We’d wanted to visit Queensland’s Fraser Island for a while, but the fact that we don’t have a four-wheel drive vehicle made us baulk at going there. Seeing it’s the world’s largest sand island, most of the roads are soft sand and require a high clearance 4WD vehicle, as well as a good dose of driving expertise, to successfully navigate them. The island is very popular for fishing and camping, which is great if you have a suitable vehicle.
After doing some research, I found at that you don’t need a 4WD vehicle to go to Kingfisher Bay Resort (KBR), which is the most popular resort on the island. If you’re a resort guest, you can either park your car at the River Heads wharf on the mainland, or you can take your vehicle over to the resort and park it there. We opted to take our car over with us, as we had loads of gear for our 4 night stay. We were able to park quite close to the Cooloola villas, where we stayed, which made it easy for us to load and unload the car.
We checked in at the KBR office at River Heads, which is in a small shopping centre, together with a café and IGA, in case you need any last minute supplies. We went to the café to organise our lunch. It was quite a good meal, although the wait made us a bit nervous since we were booked on the barge at 12.30 and boarding time was drawing near. We changed our order to take away in the end and ate our delicious lunch in the car as we drove to the barge point.
After the barge emptied, we were instructed to reverse onto it, so that we can drive off. This makes sense, but reversing down a steep boat ramp and onto a barge proved a little challenging for some. Luckily, my hubby got it right first go, but there were others who required more specific instructions from the barge crew – while enduring the embarrassment of everyone watching them on their third attempt!
Once on the barge, everyone must exit their vehicles and go upstairs to the enclosed cabin for the crossing to Fraser Island. We were joined by other passengers who had arrived at the loading point by bus, and who were met by a small bus on the other side. There’s a bar/shop on board the barge, which serves drinks and snacks. The trip is only about 20-25 minutes, but of course, the kids needed a drink … and something to eat, even though we’d just had lunch!
Arriving at KBR, you disembark onto a concrete ramp, which goes up onto the timber wharf leading up to the road into the resort proper. We made our way to reception to collect the key to our villa, then drove the short distance up the hill to find it. KBR offers hotel rooms as well as several different levels of villas, houses and lodges, plus an executive villa.
We chose a two bedroom villa for our stay. It was split level, with a spacious open plan, air conditioned living and dining area, full kitchen with cooking facilities, bathroom, laundry and a spacious balcony. The only disappointment was the lack of a barbecue on the balcony. With a family, it was great to be able to cook in the villa, as the restaurants can be a little bit pricey if you’re on a budget.
One issue we had was that there’s no wi-fi in the villas. You can go to the reception area to use the wi-fi, but of course, our teenagers wanted to use it in the villa. So our phones were used as hotspots and our data allowance for the month was rapidly consumed! Heaven forbid they would be cut off from the outside world for a few days!
Once we had unpacked and settled in, we set off to explore the resort itself. There’s a multitude of paths and boardwalks throughout the resort, which is set in native bushland and a natural lagoon – and is quite spread out.
We headed straight for the reception area which overlooks the two main pools, which are both quite large, providing room to spread out and find a little peace and quiet. There’s another two smaller pools at The Sand Bar. My husband and I spent some time reading about the history of the island and the shipwrecks while the kids went into the water. We eventually made it to the poolside.
You could spend your whole day here, ordering food and drinks, but then you’d miss out on all the beauty of the island itself.
There’s loads to do – boating, fishing, bushwalking, beach walks, nature walks and talks, bush tucker talks, ranger guided walks, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding and 4WD tours – we took the Beauty Spots tour, which I highly recommend. If you just want to chill out, you can even have a massage or treatment at the resort’s spa.
One of the highlights of our visit was having fun on the beach Segways. I have tried a Segway in Rome and love it, so the kids were quite keen to have a go too. Once you get the hang of subtly shifting your body weight to control the Segway, you’re fine. The kids loved this experience – even managed to put their phones down for it!
That evening, we wandered back down to the Jetty Hut, where you can get a drink and a platter to enjoy the sunset. This is one of the few places on the East Coast of Australia where you can enjoy the sunset over the ocean. I took quite a few photos and thoroughly enjoyed playing around with the camera, as I don’t get enough time to do this much at home. Following are a few of them.
That night, we had dinner in the villa and watched a movie together, which was very relaxing. The following night we enjoyed a lovely dinner in the Maheno restaurant, where you can choose a buffet or a la carte menu. On our final night, we went to The Sand Bar to have a pizza. This is where you’ll find the cheapest meals at KBR, although at $24 for a pizza, it’s still not cheap by mainland standards. There are plenty of options here for everyone though – pasta, schnitzel, seafood, burgers, salad and a kid’s menu – so it’s good to have an alternative to cooking every night of your holiday. Just be sure to wear some insect repellent if you’re visiting The Sand Bar at dusk!
One thing we did notice at KBR was the fence which runs around the entire perimeter of the resort. This is to ensure the wild dingoes which inhabit the island don’t venture into the resort grounds. There are signs around the resort informing guests not to feed the dingoes and how to behave, should they encounter a dingo. Families do need to be especially careful, particularly with children or even young teens.
As with any resort, meals, supplies and souvenirs are expensive on Fraser Island. Fuel was $2 per litre at the General Store. However, you can trim the budget if you plan ahead and take your own food and alcohol, leaving more funds for the activities.
We got an advance purchase deal on our accommodation, saving us some money up front, and I researched the activity options at the time of booking, so I knew how much money we’d need to budget for our holiday. KBR isn’t cheap for families, but we managed to enjoy most its benefits without breaking the budget. It’s worth saving up for a trip there… unless you have a friend with a 4WD, and you can camp.
Have you visited Fraser Island? If so, what did you like most about it?
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