Fraser Island with Nomads Tag-a-Long 4x4 Tour

When people ask us about our favorite things we did in Australia, few things come to mind quicker than Fraser Island. We booked this on a whim and strong recommendations and went into it with zero expectations. We came out of it, sick as dogs, with friends from all over that we’ll no doubt hold on to. 

If you’re backpacking the East Coast of Australia, don’t miss out on Fraser Island.

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We began and ended our tour at Noosa Nomads, the hostel company that plans the Nomads Tag-a-Long 4x4 Tour. They offer 3-day and 2-day tours. If you have time, take the 3-day. 

Nomads also provides pre and post-night accommodation for you as part of your tour, which makes it easy to leave your heavy bag at home.

You’ll have a briefing the night before you leave, going over what to bring, what to expect, and your itinerary. 

Here’s our briefing for you:

  • Sunblock.

  • Don’t get caught up in the details. Maybe the meals and accommodation aren’t exactly to your liking. It’s just food and a place to sleep. It’s all about the people. The rest is extra. The tour is expensive and if you get caught up in the details you miss out on what you really pay for which is a kick ass experience.

  • Skip the make-up, it’ll melt off anyway.

  • Bring two swimsuits, you’ll swim every day.

  • Opt for the dorm over the tipi if you can (AC baby).

  • Bring 2-3 outfits tops, you’ll need to wash it all the you get back.

  • Download your playlists before you leave.

  • Be respectful of the guide and the wake-up/departure times. Don’t make people wait for you, it cuts into everyone’s day if you do!

  • If you aren’t a confident driver, don’t sign up to drive. Riding shotgun is honestly just as fun.

 

Fraser Island

Many people don’t realize this, but Fraser Island is World Heritage listed because it’s the largest sand island in the world. The native community on the island has a rich history, which the guide will be sure to introduce you to as part of your tour. 

It’s got unbelievable beaches, lakes, and jungles, and you’ll get to experience all of it! It also is home to a large number of dingos, Australia’s version of wild dogs. They may look cute, but dingos are wild animals. They’re pretty neat, but respect their distance. 

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Getting to the Island

This was easy peasy. Your guide will pick you up by bus at Noosa Nomads early in the morning. From there it’s a relatively easy bus ride up to Rainbow Beach where you pick up your 4x4’s and catch the ferry over to Fraser. 

When you pick up the 4x4’s you’ll be split into cars that you’ll be with the rest of the weekend. You’ll get to stick with the people you’re traveling with but that’s about it. The rest is random, depending on how big the group is, whether or not the cars are manual or automatic, and depending on how many people want to drive. 

We had an absolute blast with the people in our car. They became some of the best friends we’ve made on our trip and we’ve all made plans to meet up again in our respective countries (the U.S., Canada, and Sweden). However, if you don’t automatically love the group you’re with, a. give it time and, b. don’t panic, usually everyone is together as a larger group anyways.

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Food & Accommodation

It’s basic, but everyone is covered. Whether you’re vegetarian or gluten free, there’s food for you and enough of it. Sandwiches, pasta dishes, etc. It’s easy food that everyone can be happy with - trust me, you won’t go hungry!

With the Nomads tour, you stay at Eurong, which has a bar and pool and is right on the beach. Your choice of accommodation is either dorms or tipis. Both are good, you really only are there to sleep, but the dorms have AC, so if that’s a priority get the dorms!

 

Driving Around Fraser Island...

…is not for the faint hearted. The 4x4’s can and do handle a lot on this island and they need a firm and confident hand behind the wheel, especially in manual. When you’re driving through the jungle and on the beach you’re going to need to keep up with the car(s) in front of you, so if you’re nervous, don’t offer to drive. 

You do have the option of trying a drive on the easier sections of the beach and switching when it gets too much. No matter how many people want to drive, everyone who wants a turn will get one, so don’t stress about it! 

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What You’re in For

You mean other than the time of your life?

You’ll be journeying around the island to some of its most beautiful locations, including:

  • Lake McKenzie

  • Champagne Pools

  • The Maheno Wreck

  • Indian Head

  • Eli Creek

  • Lake Wabby

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At each location, you’ll have plenty of time to explore, relax, swim, or play a game of beach volleyball with your crew. You’ll picnic each lunch and head back to Eurong each night to party at the bar and break into the pool after its been locked up at 8pm. 

Fraser Island is picturesque and chances are you’ll sign up to explore it with a group of kickass people from around the world. We had an absolute blast and if you relax and go with the flow of each day there’s no way you won’t as well.

Taking the “Loca” LOKA Tour of Australia’s East Coast

We booked our trip up Australia’s east coast before we even left New Zealand. Our friends at the Travel desk in the Base Hostel in Queenstown advised us to book what we definitely wanted to do in advance instead of waiting just in case anything filled up during the popular summer holidays. 

We ended up booking three weeks worth of travel, accommodation and tours from Byron Bay up to Cairns before we even left Queenstown. After finally getting to experience it all, we can honestly say we had the time of our lives. Major thanks to Jules & Nick, who both seriously hooked it up for us. If you’re in Queenstown and looking to book tours in NZ or AUS, we definitely recommend you go talk to them.

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The method to our east coast madness was to take a LOKA bus/train tour from start to finish. We took the Kat Tour (pictured above), but there a ton a options to choose from. This is one of the two most popular travel options for people (and by people I mean backpackers) looking for a tour/travel combo, the second is Greyhound. Both companies can book tours for you in each location and give you the flexibility to hop-on, hop-off as you like. 

The key difference, as we understand it, is that LOKA makes use of the train system as well as buses, Greyhound operates with just their own buses. We both agreed that, while the trains are very nice and comfortable, the idea of just not having to get on and off constantly to switch from one to the other would’ve been nice. Definitely check out both options to see which you’d like better, but either will get you where you want to go. 

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If you know your time frame and your budget and you don’t want to rent your own car, another great alternative, these two companies are your best bet. If you can, especially during popular travel times (for us, our December dates coincided with school break in AUS so you can imagine), book your pick-ups and tours in advance and then just show up. 

LOKA runs buses nearly every day at all major stops on the east coast and everyday at the most popular ones. Check out their schedule online and make sure you reconfirm your pick up locations a day in advance with your driver. That’s about all you need to do! 

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When the drivers pick you up they deal with everything between your start and final destination. This includes train tickets, stops, and door-to-door stops at different hostels along the way to collect and deposit people. Everyone we met who worked for LOKA was incredibly nice and helpful with any questions we had. The buses were clean and cool and everything ran smoothly. Yeah, the hours are a little nuts (hello, 4 a.m. wake up), but it’s called budget travel for a reason people!

From start to finish, our LOKA tour included:

  • Byron Bay

  • Brisbane

  • Noosa (Fraser Island)

  • Rainbow Beach

  • Emu Park

  • Airlie Beach (Whitsundays)

  • Magnetic Island (this stop included the ferry to get to and from the island)

  • Cairns

We booked through Base Travel, so our tours weren’t booked through LOKA itself, but you can book through most hostel travel desks or just do it yourself! LOKA is a great way to get around the east coast without a car and doubles as an excellent way to meet cool people looking to do what you’re doing. 

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