What The K’gari Explorer Tour To Fraser Island Looks Like
Wondering what the K’gari Explorer Tour to Fraser Island looks like? I’ve just come back from the 3 day / 2 night K’gari Explorer Tour, and I’m excited to share everything you need to know before booking this fun trip to K’gari.
In this Fraser Island travel guide, expect to learn about what the tour looks like, what you’ll be doing, and whether it’s the right tour for you. With plenty of Fraser Island tours to choose from and various way to see the island, the K’gari Explorer Tour could be the perfect way for you to kick back and see the sights without having to plan very much at all.
As always, I’m sharing my personal experience and an honest review of this tour so you can get a good understanding of what to expect.
I wanted to clear this one up now before we go any further that Fraser Island is now known as K’gari (pronounced ‘gari’ with a silent ‘K’) is the the traditional owners of the land, the Butchulla people’s name for this island, meaning ‘paradise’.
The Aboriginal Dreamtime story is about a goddess named K’gari who fell in love with the earth and never wanted to leave. The silent ‘K’ branding is now used in the two resorts of the island, Kingfisher Bay Resort and K’gari Beach Resort.
What makes K’gari special?
The World Heritage Listed K’gari is the world’s largest sand island, being123km long and 166,038ha, and is a world heritage listed area. The second and third largest sand islands in the world are both nearby being North Stradbroke Island and Moreton Island (both are definitely worth visiting, especially Moreton Island)
Aside from it being one the top places to visit on the East Coast, expect to visit jaw-dropping lakes, creeks and rock pools to swim in, an amazing shipwreck to get up close to and absolutely incredible wildlife to be amazed by.
Home to the infamous dingos – a descendant of South Asian wolves who live in packs and have been known to attack tourists on the island. Don’t let this put you off from visiting, with a bit of common sense, you should be fine.
K’gari Explorer tour vs self-drive and tag long driving options
Usually we’re the type of people who are definitely up for our own adventure when it comes to visiting new places, but there was something about visiting K’gari (Fraser Island) that seemed to feel right about doing a tour over driving ourselves.
Since we’ve done the K’gari Explorer Tour, I can confirm I’m glad I did it and didn’t just hire a 4×4 or do a tag along tour.
Our tour guide and driver, aptly named ‘Sarge’, is an ex military driving instructor which basically means he can drive anything with ease. Considering he was driving us in one of the biggest vehicles on the island, and knows the island like the back of his hand, has got stuck in the sand occasionally.
Now imagine it’s your first time driving on the sand, and think about what you would do if you got your hire car stuck? Considering pretty much the entire island is made up of sand, there’s no escaping it. You won’t be driving on the road, it’s literally all sand from the moments after you get off the ferry.
You’ll learn much more about the places you’re visiting on the tour, and if you do a self-drive option, you’ll need to bring everything with you, plan your route with the tides, pay National Park fees, bring a paper map because Google Maps can send you off track and of course bring the right equipment to get you out of the sand when you get stuck (because it will more than likely happen multiple times).
It’s only now since I’ve been to K’gari (Fraser Island) that I’ve realised driving myself would have probably been a lot of fun but also quite stressful and could have easily turned sour plenty of times as we’re both not experienced at driving on sand. I am more than happy that we did this 2 night K’gari Explorer Tour instead.
What the K’gari Explorer Tour looked like for us
I’ll break down what the tour looked like and the highlights from it. If there’s one thing I would recommend bringing with you on this tour, it’s the Bushman’s brown insect repellant. The March flies are a bit nuts and can bite you.
Park at River Heads Shopping Centre
I always thought we’d be driving to Hervey Bay but you actually need to go to River Heads Shopping Centre to the office to check in for the tour. It was here that we handed over our car keys for secure parking, and put our luggage in the bus ready to go to the ferry.
We picked up a ham and cheese toastie here at the cafe before jumping on the bus down to the ferry which takes about five minutes.
Spending the night at the beautiful Kingfisher Bay Resort
It was then a 1 hour boat ride over to the Western side of the island to the beautiful Kingfisher Bay Resort which was surprisingly smooth considering it was a windy day.
As we landed at 3pm, we checked into our beautiful room, and jumped straight onto the ranger-guided walk through the Wallum Wetland area at the resort. Our guide was so knowledgable and we learnt loads about the native plants and the medicinal benefits from them.
We absolutely loved this experience, learning all about the wild plants you can eat. Both Steve and I couldn’t believe how we’ve never done anything like that before and how blown away we were at learning all about the native foods on the island. The pesto they serve at this experience is so delicious, they even give you the recipe to take home!
Yes, we could have easily just spent the afternoon enjoying the fantastic resort facilities like the multiple swimming pools, but I’m glad we did these tours because they were a brilliant introduction to K’gari (Fraser Island).
Eating at Dune restaurant in Kingfisher Bay Resort
A quick refresh after the amazing bush tucker experience and we somehow managed to get into the popular Dune restaurant at Kingfisher Bay Resort. While there are three restaurants at the resort, Dune is the go to for dinner, serving up Asian food. So if you’re staying here, make sure you pre-book to get in.
We then had such an amazing sleep here, honestly it was one of the best night’s I’ve had in ages. Maybe it was the comfy king size bed or the blackout curtains that did it, but I felt so refreshed the next morning.
You could easily spend your entire trip staying at Kingfisher Bay Resort because they have so many activities on offer, you’ll never get bored. If you’re coming from Sydney or interstate, you can easily jump on a flight to Hervey Bay and the resort will organise your transfers from the airport. They also have one, two and three bed villas, perfect for families looking for an escape from city life.
Day 2: starting the tour around the island
Considering Kingfisher Bay Resort sleeps up to 1500 people, the breakfast was so good with a hot buffet breakfast, cereals, fruit & yoghurt, pastries and so much more!
Our awesome guide Sarge picked us up and we were on our way around the island.
First stop: Lake Mckenzie & morning tea
Of course we start the K’gari tour with a visit to the most famous place on the island: Lake Mckenzie. It took us just under an hour to drive the 6.2km to Lake Mckenzie from Kingfisher Bay Resort and then we were given an hour here to enjoy the pristine lake and views from the white sand beach.
Home to the second softest sand beach in the world after Whitehaven, Lake Mckenzie is a picture perfect lake to swim in. The fresh water has a a turquoise colour which gets lighter closer to the shore. Apparently this is because it is where the lake bed has been worn away by people paddling close to the shore.
You’re not allowed to take any food or drinks (except water) down to the lake as you’ll be fined if caught doing so.
This is to protect the fresh water lake as well as people from the dingos that roam the area. We actually had morning tea at the top of the car park which included tea, coffee and anzac biscuits.
At the time of visiting it was packed at the lake with other tourists. I can imagine how magical it would be to arrive at sunrise here and get the entire lake to ourselves if we were doing a self-drive instead. I think this was the only place we visited apart from Champagne Pools where timing could have been better if we had driven ourselves.
Second stop: Central Station
Central Station is the only place in the world that you’ll find a rainforest on a sand island.
And I must say the world heritage listed rainforest blew us away, even if we’ve been to countless rainforests in Australia. What was once a former logging station, which still has the remaining few houses left from the timber industry boom, you’ll be amazed how people lived in this enchanting beautiful rainforest.
We did the very short Wanggoolba Creek boardwalk which is just an 800m walk along an incredible fresh water creek that is easily the clearest creek I have ever seen.
Third stop: Lunch at K’gari Beach Resort
After we had a relaxing time at Lake Mckenzie, we were then taken to the other side of the island to K’gari Beach Resort for lunch. The resort here is totally different to Kingfisher and I actually remember staying here when I last came to the island a long time ago!
We had a buffet lunch consisting of pasta, chicken, Shepards pie, rice and many more dishes to choose from.
Fourth stop: Lake Wabby walk and swim
After lunch we were given the option to go to the next destination, Lake Wabby. Our guide warned us that it’s a more strenuous hike and I almost started to panic as I vaguely remembered walking over sand dunes to get there. Obviously we decided to go ahead with the hike and I’m glad I did because Lake Wabby ended up being my favourite place we visited on the entire trip!
It’s only a 2.5km walk to Lake Wabby and most of the track will protect you from the sunshine as you walk through the forest to get there. When I did it years ago, we literally had to walk through the sand dunes to get there which would be so hot when the sun is out.
Although the walk isn’t that long, it will take you a good 40 minutes to walk one way as you’ll be walking through sand.
We asked whether to walk in our hiking boots but thongs are easier.
When we came out of the forest and onto the sand dunes, it really was a wow moment because the dunes are so big, I don’t think I’ve seen sand dunes that big in Australia. As you walk over the hill, you’ll see Lake Wabby and for us, there was something about the light here as the sun came out, reflecting the beautiful green colours. It has a really magical energy at Laky Wabby and I could have easily stayed here all day long.
If you go for a swim, watch out as there are a lot of fish in here but they are harmless.
Dinner at K’gari Beach Resort
We then arrived back at our accommodation just before sunset and walked down to the beach over the road in Eurong to watch people getting stuck in the sand. It was actually quite funny and I loved how other cars came to help everyone which was really nice.
I loved the effort our guide Sarge went to to help us all socialise as a tour group. Sometimes it can feel really forced but considering how genuine this tour guide is, he gave everyone the option to come to dinner together or sit by themselves if they preferred.
I think everyone turned up and we ended up meeting an awesome family from Brighton in UK which is where we used to live. We had so much fun with them and they really contributed to shaping our experience on the tour as well.
Day 3: Breakfast
After a fantastic sleep at K’gari Beach Resort, we had planned to go and watch the sunrise from Eurong Beach but the weather conditions weren’t on our side. We then grabbed breakfast from the bakery as we were running a little late, although we quickly realised it probably would have been a bit more cost effective to order it at K’gari Beach Resort. Our two croissants, two sandwiches and a coffee for Steve came to over $40. We could have had a buffet breakfast at the resort for $28pp.
First stop: Scenic Flights!
We totally weren’t expecting to do this but we ended up going on a scenic flight with Air Fraser after breakfast. When the pilot came on board our bus to talk about the scenic flight, I instantly said to Steve that I didn’t think it was worth it because it was cloudy.
As soon as the plane filled up with seven passengers, I then had second thoughts. Luckily when the plane landed, the pilot offered another flight, so five of us went on board.
The first flight takes you to Lake Mckenzie while the second flight flies over the lesser known lakes like the impressive Butterfly Lake and lands just over the Maheno Shipwreck. I was really pleased we did this scenic flight because it was really amazing. Honestly, $100 pp for a 15 minute flight, I think it was totally worth it.
Second stop: Maheno Shipwreck
We then explored what is probably one of the most famous things to do in K’gari is the Maheno Shipwreck which sits on Seventy Five Mile Beach. Built in 1905, the SS Maheno was used in World War 1 and was driven ashore just north of Happy Valley township during a cyclone in 1935.
When visiting one of the most famous landmarks in Fraser Island, please do not walk or sit on this shipwreck, because essentially you are contributing to it’s demise which would be a real tragedy. There is a sign at the front of the Maheno Shipwreck stating to keep your distance of at least three metres from it.
Third stop: The Pinnacles & morning tea
We then ventured over to The Pinnacles which is known for having more than 72 colours on the sandy cliffs.
Please be respectful to the Butchulla people, as the lookout is a sacred woman’s only area.
I loved how our tour guide, Sarge, pointed this out and mentioned how he would be staying put by the bus and not disrespecting the sacred site by walking up to the lookout. As he mentioned the view from the bus is actually better than at the lookout, so guys won’t be missing out.
We then had morning tea with a quick cuppa and another Anzac biscuit before continuing to our next stop on the tour.
Forth stop: Champagne Pools
I was really looking forward to visiting Champagne Pools as I’d seen photos of this beautiful rockpool and couldn’t remember visiting it on my tour years ago. At the time of visiting, it was high tide and the ocean was pretty hectic.
It’s worth noting that you need to be really careful here. The rocks are super sharp and we saw multiple people with huge cuts on their legs and backs from swimming over the rocks or worse, being knocked by the waves.
If you bring children to Champagne Pools, be with them at all times in the water and do not climb on the rocks. It only takes a big wave to send you flying either into the sharp rocks or into the shark breeding ground ocean opposite.
While it was really busy when we visited, it was the only other site that I could imagine would be amazing to see at sunrise on a calm day. I think it would have been pretty special here.
Final stop: Eli Creek
And so as we approached our final stop on our incredible K’gari Explorer Tour, we ended with Eli Creek, which is the largest creek on the Eastern side of K’gari (Fraser Island). It pours up to four million litres of fresh water every single hour which is mind-blowing in itself.
We ended up buying floaties to bring with us, but we learnt that they are provided on the tour so you don’t need to. Luckily our guide blew ours up in seconds using his pump on in the bus.
The boardwalk is just 400 metres return and when you reach the end, there is some stairs to easily jump into the very shallow water. You’ll then casually float down the super clear water until you reach the end near the ocean.
It’s a cool year round temperature of 19C and although some people said it was too cold, I actually enjoyed the temperature.
Would I do the tour again?
If you’re wondering if I would do the K’gari Explorer Tour again, I would of course do it! We really enjoyed it all and loved the entire experience. To be honest, after going to K’gari (Fraser Island), I would be a little apprehensive about hiring a car and doing it ourselves as I reckon we’d probably spend most of our time getting bogged in the sand!
But you know, most of all, I have to say our tour guide, Sarge really made this trip for us.
Even though the incredible places he took us to are absolutely amazing, I just adored his passion for the island and respect he has for the traditional owners of the land, the Butchulla people.
Sarge is extremely knowledgeable as he’s been a tour guide on the island for more than six years. His informative commentary gave us a good understanding of the island and the places we visited, making it all very extra special. We were also lucky with the group on our bus as everyone was really nice and bonded well together.
If you’re looking to do a Fraser Island tour, opt for the 2 night K’gari Explorer Tour like we did. There are a few K’gari Explorer Tours to choose from as they do day tours as well which is basically a quick version of what we did without Lake Wabby. I would definitely recommend the 2 night tour so you get to enjoy it all without having to rush. You can also book the tour from Rainbow Beach where you’ll join the rest of the tour at Lake Mckenzie.
More Fraser Island travel guides
Need some more inspiration to plan your trip? Check out our popular K’gari guides below!