“This was the best holiday, ever,” stated Lincoln as we boarded the ferry home at the end of our stay at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Queensland’s Fraser Island.
I hadn’t known what to expect when I started planning a trip for the five of us to the largest sand island in the world. When I was commissioned to write a travel piece for Australia and New Zealand magazine, I even considered leaving the kids with friends for the weekend while Matt and I went, as I wasn’t sure it would be a family-friendly destination. How wrong I was!
Posts contain affiliate links. If you buy things through the links the site earns a commission at no extra cost to you. Please see the disclaimer in the footer. This was part of a press trip and accommodation and some activities were hosted by the resort.
The last time I’d visited Fraser Island – on a day tour back in 2008 while backpacking – it rained all day. Matt and I had a great time but we always knew wanted to go back and explore it for longer (and preferably without the torrential downpour). I remembered seeing 4x4s, wild campsites and people fishing from the beach. I didn’t expect to find a family resort on the island, but that’s exactly what I discovered when I started to do some research.
>> Check out accommodation at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Booking.com here
Want to take your car to Fraser Island? Learn how to get started with beach driving here!
Australia has so many amazing islands to explore – there is Moreton Island, Kangaroo Island, Rottnest Island, Heron Island, Green Island, Lady Eliott Island – there are SO MANY Australian islands that are perfect for a family holiday. I think I need to create a checklist so I can tick them off as we go!
Getting to Fraser Island with kids
The ferry at River Heads is only about three and a half hours north of Brisbane (if you’re travelling with kids allow more time for a stop or two along the way). The ferry only takes around 50 mins, so it’s doable as a long weekend destination from the city, although we extended our stay along the Fraser Coast afterwards to research another article (read about Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay here!)
You don’t need your own 4×4 to visit Fraser, despite what you might have heard. Of course, it’s a fantastic destination for wild adventures, beach driving, fishing, and camping, but at Kingfisher Bay you can leave your car in a secure car park at the resort’s mainland reception and travel as foot passengers. The resort runs lots of activities and tours, so you can still explore the island, but without the worry of getting bogged on the beach!
“I’m looking out for dolphins, whales and turtles,” Reuben exclaimed staring out across the water for most of the journey over.
Top tip: Bring binoculars for the Fraser Island ferry so you can check out the island and look out for wildlife as you’re sailing by. We forgot our binoculars, so I used the zoom on my camera to look out for dingoes! Using this we realised a group of tiny people we could see further down the beach were actually getting married on the sand which the kids thought was really cool.
When the ferry arrived, we were met by a little train at the jetty to take us to reception. This was another big hit with the kids!
Fraser Island family accommodation at Kingfisher Bay Resort
>> Check out accommodation at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Booking.com here
We were staying in a two-bedroom villa at Kingfisher Bay Resort which was perfect for a larger family like ours. It had an open plan kitchen, dining and living room, the kids had bunk beds and a single bed in their room so they were all really happy to be sharing, there was a double bedroom for us and the bathroom had a lovely big bath in it (great for young kids who don’t like showers!). What I loved most about our spotlessly clean villa was there was a dishwasher and washing facilities, along with sachets of liquids in case you forgot to bring your own (very important for families as there is nothing worse than washing up on your holiday, or running out of clean clothes!) I also loved how the villas blended into the landscape. The large deck was a great place to spot wildlife – we had three friendly kookaburras hopping around our deck for most of our stay which the kids thought was fabulous!
>> Check out the latest deals at Kingfisher Bay Resort here. <<
The first night the boys went along to the Junior Eco Rangers club – a kids’ club that I knew they would adore. Named by Australian Traveller magazine as one of the top 100 things to do with your kids this summer, I can definitely see why. The kids went off with a ranger for an evening of star gazing, camp fires, marshmallow toasting and Aboriginal legends. While Matt, Evangeline (who was a bit too young to join the boys) and I went along to experience the fusion of bush tucker and modern cuisine in the resort’s signature Seabelle restaurant. We sampled taste sensations like lemon myrtle oil and bush spiced butter on freshly baked bread and steaks cooked with a quandong jus. Evangeline enjoyed battered flat-head and hand cut chips before curling up in her chair and going to sleep, leaving us with a very peaceful evening of wine and cocktails.
We collected two very excited, smokey boys at the end of the night. For them, this turned out to be the highlight of their entire holiday – they were full of campfire stories and couldn’t wait to tell us what they’d got up to. On the way back to our villa they even pointed out some of the plants they’d learned about.
Fraser Island family tours: Kingfisher Bay Beauty Spots Tour
Although children and babies are welcomed on the tours, I decided to do the island Beauty Spots Tour on my own as it was a long day and I knew the kids would hate getting on and off a bus all day long. Instead, Matt hung out with the kids at the resort for the day, enjoying the play park and the beach which was fabulous for shell-hunting and nature spotting.
The tour was a great chance to see the island’s main sights.
It involved a wade down the fresh waters of Eli Creek (plan ahead and wear shorts ready for this but be prepared to get them a little bit wet if you step into a dip like I did!), the Stonetool Sandblow, Central Station Rainforest – where you learn all about the island’s logging heritage and take a hike through the forest, the Pinnacles coloured sand, the iconic Maheno shipwreck, and the highlight of the day is a visit to the absolutely stunning Lake McKenzie where the pure white sand is lapped by gin-coloured water. An unexpected addition to the tour was the chance to take a scenic flight over the island. I’m not a fan of flying – especially not in tiny planes where the cabin is smaller than my car – but I found myself volunteering for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
The plane took off from the beach runway as cars drove past us. We were treated to the most incredible view, flying over the island’s interior and then back out to sea to look for whales and dolphins. If you get the chance to do this, this will be the highlight of your stay so give it a go even if you’re a bit nervous like I was!
Fraser Island Whale Watching Cruise
The next day I took the opportunity to go on a whale watching cruise. The waters around Fraser are known as the best place in the world to see humpbacks as they take some time out in the calm waters to socialise, have fun and teach their young important skills. I’ve been lucky enough to go whale watching a few times and I can safely say this was the most incredible experience I’ve ever had. They were splashing, tail slapping and breaching all around the boat. It was difficult to know where to look next – it was just awesome.
Back at the resort, I went along to the Bush Tucker Talk and Taste where I got to taste the traditional flavours of the land and hear how they are weaved into the menu at Seabelle. While a ranger talked through the tasting platters, the chef cooked up emu, crocodile and kangaroo.
On one evening I went out with Lincoln on a guided night bushwalk. He’s obsessed with wildlife, so seeing his excitement as we gathered in reception and met a ranger by torch-light was such a treat. We learnt how to spot spiders from a distance using the beam of a torch (their eyes shine like tiny diamonds when you shine it on them), we investigated a log full of funnel web spiders, we saw our first ever sugar glider and we hunted for rays from the jetty. Lincoln would have been happy staying out all night long looking for wildlife and listening to the ranger’s stories and it was so lovely getting some time alone with him as anyone with three kids knows how rare that is. His brother and sister had an equally fun night alone with Daddy (as they aren’t so wildlife obsessed) so everybody had a good time!
In between tours, we found time to explore the beach, play in the resort’s park, dig in the sand, drink hot chocolate (and wine!) from the jetty hut and laugh at the armies of thousands of crabs that made the sand look like it was moving as they ran from our movements.
>> Browse Fraser Island tours and trips on Experience Oz
Eating out on Fraser Island
After our lovely meal in the Seabelle restaurant, we mixed things up for the rest of the stay. One night we ate pizzas at the resort’s Sand Bar, and as we ordered way too much (we were hungry and got carried away!) they packed the rest up as a take away for us which was great as it meant we had lunch for the next day. We also brought some food over with us, and picked up some things in the resort’s shop which was handy so we could cook things like bacon and eggs in our villa too. As you are tied to the resort (there’s no high street full of restaurants to choose from on Fraser Island!), it was good that there were a range of eating options available from fine dining, to buffet food in the Maheno Restaurant through to bar food and take away pizzas at the Sand Bar. There was something to suit even picky kids like ours too!
Fraser Island with kids
>> Browse Fraser Island tours and trips on Experience Oz
The kids were disappointed not to see any real life dingoes (I was lucky enough to spot one on a beach on our way back from the whale watching cruise if you scroll back up to look at the photo next to the shipwreck but unfortunately they weren’t with me). But they now carry their toy dingoes from the resort shop everywhere they go. Fraser was a huge hit with them, so much so that they really do think it’s the best place they’ve been so far in Australia.
Kingfisher Bay is a great family resort – it’s a place to have adventures with young kids (or big kids!) in a safe and easy environment. Beware – the ‘what’s on’ guide is packed full of activities which makes it difficult to decide what to do next. We didn’t even have time to try out any watersports which was a shame, and there were other guided walks we missed that we really wanted to do. Three nights wasn’t really enough. We’ll just have to come back again for another family holiday soon!
Fancy taking a family holiday to Fraser Island?
> Find the latest prices of accommodation on the Fraser Coast on Booking.com (Note: this list includes mainland accommodation too that is within easy reach of Fraser Island)
Limited on time? You can book a whale watching trip and day tour to Fraser Island here.
Browse other Fraser Island tours and trips on Experience Oz here.
If you’re visiting Fraser Island with kids, you may also be interested in my blog posts all about nearby Rainbow Beach and the Sunshine Coast too.
Great post. We can’t wait to organise our family holiday to Fraser Island.
You will love it, Mel. It’s such a great destinations for families looking to get away from the theme parks and reconnect with nature without needing to give up on luxuries.
I had NO idea how many activities there were! Thanks for the tips, we definitely want to take the family.
You definitely should visit – it’s great for all ages!
Definitely going to put that on my must see list!
Yes – do it! It’s a fab destination.
Fraser is amazing. Spent many holidays there as a child. Its not so secret anymore! Still beautiful and hopefully will be forever
Thanks for the comment, Kate. It’s not a secret anymore but it’s still not overcrowded. I love that my kids are going to have this place as one of their childhood memories now. They had such a great time there.
Might need to look into this! ????
You should – it’s a fab destination and it’s easy to do as a day trip or a short break!
I went about ten years ago. Had a great time. You’ve just reminded me to organise a return trip. I love the wildness of it. Saw a dingo steal our sunscreen!
Thanks for taking the time to comment Simone. Wow what a great story to tell about the dingo stealing your sunscreen! I was lucky enough to see one on this trip. I definitely plan to go back too.
Great post! Remember going here as a kid and good to see that it’s still as fantastic as ever.
Thanks Nicola! I love the thought of my kids having places like this in their childhood memories!
My husband and I went to Fraser Island last year, as a couple i.e. left the kids at home, the whole time we were there we kept saying “wow the kids would love this” and “we definitely need to come back and bring the kids with us”. Such a beautiful part of not only Australia but the rest of the world. Can’t wait to get back there one day with the kids. Great article.
Thanks for your comment, Angela. We were so close to coming as a couple too and leaving the kids – I’m so pleased we bought them. As they get older they’re going to love things like the whale watching and tours.
I went there once as a kid and loved it. I can’t wait to go back.
You definitely should go back again – there is so much to do!
Everyone loves FRASER Island – so now the question remains…why haven’t I been, with the kids? Great tips and info thank you. Especially love the images X
Thanks for the kind words. Exactly – everyone loves Fraser but I had no idea it was a great place for kids either. But it definitely is!
Wow, loved the detail provided in your post! Will keep Fraser Island in mind for a holiday destination:)
Thanks for taking the time to comment. Fraser Island has everything – there is even a spa at Kingfisher if you want to chill out too!
Thanks for the insights. We looked at going to Fraser Island when we were visiting from New Zealand a couple of years back. It was all too confusing at the time, so we missed out. Great to know that you don’t need a 4×4 on the island (we’d assumed we would have to do a tour). Definitely on the list for our next visit to Queensland!
I remember how confusing it was when we were travelling before having kids too. We ended up doing a day tour as we thought that was the only way we could see the island without hiring a 4×4. In fact, even when we told people we were staying at Kingfisher Bay in August, everyone (even Queensland folk) kept telling us you need a 4×4 to get there so there is a big misconception about it. Definitely add it to your list on your next trip! Thanks for the comment.
My absolute favourite place in tue whole world. Great post, thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the comment! There is something so special about it – I think it is because it is so low key and most people don’t realise how easy it is to get to or how family friendly it is. It’s a great place to get away from it all.