Panorama of the Maheno shipwreck on Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia
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Can you Drive to Fraser Island?

By Dianne Titos | Updated on 5 December 2022

Fraser Island is situated just off the coast of Queensland and is world-renowned for its golden beaches, ancient rainforests and diversity of flora and fauna. The largest sand island in the world, this World Heritage Site is a bucket-list destination that is easily accessible from Australia.

It is not possible to drive to Fraser Island from mainland Australia. You can drive on Fraser Island by taking a ferry from River Heads to Wanggoolba Creek or Kingfisher Bay Resort, or by taking a barge from Inskip Point, Rainbow Beach to Hook Point.

To explore this island's natural beauty, you'll need to drive the right kind of vehicle. Read on to learn the best travel options for getting to the island, and tips for how to make the most of your trip.

Can you drive to Fraser Island?

Fraser Island is situated off the southeastern coast of Queensland, about 250 km north of the province's capital Brisbane. It is separated from the mainland by the Great Sandy Strait, a network of shallow sand flats.

You can drive and take your car on the ferry or barge across to Fraser Island, though it needs to be a four-wheel-drive vehicle and must have an official permit. On the island itself, there are no real road systems, so you can drive around at your own pace to explore every inch of the untouched natural wilderness.

Aerial view of Wanggoolba creek on Fraser Island, Australia
Head across on the ferry to Fraser Island and start your adventure off at Wanggoolba Creek.
Oliver Biallawons/Shutterstock.com

The boat trip offers stunning views of both coastlines and of the clear turquoise seas. There are two car ferries operating from River Heads that go several times per day, one to Wanggoolba Creek and one to Kingfisher Bay Resort. There is also a barge that accepts cars travelling between Inskip Point to Hook Point in the southernmost point of Fraser Island.

You can also take a flight to Fraser Island through charter operators from Hervey Bay, Sunshine Coast, and Brisbane, but we'd recommend that you either take a car or hire a vehicle on the island to give you more freedom to explore.

How to drive to Fraser Island from mainland Australia

The main ways to reach Fraser Island from mainland Australia
Departure PortArrival PortModeDistanceCrossing Time
Inskip PointHook PointBarge1 km10 minutes
River HeadsWanggoolba CreekPassenger/Vehicle ferries10 km50 minutes
River HeadsKingfisher Bay ResortPassanger/Vehicle ferries15 km1 hour

Ferries travel to Fraser Island from River Heads and Inskip Point, Rainbow Beach, so before you hop on the ferry you'll need to make your way from your original departure point to one of these ports.

There are very limited public transport options to take you to the ferry departure points. For that reason, it is more convenient to drive and either take your car onto the island or cross as a passenger and hire a four-wheel-drive vehicle once you arrive.

When choosing between the three ferry options, there are slight differences in price, time and arrival point which you'll want to consider. Fraser Venture and Kingfisher Bay Ferry both arrive on the northern side of the island, and both accept cars. Fraser Venture takes 30 minutes, while to get to Kingfisher Bay Resort takes 50 minutes. These ferries are comparable in price.

Sunrise in Fraser Island, Australia. Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world and one the most beautiful places to visit in Queensland.
Take in the beautiful sights as you drive across Fraser Island, the largest sand island in the world.
joaohcouto/Shutterstock.com

Manta Ray Fraser Island Barge is slightly different, as it departs from Inskip Point, Rainbow Beach to Hook Point in the southernmost point of Fraser Island. The barge takes cars and campers and the journey takes 10 minutes, making this the fastest option - it is also slightly cheaper, especially if you are taking only 4-wheel-drive without a camper.

All three ferries bring you to the island. However, we would recommend taking the ferry from River Heads to Wanggoolba Creek, as it brings you to the heart of the island and gives you more choices to traverse the landscape.

Comparison of the ticket prices to reach Fraser Island
DepartureArrivalModeOperatorFare
Inskip PointHook PointBargeManta Ray Fraser Island Barge$130
River HeadsWanggoolba CreekVehicle ferrySealink$268
River HeadsKingfisher Bay ResortVehicle ferrySealink$268

*Price calculated at the time of writing, for 1 adult and a 4WD, based on a round trip

How long does it take to drive to Fraser Island?

As we've mentioned, any drive to Fraser Island involves taking a ferry. Consequently, door-to-door travel times may vary depending on when each ferry is running, but if you plan ahead you can expect the following average journey times when travelling from the major cities set out below.

From the Sunshine Coast, it's just under a 2-hour drive up the M1 to Southside, where you can get on the A1 and Tin Can Bay Road to reach Inskip Point past Rainbow Beach. If you're coming from Brisbane, it's a similar route, with an extra chunk of time on the M1 at the start of your journey.

The Maheno was washed ashore on to Fraser Island by a cyclone in 1935 where the disintegrating wreck remains as a popular tourist attraction
Once you reach Fraser Island make sure to visit The Maheno. This popular tourist attraction was washed ashore in 1935 and provides an interesting feature against the beautiful sandy shores and turquoise waters.
electra/Shutterstock.com

If you want to head towards River Heads instead of Inskip Point, you'll need to get on the A1 from the M1 and take State Route 57 to follow signs towards the River Heads ferry port.

The drive from Sydney will take 12 hours 30 minutes and cover a distance of 1,220 km, while from Melbourne the drive is 1,860 km long and will take 21 hours to drive. Adelaide is the furthest major city to drive from, which is 2,220 km away and will take 24 hours to cover.

Travel times to the Whitsundays from major cities in Australia
Starting PointPortDistanceTravel Time
Sunshine CoastInskip Point160 km2 hours
BrisbaneInskip Point250 km3 hours 10 minutes
SydneyRiver Heads1,220 km13 hours 20 minutes
CairnsRiver Heads1,4600 km16 hours 50 minutes
MelbourneInskip Point1,860 km21 hours
AdelaideRiver Heads2,220 km24 hours

Which port should you arrive at on Fraser Island?

Which port you choose to arrive at will depend on where you're arriving from, and which ferry best suits your needs and schedule. If you want to hire a car, it's worth considering which company you'd like to go with and where they are located.

Kingfisher Bay Resort is the only area of the island that you don't need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access.

There are more attractions located towards the north of the island, so it's worth considering what you'd like to explore first. Take a look at our list of attractions at the bottom of this article for our top recommendations of things to see on Fraser Island.

Things you need to know about driving to Fraser Island

The drive to Fraser Island is relatively straightforward, though you will have to navigate the ferry times and tickets to complete your trip. Plan ahead for any rush hour traffic when leaving your city of origin, but once you're on the main roads they should be fairly quiet.

Once you've arrived, you will need a four-wheel drive to properly discover the island. You can hire a vehicle in advance to complete the whole journey, or hire a car once you've reached the island.

Here are our top tips when it comes to preparing for a drive to Fraser Island:

  • You can obtain ferry tickets online. There are peak fees and off-peak fees for the ferries from River Heads, so plan ahead to arrive outside of rush hours.
  • Other than a ticket, you don't need a passport or any other kind of documentation to take the ferry. Once you've entered Australia, you're free to traonwardards to any of its islands.
  • As mentioned above, you will need a four-wheel drive to explore Fraser Island, unless you're part of an organised tour. It's worth checking out all the options as to whether it's cheaper to rent one in advance or once you arrive.
  • All of the ferry trips clock in at under an hour, but it's still worth preparing yourself with solid sun protection if you're walking about on deck!

Things to see once you reach Fraser Island

The untamed paradise of Fraser Island is truly a bucket-list destination for anyone travelling around Australia. You can tick off incredible wildlife, tropical sea creatures and some serious sunbathing, completely out of reach from the outside world. Make sure to check out the list of nature spots below.

  1. Central Station – A forestry station that operated between 1920 and 1959, offering an excellent introduction to the history of the island.
  2. Indian Head – A wonderful hilltop outlook over the island and its surroundings.
  3. Lake MacKenzie – Crystal blue waters and white sands combine to offer a dreamlike holiday spot.
  4. Lake Wabby – A green-coloured lake features turtles and catfish, with wonderful walking paths.
  5. Champagne Pools – Boasts hundreds of rock pools, some big enough to swim inside!
Lake Mackenzie on Fraser Island off the Sunshine of Queensland is a beautiful freshwater lake popular with tourists who visit Fraser Island. Queensland, Australia.
Visiting Lake Mackenzie is like stepping into paradise.
bmphotographer/Shutterstock.com

A trip to Fraser island is one of the most scenic drives in Australia and an incredible chance to interact with nature at its most remote. Now you're armed with all of the information you need to understand the travel options, get planning and enjoy!