Melb to Fraser.. first timer please help?

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Melb to Fraser.. first timer please help?

Unread post by tjmark » January 9th, 2017, 5:05 pm

Gday ladies and gents,

My partner and I are planning to head to Fraser island with a few other couples on third term school holidays from Melbourne. All own 4x4's and have experience on sand driving ranging from beginner to intermediate.

Now, I have been doing loads of reading, so much so that its all getting a bit too much to jam into my head and keep track of, so i thought Id ask for some help and advice here.

From what I understand so far we will need to;

- Purchase return Barge tickets for our vehicles.
- Purchase permits for vehicle access onto the island.
- Book our campsites well in advance.

The main advice I'm after is on what times we should allow for travel from Melb to Fraser. Our rough time frame at the moment would allow for;

-3 days/2 nights to travel to the island.
-5 days/4 nights to explore
-3 days/2 nights to travel back to Melb.

This would require the first two days to include around 9.5 -10 hours driving time and roughly 5 hours on the third day. Whats peoples experiences or thoughts on this?

We would like to make the trips to and from Fraser island just as enjoyable as the island experience itself, so would greatly appreciate any recommendations for campsite stop overs along the way.. preferably with toilet facilities but not an absolute must.

If anyone is willing to share their own itinerary or can link us to some helpful websites that I may have missed, we'd be very grateful.

This trip has been on the cards for all of us for quite awhile now, so 2017 is the year and we just want to get things right.

Thanks in advance,


Peter Aawen
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Re: Melb to Fraser.. first timer please help?

Unread post by Peter Aawen » January 11th, 2017, 12:18 pm

Hi tjmark, it sounds like you are planning a great trip, :thumb: but I do think you might be biting off just a little too much in your to/from travelling plans! :petrified:

While it might be possible to get to/from Melbourne to Fraser in 3days/2nights, depending exactly on where you start from in Melbourne, that's still going to mean you need to do about 850-900 or so kms for each of the first 2 days! Or in other words, you'll need to drive to achieve an overall average speed of about 90kph, even if you don't take your pit stops, meal breaks, & refuelling time into account!! That might sound OK to the un-initiated, but in my experience, that's going to be a bloody hard ask for someone not practiced in long distance driving, someone travelling with kids, or for someone who doesn't know the road & route pretty well &/or wants to have a bit of a look around - even more so if you are travelling 'in company' with another vehicle or 2!! Even the Dakkar Rally drivers don't aim for a transport avg speed that high or often travel much further on 'transport days'!! From when you start the car in the morning until you shut it down at the end of your days travel, I'd be surprised if you averaged 80kph overall, even if your purely 'moving average' speed ends up somewhat higher!!

In our years (decades) of running tag-alongs for groups of 4WD'ers, we found that it was best to limit the target distance for this sort of 'to/from' travel to NO MORE than about 600km; and even then, that sort of distance invariably took us about 9 hours or so OF DRIVING(overall avg of 66.66kph!) not including the time we added for pit stops & meal breaks, sightseeing etc; & yet still there were times that getting the 'group' that sort of distance during just 'one day' was impossible!! It really only takes one flat tyre, or one person wanting to stop & take a pic of 'just a few' of the scenic views along the way!!

Since you've got what, about 2000 km each way by the 'quick route'(?!?) I'd strongly suggest that you add at least one full driving day to your estimated travel times up & back. Maybe plan on stopping at around the 600km mark each day, & don't think that means you can maybe push it out to 650 or even 620kms - unless you are prepared to do nothing but drive all day - it just makes it too hard for most to maintain for more than a day or so!! Regarding over-night stops, make bookings for caravan parks or small town pubs if you feel the need, but then that does sorta commit you to pushing on to reach those places, & if you are aiming for an enjoyable trip, you might find you just don't have the time to stop when you want &/or enjoy the scenery IF you are going to make your booked accom for the night!! With the coverage you get from most mobile phones these days & a little forethought as you travel, it's not usually all that hard to work out how much further is 'reasonable' for the group to travel by the time you take your lunch break stop (unless you don't stop until 3:00pm for lunch!) and then call ahead for bookings during that break (altho travelling during school hols might throw a spanner in that!) but don't ever plan on heading much beyond the 600km mark or you WILL almost certainly be driving into the late hours of the night, or maybe even into the early hours of the next morning!! And most pubs &/or caravan park operators really don't like being woken up much after about 9:00pm to sign you in & give you a key etc!! Bit different if you are prepared to rough bush camp, but then setting up camp somewhere in the Scrub at midnight is never fun either!! :p

So I'd strongly suggest that you give yourself at least another full day for the trip up, and only once you get there then decide if you can afford to press harder & drive thru on the way back; keeping in mind that you will probably still hafta front for work the morning after you get home!! That way, if you still think the quicker drive back is do-able after you've experienced the trip up, you can choose to spend more time on Fraser, but I can assure you that if you hafta push yourselves too hard to meet your deadlines going up, you'll take at least a day to recover once you're there, so you'll waste at least part of that day in recovery/sleeping, and then you'll probably also ruin the last coupla days before hitting road home in worrying about how hard that trip's gonna be!! Working on 'transport days' of no more than 600km will make your whole trip sooo much more enjoyable! :thumb:
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Re: Melb to Fraser.. first timer please help?

Unread post by No Fn Idea » January 11th, 2017, 1:10 pm

Those travel distances do seem a bit long. I did from the bottom of the Island to the barge and then all the way down to Newcastle in a was a loooooooooooong day.

I would do what you can to add another day/night into your journey that way you can see things on the way to make it more enjoyable for the tribes. There is so much to see between Mexico and Fraser you may as wll enjoy it.
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Re: Melb to Fraser.. first timer please help?

Unread post by tjmark » January 12th, 2017, 4:10 pm

Peter, thats a ripper reply mate, thanks for your time. You too, NFI; much appreciated. I'll take both of your comments on board and make the to and from drives 4 days each!

Once I get the Itinerary sorted I'll be sure to post it back on here for other members future reference. Now, back to the drawing board!

This is half the fun!

Cheers blokes.

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Re: Melb to Fraser.. first timer please help?

Unread post by hoyks » January 12th, 2017, 5:58 pm

I do a bit of long distance driving and don't think your plan is unreasonable...
but it would be long days to cover that distance and unless you have a camp that is quick to setup and put away, then I think forking out for a cheap motel and hitting the road early might be worth considering, even if it is only for one night.

I also wouldn't go via Sydney, it is a fair bet you would hit there around rush hour and it is around 200km longer than the inland route.

Have a look at the Newel Highway via Dubbo, Moree and Toowoomba, most of it is 110km zone, just not multi lane like the Hume. Plenty of cheapish clean hotels along that road too, or options to get off the road and roll out a swag.
If you make Toowoomba for the 2nd night, then it would be an easy day to Gympie to stock up on food, Rainbow Beach for your pass and barge ticket, into Rainbow Beach proper to top off fuel and then Inskip and to the barge. You would have your wheels on the sand by mid-afternoon on the 3rd day. You can get your Parks Pass at Rainbow Beach when you get your barge ticket, or buy it online when you get book your camp sites.

There is a barge from Hervey Bay, but the Inskip one is quicker and cheaper

Manta Ray Barges

Queensland National Parks ... _fees.html

and a map ... nd-map.pdf

For your 1st camp; I aimed for Lake Boomajin, a site 1/3rd or the way up the island. This wasnt the best plan as I was running later than planned and the tide was against me, so it was a bit of a race against the sun and the sea. I’d suggest that you aim for Coolooloi Ck camp on the 1st day, it is not far from where you come off the ferry and you can get there regardless of what the tide is doing.
From what I saw it was really quiet too. Everyone wants to get somewhere north, so it gets bypassed, so you may even have it to yourselves.

That is also if provided everything goes well and everyone is organized. As said above, traveling in a group is always slower. If you tell everyone to meet somewhere at 8am ready to go, someone will always rock up at 8.30 and then tell you they need to stop for fuel.

The other option is to tell everyone to make their own way there and set a time and a place to meet.

Traveling in a convoy can be fun, but it can also ruin a trip before it begins. Everything might be going fine in your vehicle and you can comfortable punch out 400km before lunch, but you friends Mrs may need pee stops every 50km, or the kids get car sick, or they get a flat tyre on a tyre they should have replaced last month and go hunting a repair, or they want to visit Uncle Merv in Woy Woy, but won't be long...
It can be managed reasonably easily with 1 other vehicle, but the more vehicles the delays seem to increase exponentially. Think of trying to heard cats.

All can leave you sitting still, seething and burning daylight when you would rather be making tracks. It can lead to a lot of resentment that can ruin the whole holiday before it starts.

I'd suggest that you tell your group that you will meet them at Coolooloi Ck camp on the day you planned to hit the island, then you can get there in your own time and be kicking back having a drink as the stragglers get into camp, rather than stressing you may not make the last ferry because you are waiting on ol' mate that just needed to grab something at the shop and 'won't be long', for the 7th time today!! :mad:
That way, if you can get there in 3 days, take 3 days. If you mates family doesn't travel as easily or want to visit uncle Merv, then they they can leave earlier and still get there on the day. It will also have you all starting your holiday proper and taking your time exploring on the same day, rather than being annoyed and stressed from herding the convoy 1800km across the country.

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