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9 lessons I learnt on Fraser Island

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.

Our blurry campsite at Central Station before the downpours…

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…

Along the Southern Lakes scenic drive

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.

Pondering which track to take yet again… Of course, we took the wrong one and ended back here an hour or so later.

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.

Kauri campground at Central Station. Like in a tunnel, sounds nicely echo from campsite to campsite.

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.

Toilet and shower block at Waddy Point campground

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).

Being stuck at Ngkala Rocks bypass route…

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.

Our campsite at Dundabara. On our right, behind the fence, the water pumps.

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.

Top of Eli Creek from where you can float down in your giant floating dinosaur, swan or whatever tickles your fancy

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*

Sunset over 75-mile beach when New Year’s Eve was still pleasant…

Summing Up…

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.

Sunset at Fraser Island

4WD-ing around Fraser Island at Christmas
Beach driving along the Burrum Coast
A Taste of the Queensland Outback: A 10-day trip
Sunshine, baby turtles and waves: Deepwater NP
Along the Discovery Coast: Eurimbula National Park
A guide to Mount Moffatt (Carnarvon National Park)


  1. Ich glaube die Fotos stimmen nicht. Da sieht man ja weder Regen noch Menschenmassen 😛
    Auf so einem floaty durch den Creek schwimmen stelle ich mir allerdings ganz nett vor 😉

    • Als es geregnet hat, hab ich ja auch in meiner Pfütze im Zelt gelegen und gelesen. 😀 Und die Menschenmassen hab ich rausgeschnitten… haha.

      Kann mir sehr gut vorstellen, wie du dich auf so einem Schwimmring-Schwan den Fluss entlang treiben lässt. 😀

    • Hey Stu!

      Ah well, I somehow still have fond memories… just not of the ‘must go back’ kind. 🙂 And yes, Tassie has rarely disappointed me, certainly haven’t run into any party crowds there. Only downside is that it’s not quite so easy to get there by car from Queensland… 🙁

  2. Hi Kati,
    I totally understand your point of view, and appreciate your lessons. I used to love camping but get so stressed now with people using their car radios to entertain the rest of the camp site. I love the sounds of nature – the waves crashing on the beach, the crickets chirruping and the birds singing to each other.
    We are staying in a log cabin in the Grampians in the September/October school holidays. Come join us? We are far from being party animals!

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Thanks! 🙂 I still love camping, despite boofheads (well, ideally without any boofheads). 🙂 I’m sure if you went to Fraser in the middle of May, it’d be fairly quiet and a very different experience.

      Haven’t been to the Grampians in 15 years, I think!! Tempting to come and stay with you during the school holidays but I’ve got family coming at exactly that time so it’s probably unlikely. 🙁 But thanks heaps for the invite! 🙂

      • We have just booked a short trip to Wilson’s Prom from 18th – 21st Dec. Come join us then? Or if you would be more than welcome to house sit/stay with us then. We have plenty of space. (We moved directly across the road from where we were!)

        • Hi Carolyn,

          Wilsons Prom… very tempting!! One of the best places in Victoria, I reckon! 🙂 Will think about it but not sure what we’re doing at the end of the year, I’m still thinking about what to do at Easter. 😀

    • Cheers, no worries! 🙂 I was glad I stumbled upon your account from a few years back, made me feel like I wasn’t the only one who didn’t have the most awesome experience on Fraser. : And yep, I think I’d quite enjoy it during the off-season and would approve it with a different mindset now.


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