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Northern Forests scenic drive

Rob Cameron © Queensland Government

Northern Forests scenic drive

Walking No Walking
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
Mountain biking No mountain biking
Horseriding No horseriding
Two-wheel driving No two-wheel driving
Four-wheel driving No four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding No trail-bike riding
Canoeing & kayaking No canoeing & kayaking
Boating No boating
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Lookout (built) No lookouts
Tent camping No tent camping
World Heritage Area

Legend

Walking No walking
Wheelchair access (may require assistance) No wheelchair access
Mountain biking No mountain biking
Horseriding No horseriding
Two-wheel driving No two-wheel driving
Four-wheel driving No four-wheel driving
Trail-bike riding No trail-bike riding
Canoeing & kayaking No canoeing & kayaking
Boating No boating
Dogs allowed on leash No dogs
Lookout (built) No lookouts
Tent camping No tent camping
World Heritage Area

Spend a day driving through an ever-changing landscape, exploring diverse forests, shady day-use areas, inland lakes and impressive sandblows.

Park alerts

Fraser Island conditions report

Critical information for your safety is included in the conditions report (updated fortnightly), always check it before you visit.

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Stretch your legs on the short walk to a lookout over the white dunes of Knifeblade Sandblow.
Stretch your legs on the short walk to a lookout over the white dunes of Knifeblade Sandblow. Rob Cameron © Queensland Government
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Park Fraser
Traditional Owners Traditional Owners
Park Ranger Park Ranger

Starting at Happy Valley, this drive takes you through coastal woodlands and into Yidney Scrub rainforest. Declared a beauty spot in the 1930s, the scrub has been protected from logging and is virtually intact.

Stop and spend a few hours walking the stunning Northern Forests walk, or take a stroll to the shallow Boomerang Lakes.

Have a picnic lunch in the shady Lake Allom day-use area and then stretch your legs on a circumnavigation of the lake.

The last stop on this driving adventure is a lookout over Knifeblade Sandblow. At 2.8m long and 1.3km wide, it is the largest on the island.

For something different, try this drive in the opposite direction!

This park is part of the Fraser Island World Heritage Area, famed for its exceptional natural beauty, outstanding examples of coastal dune landform development and evolutionary history.

At a glance

Distance: 42.4km one way (a path where the start point is different to the finish point).
Time suggested: Allow 4hrs driving time.
Grade:
Journey type: 4WD, Scenic drive

Getting there and getting around

The Northern Forests scenic drive is on K'gari (Fraser Island), 15km off the coast of Hervey Bay and about 300km north of Brisbane.

Getting to K'gari

You can get to the island by high clearance 4WD, on foot, by plane or with a commercial tour.

By 4WD

  • Your high clearance 4WD must have low range functions.
  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.
  • A vehicle access permit must be purchased. Display the permit on your windscreen before driving in the recreation area.

From Inskip Point (15mins from Rainbow Beach)

  • At the end of the bitumen on Inskip Point Road, reduce tyre pressure, engage 4WD and drive 500m onto the beach.
  • Drive onto the Manta Ray barge for the 10–15min trip to Hook Point on the southern tip of K'gari (Fraser Island), and the start of the Eastern Beach scenic drive.
  • Bookings for this barge are not required.

From River Heads (east of Maryborough)

  • Travel 10.6km along River Heads Road to the Fraser Island Barges landing area.
  • The trip to Wanggoolba Creek on western K'gari (Fraser Island) takes 30–45min.
  • The trip to Kingfisher Bay on western K'gari (Fraser Island) takes 50mins–1hr.
  • These barges run at fixed time and bookings are essential.

On foot

  • Walkers can board a vehicle barge to the island (details above) or arrive by plane.

By plane

By private vessel

  • Access K'gari (Fraser Island)'s sheltered western coastline by private vessel. The eastern coastline of the island is extremely hazardous and exposed to very rough ocean conditions.
  • Launch your boat at one of the many boat ramps on the mainland between Tin Can Bay and Burnett Heads. There are no boat ramps on K'gari (Fraser Island).
  • See Maritime Safety Queensland's Beacon to Beacon Guides for the Great Sandy Strait and Hervey Bay for detailed navigational maps.
  • The waters adjacent to Fraser Island are in the Great Sandy Marine Park.

Commercial tours

  • You can join a range of tours that leave from a variety of centres.
  • For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Road conditions

K'gari (Fraser Island)'s sandy beaches and tracks have dry powdery sand and all vehicles and trailers must have high clearance. Vehicles must also have 4WD and low range functions. The island is not suitable for caravans, campervans and motorhomes, and trailers cannot access all areas. We don't recommend all-wheel drive vehicles.

  • Tides control access to some beaches, creeks, creek crossings and facilities. We recommend you read all the access information before travelling on the island.
  • Beaches and creek crossing change daily. Deep washouts can form at any time, particularly after heavy rain and rough seas. Wave action can expose dangerous rocks, wash up debris and expose tree roots that are particularly hard to see at night.
  • The roads around the Kingfisher Bay and Eurong resorts are sealed.

Parking

You can park your 4WD at Boomerang Lakes, either end of the Northern Forests walk, Lake Allom day-use area and Kinfeblade Sandblow.

Fuel and supplies

You will find fuel (no autogas), supplies, restaurants and takeaway food outlets in the towns on the island.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

When to visit

Opening hours

Northern Forests scenic drive is open 24 hours a day.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Climate and weather

K'gari (Fraser Island) has a subtropical climate with temperatures moderated by proximity to the sea. Average coastal temperatures range from 22°C to 28°C in December and 14°C to 21°C in July. Annual rainfall varies across the island, from 1200mm on the coast to 1800mm inland. The wettest months are January to March, with about 160mm rainfall per month. The drier months are winter and early spring. Moderate winds predominate from the south-east. Storms—occasionally quite severe—are common in spring and early summer.

Permits and fees

Vehicle access permits

  • A vehicle access permit must be purchased. Display the permit on your windscreen before driving in the recreation area.

Organised events

  • If you are planning a school excursion or organising a group event such as a wedding or large gathering, you may need an organised event permit. Maximum group sizes and other conditions apply depending on location and activity type.
  • To protect dingoes and participants, running events like fun runs and marathons are not allowed on K'gari (Fraser Island).

Pets

Domestic animals are not allowed here.

Staying in touch

Mobile phone coverage

Unreliable. Check with your service provider for more information.

Tourism information

For tourism information for all regions in Queensland, see Queensland.com, and for friendly advice on how to get there, where to stay and what to do, find your closest accredited visitor information centre.

Be prepared

  • Parks are natural environments and conditions can be unpredictable. You are responsible for your own safety and for looking after the park.

  • Serious injuries have occurred from climbing; running, sliding or tobogganing down; and digging into sand dunes and sand cliffs.
  • Wear protective clothing and insect repellent to protect yourself from bites and stings.
  • If you're travelling or staying in areas without reliable mobile service, consider bringing a personal locator beacon (PLB).

Be dingo-safe

  • NEVER feed dingoes.
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of children, even small teenagers.
  • Walk in groups.
  • Do not run. Running or jogging can trigger a negative dingo interaction.
  • Camp in fenced areas when possible.
  • Lock up food stores and iceboxes (even on a boat).
  • Never store food or food containers in tents.
  • Secure all rubbish, fish and bait.
  • Plan carefully to be dingo-safe on K'gari (Fraser Island).
  • Report negative or close encounters with dingoes to the nearest ranger, or by phoning 07 4127 9150 or emailing dingo.ranger@npsr.qld.gov.au.

Open fires

  • Open fires are not allowed.
  • Bring a fuel stove for cooking and heating. The stove must be at least 20cm off the ground and use manufactured fuel (not timber). Take the stove and used fuel when you leave.

Rubbish

  • There are bins at beach camping zones 5 and 7.

  • If the bin is full, please use another. Never leave rubbish lying around the rubbish bins.
  • In all other locations you will need to take your rubbish with you when you leave.

Drinking water

  • You need to bring your own drinking water.

Driving

  • High-clearance 4WDs with low range capabilities are needed to explore Fraser Island Recreation Area.
  • Check the K'gari (Fraser Island) conditions report for the latest information on access, closures and conditions within the recreation area.

  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • This scenic drive is not suitable for trailers.

  • Serious injuries and deaths from vehicle accidents have occurred on K'gari (Fraser Island). Reckless and risky driving, pranks and speed have all contributed to vehicle rollovers and crashes. You need to be aware of the driving conditions and ensure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition.
  • Slower is safer and a safe driving speed may be lower than the signed speed limit. Speed limits on K'gari (Fraser Island) are generally:
    • 80km/hr (maximum) on the Eastern Beach
    • 30km/hr on inland roads
    • 40km/hr in beach pedestrian areas (including the Maheno shipwreck site)
    • 50km/hr on Hook Point inland road
    • 10km/hr in shared-use areas.
  • If you’re hiring a four-wheel-drive vehicle, make sure you are familiar with the specific laws.
  • Avoid beach driving 2hrs either side of high tide.
  • Beach conditions change daily. Deep washouts can form at any time, particularly after heavy rain and rough seas. Wave action can expose dangerous rocks, wash up debris and expose tree roots. Approach washouts, rocks and debris slowly, and use bypass roads if necessary. Avoid travelling at night as these hazards can be difficult to see.
  • Stay on the formed tracks and do not drive or park on the fragile foredunes. The dunes may be soft and unstable, collapsing under the weight of a vehicle.
  • When driving on inland roads give way to buses, trucks and to vehicles travelling downhill or towing trailers. Make use of passing bays and try to drive forward (not reverse) into them.

  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

Walking

  • It is safer to walk during daylight hours. Beware of vehicles when walking on the beach.
  • Read walk with care for tips on walking safely and walking lightly.

Trail bike riding

  • Trail bikes must be registered and riders licensed.
  • Keep trail bikes on vehicle roads and tracks—they aren't allowed on walking tracks.

Canoeing and kayaking

  • The island's eastern coastline is extremely hazardous and exposed to very rough ocean conditions. The sheltered western coastline, Marloo Bay, and the lakes of the island are better for canoeing and kayaking.
  • Check the signs at the lake to make sure you can canoe and kayak.
  • Take care when launching your canoe/kayak at the lakes as there are no formal facilities.
  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.

Fishing

  • The waters adjacent to the island are in the Great Sandy Marine Park.
  • If you're heading out on the water make sure you know your zones so you can follow the rules.
  • Fisheries regulations apply. You can obtain information on bag and size limits, restricted species and seasonal closures from Fisheries Queensland.

  • Wear high-visibility vests and use glow sticks when fishing at night.
  • Fish cleaning is prohibited in camping areas and on some sections of the beach—heed all signs. Where you are allowed to clean fish, ensure no dingoes are nearby and bury frames and offal in a hole with at least 50cm of sand on top, just below the high tide mark.

Swimming

  • There are no patrolled beaches, lakes or creeks on K'gari (Fraser Island) and we don't recommend swimming in unpatrolled waters. If you decide to swim, you enter the water at your own risk. The nearest patrolled beaches are on the mainland at Rainbow Beach Inskip Point and Hervey Bay.
  • Strong rips and sharks may be present in the ocean.

  • Do not dive or jump into the water, or run, roll or slide down the sand dune at Lake Wabby. Serious injuries have occurred here.
  • Stay away from the deeper waters of lakes as they are colder and may cause you to cramp.
  • Coomboo and Hidden lakes have fragile banks and swimming is not encouraged.
  • There have been credible sightings of estuarine crocodiles in waters of the Great Sandy Straits.

  • Be croc-wise in croc country.
  • Beware marine stingers.
  • Read water safety for important information about staying safe in and near water and caring for parks.
Last updated: 22 March 2018
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