No doubt when you're travelling around Australia Fraser Island is one of the most important attractions that you want to see. However, if you are anything like myself, chances are that your research got a little bit too hard when you got half way through your trip, with limited internet and a lot of distractions.
Working in the Mad Travel Shop, I get a lot of questions about Fraser Island and what tours are available. They range from day tours to week long tours and can be delivered in the form of 4WD trucks or buses, self-drive, along with many other options.
I thought I would write this summary for those of you wanting to travel to Fraser Island but can't be bothered with the research.
First of all, there are three main places that Fraser Island tours embark from - Hervey Bay, Rainbow Beach and Noosa. The Nomads Fraser Island tours leave from Noosa, and this is my preferred place as there are a lot more opportunities in Noosa than Hervey Bay or Rainbow Beach. Bluntly put, when you've got extra time, there's a lot more to do in Noosa.
The next question major question I get asked is, should I do a day trip or an overnight trip?
In my experience from travelling to Fraser Island, an overnight trip is much preferred. Since it's a sand island - when travelling on a day trip, you run the risk of becoming stuck in the sand and wasting valuable time trying to become unstuck. This does not happen a lot, but as my father always says - hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
A 2 day/1 night Fraser Island tour allows you with sufficient time to cover the majority of the island, and enjoy the Fraser Island experience. However, if you've got the time and the money, the 3 day /2 night Fraser Island Tour gives you a proper feel of Fraser Island and all of her natural beauty.
Probably the most common mistake that backpackers make when they hire a campervan to travel around Australia, is assuming that they will be able to take their campervan onto Fraser Island. This is not feasible. You will definitely need some sort of 4WD to travel on Fraser Island, and unless it's a specific vehicle that you have hired for Fraser Island, most rental companies won't allow you to do it because of all the salt water and sand that can cause rust in vehicles. However, if you are keen on driving on Fraser island, then a tag-along tour is for you!
Tag-along tours are basically a cross between a guided and self-guided tour, self - guided tours are not possible any more so you if you want to drive on Fraser Island then you will have to go on a tag-along tour. There is a lead car with a tour guide driving ahead, while the cars following will be driven by you - or someone in your car. The tag-alongs are in 4WD cars and are a lot of fun. You are eligible to drive them if you have a valid drivers license and are over 21. This is my preferred way of travelling on Fraser Island as it gives you the balance of relaxation and adventure.
However, if you're not interested in a tag-along tour and feel like sitting on a bus is more your style while somebody does all the driving and organizing, then there are plenty of other trips available with 4WD buses and trucks.
The next thing to consider is your accommodation on the island. The accommodation can range from camping options to luxurious resorts and anything in between. Obviously the price reflects your choice of accommodation. The Nomads Fraser Island tour stays in hostel accommodation, with 8 share dorms with en-suites. If you're worried about not getting the proper Fraser Island experience by staying in a building then don't fret. Most tours will have a camp fire or some sort of camping experience at night time for you to mesh with nature.
While on the topic of accommodation, also keep in mind WHO the trip is aimed at. Tour companies may target a specific age range, and you could find yourself in an awkward situation if you are 18 and have booked on a trip with the oldies (not that there's anything wrong with the grannies and gramps travelling around!) or vice versa. Always ask questions when you're booking, and if you're booking with a travel agent - make it clear what you want to gain from your trip, as you may be after relaxation rather than adventure, or a party rather than a nature based trip.
The final aspect to consider for Fraser Island is the cost. As I mentioned before, the cost does change according to your accommodation and obviously how many days you go for, however there are many other reasons as well. When booking your Fraser Island trip - whether it be a day trip, overnight trip, tag-along or guided, make sure you check what hidden extras there are. Some tours may make you pay extra for local costs, ferry transfers or even for taking your luggage. On the flip side, there are a lot of hidden freebies in other trips. For example, if you were to book the Nomads Fraser Island tour departing from Noosa, Nomads Noosa will give let you park your car or campervan for free for the duration of your trip - and will also throw an afterparty at KB's Bar when you come back as well!
With all this in mind - Fraser Island is a fantastic experience no matter how you do it, and hopefully everyone travelling Australia has the chance to travel this wonderful island!