Sydney To Fraser Island
So you want to head to Australia? This rad country/continent that was once considered too far for most is now on the top of many travel lists. Stay tuned for an Australia guide... but for now, enjoy a little taste of the east coast and check out our suggestions for Sydney to Fraser Island.
This road trip is one of many available in Australia, but the stops along the way are some of the most well known world wide. Think Gold Coast (Surfer's Paradise), Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Sydney of course, and your final destination, Fraser Island. The largest entirely sand island in the world.
The whole trip should take about 2 weeks return if you really want some relaxation time. You should also get yourself a 4x4 rig and tell several friends to do the same. Find someone to leave pets with since most of the national parks on the way don't allow dogs.
TIP: The 4x4 rig is a must for Fraser Island and several other spots along the way. There is a large amount of beach driving and off-roading that would definitely strand the less mighty 2 wheel drive (at least as far as our trip recommendations are concerned).
Coffs Harbour is a good first stopping point. You've covered a lot of ground and there are plenty of prime camping spots in this area. Nambucca Heads to the south and Red Rocks to the north are a couple of our favourites. Stop by the big banana in Coffs Harbour, snap some pics, grab some lunch and make your way north again towards Gold Coast.
Byron Bay is about half way on this leg and one of the more unique towns down under. Its counterculture feel and beautiful beaches are well worth a stop here for lunch, to browse some of the unique shops, and if you're lucky you'll get a glimpse of the famous Chris Hemsworth. The Hollywood star has made Byron Bay his home after hitting it big enough in LA to get jobs from wherever he wants.
The Miami of Australia, The Hollywood of Queensland, and a the mecca for all things theme park in Australia, Gold Coast is a resort city pure and simple. People come from all over to play here and you'd do well to spend at least one night camping in a holiday park IN the city. While there are plenty of activities to keep you busy in the hinterland, we think you'll see plenty of bush on the rest of the trip so this time, grab your Lazy Rhino and head to the beach instead.
Gold coast beaches are more similar to California's in the sense that the coastline is one long strip of sand without all the headlands. That being said, there are plenty of different breaks for all the surfers reading this. Easily the most touristy spot would be Surfer's Paradise which sits conveniently right at the end of Cavill Ave. Cavill Ave for those who don't know is where the Gold Coast Nightlife lives along with posh restaurants, high rise hotels, and quirky shops that might remind you of Vegas more than Miami.
Since this trip is primarily aimed at the great outdoors, we're gonna say to spend only a couple of hours in Brizzy. The CBD and south bank provide a great distraction for that time before you head up to Bribie Island.
One of my highlights for the trip was in fact Bribie Island. I saw more wildlife here than anywhere else. That includes, bush turkeys, snakes, birds, and roos that will hop right into your camp. Fires are allowed and many of the camping spots are right on the beautiful white sand beaches.
TIP: We don't particularly recommend swimming here or at Fraser as there are considerable shark populations in the area.
As mentioned above, Fraser is the largest sand island in the world, is entirely covered by rainforest, has the purest population of Dingos left in 'Straya, and the northern tip is the only place you can watch the sunSET on the east coast of the country (it's far enough from the mainland that you get a clear horizon).
TIP: You'll want AT LEAST 4 days here. Also, to get on the island, you'll need to pay ~$150 to take a barge over from Hervey Bay or the south tip at Inskip and pay park entry fees.
There are camping spots ALL over the island and even a resort where you can stay without a 4x4. Once you leave the resort though, you'll definitely need the right vehicle for the trails. Reservations are also essential as camping spots fill up quickly.
Grab a map and go wherever life takes you, but be aware that the east coast is generally more accessible than the side facing the Great Sandy Straight. The west side is also closest to two of the most well known attractions... the Maheno Wreck, and Lake McKenzie.
The Maheno Wreck is worth seeing but in my opinion, the two best sites to see are Lake McKenzie with it's beautiful blue water and Eli Creek on a warm day. The creek is near the Maheno Wreck and perfect for some tubing as you float down the refreshing lazy river while enjoying a tinnie of VB or full strength Great Northern that you can only get in Queensland!
Words wouldn't do Lake McKenzie justice. The popular swimming hole is FRESHWATER and clear as glass. Bring a paddle board to explore the surface where you can see all the way to the bottom in most spots.
For camping, the only spot that needs mentioning is Sandy Cape. This is the beach we mentioned earlier for the sunset. The beauty of this one is that the site is only accessible at low-tide. That means, you guessed it... shenanigans! We won't tell you what you can or can't do because nobody else would be able to either, but you'll have your own private campsite until the tide goes back out.
For the return trip, maybe check out some of the camping spots you missed on the way up (such as around Coffs Harbour), and most importantly, scope out Rainbow Beach and Noosa to see what the Sunshine Coast is really all about. We also suggest spending a day before or after Fraser in Hervey Bay to make the most of your time on the island and get the ferry at the best times.
If you have any questions or comments, sound off below. Otherwise, happy trails!