K'gari (Fraser Island), Great Sandy National Park Fraser Coast

Fraser Island (K'gari) is the traditional land of the Butchulla Aboriginal people and a world heritage area. Photo credit: Maxime Coquard © Tourism and Events Queensland

Critical information for your safety

Critical information for your safety is included in the conditions report—always check it before you visit.

Staying safe

    Be dingo-safe. Always stay close (within arms' reach) of your children. Lock food and rubbish bags inside your vehicle at night. Photo: Queensland Government

    Be dingo-safe. Always stay close (within arms' reach) of your children. Lock food and rubbish bags inside your vehicle at night. Photo: Queensland Government

    K'gari beaches can be risky places for children. Stay close to them. Photo: Queensland Government

    K'gari beaches can be risky places for children. Stay close to them. Photo: Queensland Government

    Driving at high tide is dangerous. Don't place your passengers, yourself or your vehicle at risk. Photo: Queensland Government

    Driving at high tide is dangerous. Don't place your passengers, yourself or your vehicle at risk. Photo: Queensland Government

    Wongari (dingo) safety

    K'gari's wongari (dingoes) are wild and unpredictable. They are a protected species on K'gari.

    Be dingo-safe!

    • Never feed wongari (dingoes).
    • Always stay within arm’s reach of children, even small teenagers.
    • Walk in groups and carry a stick.
    • Do not run. Running or jogging can trigger a negative wongari (dingo) interaction.
    • Camp in fenced areas when possible.
    • Lock up food stores and iceboxes (even on a boat).
    • Never store food or food containers in tents.
    • Secure all rubbish, fish and bait.
    • Plan carefully to be dingo-safe—follow the guidelines given in brochures (PDF, 8.5MB) and on signs.
    • Read the Dingo safety guide (PDF, 8.5MB) for your next visit to the island.

    It is an offence to:

    • Feed dingoes
    • Leave food and rubbish unsecured—hanging rubbish, food, fish, bait or berley from cars, trees or tents is considered an offence.

    Rangers patrol regularly and you will be fined for doing the wrong thing.

    Be dingo-safe at the rubbish bins

    QPWS&P provides waste transfer stations—large fenced compounds with bulk rubbish bins—at certain locations across the island. They are marked on the K'gari (Fraser Island) map (PDF, 381.6KB) . Although the stations are fenced, please:

    • Never go alone or at night.
    • Never leave rubbish lying around—bin everything!
    • Never overfill bins—if a bin is full, use another.

    Important: report wongari (dingo) encounters

    Please report all negative or close encounters with wongari (dingoes) to the nearest ranger as soon as you can. Alternatively, phone (07) 4127 9150 or email dingo.ranger@des.qld.gov.au.

    Don't let your trip turn to tragedy—drive safely. Photo: Queensland Government

    Don't let your trip turn to tragedy—drive safely. Photo: Queensland Government

    K'gari beaches change every day—be on the lookout for washouts and take care at creek crossings. Photo: Queensland Government

    K'gari beaches change every day—be on the lookout for washouts and take care at creek crossings. Photo: Queensland Government

    Driving safely

    • All Queensland road rules apply.
    • K'gari beaches and sandy inland roads are suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles only.
    • Engage 4WD and lock hubs just before you start driving on the sand.

    Also note: To keep visitors safe, new laws have been introduced for 4WD hire vehicles. See the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) website for more information.

    Survive your drive

    K'gari's beaches and sand tracks are rough and only suitable for high clearance 4WD vehicles with low range capacity. All-wheel drive vehicles are not recommended.

    Four-wheel-driving on K'gari can be dangerous.

    People have died in crashes here, so take sand driving seriously.

    To help keep visitors safe, new laws are in place for 4WD hire vehicles. See the Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) for more information.

    Driving on sand

    • Four-wheel-driving on sand is different to driving a normal car and handling can be difficult. Slow down, pack light and store gear inside the car.
    • Stick to the speed limit. In good conditions, 80km/hr on the beach and 30km/hr on inland tracks. Remember, slower is safer.
    • Do not drive along the foredunes to avoid the high tides. It's prohibited (fines apply) and your vehicle can subside in the softer sands, become unstable and roll-over causing serious injury or death.
    • Consider tides, driving conditions and distances when booking a camp site—plan to arrive at your camp site well before dusk.
    • For essential safety tips view the safety video Drive to survive on K'gari (Fraser Island)
    • Print off the Driving on sand safety guide (PDF, 2.0MB) for your next visit to K'gari.
    • For more information see driving on sand.

    Don't turn your trip into tragedy.

    Don't take stupid risks! Reckless driving and silly pranks have led to crashes.

    Slower is safer! Passengers have suffered serious spinal injuries in vehicles travelling too fast for the road or beach conditions.

    Stay alert when driving on K'gari.

    • Slow down when passing pedestrians and beachgoers, especially around visitor sites such as the Maheno wreck, as they often cannot hear approaching vehicles above the sound of the surf and wind.
    • Slow down and follow the vehicle ahead at a safe distance.
    • Stay alert for oncoming traffic, especially when approaching corners.
    • Avoid driving at night because hazards are so much more difficult to see and rescuers will have more difficulty finding you if something goes wrong.

    Passengers, if the driver makes you feel unsafe in the vehicle—say something.

    Beach hazards

    Some beach hazards are extremely dangerous. Stay alert!—don't drive when you're tired or hung-over.

    • Deep washouts can happen at anytime, particularly after heavy rain and rough seas—approach wash-outs slowly!
    • Wave action can expose dangerous rocks, sometimes after just one high tide—use bypass roads if in any doubt.
    • Weather conditions and tides can wash up logs and erode the dunes, leaving trees and roots exposed.

    Maheno shipwreck site

    This is a popular site, with high traffic flow, many pedestrians wandering around and, at times, congested parking areas.

    • This is a beach pedestrian area—strictly 40km/hr speed limit.
    • Indicate your intention to pull over.
    • Park your vehicle safely out of the traffic lanes.
    • Take care when walking on the beach as vehicles are difficult to hear over the sound of wind and surf.
    • Keep children close.
    • Be aware that access is prohibited (PDF, 53.1KB) within 3 metres of the Maheno shipwreck.
    • Stay alert! Popular sites attract wongari (dingoes), which sometimes run erratically through traffic and parked cars.

    Tides, wind and swell

    Conditions can be too dangerous for beach driving, when high tides, sea swells and onshore winds combine. A combination of all or sometimes only two of these can result in deep salt water covering the entire beach.

    You can find yourself in a dangerous situation.

    • Waves can be washing up to and sometimes into the foredunes, leaving no beach to drive on.
    • Your vehicle's engine might stall if you drive through deep water.
    • Once your vehicle stops it can quickly sink in the soft sand, get washed away or be rolled over by the swell and waves.
    • The foredunes are often soft and unstable, collapsing easily under the weight of a vehicle, causing it to roll-over.
    • Your vehicle may be seriously damaged or lost to the tide as help is hours away.

    Vehicle roll-overs can lead to serious injury or death to you or your passengers.

    Avoid tragedy!

    • Never drive into conditions that can endanger your life.
    • Never drive along the foredunes in the hope to avoid the high tide waters, it is prohibited and fines apply. The dunes can also collapse and your vehicle could roll-over.

    Plan well!

    • Check weather forecasts.
    • Plan to drive around low tide times.
    • Avoid beach driving during the two hours either side of high tide.

    Aircraft

    Authorised aircraft have designated landing zones on the eastern beach. These are signposted and marked with orange cone markers along the beach.

    Drivers must give way to planes.

    • Planes need to land on the harder sand close to the water's edge.
    • Vehicles should move to the upper beach, but not onto vegetation.
    • Drivers must pay attention to aircraft traffic controller directions.

    No-vehicle zones

    Some areas are no-vehicle zones. See the K'gari (Fraser Island) map (PDF, 381.6KB) for details.

    Be warned!

    • Do not enter areas along the western beach, which are closed to vehicle access.
    • The ever-changing weed banks that lie buried under the sand along the western beach, and occasionally on the eastern beach, deceive even experienced drivers.
    • Your vehicle might sink quickly.
    • Help and vehicle recovery machines (tow trucks) can take many hours to arrive.
    • Always have at least one other 4WD accompany you when driving in suitable areas on the western beach or park and enjoy a walk instead.

    Best beach driving times

    • Best beach driving times are two hours either side of low tide.
    • Avoid driving during the two hours either side of high tide, as some areas may be more affected by tidal activity and onshore winds.
    • Avoid travelling at night—hazards are much more difficult to see.

    For up-to-date information check the K'gari (Fraser Island) conditions report (PDF, 1.4MB) and park alerts.

    Normal road rules apply

    All inland roads, vehicle tracks and beaches are designated roads and Queensland road rules apply.

    If you are planning to drive, plan not to drink alcohol and never take illegal drugs.

    Be aware!

    • Police patrol all areas of K'gari.
    • Speed checks and breath testing can happen at any time of day.
    • Maximum allowable blood alcohol level for drivers in Australia is 0.05 (0.00 for those on a licence equivalent to a learner or provisional licence).
    • Police conduct random drug testing for illegal substances, such as marijuana, ecstasy, speed and ice.
    • Look for speed signs on the upper dunes of beaches.

    Seatbelts

    Everyone must wear seat belts when travelling in the vehicle—it’s the law!

    • A driver, and any passenger over the age of 16, breaking this law risks a fine and (for Australians) three demerit points.
    • The driver will also be fined an additional amount for every passenger not wearing a seatbelt, regardless of the passenger’s age.

    Giving way

    Most of the roads are narrow and carry two-way traffic.

    • All standard Queensland give-way rules apply.
    • When safe, give way to buses, trucks and to vehicles travelling downhill or towing trailers.
    • Passing bays are frequent—if possible, always drive forwards (not reverse) into them.
    • Give way to aircraft—aircraft landing zones are signposted along the beach.
    • All wildlife is protected—approach wongari (dingoes), resting shorebirds and all other wildlife slowly, and carefully drive around them.

    Speed limits on the island

    • 80km/hr (maximum) on the eastern beach
    • 30km/hr on inland roads
    • 40km/hr in beach pedestrian areas
    • 50km/hr on Hook Point inland road
    • 10km/hr in shared-use areas
    • A safe driving speed may be lower than the signed speed limit.

    Driving hints

    Driving on sand is very different to driving on bitumen roads.

    • Always drive to suit the conditions.
    • Slow down and follow vehicles at a safe distance.
    • Only use indicators when overtaking, turning or pulling out from a parked position.
    • Keep to the left of oncoming vehicles at all times.

    Creek crossings

    Large volumes of fresh water erode creek banks and can leave deep washouts across the beach. These are dangerous when vehicles hit them at speed—roll-overs, severe spinal injuries and deaths have occurred in these circumstances.

    Look out for washouts and slow down!

    • Be especially careful when crossing Eli, Wyuna, Awinya and Coongul creeks.
    • Before crossing any creek, if safe, walk through it to check the depth of water and softness of sand.
    • Never stop your vehicle midstream; your vehicle may sink or stall.
    • Never attempt to cross Wathumba Creek or Moon Point estuaries.

    Tyre pressure

    Reduced tyre pressure, within manufacturer’s specifications, helps to maintain traction on inland tracks and soft sand, particularly at Tukkee wurroo (Indian Head) bypass and further north. Select low gears for soft, dry sand.

    If you choose to reduce your tyre pressure, be aware that it can affect your vehicle's braking capacity:

    • Avoid turning sharply or braking suddenly, as tyres with reduced air pressure can come off their rims.
    • Re-inflate your tyres to resume speed on harder sand, bitumen and for driving on the mainland.

    Avoid top-loading

    Top-loaded vehicles roll easily.

    • Pack light, pack right and stow gear low inside your vehicle.
    • Distribute your load evenly and do not overload your vehicle—the weight of passengers plus gear must be under your load rating.

    Since 1 April 2010, it is illegal to load luggage on the roof of a 4WD hire vehicle. All hire 4WD vehicles must:

    • carry no more than eight occupants, including the driver.
    • store all luggage securely inside the vehicle (not on the roof).

    Entering beach camping areas

    • Stay on the formed tracks when entering or leaving beach camping areas.
    • Go slow—pedestrians and wildlife also use these access tracks.
    • It is illegal to drive over or park on sand dunes or foredunes.

    Towing a trailer?

    Conditions at some barge landings and on inland tracks, including Tukkee wurroo (Indian Head) bypass, can be soft and boggy, making it difficult to tow trailers or camper trailers.

    Be aware:

    • Caravans are not suitable for K'gari.
    • Off-road camper trailers must have high clearance and be suitable for the vehicle towing them.

    Your type of 4WD, its clearance and load size will effect where you can go on the island. Your sand driving experience and the beach or track conditions will determine accessibility and driving or towing comfort during your visit to K'gari.

    Visiting the lakes

    Lakes are popular areas for wongari (dingoes) too. Use the tables in the day-use areas for picnics, because picnics on a lake shore or the beach put food at 'wongari level'. This can attract wongari and tempt them to steal your food, sometimes aggressively.

    • Take no food or drinks, except drinking water, to lake shores.
    • Use fenced picnic areas where provided.
    • When you have finished eating, pack everything including any rubbish back inside your vehicle, not on top.
    • Don't leave scraps or dish cloths lying around.
    • Lock your vehicle before going to the lake.

    Danger! (Lake Wabby)

    • Running, rolling, boarding, sliding and jumping down the sand dunes can cause serious injury or death.
    • Spinal injuries have occurred when performing these activities in the past.

    Walking safely

    • Stay with your children at all times.
    • Don't leave children alone in a tent.
    • Stay on formed walking tracks rather than taking shortcuts.
    • Wear sturdy footwear, not thongs.
    • Walk in groups.
    • Avoid walking in the hottest part of the day.
    • Carry sufficient drinking water.
    • Protect yourself from the sun.
    • Look for and observe all signs.

    Walking over sandblows

    Walking over sandblows or up steep sections of tracks can be very tiring. Some people have suffered fatigue and heat exhaustion on hot days.

    • Take enough drinking water.
    • Walk in the cooler time of day.
    • Wear sun protection, especially a hat.

    Tukkee wurroo (Indian Head)

    A restricted access area (PDF, 91.9KB) has been declared over the eastern cliff top area of Tukkee wurroo (Indian Head), K'gari.

    • Access to the area beyond the markers is prohibited without a permit or written approval.
    • Penalties apply if you go beyond the markers.

    Long distance walking

    You should prepare well if undertaking a long distance walk such as the K'gari (Fraser Island) Great Walk and ensure you have:

    • a map
    • compass
    • personal locator beacon (PLB)
    • food
    • drinking water
    • appropriate clothing and sun protection
    • first-aid kit
    • camping permit.

    Safety is your responsibility:

    • Advise a reliable friend or family member of your itinerary and contingency plan if things go wrong.
    • Be aware that this person, not the rangers, is responsible for alerting police if rescues are needed.
    • Always check track conditions just before you start.
    • Do not ignore track closure signs.

    Sand slips are silent

    Exposed sand dunes and sand cliffs are unstable and can collapse without warning. Serious injury or death can result. Don't assume that this won't happen when you or your children are there.

    • Do not toboggan down sand dunes; you can suffer serious neck injuries.
    • Never climb, slide down or dig into sand dunes or sand cliffs.

    Water safety

    People have suffered serious injuries in water-related accidents. There are no patrolled swimming areas on Fraser Island. Avoid tragedy.

    • Always stay with children when near water.
    • Do not swim in the ocean as it is not patrolled and there may be rips and sharks.
    • Do not dive into water. Serious injuries have occurred.
    • Never run, roll, board or slide down the sand dune at Lake Wabby; it can result in serious and life-long spinal injuries or death.
    • Stay away from rocks. Surf and swell can quickly wash you away.

    Also see:

    Be croc wise and report crocodile sightings

    There are confirmed sightings of an estuarine (saltwater) crocodile in the Mary River and credible reports of crocodile sightings in the Great Sandy Strait and western coastline of K'gari.

    Crocodiles are a native animal and protected in Queensland. The accepted habitat range of the estuarine crocodile in Queensland extends from Torres Strait south to the Boyne River, just south of Gladstone. However there have been records of estuarine crocodiles as far south as the Logan River Brisbane (circa 1902).

    If you sight a crocodile:

    For your own safety ‘Be croc wise’:

    • Do not approach crocodiles and stay well away from a 'crocodile slide'.
    • Never feed, provoke, harass or interfere with a crocodile.
    • Stay alert when launching or retrieving your boat, fishing or boating.
    • Avoid entering the water.
    • When fishing stand at least a few metres back from the water's edge.
    • Never clean fish or discard fish or food scraps near the water's edge, camp sites or boat ramps.
    • Camp at least 50m from the water's edge.

    Crocodiles are only one of a number of dangerous marine animals, including sharks and stingers potentially found in this region. Following common sense and croc wise rules will reduce the risk of contact with crocodiles.

    Fire prohibitions and bans

    Both prohibitions and bans carry heavy penalties for non-compliance. Be extra vigilant with fuel stoves, gas lights and lanterns at all times.

    Fire prohibitions

    A permanent fire prohibition on open campfires is in place on Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and Partnerships (QPWS&P) estate on K'gari, except in the QPWS&P-provided fire rings at Dundubara and Waddy Point camping areas.

    Total fire bans

    During high fire danger periods, the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) may declare a total fire ban, which means no fires are permitted anywhere on private or public lands. See Queensland Fire and Rescue Service for more information.

    Bushfire safety

    Bushfires can pose a threat to walkers and campers. They can occur without warning, so be aware of, and prepared for, the dangers.

    If you are caught in a bushfire:

    • follow the track to the nearest road, beach, lake or creek for refuge.
    • large logs, a ditch or burnt ground can also provide protection.
    • avoid areas of heavy fuel, such as deep leaf litter.
    • stay low to the ground where the air is coolest and contains the least smoke.

    Be aware!

    • In extreme conditions, roads, walking tracks and camping areas may be closed at short notice for your safety.
    • Rangers also carry out planned fuel reduction burning.
    • If you see a fire, please alert a QPWS office, a ranger or phone Triple Zero (000) as soon as possible.
    • Report arson to the police immediately.

    Also see: Safety video clips and read the guidelines on Safety in parks and forests.