There are tons of blogs and websites that give you the 20 awesome things to do on Fraser Island or why Fraser is a paradise version but I’ll give you a less rosy view. In fact, I may be the only person on this planet (apart from Caroline in the City) who has not fallen head over heels in love with Fraser Island.
As I mentioned in my trip overview of our one week on Fraser Island, it does have picturesque spots and we did have a good time but it wasn’t the most stunning place I’ve ever seen. Nor was it the most relaxing. Here’s why.
9 Lessons from Fraser Island at Christmas
Lesson 1: Don’t put your tent on a tarp during the wet season unless you want water seeping through the floor.
Central Station is a 60-site campground in the middle of the rainforest on Fraser Island so it’s humid, damp and a haven for mozzies and other insects. With rain pouring for most of Day 1 and 2 of our trip, it also got seriously wet.
Our tent is usually waterproof but we hadn’t considered that with incessant tropical downpours putting a tarp under the tent wasn’t such a smart idea. The water just pooled between the tarp and tent instead of draining into the ground… I found out the hard way when I noticed my sleeping bag and mat being somewhat wet and I was reading my book in a puddle. And of course, despite the warmth, nothing actually ever dries in the humidity of a rainforest.
Lesson 2: If you’re doing the 4WD thing by yourself, expect to take a long time driving the inland tracks. And don’t expect them to be interesting. They’re really not (unless you’re totally into vegetation).
We spent a fair bit of time driving the inland tracks around Fraser, whether lost or actually knowing where we were going. Let me tell you, it is mightily uncomfortable driving these bumpy, winding tracks for anything longer than 15 minutes.
There are some picturesque views to be gathered but mostly, the inland tracks are pretty boring. You just keep bumping your head while driving or pulling over to the side letting other cars pass, all the while wondering whether you will ever reach your destination, and if your head will be at least semi-intact by the time you get there.
I got my fair share of head bumps and bruises…
Lesson 3: Following on from Lesson 2 and inland tracks, bring an up-to-date and detailed map of Fraser unless you love driving around in circles. The national park’s one does not show all the tracks and signage is limited to the major tracks.
On Day 3, we drove around for what seemed like hours and hours to find Lake Garawongera. We were getting headache-y and cranky with the bumpy and slow driving (think 15 km/h in terms of progress) and in the end we gave up on finding the lake. We’ve got some vague idea of where we may have gone. In any case, I doubt we were anywhere close to the lake.
Lesson 4: Don’t stay at Central Station campground during busy periods unless you enjoy overhearing everyone talking, yelling, beer song chanting or even whispering from one end of the campground to the other.
The campground was relatively quiet for the first two nights on Fraser Island. The next night, the crowds moved in and oh my gosh, was it noisy at Central Station! The sound echoes around the rainforest and Pile Valley, and the beer drinking masses were doing my head in. Sleeping was pretty difficult that night, and I was a cranky and difficult wife the next day. Poor husband.
Lesson 5: Bring $2 coins for having showers. Cold or hot, who cares. Just clean, please.
We hardly ever have cash on hand, and even much less coins. Problem is… the showers across campgrounds are coin-operated but at Central Station you could have a cold one for free. I didn’t because it rained for the first two days and I also jumped into Lake McKenzie for a clean so I thought I could wait with my cold shower until the next campground.
Well… Not so much at Waddy Point. The taps wouldn’t budge, neither hot nor cold, unless you stuck $2 into the machine. Instead, I got to be nice and sticky for a couple more days until we jumped into Ocean Lake.
Lesson 6: Always, ALWAYS, put on sunscreen lotion! … Why is this even a lesson?!? We live in Australia, the sun is always ferocious!
Up at Ngkala Rocks we got stuck behind a few cars trying to navigate the soft and boggy sand bypass route. The husband being his usual helpful self, talked and shoved and pulled in the ruthless midday sun for a good hour and a half. In the end the people got ‘unbogged’ and he got a sunburn (though at least it was only light given his summer tan).
Lesson 7: Sometimes a campsite might look too good to be true. Just wait a bit… until everyone goes and has a shower.
At our third campground, Dundabara, we thought we were in for peace and quiet for once. We got ourselves a campsite a little bit off to the side, though it did seem a bit strange that no-one else had already claimed it. Well, we only had to wait until about 6 pm when the water pumps started roaring right next to us. At least they stopped around midnight so we managed to get some sleep that night.
Lesson 8: If you want to hang out at Eli Creek, you’ll need to be comfortable with beer-drinking and even somewhat intoxicated people in the water. And you will need a floaty. Preferably one that makes grown adults look insanely ridiculous.
The creek is nice and surprisingly cool but it has families and party people aplenty, with more beer than you have ever seen in your life and music loud enough to blast your ears off. So if that’s your thing, you’ll probably love it. I didn’t.
Lesson 9: Don’t spend New Year’s Eve on Fraser, that’s just daft.
Our last night on Fraser Island was New Year’s Eve and wow, did we have party crowd in the campground… 🙁
I think I got to sleep around 2:30 am or maybe it was even later. Who would know… I was too tired to look at my watch by then. *yawn*
I honestly didn’t expect quite so much drinking and partying going on at Fraser. I mean some people started drinking at 6 am and took their beer cans into the toilets!! What’s with that?!?
I know we are party poopers but I like my holidays relaxing or at least stressful of my own making. Not caused by random party strangers.
Fraser is a pretty spot and things would probably be different at some other time in the year so go ahead and visit. You might have a totally different experience. But I can’t imagine Fraser’s natural beauty to ever put a spell on me. Not after Canada. 🙁 And not with the party crowds…
Party crowds when camping not your thing? Pin to remember what to avoid.