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.
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 (email@example.com) if I can help with any questions or tour planning advice.
By Rob Lennon Emeraldene Inn & Eco-Lodge, Hervey Bay