So you’ve decided to head on over to the gorgeous Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island – but now you’re wondering exactly how to get to Fraser Island.  Well, you’re in the right place because in this guide we’re going to provide everything you need to know about getting to Fraser Island

It’s reasonably straight forward to take the ferry to Fraser Island from Inskip or River Heads, but this guide will cover everything you need to know such as the different barge to Fraser Island options, the ferry times and ticket prices too.  

While this guide will mostly cover how to get to Fraser Island by car, it will also provide information to those going over without a vehicle.  It also covers how you can get to Inskip or River Heads from various places so you’ll know exactly how to get from Brisbane to Fraser Island, Hervey Bay to Fraser Island as well as a few other places.

After reading this guide, you’ll know exactly how to go to Fraser Island and you can move onto dreaming about your upcoming island adventure.

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How to Get to Fraser Island Map

When it comes to how to get on Fraser Island, it’s relatively straight forward via one of the barges.  You can choose to take either the Inskip -Fraser Island ferry or there are two ferries that operate from River Heads.  We will provide more detail about both barges below, however, for now, check out the map below where you can see where these ferries operate from.

Taking the Ferry to Fraser Island

Below we provide you with further detail about all the different ferry Fraser Island options.

Manta Ray Barge to Fraser Island

The most popular barge to take across to Fraser Island is the Manta Ray Barge, often called the Inskip or Rainbow Beach ferry to Fraser Island.  From here it is just a 10 minute journey across to the southern tip of Fraser Island at Hook Point.

This boat to Fraser Island operates daily from 6 am to 5.30 pm.  There is no need to book this car ferry to Fraser Island and there is no set timetable, the barges just cross the strait continually during this time.  During peak times 2-3 barges operate.  Around 15 vehicles can fit on each barge.

It is quick and easy to get on the barge.  As soon as all the cars have disembarked, the barge staff will indicate for you to drive onboard and show you where you should park your car.  Once everyone is on board they will come around asking for tickets or payment if you haven’t already bought your ticket.

The return ferry cost to Fraser Island for vehicles and all passengers are as follows:

  • 4WD: $130
  • 4WD and up to 3.4m trailer: $200
  • 4WD and trailer: $230
  • Motorbikes: $60

You can pay cash for your ticket on the barge or stop by the Manta Ray Barge and Permit Office and pre pay.  The office is located at 66 Rainbow Beach Road and is open weekdays from 7 am to 3 pm and weekends from 6 am to 3 pm.  There are also loads of places around Rainbow selling them.  Shops that sell them are clearly signposted.

In order to get onto the barge, you will be required to drive onto the sand at Inskip Point and you will be disembarking onto Fraser Island directly on the sand as well, so it is important that you drop your PSI before driving onto the sand for the barge.  Also, it is recommended to time your journey to ensure you are outside 2 hours of either side of high tide.  In fact the closer to low tide you can travel the better.

The entrance at Inskip Point can be particularly soft, but nothing too major and we do it just fine even while towing a heavy camper trailer.  Once you’re on the peninsular the sand is reasonably firm.  Of course conditions are changing all the time though.

Hook Point, where you disembark the barge on Fraser Island can be quite sandy and the beach can be quite narrow around high tide.  This is why you’ll hear most people advising to go as close as you can to low tide.  We travelled close to the high tide coming back last time and it was extremely soft and I wouldn’t recommend it – so avoid if you can.  Around low tide though, the beach is mostly wide and loads of firm sand, making it a nice smooth ride up 75 Mile Beach.

Manta Ray Barge is best for …

If you’re coming from Brisbane or headed to the eastern side of Fraser Island, in most cases the Manta Ray Barge to Fraser Island is your best option.  Plus given the barges run all day it is often the best way to get to Fraser Island even for those coming or going to Hervey Bay, as this gives you more flexibility when planning around the tide times.

Ferries From River Heads: Kingfisher Bay Ferry and Fraser Venture

Image Credit Tourism and Events Queensland and Darren Jew

If you’re getting to Fraser Island from Hervey Bay, then it will most likely be easiest to take one of the ferries from River Heads.  River Heads is just a short 20 minute drive south of Hervey Bay.

From River Heads, there are two different ferry operators either the Kingfisher Bay Ferry which arrives at the Kingfisher Bay Resort Jetty or the Fraser Venture which arrives at Wanggolba Creek – both are on the western side of Fraser Island.  More about both of these options below.

Kingfisher Bay Ferry

The Kingfisher Bay Ferry barge times to Fraser Island are 6.45 am, 9 am, 1 pm and 3.30 pm daily.  For the return journey, the barges leave daily at 7.50 am, 10.30 am, 2.30 pm and 5 pm.  The trip takes 45 minutes.

For those taking vehicles across you will need to check in at the ticket hut by the ferry ramp at least 20 minutes prior to boarding.  

Passengers not taking their vehicle across are required to meet at the Kingfisher Bay Mainland Reception at least 40 minutes prior to departure.  A shuttle bus will then ferry passengers down to the ferry.  

There is also parking at the Kingfisher Bay Mainland Reception, at the cost of $25 for the first night and $20 each night after that.  It is recommended to book parking in advance as parking is limited.

As you can see from above – for those taking vehicles – there is no need to drive on sand either on the mainland or once you reach Kingfisher Bay.

Fraser Venture Ferry

The Fraser Venture ferry times to Fraser Island are either 8.30 am and 3 pm daily.  For the return journey, the ferry is daily at 10 am and 4.30 pm.  However please note that this trip is affected by tides and in some cases will arrive and leave from Kingfisher Bay Resort instead of Wanggoolba Creek – so please keep this in mind when booking.  This trip takes 30 minutes.

Please note that you are required to reverse onto the barge from River Heads to Fraser Island, and then on your return journey, reverse off when you arrive at River Heads.  This just means from Fraser Island you are driving off and on the barge in a forward motion.  

River Heads Ticket Prices

Regardless of which ferry you take from River Heads, the ferry to Fraser Island cost is the same.  The return ticket prices are as follows:

  • Standard 4WD: off peak season is $180 or $205 during peak season
  • Large 4WD: off peak season is $255 or $275 during peak season
  • Boats, campers, caravans and trailers under 4m (including draw bar): off peak season is $100 or $120 during peak season
  • Boats, campers, caravans and trailers over 4m up to 7m (including draw bar): off peak season is $140 or $155 during peak season
  • Truck: off peak season is $340 or $380 during peak season
  • Motor Bike: off peak season is $90 or $105 during peak season

The above price includes vehicle and driver with each additional passenger costing $5.  For passengers without vehicles, the return price is $60 per adult and $30 per child (4-14) with 3 and under free.

Peak season is 02 April – 18 April 2021, 18 September – 04 October 2021, 23rd Dec – 10 Jan 21/22.  

River Heads Barge is best for …

If you’re planning a holiday at Kingfisher Bay Resort, then you’re best to take the barge across from River Heads to Kingfisher Bay Resort.  You can also take a 2WD or AWD vehicle if you’re only planning on driving around the resort property only.  If you plan on leaving the resort you must take a high clearance 4WD.

If you’re staying at Eurong Beach Resort and coming from the Hervey Bay region, then the River Heads to Wanggoolba Creek may also be a good option for you as the resort is just a 45 minutes drive (depending on the track conditions) from here.

If you take the barge from River Heads to Wanggoolba Creek you will need a high clearance 4WD.

Getting to Fraser Island from ….

So now we know how to get from the mainland to the island, let’s look at how to reach Fraser Island from both Brisbane and Hervey Bay.

Getting From Brisbane to Fraser Island

In terms of how to get to Fraser Island from Brisbane, the easiest way is to self drive.  However you can take a bus, train or flight – all options are discussed in detail below.

Brisbane to Fraser Island by Car – Self Drive

The easiest way for getting to Fraser Island from Brisbane is to self drive.  However, if you don’t have your own car and are looking at hiring a 4WD, then your best bet is to take a bus directly from Brisbane to Rainbow Beach as there are plenty more 4WD hire places here.  See below about how to get public transport to Rainbow Beach.

For the Brisbane to Fraser Island drive, you’ll need to drive to Inskip Point which is around 3 hours from the city centre.  Its a fairly easy drive as you simply travel north along the Bruce Highway to Gympie and then take the Rainbow Beach exit.  Then follow the signs to Rainbow Beach and once you reach Rainbow Beach, then follow the signs to Inskip Point.

See the previous section for details about getting the ferry across to Fraser Island from Inskip.

From Brisbane City to River Heads, it’s around a 3.5 hours drive.  Again it’s a fairly simple drive – heading straight up the Bruce Highway.  However, continue past Gympie, and take the Maryborough turn off.  Follow the signs to Hervey Bay, but take Booral Road and then River Heads Road down to River Heads all the way until you reach the boat ramp.

See above for details about getting the ferry across to Fraser Island from River Heads.

Brisbane to Fraser Island by Bus

The easiest way to get a bus from Brisbane to Fraser Island is by taking a direct bus to Rainbow Beach and then taking the barge across from Inskip.

To get the bus to Inskip, you’ll need to take either a Greyhound bus (GX441 towards Hervey Bay) or Premier Motor Service Bus (PM16 towards Cairns) from Brisbane to Rainbow Beach.  Buses leave once per day, with the trip taking around 5 hours and costs between $35 and $75.

From Rainbow Beach, you can hire a car and take the ferry across to Fraser Island.  See above for details about getting the ferry across to Fraser Island from Rainbow Beach.

Alternatively, if you’re wanting to go to take a barge from River Heads, you’ll first need to take a Greyhound Bus (GX443 towards Cairns or GX441 towards Hervey Bay) to Hervey Bay from Brisbane.  If you take GX443 you will need to change buses in Maryborough and take the 705 bus to Hervey Bay.  

Buses leave daily and the entire journey will take you around 5.5 hours and cost somewhere between $35 and $80.

From Hervey Bay, you will need to hire a car or take a taxi to River Heads, as there no public transport between Hervey Bay and River Heads.  From River Heads, you can take a passenger ferry across to Fraser Island.  See above for details about getting the ferry across to Fraser Island from River Heads.

Brisbane to Fraser Island by Train

If you’re wanting to take the train to Inskip – you’ll need to take the Tilt Train to Cooroy which is a 2 hour trip and will cost between $11 to $35.  From Cooroy you can take a bus to Rainbow Beach which will take 2.25 hours and cost between $30 and $45.  

From Rainbow Beach, you can hire a car and take the ferry across to Fraser Island.

If you’re looking to take the train to River Heads – then you’ll need to take the Tilt Train from Roma Street in Brisbane City to Maryborough West.  This journey takes around 3.5 hours and will cost between $35 and $80.

From Maryborough West, you can take a bus to the Maryborough Bus Terminal and then another bus to Hervey Bay.  Both bus trips will take around 35 minute in total and cost between $10 and $20.

From here you can hire a car and self drive to River Heads.

Brisbane to Fraser Island flights 

If you’re wanting to get a flight from Brisbane to Fraser Island, then you’re best to fly into Hervey Bay Airport.  Qantas has flights daily with the journey being just under 1 hour.  Flights are around $150.

From the airport its a short 10 minute drive to River Heads for the ferry across to Fraser Island.  There is no public transport from the airport to the ferry.

Getting From Hervey Bay to Fraser Island

As we’ve outlined above in the Brisbane to Fraser Island section – there is no public transport from Hervey Bay to River Heads for the ferries across to Fraser Island.  So you will need to either self drive or take a taxi.

Flights to Fraser Island

Image Credit Tourism and Events Queensland

If you’re coming from further afield, you can fly into the Hervey Bay Airport.  For flights to Fraser Island from Sydney, Melbourne or other Australian cities, you will need to fly into Brisbane and then from here, Qantaslink flies to Hervey Bay Airport multiple times per day.

From the airport, it’s a short 10 minute drive to River Heads for the ferry across to Fraser Island.  There is no public transport from the airport to the ferry.

Another option is once you’ve landed at the Hervey Bay Airport, you can arrange a flight to Fraser Island with either Air Fraser Island or MI Helicopter.

Vehicle Access Permits

If you are driving on Fraser Island you will need to arrange a vehicle access permit in advance.

Even though you will need to drive on the beach at Inskip Point to get onto the barge there, you do not require a permit to drive on the beach there.  However if you intend on driving on the beach in the nearby Cooloola Recreation Area you will need to get an additional vehicle access permit for this area.

You can purchase a vehicle access permit just for Fraser Island or you can buy a combined one which will give you access to Cooloola Recreation Area as well.

Prices are as follows:

  • Fraser Island: $53.65 for 1 month or $270 for 1 year
  • Coololola: $13.40 for 1 day, $34.10 for 1 week, $53.65 for 1 month or $270 for 1 year
  • For Both: $86.15 for 1 month or $432.30 for 1 year

Click here to book your vehicle permits.

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Hopefully, you found this guide on how to get to Fraser Island helpful.  We’ve got plenty of other Fraser Island guides including where to camp on Fraser, things to do on Fraser Island and our review of Cathedrals on Fraser Island here.   You might also be interested in our Inskip camping guide here or Rainbow Beach camping guide here.