Lady Elliot Island vs Heron Island

The Southern Great Barrier Reef

Heron vs Lady Elliot Island

The Southern Great Barrier Reef is these days recognised as having the best colour, diversity and accessibility for visitors wishing to experience one of Australia’s most iconic natural attractions.

Over the past decade, due to rising water temperatures, the mid and northern Great Barrier Reef regions have suffered a number of wide-spread bleaching episodes, damaging some of Queensland’s most-visited reef destinations. Whilst the reef is slowly receding in the north, research has shown it is now growing at an equal rate from its southern boundaries. Hence the newer and less visited reefs in the south display far more colour and diversity offering visitors a vastly superior experience.

Apart from the amazing visitor experience, the Southern Great Barrier Reef offers better water clarity (particularly in the storm season Dec – Apr), no deadly irikanji jellyfish (stinger suits are not necessary whilst swimming off these southern islands), and cheaper, more convenient access for visitors with limited time in Australia.

We have spent over a decade helping visitors plan the best itineraries and packages to experience Queensland’s amazing natural attractions. The Heron Island vs Lady Elliot dilemma is common, as it is very difficult to compare prices. So which island is best?! What follows is our best advice and comparison of these two amazing destinations to assist with your trip planning …


It is difficult to directly compare the cost of visiting these 2 islands as Lady Elliot has an all-inclusive rate structure, whereas Heron Island has a base accommodation tariff and charges extra for everything else … eg activities, transfers, park fees, snorkel equipment, kids club etc.

Lady Elliot Island : per person accommodation charge includes – buffet breakfast and dinner, free use of snorkel equipment, 1 x glass bottom boat and guided snorkel tour, all ranger guided tours and activities except scuba, all National Park fees.

Heron Island : per room accommodation charge includes – buffet breakfast. EXTRA charges for – National Park fees, lunch, dinner, hire of snorkel equipment, boat to snorkel on reef, Kids Club etc

In order to directly compare a stay at the 2 resorts we have calculated the cost of a 2, 3 and 5 night stay for 2 adults at both resorts as per the following analysis. NOTE: we have included the commonly available discounts for both islands (ie Stay 5, Pay 4 on Lady Elliot and Stay 4, Pay 3 on Heron).

Lady Elliot Rates

Heron Island Rates

Lady Elliot On Island ChargesAccessibility

Lady Elliot Island : Only accessible via plane (40 minute flight) from Hervey Bay or Bundaberg. The flight / airline is owned by the island and must be booked at the same time as accommodation. Direct flights available from Sydney and Brisbane to both Hervey Bay and Bundaberg. It is also possible to fly from Brisbane or the Gold Coast direct to Lady Elliot, however these flights are at a substantial premium. It is nearly always better to work your itinerary into departing from Hervey Bay or Bundaberg.

Heron Island : Accessible by boat (2 ½ hrs each way) or seaplane (20 minute flight) from Gladstone. The boat transfers do NOT operate on a Tuesday or Thursday. The boat and seaplane are operated by a 3rd party. Direct flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Gladstone.

Heron Island Map


Both these destinations offer a 5 star plus reef experience – the best you will get on the east coast of Australia!! These are both true coral atolls, fully enclosed by a fringing reef teeming with coral and marine life. If you are looking for a once in a lifetime snorkelling, reef and sea bird experience then these islands tick every box – bigtime! Please note, however, that these are NOT 5 star resort experiences!! Accommodations at both destinations are comfortable, adequate and environmentally responsible. Meals are buffet style and buffet quality. If you are looking for a resort experience then head to the Whitsundays! (BTW the Whitsunday Islands do NOT lie on the Great Barrier Reef – they are all sand islands.)

Eco Focus / Sustainability Initiatives

If you are an environmentally conscious explorer who is passionate about protecting the environment just as  much as experiencing it, then Lady Elliot is miles ahead of ALL comparable destinations in Australia (and probably much of the world).

Lady Elliot produces and stores over 85% of its power requirements with a growing hybrid solar plant, and is aiming for 100% sustainability in the near future. All guests are given a comprehensive arrival briefing covering all aspects of reef and wildlife preservation and practices. There is a policy of preservation and protection that is entwined within all areas of resort management and guest experiences! Absolutely 5 Star for Sustainability!

I would love to see Heron Island, under its new ownership (Feb 2017), embrace a similar passion and commitment to sustainability and education. Historically there have been reports of inadequate guest briefings, irresponsible lighting of resort facilities during turtle hatching season, and a reliance on generated power and fossil fuels that are barged in from the mainland. A new long-term preservation plan would be fantastic for the island, the business and the reef in general. That said, the University of Queensland run a world-class research facility on the island, and run an independent tour of the research facilities and station that is well worth while.

Good Things to Know

Heron Island

Transfers – Boat transfers take 2 ½ hrs from Gladstone. These can be rough, and guests are often sea-sick. Boat transfers are not available on Tuesdays or Thursdays!! (Curiously you can book accommodation starting on these days and then find no way to get to the island!?! The transfers are operated by a 3rd party.)

Boat transfers leave the mainland at 2pm and arrive on the island at 4:30pm. Return transfers leave the island at 10am and arrive on the mainland at 12:30pm. So your first and last days are virtually wasted. (It would be far better for guests if the transfers were run the other way around.)

Seaplane transfers are available (20 minutes), but are extremely expensive ($349pp 1 way). If you take the seaplane you will need to wade ashore in knee deep water.

Snorkelling off the beach is a little underwhelming, so you will want to take the boat out to the drop-off each day for the good snorkelling (extra charges – I have included this in my comparison). Snorkelling in the harbour is quite good, but it is closed from 8:00am to 5:30pm due to boat and seaplane traffic.

Bird life is more intense and varied than Lady Elliot.

Reef Fishing trips available – ($235 for 2). No fishing Lady Elliot.

Snorkelling – take your own gear!! You will save $20pp / day!

Heron has recently changed owners (Feb 2017) and is now owned by a Canadian company. Reservations and issues are handled by an offshore reservations and call centre.

Lady Elliot Island

Transfers – only by plane. For 1 and 2 night stays you can fly across on the 8:10am flight and back on the 4:00pm flight. So you get a full day for your arrival and departure days. For 3 nights or more flights across depart at 10:30am or 1:00pm, with flights back at 9:30am or 11:30am.

Snorkelling is available in the lagoon 3 hrs either side of high tide every day (excellent!). The fringing reef drop-off on the lighthouse side of the island can be accessed straight from the beach at all times of day (ie no boat transfers required).

Glass bottom boat tour is included in your tariff (on Heron the glass bottom sub is $50pp).

Lady Elliot (because of all the above) is a HUGELY popular destination at present. You will need to book at least 4 months in advance if you are planning anything other than a single night stay.

Day Tours are available (fly over / back … $375pp all inclusive) giving you 7 hrs on the island to snorkel and explore. If you are short on time this is a great value option to tick the box on your Great Barrier Reef experience.

Divers should note that you cannot dive / fly on the same day, so you will need a minimum of 2 nights on the island to dive.

VERY family-friendly – kids are well catered for.

Locally owned and operated with a focus on education, experience and the preservation of our reef environment.

Value and Conclusion

If you are going to visit Heron Island you should plan for a 3 to 5 night stay, as the transfer times result in you losing your arrival and departure days (ie with a 3 day / 2 night stay you really only get 1 day to do anything).

Snorkelling and reef quality at both islands are superb! Accessibility to the best quality reef is much easier at Lady Elliot (step off the beach).

Without doubt, if you are planning on visiting the Southern Great Barrier Reef, then the BEST VALUE is for a 3 Day / 2 night stay on Lady Elliot, where you can be on the island at 9am on the day of arrival, and depart at 4pm on your last day, so you get 3 full days to explore and experience!! So the marginally more expensive price for a 2 night stay is hugely returned in time available to explore and participate in activities. Alternatively, if you are divers then look at the Stay 5, Pay 4 specials for 5 nights which will allow you plenty of time to fit in all activities and some good dives as well!

If you are planning an itinerary as an international visitor, Lady Elliot affords less lost time in transfers and travel days. Travelling through Hervey Bay also opens up the opportunity to visit World Heritage Listed Fraser Island which is a totally different, but amazing National Park experience. If you are lucky enough to be travelling between July and October Hervey Bay is also the best place in the world to experience Humpback whales up close and personal.

Disclosure : We are Lady Elliot’s biggest domestic agent. We are passionate about the reef, nature, our natural environment and the preservation of our dwindling natural spaces. Through helping people experience the best of our amazing World Heritage Listed destinations we hope so many more people will recognise the importance of preserving these amazing habitats for our future generations.

We have put together some fantastic packages and itineraries which highlight the best of our region, including Lady Elliot Island Prices and Packages, Fraser Island Packages and Hervey Bay Whale Watching Packages. Please visit our website for all the details, prices and availability. For up to date rates and specials – Lady Elliot Island Rates and Packages

If you are just looking to visit Lady Elliot or want some more information, availability, tips or prices, feel free to email myself or Yong directly using or call any time +61 (0)7 4124 5500. We are regional experts for all tours, restaurants, activities and anything else to do with Hervey Bay, Lady Elliot, Fraser Island and the Fraser Coast, and would be thrilled to help you plan the best itinerary for your visit to our “naturally” blessed region!

By Rob Lennon        Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

Please stay with us in Hervey Bay      Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge

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Fraser Island – World Heritage Wonderland

All you need to know to plan your adventure!

Fraser Island Self Drive

We were thrilled to recently be featured in an article by Expedia entitled ‘Experience the Best of Fraser Island’. We were chosen for our “outstanding hospitality” and “insider knowledge” of the best places on the island, how to get there, and the best way to experience its beauty.

Fraser Island lies just kilometres from our verdant Eco retreat and is the world’s largest sand island. The island is a world heritage site famous for its wildlife, seabirds, birds of prey, dingos, magnificent sand dunes, perched freshwater lakes (including the turquoise waters of Lake McKenzie and deep green Lake Wabby), and a rainforest that grows entirely out of sand. It is a must-see on any itinerary along the east coast of Australia.

A four-wheel drive is needed to negotiate the all-sand tracks on the Island, which include the famous Seventy-Five Mile Beach highway running along the surf side of the Island. The “beach highway” offers some of the best beach fishing in the world!

If four-wheel driving seems daunting to you, ask us to help you organise a tour – this way you can be sure you see all the amazing sights at their very best without the stress of organising a vehicle, permits and barges.

Alternatively we have an AMAZING new Fly / Drive package which allows you to experience the thrill of a self-drive adventure, but eliminates the difficult, dangerous and time consuming island crossing. Check out the details of this fantastic new Fly & Drive Package!

Our home, Emeraldene Inn and Eco-Lodge is a peaceful and relaxing boutique resort set back from the busy Hervey Bay Esplanade. No matter what’s on your itinerary, we look forward to welcoming you to our slice of paradise and sharing some of the area’s best kept secrets.

Check out the following resources from our blog for all the inside knowledge necessary to plan an adventure to suit your budget, skills and itinerary.

Fraser Island – Tour or Self-Drive?

Which Fraser Island 1 Day Tour?

Fraser Island 4WD Self-Drive

Fraser Island History & Legends

Fraser Island Indigenous History

We have been visiting Fraser Island for over 40 years, and as local experts would love to help you organise the best way to visit this amazing natural destination. Drop me an email and I would be pleased to help!

by Rob Lennon       Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

Please stay with us in Hervey Bay   Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge

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Hervey Bay Whale Watching 2019

Whale Watching Capital of the World

(Updated 2019) Hervey Bay is often referred to as “The Whale Watching Capital of the World”, a title I can personally endorse having travelled to Hawaii, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, Norway and Iceland to see whales, as well as spending 3 months swimming and diving with whales in Tonga. To be fair, I am happy to allow Tonga to share the title, as the experience there is also amazing – but it sure is a lot harder to get to!! Whale Watching experiences in other destinations pale into insignificance compared to what is on offer in Hervey Bay.

Blue Dolphin Whale Watching

Why Hervey Bay?

Humpback whales follow an annual migration pattern, spending the summer months feeding on krill in the Antarctic, then migrating north to warmer climes to give birth and mate during the winter. Whilst there is no food source for the humpbacks in our waters, newborn whale calves are born without the blubber required to survive the icy southern ocean, hence the necessity for the annual journey north.

A big part of the attraction of Hervey Bay for whales is the 800 square miles of shallow and protected waters inside Fraser Island. The largest protected waterway on the east coast of Australia, Platypus Bay (Hervey Bay is the town) provides a calm and inviting playground for the whales and their newborn young, as well as providing some protection from their only natural predators – killer whales and sharks.

As an interesting side fact, the gestation period for a whale is 11.5 months, so all the associated courting and hanky panky also occurs here in Hervey Bay, which adds exciting elements of chase pods, courting serenades and breaching rituals to the experience. No wonder they love coming back to celebrate all those birthdays and anniversaries in our magic waters!

The Experience

The accolades for Hervey Bay are as much about the quality and consistency of the whale watching experience as they are about the unique aspects of why whales choose to spend their holidays in Hervey Bay’s sheltered waters.

The great advantage for a whale “watcher” is that this whale playground lies in the lee of Fraser Island. The predominantly calm waters  allow for open decked vessels with low waterline viewing positions where you are almost guaranteed an up close experience on EVERY cruise. The low and open boats in the fleet have all been designed specifically for local conditions, with many offering drop-down stern platforms so you can literally get eyeball to eyeball with a 15m long 40 ton humpback whale! Many boats also offer underwater viewing windows, through-hull cameras and hydrophones for listening to the whale’s underwater singing.

Blue Dolphin Whale Watching

Whale Watching 2019

“Whale Search” cruises will kick off this year from July 6th, with ¾ day trips hoping to spot the early arrivals for the season (the earliest we have seen whales is July 2nd). The majority of the fleet, however, begin cruising from July 13th, a date historically where we have always had whales in the Bay. Once August arrives you are pretty much guaranteed to see lots and lots of whales, with August and September being the best months to see all the action with the best conditions. As you approach October there is a higher chance that winds will swing north, making conditions in the Bay a little rough and the possibility of cancellation due to weather increases.  Last year was the earliest recorded finish to a season, with all the whales gone by the end of the second week of October. Occasionally the whales stay until the end of October before heading back to their home in the south. My tip for the best time to visit – between August 8th and September 25th.


There are half, three-quarter and full day cruises on offer by a variety of boats. All our fleet have extremely experienced skippers and crew. Your choice of the length of a trip will depend on your personal preference for being out on the water, month of travel, and travel itinerary. If you are prone to motion sickness you are better with a morning trip before a potential afternoon sea breeze develops. Be aware that early in the season (pre August 1st) and late in the season (after Oct 5th) there are no ½ day trips, as the ½ day boats operate a longer cruise to ensure a higher probability of finding whales.

Swim with Whales

Rule changes in 2014 have now allowed operators to explore some exciting new “immersion” experiences where passengers can get in the water with whales! There is no doubt that connecting with a 40 ton behemoth from only metres away whilst in their  environment would be an unforgettable experience!!

There are 2 operators (Blue Dolphin and QuickCat) offering an immersion experience this year. Be aware that there are a LOT of stars that need to align to present an opportunity for people to get into the water with whales – weather conditions, sea state, whales and water clarity – so I would expect opportunities to be rare rather than regular. As this season progresses (and in future seasons), I would expect the product offerings around “immersion” experiences to develop and mature, so keep up to date via our Facebook page during the season for exciting developments!

Compare Boats

The following tables summarize prices, attributes and points of difference for the whale watch fleet for 2019. Feel free to drop me a line for my personal advice given your particular circumstances. Visit our website for more information about individual boats, and for all our great Whale Watching, Fraser Island and accommodation packages – .

2019 – All You Need to Know


We operate some fantastic packages that include accommodation at the Emeraldene Inn, whale watch cruises, and also Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island trips if you choose to explore further afield. These start at $390 for 2 nights accommodation and a whale watch cruise for 2 adults. Please see our website for all our great 2 and 3 night Whales and Fraser packages. Check out our 2 night packages below …

2 Nights Accommodation plus Whale Watch Packages

For all our great packages … visit our Whale Watch Packages Page!

Hervey Bay is without doubt one of the best locations in the world to experience an up close connection with one of earth’s biggest and most amazing creatures. This is a bucket-list experience you will never forget, and I can assure you will want to repeat many times in the future!

by Rob Lennon       Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

Please stay with us in Hervey Bay   Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge   Book Online

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Hervey Bay Restaurants

Tantalise your Taste-Buds

Coast Restaurant

If a big part of your holidays and weekends away is great food and fresh local produce, then you are in for a treat in Hervey Bay! There are some amazing dining experiences in this region, featuring incredibly fresh local produce and fantastic locations and outlooks.

The Fraser Coast offers a vast array of locally grown, caught and organic products. In fact the region is home to two of cooking’s most prized natural ingredients – the Hervey Bay scallop and the macadamia nut!

Hervey Bay scallops are the most highly valued scallops in the world, appearing on menus throughout Europe, and prized for their appearance, texture and flavour. If you see Hervey Bay scallops on the menu whilst in Hervey Bay it is an obligatory order – they are amazing!!

Bauple Mountain, just down the road from Hervey Bay is widely acknowledged as the ancestral home of the macadamia nut – historically (and sometimes even today) known as the “Bopple Nut”. You may see some nut vans on the side of the road as you travel throughout the region – they are always worth a stop to sample these wonderfully oily nuts that can be flavoured in some imaginative ways!

Prawns, whiting, honey, lychees and a vast variety of organic (flavoursome) local fruits and vegetables will be found and featured on local restaurant menus (and often for sale in roadside stalls). Don’t be shy to ask what is local and fresh! And best of all …. Hervey Bay locals don’t even own a collared shirt, so whilst the quality of the food, location and experiences are top notch, you don’t need to overdress to enjoy an amazing meal!

My Top Recommendations

Breakfast / Brunch

Enzos on the Beach – a shack right on the beach … amazing outlook! Best value ($12) Eggs Benedict in the world!!! … I also recommend “Eggs on the Beach” – scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, baby spinach and avocado with hollandaise sauce served with toasted sour dough. Open 7 days a week from 7am.

EAT at Dan & Stephs – Dan & Steph were the 2013 winners of My Kitchen Rules! Try the Reuben or the sausage (Dan makes his own awesome snags!). Open for breakfast and lunch.

Arkarra Tea Gardens – open for breakfast on weekends and lunch Wednesday to Sunday, the Arkarra Tea House is just a 5 minute drive out of town on the Burrum Heads Road. Indulge in the freshly cooked cakes and scones sitting under your own Balinese hut within beautifully peaceful gardens. Don’t forget the camera as there are some lovely walks around the lagoons with lots of birdlife.


Goodys on the Beach – a 10 minute drive north on the Burrum Heads Road, this is a local secret! Set on the mouth of the Beelbi Creek, Toogoom features little more than a cafe and a small restaurant (Guy Sebastian has a holiday house here). The little jetty out the front with drying sand banks and little old men fishing from beaten up tinnies is a photographers dream. Goodys is the place to be for a Sunday lunch when they also feature some cool acoustic guitar players.

Bayswater – a pub near the iconic Hervey Bay pier, the Bayswater has a great balcony with a beautiful outlook over the water and the 1km long Hervey Bay Pier. This is a pub with pub standard food, but it is consistent, great value and the view is pretty special (you can see the west side of Fraser Island in the distance). Try the Szechuan Squid or one of their lunch specials before walking it off with a 2km round trip stroll to the end of the pier and back.

Badger & Brown’s Burgerie – our friends at the amazing Coast Restaurant have opened a flash burger bar! Eat in or take away, the burgers here feature flash ingredients and flash flavours in a very casual “Happy Days” style setting close to the beach. Pick a booth and keep your eyes open for the Fonz!

Badger & Brown's Burgerie


Coast Restaurant – our number 1 pick – this place is amazing! Named as one of the top 10 restaurants in Qld, and the only restaurant north of Brisbane to be awarded a “Hat” by the Good Food Guide, Coast is a true dining experience. Their “sharing” style menu features heaps of great local produce, slow cooked meats, amazing seafood, and specialty desserts. My favourites – slow roasted lamb shoulder or the masterstock pork belly with chilly jam.

Coast Restaurant Hervey Bay

Santinis – I had guests from Rome recently that told me that this was the best Italian food they had eaten outside of Italy!! A cheap, cheerful and simple trattoria this place is always busy, so be early or make a booking. Save room for their amazing home made Gelati.

Black Dog Cafe – casual dining in a small local restaurant. Sit outside on the street and order fresh local seafood off the blackboard menu. Try the Barramundi Sunset, with barramundi, local scallops and king prawns – yum! Pop next door to the Irish pub for a Guiness for dessert.

 Registered Clubs

If you are staying in town without transportation, the local clubs are a great option, with courtesy buses, fantastic value meals, some excellent entertainment, and the usual poker machines and sports bars to try your luck.

Boat Club – the Boat Club has a fantastic bistro – huge servings, consistently good quality meals and a beautiful outlook over the Hervey Bay Marina. Their courtesy shuttle will also pick you up and drop you back to your accommodation!

RSL – the RSL features all the usual poker machines, sports bar, great bistro, courtesy shuttle as well as some incredible entertainment. Be sure to check out their quarterly free guide (Premiere) that is available from most accommodations in town for a guide to what entertainment is scheduled – you might find some amazing (and cheap) shows and bands.


Maddigans – a beachside town should always be about seafood. Maddigans does the best fish and chips in town. Grab some fish, chips, fresh oysters, scallops and salads and head to the park or beach for a picnic – perfect!

Smithy’s Pizza – great pizza with fresh ingredients, Smithy’s also does fantastic take away pasta meals as well. If you are on holidays and want a night in, Smithy’s will deliver to any accommodation in Hervey Bay. Try the Capricciosa with anchovies.

 Fun, Food AND Adventure

Hervey Bay Gourmet Adventure

Fraser Gourmet Adventure Package

This has got to be the BEST way to satisfy your hunger for great food and exciting adventure! Our newest package features …

  • 2 nights accommodation at the award winning Emeraldene Inn
  • Champagne Sunset Sail aboard Blue Dolphin
  • Exclusive and private full day tour of Fraser Island (inc sumptuous picnic lunch!)
  • 4 course dinner at the amazing Coast Restaurant (including limousine transfers)

From only $425 per person!

Check it out on our website now!

by Rob Lennon       Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

       Please stay with us in Hervey Bay   Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge   Book Online

       Email contact

Fraser Island – Aboriginal History & Legends (part 2)

Fraser Island - K'Gari - Paradise

Aboriginal life on Fraser Island

In the Butchulla people’s language, Fraser Island was known as “K’gari” (pronounced “gurri”) meaning “paradise”. Butchulla translates as “the sea people”.

Archaeological evidence suggests Aboriginal settlements existed on Fraser Island at least 5000 years ago. The Butchulla (Badtjala) people were the primary claimants of the island, and also controlled the mainland territory to Bauple Mountain, including the current locations of Maryborough and Hervey Bay. Whilst there was a permanent population on the island of around 500, this swelled to in excess of 3000 during the winter months when seafood was abundant.

The arrival of European explorers and settlers around 1840 (see my previous Blog post) had a devastating impact upon Aboriginal life on the island. Weapons, disease, hostility and government intervention forced the Butchulla people from their traditional homelands over the ensuing years, with only 250 survivors remaining by 1890. The timber industry and Anglican missionaries then arrived in force, and over the following 10 years poor treatment and hostile policies implemented by the State Government saw 94 Aborigines buried in 2 cemeteries on the west coast of Fraser.

 In 1904 the balance of the Butchulla tribe (now numbering around 100) were forcibly relocated to missions in Yarrabah near Cairns by the State Government, over 1500km from their traditional homelands. The last known Butchulla tribesman was “captured” in 1930 and deported to Cherbourg mission under police escort for no criminal offence.

On 13th February, 2008 an official apology was made to Indigenous Australians delivered by the Australian Prime Minister on behalf of Parliament and the Australian people, specifically for treatment of Indigenous Australians during the above period (1900 – 1950).

There are now only a handful of surviving descendents of the Butchulla people, some of whom once again live within the Fraser Coast region. Their history and legends are important, and efforts are being made to find and preserve important cultural sites so that this history can be shared with future generations. Proposals have recently been made to officially change the name of the island back to its traditional name of “K’gari”.

The Creation of Fraser Island (K’Gari) – a Butchulla Legend

(From stories told by direct descendent and Elder of the Butchulla people – Olga Miller)

Beiral, the great God in the sky, made all the people.  But after he made the people, Beiral realised that the people had no lands! So Beiral sent a messenger, Yendingie, to solve the problem and create lands for the people. Yendingie came down from the sky, and set to work to make the sea, and then the land. When Yendingie arrived at what is now known as Hervey Bay, he had a helper – the beautiful white spirit called Princess K’Gari.

K’Gari was a great helper, and helped Yendingie make the sea shores, the mountain ranges, the lakes and the rivers. Princess K’Gari enjoyed her work very much, and worked tirelessly to create all this natural beauty. One day Yendingie was concerned, and said to her, “K’Gari, you better rest, otherwise you will be too tired to continue our work.  There are some rocks over there in the sea. Why don’t you go and lie down and have a sleep?”

So Princess K’gari lay down on the rocks and had a long and deep sleep. When she awoke she said to Yendingie, “I think this is the most beautiful place we have ever created. Please, Yendingie, may I stay here forever?” “Oh no, K’Gari, I cannot allow that. You are a spirit, and you belong here with me!” But K’Gari pleaded with him, “Please, please Yendingie … I could still look up into the sky and see what you are doing. I would love to stay here.”

Finally Yendingie agreed. “You may stay here, but you cannot stay in spirit form. I will need to change you.” So he changed her into a beautiful island. So she wouldn’t be lonely, he then made some beautiful trees and flowers, and some lakes that were specially mirrored so that she could see into the sky. He made creeks and laughing waters that would become her voice, and birds and animals and people to keep her company. He gave these people knowledge and laws, and told them what to do, and how to procreate, so that their children and ancestors would always be there to keep K’Gari company.

And she is still there today, looking up at the sky in one of the truly most beautiful places on earth! She is very happy in, and as, “paradise”.

by Rob Lennon        Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

Please stay with us in Hervey Bay   Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge   Book Online

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Fraser Island History and Legends

European History

The history of Fraser Island is as diverse and colourful as its flora and fauna. Whilst the island has been inhabited by humans for possibly as long as 5000 years, it’s European history begins in 1770 when explorer Captain James Cook sailed past the island on the 20th May of that year.

Cook first believed the island was part of the mainland, and named it Great Sandy Peninsula. Three decades later Matthew Flinders was the first white man to set foot upon Fraser, landing on the northern point (Sandy Cape) in 1802.

Local Aborigines were sighted and reported by Cook in his logs in 1770, and Aboriginal legends also report sighting Cook’s ship sailing towards a “dangerous sand shoal”.  The Aborigines, standing in a group on the beach, shouted and waved warnings to the ship, which saw the shoal at the last moment and changed course quickly, to then disappear “into the sea” and over the horizon.

The first “official” exploration of the Island occurred 20 years later in 1822, when Captain William Edwardson was sent north by the Governor of NSW to search for a site for a new penal colony. Edwardson soon discovered that the peninsula referred to by Cook and Flinders was, in fact, an island, and renamed it Great Sandy Island. He was in the Hervey Bay / Moreton Bay region for three months, but was deterred by the “hostile natives” from exploring Fraser Island to any great degree. The new penal colony was eventually settled in Moreton Bay and formed the beginnings of what was to become Brisbane.

Perhaps the most interesting story begins on the 20th May 1836, exactly 66 years after Cook discovered “Great Sandy Peninsula”. On this day the 350 ton brig Stirling Castle sailed past the island on a voyage from Sydney to Singapore. On board was Captain James Fraser, his wife Eliza and a crew of 16. The unlucky Captain Fraser was said to have spent more time in lifeboats than onboard the vessels he commanded.  A written account suggests “Fraser was a pompous, fat old bore of about sixty, much in demand by shipowners who had managed to over-insure their vessels. He had the reputation of a man who could succeed in sailing any ship to its destruction in a cloudless sky and in total absence of reef, shoal or iceberg!”.

Sure enough, on 22nd May 1836, Captain Fraser sailed the Stirling Castle straight onto a reef in the Swains Reef group, approx 220km north of Fraser Island (now known as Eliza Reef). The Captain and crew stayed aboard the wreck until the following day, when waves breaking over the vessel threatened to break her up, and it was decided to abandon ship. Eleven crew escaped in the longboat and seven others in the pinnace, and they proceeded to sail for nine days south before landing on Lady Musgrave Island to repair their leaking boats.

After another nine days of sailing south, the crew in the pinnace (at this stage on unpleasant terms with their Captain), discovered they could sail faster than the longboat, and decided to part company with the Captain and others. The Captain disapproved vehemently, but at this stage was not well respected by his crew, and the two boats went their separate ways.

The Captain’s plan was to head to the settlement at Moreton Bay. After a few more days at sea, however, there was smoke sighted ashore, and the remaining crew became mutinous. They threatened to throw the good Captain overboard if he did not agree to put in to shore! They beached about 30km south of Sandy Cape on “Great Sandy Island” (three weeks after leaving the wreck of their ship!). “Natives” came down in crowds as they landed, and whilst at first they were held at bay by firearms, eventually exchanged food and fish for clothing.

The Captain and Second Mate set about repairing the badly leaking longboat, with the other seamen refusing to lend a hand. When the Captain considered the boat again seaworthy and was ready to head south again to Moreton Bay, the crew refused to help launch the boat and informed the Captain they would walk to Moreton Bay!

Captain Fraser, his wife Eliza and the Second Mate Baxter were left behind, and unable to launch the longboat on their own.  They set off south along the beach on foot, taking with them all the supplies they could carry.

From this point on the narrative becomes confusing, as the lone survivor, Eliza Fraser, changed and embellished her story many times over the ensuing years. It is assumed her first account is likely to be the most accurate: “The next day we met with numerous tribes of natives, who finding us unarmed, took everything from us with the exception of our clothes, beating us severely at the least resistance”.

Eliza Fraser

After walking for another 2 days “without food or water”, they came upon another tribe who stripped them naked and forced them to their camp. They were then “enslaved” to “carry wood, water, and bark, and treated with the greatest cruelty”.

Captain Fraser, not the fittest to begin with, soon became weakened and incapacitated. Unable to lift a large log he was instructed to carry, he was speared by one of the natives, the spear entering just below his shoulder blade. He died about 8 days later (approx 4th August) and was buried by the tribe. (The Second Mate also died at the hands of his captors, after being “burned and tortured” by the natives for not being able to “carry wood”.)

A few days later (according to Eliza), one of the natives (who may have been an escaped convict – David Bracewell) rowed her to the mainland in a canoe and aided her escape. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew that had parted ways upon the high seas had reached safety on Bribie Island, and a search party was launched for Captain Fraser, his wife and the rest of his crew.

After being passed through another two tribes on the mainland, Eliza was eventually rescued. Lieutenant Otter, leading the rescue party wrote : “Although only 38 years of age she looked like an old woman of 70, perfectly black and dreadfully crippled from the suffering she had undergone.”

Eliza Fraser Rescue

Initially, Eliza enjoyed much sympathy. This began to wane, however, when her accounts of the ordeal became more and more random, and increasingly embellished. After her return to England she became a minor media celebrity, and her story grew even wilder. In one account she claimed she had given birth to a child during her ordeal just after leaving the wreck – it had died and been consigned to the deep! Controversy followed when she approached the Mayor of London to request a charity be set up for her and her 3 children (not mentioning the fact she had secretly married another sea Captain in Sydney within 6 months of being rescued before heading back to England on his boat).

There is no record of when the island officially became known as “Fraser Island”, but there is no doubt that the first mentions of the island as “Fraser” were in the British press, being named after the “ordeals” of Eliza and her husband.  Eliza became a sideshow attraction in Hyde Park in London, telling ever more exciting versions of her story to anyone who would listen. She was killed in a carriage accident in Melbourne in 1858 during a subsequent visit to Australia.

Throughout it’s long history, the island has been called Fraser Island for only a brief and recent span of time. For thousands of years previous to this, the traditional landowners had their own name for the island – “K’gari”, pronounced “Gurri” in the Butchulla people’s language. There is currently debate calling for the name of the island to be changed back to it’s original and traditional name – K’gari. The Aboriginal stories and legends about the creation of the island are beautiful and timeless, and I will share these in part two of this blog post.

Everyone should visit Fraser Island at least once, preferably by choice and not by shipwreck!! If you are travelling to Hervey Bay, or would like to visit Fraser Island, we would love to have you stay with us at the Emeraldene Inn. We have some awesome packages for tours, accommodation and self-drive to visit Fraser Island.

Acknowledgement : For a full history of Fraser Island, Fred William’s “Princess K’Gari’s Fraser Island” is the best book I have read!

Copyright: no portion, in whole or part should be reproduced from this article without the express permission of the author and without being properly acknowledged. (c)

by Rob Lennon    Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

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Hervey Bay Whale Watching 2013

Hervey Bay - Whale Watching Capital of the World

Hervey Bay is recognised as one of the best destinations in the world to watch, experience and interact with whales. Often called the “Whale Watch Capital of the World”, several geographical and physical conditions align to present optimal conditions for humans and whales to interact.

Platypus Bay is bounded by Fraser Island and the mainland creating almost 450 square miles of relatively shallow and mostly calm waters for the whales and their newborn calves to stop and play. These protected waters in the lee of Fraser Island offer the whales a natural sanctuary to pause on their way back to Antarctica in order to teach, feed and prepare their young.

Whales migrate north in the winter to give birth (and then mate), as their young are born without the insulating blubber that protects them from the frigid waters of the Antarctic. They travel north until they encounter water warm enough for the birth of their calves (somewhere close to the Whitsunday Islands).  Gestation period for a whale is a perfect 11 – 12 months, allowing them to birth and then mate in the warmer northern waters. They then bring their newborn young into the sheltered waters off Hervey Bay in order to feed them and build their strength for the long journey back to their feeding grounds in Antarctica.

Why Whale Watching in Hervey Bay?

Up Close - Whale Watching Hervey Bay

There are many whale watch tours on offer on the east coast of Australia, however in all destinations other than Hervey Bay the whales are in transit – they are on a mission heading north (to give birth and mate) or south (to get home to feed). They do not stop, pause or rest anywhere else on the east coast other than Hervey Bay, and as a result the whale “watching” and “sightings” in other destinations are often only a series of misty “blows”, surface humps and dorsal fins.

The prevailing south-easterly to north-easterly winds put the whale watching grounds of Platypus Bay in the lee of Fraser Island, offering comfortable and calm waters for visitors to be amazed by up-close encounters with humpback and sometimes minke whales.

Whales are naturally inquisitive creatures, and the newborn young are fascinated by boats and the attention of viewing “humans”. Off Hervey Bay it is just as much “people watching” by the whales as “whale watching” by the people!

While the whales are pausing to rest, holiday and feed their young they put on a great show for visitors! Lunging, breaching, tail slapping and spy hopping are regular experiences on EVERY cruise in Hervey Bay (rather than a treat for other destinations along the coast). The playful young trying out their new aerial skills coupled with the huge male bulls trying to impress the females in their competition for mating partners provides amazing action-packed experiences for whale watchers, often only metres from the boats.

The whale watch vessels travel out into the Bay until they encounter whales and then turn off their engines. The calm waters mean the boats can sit comfortably while the whales come over and often spend hours playfully circling and engaging with their newfound friends. Guests have regularly been “snotted on”, as whales blow so close to the boat you can experience that “special” connection that cannot be had anywhere else but Hervey Bay!

Another unique Hervey Bay experience is whale karaoke! The boats all have hydrophones that they can drop into the water to listen to the whales sing, which is an awesome experience! (Only the males sing, and they only sing in warm shallow waters. It is thought this is a mating ritual.)

When to come and what trips are best?

Hervey Bay - The BEST Whale Watching Experience

The Hervey Bay Whale Watching season runs from late July to the end of October. The boats begin ¾ day “whale search” trips from July 20th, however the whales can be a long way up the top of the Bay (up to 40 miles) in the early days, and whale sightings are not “guaranteed” until 1st August. The absolute best time for the most whales and the best action is from the middle of August to the end of September.

There are half day (morning or afternoon) trips that run for 4 hours, ¾ day trips (6 hours) and full day trips (8 hours) on offer, with prices ranging from $110 – $125 for adults, and $300 – $370 for a family of 4. For the half day trips, as far as action is concerned there is not really a preference for morning or afternoons, however it is often calmer in the mornings, particularly in October.

For a half day trip WhaleSong offers a great small group experience, with a meal included in the ticket price (breakfast or lunch, $120 / adult). The boat is licensed to carry 100 passengers but limits this to 60 to ensure optimal viewing for all. WhaleSong launched a new purpose built vessel in 2012. (Wheelchair and pram accessible)

Spirit of Hervey Bay also offers a half day experience and is the biggest boat in the fleet. Licensed to carry 300, the Spirit has 3 viewing decks and underwater viewing windows. If you are concerned with motion or sea sickness, Spirit is the most stable of the vessels. Morning or afternoon tea is included in the ticket price ($110 / adult).

QuickCat rounds out the recommended half day fleet with a wide bodied power catamaran that carries up to 95 passengers. Quickcat has underwater viewing, includes morning or afternoon tea,  and is wheelchair and pram accessible. As the morning cruise travels via Kingfisher Resort on Fraser, I would recommend the afternoon trip if travelling with QuickCat. ($115 / adult)

Freedom III offers a fantastic ¾ day experience with morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea included in the ticket price ($125 / adult). This 6 hour cruise departs at 9:30am and returns at approx 3:30pm, allowing a casual start to the day and a sleep-in for those that relish a rest while on holidays!! Freedom is a small group trip (45 passengers) on a spacious 58ft power catamaran with plenty of comfortable viewing space.

For those that love the water and want as much time as possible with the whales Blue Dolphin offers a magnificent full day and small group experience (24 passengers). Blue Dolphin is the only sailing catamaran in the fleet and departs at 7:30am retuning at approx 3:30 – 4:00pm. Meals and refreshments are included in the ticket price ($120 / adult).

All trips offer complimentary transfers from your accommodation and all boats have licensed bars on board.

Whale Watching, Fraser Island and Accommodation Packages

Whale Watching Hervey Bay Style

We have some great accommodation and tour packages available for the 2013 Whale Watching Season. If you haven’t visited Fraser Island previously, you should definitely consider adding a full day trip to your plans for another totally different natural experience.

Check out the following great packages for this season …

2 Nights Accommodation plus Whale Watching (for 2 adults) –  $440

2 Nights Accommodation plus Whale Watching plus Full Day Fraser Island Tour (for 2 adults) – $700

Add a 3rd nights accommodation for only $70!!

Check out our Hervey Bay Whale Watching and Accommodation Packages on our website for full details and pricing.

Hervey Bay is without doubt the Whale Watching Capital of the World, and being able to experience these magnificent creatures so close and in such a personal manner is definitely a bucket-list experience you will NEVER forget!

by Rob Lennon       Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

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Things to do in Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is best known for its access to Fraser Island, Lady Elliot Island (Great Barrier Reef), and for its renowned status as the “Whale Watching Capital of the World”. There is also a lot to recommend Hervey Bay as a destination in itself, with so much to see and do in Hervey Bay and it’s surrounding villages.  Whether you are an international visitor on an east coast adventure, or an “Aussie local” looking for a great beachside holiday, you can’t go wrong planning an extra couple of days in Hervey Bay to unwind, relax, and enjoy the serenity of this beautiful coastal town.

Hervey Bay Pier

Top 10 Hervey Bay Things to Do

Urangan Pier

            Hervey Bay’s iconic pier was built in 1913 to take sugar, coal and timber from Maryborough and surrounds. It was originally 1107m in length prior to being decommissioned as a commercial pier in 1985 and shortened to a still impressive 870m. The pier is a lovely walk at any time of day, with a myriad of fisherman and “colourful characters” to entertain you on the way. Enjoy the great views of the western side of Fraser Island, some great photo opportunities at sunset, or hire some fishing gear and throw in a line!


            The 14km bike and walking track that extends the length of the Esplanade and runs along the beach / foreshore is great for a walk, jog or even better – hire some bikes (shop diagonally opposite the pier or from Aquavue Cafe half-way along the Esplanade). There are community BBQs in the parks to enjoy a day on the beach or a picnic in the park!

Swimming / Beaches

            Hervey Bay sits in the lee of Fraser Island, and hence has a calm and protected 12km long north-facing beach. The stinger-free waters are safe for swimming all year round, with an average water temperature between 21 and 26 degrees – often warmer in than out!! To enjoy miles of almost deserted beach, head 10 minutes out of town up the Burrum Heads Road to Dundowran Beach – take the camera for some awesome sunset pics!

Wetside Water Park

            The Water Park is fantastic for families with kids of all ages. Best of all – its free!!! For the slightly older kids there is the Flipside BoardRider Wave Machine right next door which has a small charge per ride ($5). Don’t miss the laser light show at sunset on Friday and Saturday nights (summer months).


            With over 1000km2 of protected waters in Platypus Bay, the Fraser Coast offers some of the best and varied fishing experiences of any destination in Australia! Estuary, beach, reef, jetty, pier, fly (fresh and saltwater) and game fishing is on offer all year round. When the whales are here in August – October, the tailor are running off Fraser Island, offering some exciting beach fishing,  and then shortly after in the early summer, black marlin are plentiful around the top of the island. For the weekend fisherman, try the end of the pier, the rock wall at the marina, or the end of the jetty at Toogum. Check out the Fraser Coast Fishing Trails for all the info you need or ask us about organised fishing trips / tours. We have some of the best and well known fishing guides in Australia at your disposal!

On the Water

            Outside of whale watching season there are lots of opportunities to get out on the water. Try a morning dolphin watching cruise (you might also see dugongs!), a Sunday Lunch cruise, a Remote Fraser Island trip up the rarely visited west coast of Fraser, or a relaxing sunset cruise.

            The calm waters along the foreshore are also perfect for kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing (catamarans) and kitesurfing. Hire equipment is available from Enzos and Aquavue on the beach side of the Esplanade.

Blue Dolphin - Dolphin Watching and Sunset Cruises

Eating / Drinking

            Hervey Bay has some amazing and varied dining experiences, including one of the top 10 restaurants in all of Queensland – Coast (a must do experience!). I also recommend the Bayswater (upmarket pub opposite the pier), Santinis (Italian), Black Dog Cafe (great small local restaurant), and Enzos On The Beach for breakfast. On Saturday nights the seafood buffet at Kingfisher Resort is great value – $79 per person includes a return jet-cat transfer from Urangan Marina. Don’t forget to try the famous Hervey Bay Scallops!

Discovery Sphere ($7.50)

            This amazing interactive discovery centre opened in late 2012 and is an excellent opportunity for visitors of all ages to learn about the great natural wonders of our region. Whales, turtles, Fraser Island, indigenous legends and history and so much more. There is a stunning theatre experience and hands-on animal experiences and nature talks during school holidays. – definitely worth an hour or 2.

Historical Museum ($7)

            Step back in time and see what growing up in regional Australia in the “good old days” was really like! This hidden gem features volunteers dressed in period costumes, over 21 buildings with displays and lots of live demonstrations including rope making, blacksmithing, corn shelling, wood turning etc. Open Friday, Sat, Sun and public and school holidays. You should allow at least 2 hours.

Birdwatching / Gardens / Photography

            There are over 290 species of birds in the Fraser Coast region and over 350 on Fraser Island – a birdwatchers paradise! Check out the Botanic Gardens, Arkarra Lagoons and Dundowran Beach. Whilst at the Botanic Gardens it is worth a visit to the Orchid House which has over 20,000 orchids! You should also check out the traditional Chinese Garden, built with co-operation from our Chinese sister city Leshan. For the photographer, in addition to these locations, it is worth a drive out to Toogum which sits at the mouth of the Beelbi Creek. A little pub / restaurant (Goodeys) is a great place on a Sunday afternoon with live music and a stunning outlook.

Of course, when planning your Hervey Bay getaway, don’t forget to stay at the best and most awarded Hervey Bay Accommodation – the Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge. We would love to have you stay with us, and we are always happy to assist in your holiday planning.

by Rob Lennon                Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

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Fraser Island 4wd Self Drive

Fraser Island 4x4(Updated 2019) Fraser Island is an amazing World Heritage listed destination, and a “must-see” on any Australian east coast itinerary. At 125km long and 25km wide, the island is the biggest  sand island in the world, with almost the entire 1840km2 a protected National Park.

The island is a nature lovers wonderland, with pristine freshwater lakes “perched” atop silicone white sand dunes, a rainforest growing entirely from sand, a 75 mile beach rated as one of the top 10 in the world by visitors, over 350 species of birds, and over 850 species of native plants.

With no sealed roads, the inland sand tracks that weave their way across the island, and the eastern beach “highway” can only be traversed by 4wd vehicles. For those with an adventurous spirit, a love of the outdoors, and a penchant for offroading, Fraser Island is a thrilling 4wd experience.

Fraser Island Self-Drive vs Fraser Island Tour

You will find a lot more detail in one of my previous blog posts, however my advice is usually that if you have the opportunity, it is best to do a guided tour first, then a self-drive adventure on your next visit to Fraser Island. There is so much history, geology and biology to learn about the island, and you will miss this by exploring the island on your own. A day tour to familiarise yourself with the conditions, and to understand all the things that make the island special, will enhance your self-drive experience on a future trip.

If you are considering a self drive, I recommend a minimum of 2 days, but preferably 3 days / 2 nights or more to allow you time to adjust to the regularly challenging driving conditions, and to give time to immerse yourself in the beauty of the island.

Planning a Fraser Island 4wd Self Drive Trip

Fraser Island Self DriveIf you are planning to hire a 4wd vehicle, be aware that you are not permitted to take general hire vehicles on the island. The major rental car companies (Hertz, Europcar etc) have specific clauses in their rental agreements prohibiting their vehicles from driving on Fraser Island. You will need to hire a vehicle from a local hire car company that has 4wd vehicles specifically equipped and set up for driving on Fraser Island. These hire companies in Hervey Bay and Rainbow Beach are experienced and knowledgeable about the Island and its driving conditions, and have contingencies to assist if there are problems with the vehicle, if you get “stuck” or if you have an accident. If you hire a 4wd from Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach, it will generally include all necessary permits and barge crossing fees. You will also get a minimum 1 hour briefing / instruction with a suggested itinerary and a lot of local advice.

If you plan to take your own 4wd to the island you should only do so if it is a genuine high clearance 4wd designed for offroad use. As a rule, if you can’t lock the hubs then your “all wheel drive” city 4wd will not be adequate for handling the extremely challenging conditions on the island. (eg I would NOT take a Rav 4 or Kluger on the island).

The BEST resource when planning your trip is the National Parks website, where you will find all the information you will need for your Fraser Island trip. I will, however, summarise the important information and links below.

Fraser Island Permits

All vehicles accessing the island must have (and display) a vehicle access permit (approx $42). Anyone planning to camp on the island must also have camping permits (approx $5.45 per person per day). Permits can be purchased online from National Parks.

Fraser Island Barges

Access to the island is via Inskip Point (15 mins from Rainbow Beach – barge trip takes 10 minutes) or River Heads (20 minutes from Hervey Bay – trip takes 40 minutes) – bookings are recommended, and essential during school holidays (approx $175 return / vehicle : $200 during peak season). Barge tickets and island permits can also be purchased directly from the Kingfisher kiosk which is located near the barge departure point at River Heads. Alternatively see the Fraser Island Barges website for times and prices.

What to Take

Anyone planning a self-drive trip to Fraser Island should remember it is a remote location, with often very challenging conditions. The island is huge, and whilst there is frequent traffic on most routes during peak periods, if you get into difficulty in remote areas it is a long way to get help. Mobile phone coverage is very limited. Visitors should always do plenty of research prior to arriving, and anyone going to the island should have adequate travel, vehicle and medical insurance.

As a minimum you should carry – tyre pressure gauge and pump, snatch strap, shovel, maps, first aid kit, extra drinking water, sufficient fuel , insect repellent, sun screen, tide times. Here is a link to the best Fraser Island Map for planning and driving on the island. Ensure you check the weather forecast thoroughly before departing.

Fraser Island Map


High clearance 4wd vehicles are essential – lock hubs and deflate tyre pressure to the minimum of your manufactures recommended specifications for driving on soft sand.

Beware beach hazards – washouts, creeks, high tides (only drive 2 hours either side of low tide on the eastern beach).

Obey speed limits and road rules – Queensland road rules apply on all beaches and tracks including wearing seat belts at all times! There have been numerous fatalities on the island and a major contributing factor is no seatbelt!

Minimise your impact! Do not park on dunes. Take all rubbish and everything you brought onto the island, off the island.

Some great resources below:

Driving on sand safety guide

Survive your drive on Fraser Island

Be Dingo Safe – AND considerate of wildlife – it was their island before we came, so respect their freedom. These are wild animals – Dingos of Fraser Island Safety Guide

Fraser Island Camping

Once on the island you have several options for camping – formal camp areas (Central Station, Dundubara, Waddy Point, Lake Boomajin), commercial campgrounds (Dilli Village, Cathedral Beach) , informal beach camping zones, and walkers camps (Lake McKenzie – no vehicles). The formal campgrounds are mostly within the interior of the island and have bathroom amenities, BBQs and dingo fences. These campsites can be booked via the National Parks permit link (above). For the adventurous, there is nothing better than picking a camp spot just off the beach, and relishing the solitude, peace and starlight.

Be aware that there are no open fires permitted on the island. In the formal camp grounds there are communal fire pits where open fires can be shared.

Limited fuel, food, and facilities can be found at small townships : Eurong, Kingfisher, Happy Valley, Orchid Beach, Cathedral Beach, and Dilli Village.

Must See Fraser Island Favourites

My suggested must-sees – Central Station, Pile Valley, Eli Creek, Lake Allom, Lake Birrabeen, Indian Head, Champagne Pools, Lake McKenzie, Lake Wabby.

Fraser Island 4wd Self-Drive Packages

If all this planning, permits, equipment and information seems overwhelming, then let us do all that for you! We have some awesome Fraser Island 4wd Self-Drive Packages that include everything you need – Landcruiser 4wd, instruction and safety briefing, camping equipment (or accommodation on the island), barge transfers, all permits, insurance, and a night before and night after in Hervey Bay at the Emeraldene Inn.

For example, 2 nights of Hervey Bay accommodation at the Emeraldene Inn (nights 1 and 3), plus 2 days / 1 night on Fraser Island (including car hire, insurance, barge transfers, all permits and fees, all camping equipment) – only $465 per person for 2 passengers (or $280pp for 4).

If camping isn’t your thing, we organise accommodation at Eurong Beach Resort for your time on the island. We have packages from 1 to 5 nights on the island.

As experienced local operators with some great local hire and tour operator partnerships, we are happy to assist anyone planning to visit the region. Please feel free to contact me directly with anything we can help with.

by Rob Lennon       Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

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On The Way to Hervey Bay (from Brisbane)

I always suggest that the best way to get to Hervey Bay is to drive. (See previous post here.) Hervey Bay is an easy 3 ¼ hour drive (290km) from Brisbane, with a LOT of great stop-offs and things to see and do on the way, making it a very rewarding journey.

From the north, it is 125km / 1 ½ hours from Bundaberg, or 425km / 5 hours from Yeppoon, which is half way to the Whitsundays / Airlie Beach. (Yeppoon is a MUCH better place to stay than Rockhampton if you are doing the drive from Airlie Beach to Hervey Bay – trust me! I will cover the north-bound journey in a future blog post.)

Once in Hervey Bay, having a vehicle is a decided advantage, as town is much bigger than most anticipate – 16km from one end to the other. With no real CBD or centre of town, Hervey Bay is essentially 5 suburbs or villages that have joined together over time, and there are lots of pockets of shops and facilities scattered everywhere. It is nice to have a vehicle to explore town and the surrounding region.

From Brisbane to Hervey Bay

If you can allow yourself a full day (or even 2) for your journey north, there is a lot to see and do on the way. Whilst you would find it a challenge to do all my suggestions in a day, you might be able to cover most of this in 2! (Let me know how you go!!!)

Glasshouse Mountains

The Glasshouse Mountains Lookout is less than 10km from Australia Zoo (to the south) and offers a magnificent view of the many volcanic plugs that make up the Glasshouse Mountains. If you are really keen, leave Brisbane VERY early and get to the lookout for sunrise – a photographers dream!! There are 8 great walking tracks within the Glasshouse National Park, ranging from 25 minutes to 5 hours.

Australia Zoo (1hr from Brisbane)

Australia Zoo is an awesome experience, and in my opinion MUCH better than Taronga Zoo in Sydney. For those that don’t know, this is Steve Irwin’s Zoo (the crocodile hunter – who was tragically killed by a stingray a few years ago). You really need to allow 3 – 4 hrs minimum to get around the zoo, and you MUST see the Wildlife Warriors Show at 12pm in the crocoseum.

Heading north from the zoo you have a choice to go to the mountains or the coast (or just bypass both and continue up the highway!).

Mountains – Montville and Maleny (25km north-west from Zoo)

Montville and Maleny are 2 quaint little villages perched on the top of the Blackall Ranges. With magnificent views over the Sunshine Coast, these little villages are full of art galleries, art and craft shops, gift shops, quirky cafes and restaurants, and some awesome cheese factories. You can easily spend at least 2 hours here visiting the galleries and sampling some of the locally made cheeses and pate’s.

Coast – Mooloolaba, Coolum, Noosa (35 – 75km north-east from Zoo)

The coast drive up the Sunshine Coast beaches is fantastic. Underwater World is an awesome aquarium experience, definitely worth a visit in Mooloolaba. Whilst you are there, the Surf Club at Mooloolaba is one of my favourite places to eat on the Sunshine Coast – an awesome location and outlook right on the beach!Mooloolaba Surf Club

Heading north you will come to Coolum Beach, a quiet and non-touristy beach which is my favourite place to swim – uncrowded and clean. The surf club at Coolum is also a great spot for lunch, with a beautiful view of the ocean from the top deck (which is in the shade in the afternoons – so take a jacket!).

Noosa is the most famous of the Sunshine Coast villages, and is pretty “touristy”. In my opinion, the best part of Noosa is the National Park. As you come into Noosa, rather than turning left into Hastings Street, turn right and head out to the National Park (2 minutes). The coast walk is delightful, with some great photographic opportunities. There are also koalas in the wild in the park – ask at the info booth near the car park if anyone has seen a koala on any of the tracks recently.

Eumundi MarketsEumundi Markets

If you are travelling on a Wednesday or Saturday you MUST stop off and visit the famous Eumundi Art and Craft markets. Eumundi is literally a stones throw off the highway heading north, so is a 2 minute sidetrip (but allow 1hr to visit the markets). Hundreds of art and craft stalls scattered amongst the trees – food, fruit, teas, coffees, pastries, cheeses etc as well!

Rainbow Beach

When you get to Gympie you are exactly 1 ½ hours from Hervey Bay. You can continue up the Bruce Highway, or take a more pleasant and scenic journey through the pine forests on the Tin Can Bay / Rainbow Beach Road.

Rainbow Beach is a 30km (1/2 hour each way) detour in to the coast, and is a beautiful place to visit. Thousands of years ago Rainbow Beach was an extension of Fraser Island, so the topography / geography is similar.

As you come into town keep an eye open for the little street sign on the right and drive up to the Carlo Sand Blow. A sand blow is a massive moving sand dune, and the walk out to the Carlo Sand Blow is an easy 10 minute walk rewarded by fantastic views over the Wide Bay Bar and ocean on one side, and the Glasshouse Mountains on the other (fantastic at sunset).Carlo Sand Blow

Drive up to Inskip Point where the barges take vehicles across to Fraser, and before you leave town have lunch at the little surf club. It is about 1 ½ hours from Rainbow Beach to Hervey Bay.

LOTS to see and do on the way, and certainly worth hiring a car and slotting an extra day into the itinerary for the journey from Brisbane to Hervey Bay.

by Rob Lennon                  Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay

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