Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island is probably the most popular spot everyone wants to visit.
It’s easy to see why; Lake McKenzie is a natural wonder surrounded by pure silica sand and transparent tranquil water.
Lake McKenzie is a spot to tick off anyone’s bucket list when visiting Fraser Island and we will provide all the information you need to ensure you will have an amazing time. It’s also near great spots such as The Champagne Pools and S.S Maheno, also known as the Fraser Island Shipwreck.
How to get to Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island
Lake McKenzie is located on one of Australia’s most beautiful Islands, Fraser Island.
However, you will have to put in a bit of effort to visit and explore the Island as it is separated from the mainland of Australia by sea. As well as this, once you’re on Fraser Island the only way to get around is by a four-wheel drive.
This is because the whole Island is covered in sand so don’t expect to take your rented Toyota Corolla unless you wish to get stuck (You aren’t allowed to bring a none-4WD on Fraser Island anyway).
In saying that, the main 2 ways to get on the Island is by ferry/barge or by air.
Fraser Island by Ferry/Barge
If you wish to reach Fraser Island by ferry you will have to depart from either Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay. This can be done by yourself if you have your own 4WD. The most popular way is arranging a tour so you don’t have to fuss around organising your own 4WD, which would also depart from one of these areas.
We recommend one of the best Fraser Islands tours detailed further on in the article.
Departing from Rainbow Beach
If you are staying in or near the chilled-out beach town of Rainbow Beach, you will need to drive to the Inskip Peninsula. It’s an easy 14 km drive from the centre of the town taking around 10 min.
Once you are there you will need to board the Manta Ray Barge which takes you along with your 4WD, across the blue waters onto Fraser Island. Yay, you made it.
If you drive straight from where the barge off-loads you, it will take you around 2 hours to reach Lake McKenzie as you cruise along the 75-mile beach on the coast of Fraser Island.
Keep in mind if you’re part of a tour, it will probably take longer as you’ll be switching drivers and having pit stops.
Departing from Hervey Bay
South of Hervey Bay is River Heads where you’ll catch a ferry across to Fraser Island.
A bonus of catching a ferry from here is that you reach Fraser Island right where Kingfisher Bay Resort sits. This makes it convenient if you wish to stay here overnight and you can sort your bags out etc without hassle.
Not only that but it gets better. The drive from here to Lake McKenzie is only a 30 min drive. You will head inland through the forest area off-roading (or should we say, off-sanding) whizzing through the terrain.
Fraser Island by Air
Less popular but still a good option, is flying to Fraser Island.
Yes, it’s not going to be cheap and probably blow the backpacker budget out the water but it’s an option that gives you incredible views.
Just make sure you have access to a 4WD drive when you land or you’ll be walking everywhere, check out Air Fraser Island who can offer scenic flights and car hire as a package.
Our Recommended Fraser Island Tour
You can rent your own 4WD as previously mentioned but booking a tour is the best way to explore Fraser Island.
If you are near Hervey Bay then check out Fraser Island tours from Hervey Bay. You will save time on your journey.
The whole itinerary will be sorted for you and there’s no worry of figuring out how to get to places with a map in your hand (who uses them anymore anyway). Plus, Google Maps probably isn’t the most reliable on an Island like this either.
You will get to meet some like-minded backpackers as you take it in turns driving a 4WD on an island…on the sand…on the beach! There nothing quite like it, it’s just an amazing experience.
In saying that, there are 2 types of tours you can opt for.
Guided Fraser Island Tour
Pretty much what it says on the tin.
You will be guided around Fraser Island; however, you won’t be driving. This is a good option for those who don’t have a license and can’t drive but still want to experience the Island.
It isn’t your standard guide though. You will be transferred around in a monster bus with huge wheels which have been adapted to drive on the sand.
Tag-along Fraser Island Tour
This is probably the option most people wish to do.
You get to follow the tour guide in your own 4WD shared amongst a group of fellow backpackers. When we did this there were 4 cars in total, 1 leading which was the tour guide and 3 others filled with backpackers taking it turns to drive on the sand and off-road in the forests.
We had an unbelievable experience and would always recommend booking a tour with Pippies Beach House in Rainbow Beach.
We booked the 3-day 2-night tag-along tour and had one of, if not the most, memorable experience in Australia.
Best time to visit McKenzie Lake
McKenzie Lake is in Queensland so you’re going to get decent weather all year round.
However, there are some points to take note of depending on when you decide to visit, which may sway your decision.
Fraser Island Summer
December – February will be some of the hottest days you’ll have in Australia. It doesn’t make it easy with it having high humidity too with more potential rainfall.
On the other hand, the summer months are out of peak season so you may be able to save a little cash with accommodation and tours.
Winter on Fraser Island
June – August are the winter months but it’s also whale season!
The weather will be a lot easier to take and less chance of rainfall. The nights will be cooler so you won’t be baking like a potato in your tent at night.
However, these months are peak season so you can expect to open that wallet a little more to fork out extra money on tours and accommodation.
All other months are great options with a nice combination of weather and prices.
What to expect at Lake McKenzie
The traditional owners of the land, the Butchulla people, named Lake McKenzie as ‘Boorangoora’ meaning ‘Waters of Wisdom’. It is a fitting name.
Lake McKenzie will leave you mesmerised questioning why all lakes can’t be like this.
First of all, when you walk onto the sand you will notice it’s not hot and you can walk barefooted, no matter what the temperature that day. This is because the sand is silky-white pure silica.
Absolute heaven, like walking on soft clouds. It reminded us of Whitehaven Beach in The Whitsundays.
The other thing that makes Lake McKenzie aesthetically gorgeous is the lake itself. It is 5m deep and 1.2km in length.
The water near the sand is bright, turquoise, transparent blue and as the water creeps further away it transforms into a deeper royal blue.
You can fully appreciate the view of the contrast from a few drone shots, which we were lucky enough to capture. The sun wasn’t out as much as we’d like that day but hey, who’s complaining.
Don’t hesitate to throw your clothes off (not all of course, unless you REALLY like skinny dipping, no judging here) and throw yourself into the lake.
It is refreshingly cold, a stark contrast from the blistering Australian sun.
Lake McKenzie is freshwater!
Fraser Island hosts many freshwater lakes and Lake McKenzie is just one of them.
It is made up entirely of rainwater; the water does not come from any other sources such as streams from the ocean.
This is why the lake is so crystal clear. It’s so ridiculously fresh that only a few species of fish and plants can survive in it because of the natural acidity levels so get yourself in there and have a splash around. It’s completely safe.
Lake McKenzie camping
If you want to camp near Lake McKenzie it is possible.
You will need to sort this before you reach Fraser Island though. Camping requires vehicle permits and camping tags. More in-depth and up to date information can be found from people who know more about this stuff than us, on the official government website.
It would be great to camp near Lake McKenzie because you can view it in all its glory early morning or late in the evening before anyone else gets there or when they have left, including the tours.
Yes, it’s one of the most refreshing and safe lakes on Fraser Island.
The lake is filled purely with rainwater and its naturally high acid content ensures hardly any fish and plant-life grows in it.
Yes because the lake is pure rainwater so hardly any marine or plant life can survive. There are also no crocodiles or sharks in Lake McKenzie.