit a bump too quickly causing the roof rack to part company with the vehicle and end up upside down in front of the car. The result, smashed Rhino rack damaged roof,windscreen,bonnet and bull bar as well as wrecked fishing rods.

We stopped to offer assistance and in the end decided to put the roof rack and contents on top of the camper trailer. Even though he said the contents weighed only 80 kgs it took 8 men to lift it on top. Obviously more than 80 kgs.

I also agree with OBJ this was my first trip back for more than 30 years and it ain't what it used to be. Even though it is still spectacular, too many backpackers and too many people racing up and down the beach. What really got me was the 50 or so 4wd vehicles parked side by side at Waddy Point with their gazebos up and people sun baking and one bloke camped near us who drove down the beach at least 4 times a day to get mobile reception.

Although OBJ I think we must be dinosaurs as the young fellas and the first timers thought it was Paradise.
AnswerID: 542172

Reply By: Member - Fab72 (Paradise SA) - Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 21:10

Wednesday, Nov 26, 2014 at 21:10
Great write up...thanks.
Not being a big fan of coastal areas, I think the only draw card for me would be to see the purest Dingoes in Australia.
Although my little 99.6% pure girl does me just fine.

Thanks again....enjoyed the comprehensive read.
Fab.
AnswerID: 542214

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