Which Fraser Island 1 Day Tour ?


Fraser Island Tours

As discussed in a previous blog post, Fraser Island is a BIG island, being nearly 125km long and 25km wide. There are no roads on the island, just sand tracks, which can be quite difficult to traverse during periods of extended dry conditions. As such, seeing the island in a single day is a challenge, but if this is the only time you have, then it is still an incredible experience.

Tours from Hervey Bay vs Rainbow Beach / Brisbane / Noosa

As can be seen on the accompanying map, most of the good stuff to see is in the middle third of the island. The tours that depart from Hervey Bay cross from the mainland at River Heads (about 20 minutes south of Hervey Bay), and land right at Wanggoolba Creek on the western side of Fraser Island. You have immediate access to the middle of the island, and you are only minutes away from Lake McKenzie, Pile Valley and Central Station.

If you depart from other destinations south, you will travel to the island from Inskip Point, west of Rainbow Beach, and then face a journey either up the eastern beach or on a rough track inside the island (depending on the tides). Tours from Noosa or Brisbane make for a VERY long day, as you face a 3 ½ hour transit from Brisbane before you even get to the island, or 2 hours from Noosa.

Most of the Day Tours that depart from Brisbane or Noosa do not include the northern sites of Eli Creek, the Maheno Shipwreck or the Pinnacles Coloured Sands. Departures from Hervey Bay include 8 hours on the island vs only 3 hours for some trips from Brisbane.

Maheno Shipwreck Fraser Island

Which Day Tour?

For departures from Hervey Bay ALL 1 day tours visit the same sites on the island – Wanggoolba Creek, Pile Valley, Central Station, Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek, Maheno Shipwreck and Pinnacles Coloured Sands. (On the 2 day tours you also get to explore Lake Wabby [my favourite lake] and the top of the island – Indian Head & Champagne pools) ALL tours depart the mainland on the 8:30am barge from River Heads and return on the 5:00pm barge from Wanggoolba Creek.

The primary difference between the tours on offer is group size (and meal options). Obviously the smaller the group size, the more expensive the tour. During very busy periods (Xmas, Easter and school holidays) it is a definite advantage to be in a smaller group tour.

The 3 day tours that I recommend are the Fraser Explorer Day Tour (40 passengers – $175pp peak, $155 low season), Fraser Explorer Premium Tour (20 passengers – $199pp), and the Fraser Experience Hummer Tour (4 passengers – $245pp). The Explorer Day Tour includes a buffet lunch at Eurong Resort, the Premium Tour includes an ala carte lunch at Eurong Resort which includes beer and wine, and the Hummer Tour includes a picnic lunch with beer and wine, and a special afternoon champagne and chocolate treat! All trips have morning or afternoon tea.

There are a couple of other operators in Hervey Bay that offer other small group tours. These tours have either 7 or 8 passengers (plus driver) in a Landcruiser. For me personally, I wouldn’t find it appealing to be squeezed in a landcruiser amongst 8 of my closest friends and family for a full day of hot and bumpy driving, let alone a number of complete strangers, so I’m not a big fan of these options – but if you like to make friends on tour, then the option is there!

All these tours offer free transfers from Hervey Bay accommodations and from the Emeraldene Inn.

There is further information about these tours and itineraries on our website, and lots of Fraser Island Tour packages worth checking out. Drop me an email (relax@emeraldene.com.au) if I can help with any questions or tour planning advice.

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

Fraser Island Tour or Self-Drive?


Fraser Island is a World Heritage listed destination for a justifiable reason – it is a magical reflection of nature at its best! How to experience all the island has to offer in the best way possible, is the real challenge for a visitor to the region with a limited time and expense budget. With this in mind, it is first worth explaining why Fraser Island is unique, and why it is a MUST visit destination on your east coast excursion.

Fraser Island Info & Facts

Fraser Island is located off the southern Queensland coast, and is the largest sand island in the world. The island is 125km long and 25km wide, and other than a few small urban settlements, almost the entire 1840km2 landmass is a protected National Park.

The sand, which has been accumulating for over 750,000 years, is almost 98% pure silicon quartz, and is as soft and pure as talcum powder. There are over 36 sandblows on the island, which are huge parabolic dunes which constantly move and change under the influence of prevailing winds. The eastern “75 mile” beach is known as the “beach highway” and doubles as a landing strip for small planes and a roadway for vehicles.

Fraser Island is the only place on Earth where a rainforest grows entirely out of sand. In Pile Valley there are 1000 year old satinay trees, as well as scribbly gums, red gums, piccabeen palms, pandanus and brush box. More than 850 species of plants thrive on the island, growing entirely from sand!

Fraser Island has over 100 freshwater lakes, including 40 perched lakes – some of the cleanest lakes in the world! The fresh water in the perched lakes, sitting on top of compact sand and vegetable matter, is so pure and soft, that you truly experience a sense of weightlessness as you float above almost pure white silica sand. Lake McKenzie is the most famous lake and is a photographer’s dream.

For the bird watchers there are over 350 species of bird on the island. There are over 74 species of reptiles and of course there is also the famous Fraser Island dingo – one of the last pure bred dingo species in the world.

Fraser Island Self-Drive or Fraser Island Tour?

Fraser Island is MUCH bigger than most people anticipate. There are no sealed roads on the island – they are all sand tracks. During long dry periods these tracks can get VERY rough and dug up by the constant daily traffic and tour buses. It can be very challenging crossing from the west coast to the east coast of the island if you are not experienced in driving offroad and in sand.

If you are considering a self-drive trip (and you have not been to the island before), you should plan a minimum of 2 days (preferably more). To try to “see” the island in a day when driving in unfamiliar and challenging conditions is inviting trouble. I recommend 3 days / 2 nights if you want to self-drive and get a full and meaningful experience of the island.

The other advantage of a tour is that there is SO much fascinating and interesting information about the flora, fauna, European and Indigenous history, and geology and biology of the island. You can only get this from an experienced guide. You simply miss out on 50% of the experience if you wander around the island yourself with a guide book.

My recommendation is to do a guided tour (either 1 day or 2 day) the first time you visit the island, and then when you come back embark on your own self-drive adventure.

Fraser Island Tours – 1 Day or 2 Day ?

There are numerous options for guided tours to Fraser Island (and I will dissect the different Fraser Island tours in another blog post). As discussed, Fraser Island is BIG, and there is a lot to see, so trying to do it in a day is a real rush. You can get a taste of the island in a day, but if you want to spend time enjoying the beauty of the different sites on the island I really recommend you take the time to do a 2 day tour.

The 1 day tours (from Hervey Bay) only go as far north as the coloured sands, just above the Maheno Shipwreck, whilst on the 2 day tours you also get to experience Indian Head and the Champagne Pools, and obviously get to spend aa lot more time at all of the stops.

We have lots of great Fraser Island packages (both self-drive and guided) on our website. Check them out and drop me an email (relax@emeraldene.com.au) if I can help with planning and advice.

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