Rainbow Beach and the coloured sands legend.

Rainbow Beach Adventure Centre self-drive 4wd parked at Double Island Point, looking back towards the coloured sands, across the lagoon with a yacht moored.
Exploring the coloured sands with Aeroaus and The Adventure Centre 4wd Hire

“Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”
― Danny Kaye


The coloured cliffs of Rainbow Beach form a natural art gallery that is constantly changing due the rain, wind and sea eroding the sandstone and causing different colours and patterns to be exposed.

There are 72 different shades of sand – created from iron-rich minerals over thousands of years.

Aboriginal legend tells the story of Rainbow Beach:

Way back in the dreamtime, there was a beautiful maiden called Murrawar who fell in love with the Rainbow and she would clap her hands and sing to the rainbow who would visit her every night.

One day an evil man from a distant tribe, Burwilla, saw Murrawar and stole her to become his slave/wife. He was very cruel to her, beating her and forcing her to do all the work while he sat in the shade admiring his killing boomerang which was bigger than the tallest tree and filled with evil spirits.

Finally Murrawar was able to escape and ran along the beach as fast as she could.

Burwilla’s killing boomerang chased after her and as she fell down too tired and frightened to run any more she cried out for help.

Suddenly a loud noise was heard in the sky and Murrawar’s faithful rainbow could be seen racing towards her across the sea.

The evil spirited boomerang attacked the brave rainbow and they met with a noise like a huge crash of thunder. The impact killed the boomerang and shattered the rainbow into thousands of little pieces.

As the coloured pieces of the rainbow landed on the beach the sand dune magically transformed into the coloured cliffs that we all know and love today.

I never tire of seeing the view of the coloured cliffs and I know how lucky I am to be able to see them while driving along the beach every day.

Experience the freedom of exploring them at your own pace and marvel at their beauty by hiring one of our self-drive 4wd’s. They’re definitely worth a look!

Basin Lake- a Different Adventure on Fraser Island

Tree framed pathway leading out to the sandy shore of Basin Lake, K'gari.
Basin Lake on Fraser Island Image taken by @kirstablestravels


“If happiness is the goal – and it should be, then adventures should be a top priority.”
― Richard Branson

I love sending people on adventures to different areas on Fraser Island that they may not have heard of. It’s always good to try to surprise people with more than they expect- and K’gari definitely delivers on that!

Basin Lake is one of those places that I try to fit in on our customers self-drive 4wd adventures where possible.

I love it because a lot of the time you can have it entirely to yourself! Absolutely perfect spot for a swim to refresh after the walk out there. The scenic track is 2.8km each way through lush rainforest and is not difficult.

It is amazing to think that all of that lush vegetation grows directly out of the sand- a soil known for its lack of nutrients!

Basin Lake is a football field sized, black water, perched lake. A perched lake is a waterbody formed above sea level; organic sediment hardens on the bottom and the lake is actually filled with pure rainwater. It is amazing to think that Fraser Island has more than half of the worlds perched lakes. There are around 80 perched lakes in the world and K’gari has over 40 of them!

The start of the walk is located at the Central Station Day-use area (this is where logging families built their homes and school in the 1920s- way before the island was World Heritage Listed).

In this place you can also check out the magnificent Kauri Pines covered in Epiphytic Elkhorns and Staghorns.

The Kauri Pine was logged on Fraser Island– its wood was prized for ship building and flooring as well as other things. One of the largest recorded Kauri Pines was 255cm diameter at breast height. Sadly, those massive trees have been cut down- but there are plenty of huge Kauri Pines to view in this beautiful location.

Wanggoolba Creek is another highlight to see here. Follow the boardwalk along this crystal-clear waterway and you might even spot some eels swimming- the water is so clear that they look like they’re floating! You’ll also view the giant King fern (Angiopteris evectus) – which is very rare and is only found in two other places on mainland Australia. The King Fern has fronds that are up to 5m across!

Ask us to add Basin Lake to your Central Station visit when we design your customised itinerary for your self-drive 4wd Adventure!

Natural beauty and diversity on Fraser Island…

Camping site with tents looking over the K'gari beach (Fraser Island) at sunrise
Sunrise on K’gari-such a beautiful time of the day


“Always there has been an adventure just around the corner…and the world is still full of corners.”Roy Chapman Andrews

Fraser Island is definitely a place that is full of surprises. No matter how many times I go there- I’m still filled with wonder at the natural beauty every time.

Fraser Island is quite simply paradise- which is apt as its traditional name- K’gari – means paradise.

It’s the largest sand island in the world at approximately 120km long.

There is so much diversity in the ecosystems. I love that you can travel inland and one minute you’re travelling by way of lush rainforest, the next alongside eucalyptus bushland and the next you’re driving through wetlands and coastal heath.

There are rock pools, freshwater creeks and lakes of blue, green, orange, black and yellow.

There are camping spots where you can angle your tent to view the sun coming up over the ocean and don’t get me started on the stargazing! The lack of light pollution means that you see more stars than you could possibly imagine!

K’gari is full of adventures- give us a call about hiring one of our self-drive 4wd’s and start thinking about how amazing your time in this magical place could be!

Self-Drive 4wd Adventures-you CAN do it!

Rainbow Beach coloured sands- Pic taken by @outbackosteos in collaboration with @adventurecentre4wd.


“I travel because I’d rather look back at my life, saying ‘I can’t believe I did that’ instead of ‘if only I had’.” -Florine Bos

We have so many customers say ‘I’ve never driven a 4wd before- am I still able to hire one?’ or ‘Do you think I can do this?’

The answer is you absolutely CAN!

The great thing about our business is that we take the time to go over everything you need to know- from a safety briefing to driver instruction you will leave our office knowing how capable you are!

We design customised itineraries and give up to date local knowledge of beach and track conditions to ensure you have an awesome 4wd Adventure!

There is nothing like the freedom you feel when driving on the sand with the windows down and that fresh ocean air flowing in. Turquoise water on one side, coloured sand cliffs on the other- it’s an experience everyone should have at least ONCE (or more 😊) in their lives.

We love it when people come back and say ‘That was one of the best things I have ever done’.

It’s why I love my job and this beautiful place- getting to send people on amazing self-drive 4wd Adventures.

So, if you’re wondering if you should- I can say for certain you MUST! You will not regret it.

Adventure Centre Self-Drive 4wd Hire – new things happening!

Rainbow Beach Adventure Centre 4wd 'Benny' parked on Rainbow Beach looking towards the coloured sands and Double Island Point.
Just another epic day in Rainbow Beach 20/07/21 11:30am

‘Life takes you down many paths, but my favourite ones lead to the beach’

As of the 1st of July, myself (Wendy), my brother (Bevan) and my sister-in-law (Trudy) have taken over the business from our parents so this is a new and exciting time for us here!

We have been running things for the last year or so- so not too many huge changes.

All of us have grown up in this area and love the fact that we get to share this place with all our customers, sending them on self-drive 4wd adventure experiences around this stunning place that we call home!

I’m going to start writing a short blog on all things Rainbow Beach, Fraser Island and Double Island Point; along with Adventure Centre 4wd updates- a new topic every time.

I’ll also soon start to post regular updates on beach conditions and a Mudlow Rock Report.

It has been a perfect winter week weather wise (say that 10 times really fast 😊)- glassy ocean, bright sun and clear blue skies. One of those weeks that makes you extremely grateful to live in this magical part of the world.

Mudlo Rocks are still easily passable 3hrs either side of low tide which is mid-morning for the next couple of days.

#rainbowbeach #4wdhire #travelblog #tourism #fraserisland #visitrainbowbeach #explore #adventurecentre4wdhire #lovethisplace #australia #bestofqueensland #visitgympieregion #mudlorocks #doubleislandpoint #beachcamping #beachdriving #visitfraserisland #inskippoint #adventure #greatbeachdrive #queensland #sunshinecoast

Four wheel drive: HIRE or BUY?

So you’ve been bitten by the off road bug.  Had a taste, like the sand between your toes and the wide open spaces.  Trouble is, you’ve traveled in the back seat with a mate and you’re now thinking “I can do this!”.

The amount of people who want to “buy a fourbie” after hiring one for Fraser Island or to explore the local attractions around Rainbow Beach is on quite a regular basis.  And some of them have!  So if you’re weighing up one against the other here’s what we think:

  • Put your toe in.  If you’re trying before buying then hiring a vehicle (and sorry we are a little Toyota biased) is a sensible idea.  You get a feel for the vehicle’s off road, performance, reliability and comfort.
  • Staying on the road well traveled.  If doing the occasional off road trip to take family and friends then buying a four wheel drive is not viable.  Maintenance and running costs are considerable and because we as the hire company take all the guess work out of your off road experience it’s an all round package without the hassle.

Top Tips for beach driving

    • Whether driving on Fraser Island or Rainbow Beach vehicle access permits are required.  These beaches are gazetted which means Australian road rules apply.  Observe road signs and note regular Police patrols (whether 4WD or horseback!).
    • Drive to conditions, where beach driving is recommended during the low tidal window.  Tide times are provided by the Bureau of Meteorology and the general rule of thumb is 2.5 hours either side of low tide renders beach access – providing between 5-6 hours daily.  Whichever the predominant tide, whether high or low, tide times move forward approximately one hour every day.
    • Always check with manufacturer’s recommendations when deflating your tyres.  We keep to the general 22 psi on our fleet with off road tyres.  Taking a compressor is not a bad idea so that pressure can be varied according to conditions.
    • Avoid saltwater like the plague.  Despite the plethora of pictures, video footage and even off road advertisement! plunging vehicles through saltwater causes irreversible, irreparable damage.  Even salt spray up into the engine bay sees the lifespan of your alternator and starter motor shortened by 80%.  If anyone is wondering, no you can’t just rinse it off, the damage is done.
    • Freshwater isn’t necessarily your friend either.  Whatever the flavour, cold water on a hot surface brings about contraction which assists in grease and lubricants being expelled and in turn allowing water to be drawn in.  As a consequence components are left unprotected and ultimately fail way before their use-by date.  Alternator bearings, A/C bearings and pulley bearings are among the most susceptible.
    • Lift kits and raised suspension are definitely worth considering, particularly if wanting to explore off the beaten track on a regular basis.  Up to 40mm will not void your manufacturer’s warranty or draw the ire of Department of Transport.  It’s easily done and relatively inexpensive.
    • Rust proofing varies in format and application between electronic or chemical barrier.  Whichever way you decide, it’s a worthwhile investment if plentiful beach driving is on your agenda.  If not, know the flush points of your vehicle!

The ultimate outdoor off road adventure

We get it – you’d love to see Fraser Island and Rainbow Beach in its entirety – which you can’t do unless you have an off road vehicle.

The Cooloola Coast is a veritable high suspension playground with perfect surf beaches, bush walking tracks, para-gliding and sky diving activities.  Swim with dolphins, dive with Grey Nurse sharks or take a plunge in the ocean on horseback discovering more than 200kms of beach trafficable coastline.  IT IS AMAZING.

It’s not just about Fraser Island when it comes to beach driving.  You can also explore Noosa North Shore along the Sunshine Coast’s Teewah Beach destination Rainbow Beach.  The beach trip takes approximately 45 minutes and is gaining world-wide attention as one of the most spectacular things to do while holidaying in South East Queensland.  There really is no other place or opportunity like this one.  Either take your own vehicle, hire one or board the local shuttle service return from Maroochydore airport which also specialises in half day Rainbow Beach tours.

Rainbow Beach Adventure Centre 4WD Hire is a family owned and operated business and has been in the industry since 1999.  With that in mind we’d like to think we have half an idea when it comes to all things off road hire vehicles and service.  Most of our visitors have never been on Fraser Island and equally most have never driven a 4×4.  Many originate from central and northern Europe as well as north America and of course Australia and it has to be said people do have high expectations when visiting this incredible biosphere.  Well we can happily report we have never, and we mean never, had anyone say that they didn’t have one of the most amazing experiences of their lives.  It’s on the bucket list must for most.

We certainly know our vehicles and what they are capable of and ensure personalised itineraries, including our own maps with tidal information, are provided.  We also take our guests on individual driving demonstrations so that they are familiar with how the vehicle operates and the difference between engaging high range 2WD and 4WD and low range 4WD.  It is crucial that our guests understand the implications of driving at incorrect tidal windows with the noted guideline two and half hours either side of low tide generally provides beach trafficability up to six hours per day.  As far as untrafficability is concerned the reverse applies where two and half hours either side of high tide the beach is untrafficable.  In simple terms we provide beach ON and OFF times so relatively straight forward.  The vehicles’ tyres are also pre-deflated at 22psi providing our guests instant ease when accessing the soft sand.  Deflating tyres is also very important as this creates greater surface area in the tyre.  Even if engaged in low range 4WD the chances of going nowhere in a hurry on road pressure tyres is a certainty.



Logging was started on Fraser Island in 1863 by ‘Yankee Jack’ Piggott and continued until December 1991 when the island was nominated for World Heritage listing.  The first trees taken by the loggers were kauri pine, hoop pine and cypress pine.

In the early 1900s hardwood species such as tallowood, blackbutt and brush box were targeted.

In 1925 satinay became the major timber logged on the island after it was found to be resistant to marine borer and became popular for use in marine conditions around the world.  Satinays, logged heavily in the Pile Valley area, were used to line the banks of the Suez Canal and to rebuild the London Docks after World War II.

Central Station, a former logging camp, is now a Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service ranger information station and interpretive centre.  Some of the old loggers’ houses are still there.  A walking track takes you to Wanggoolba Creek which is easily accessed by a board walk and the creek is home to the magnificent giant King Fern.  Further excellent examples of kauri pine, brush box, Fraser Island satinay and piccabeen palms can be found here.


This active mobile sand blow has covered a vast established forest area.  As the sand blow changes with wind direction it uncovers ancient forest as it moves across the island and takes its name from the Aboriginal stone tools found there.


This spectacular gazetted highway on the eastern side of Fraser Island not only stipulates regular road rules but also requires right of way light aircraft landing at the landing strip at Eurong.  Plenty of birds of prey and sea birds migrate here throughout the seasons and of course the dingoes are a highly sought after photo opportunity.


Built in Scotland in 1905, the luxury cruise ship Maheno sailed between Sydney and Auckland.  She was one of the first turbine-driven steamers and one of the fastest ships of her time, setting a record for the quickest crossing of the Tasman in 1907 (two days 21 hours).

During World War I she was commissioned as a hospital ship in Europe and also served in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.  After the war the Maheno was recommissioned as a cruise ship.

On July 8 1935 while being towed to Japan for scrapping the Maheno was struck by an out of season cyclone and washed ashore.

During World War II the wreck was used for air force target practice and by Z Force special unit who practiced planting limpet mines on her prior to the raid on Singapore Harbour.


Fraser Island has a wide variety of plant communities growing in sand and ranging from coastal heaths to subtropical rainforests.  The plants find nutrients from thin coatings on the sand grains and from the decomposed leaf litter (humus) on the forest floor.

Coastal Heaths grow in the harsh conditions on the eastern side of Fraser Island and have to contend with strong winds, salt spray, sand blasting and limited fresh water.  These plants help to stabilise the sand and start the nutrient cycle.  Common plant species include beach spinifex, angula pigface and horsetail she-oak.

Eucalypt forests are found across most of Fraser Island.  Open scribbly gum forest dominates in the drier areas of the island.  The trees have pale bark covered in what looks like graffiti.  This is caused by moth larvae making shallow tunnels under bark which later peels off.  Tall blackbutt forests with an understorey of small shrubs are found in the wetter areas of the island.  Satinay and brushbox dominate the edges of rainforest in what is known as a transition forest.  The understorey often contains rainforest species.

Rainforests grow on sand dunes at the world’s highest elevation being more than 200 metres.

Subtropical rainforest can be found in the centre of the island in the wetter gullies.  These communities have a thick canopy of leaves allowing minimal light to reach the forest floor.  This causes the trees to grow tall and straight to reach the sunlight making the trees suitable for logging.  Kauri pine and the piccabeen palm are common species found in the rainforests.

Wallum heath lands dominated by the wallum banksia and featuring sedges and grass trees are known for their colourful wildflowers which are in full bloom in spring.  Heath lands can be found on the drier ridges and high plains.


Fraser Island is home to many different animals, however, most are nocturnal and rarely seen.  The most obvious mammals on the island is the Dingo.  There are estimated to be 150-200 dingoes on Fraser Island living in all habitats.  Although they appear similar to a domestic dog they are closely related to the Asian wolf.  Dingoes on;y produce litter of about 4-6 pups each year in August.  Fraser Island’s dingoes are amount the most genetically pure dingoes in Australia.

There are 47 other species of mammals on Fraser Island including the swamp wallaby, small eared mountain possum and the sugar glider.

More than 350 species of birds have been sighted on Fraser Island.  The island has a wide range of habitats providing different food sources, nesting and breeding areas.  Fraser Island is also a resting and breedign ground for migratory birds some from as far away as Siberia.

Fraser Island is home to 79 species of reptiles including 19 snake varieties.  The most commonly seen reptiles are the sand monitor and the lace monitor.  These large lizards are often seen around the picnic areas looking for scraps.

Dolphins, dugongs, turtles, rays and between July and November migrating humpback whales frequent island waters.

Rare frog species such as the “acid” frogs which have adapted to survive in a difficult environment can be seen and heard in the swamps.

Fraser Island

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, stretching over 123 kilometres in length and 22 kilometres at its widest point.  The highest dune is 244 metres but most rise to between 100 and 200 metres above see level.  Drilling has shown the sand extends to 100 metres below sea level in places.  Most of the sand comprises grains of quartz (silica), with less than two per cent being other minerals such as rutile and zircon.


In 1972 UNESCO adopted the World Heritage Convention to protect special places for all  humanity. Fraser Island was listed by UNESCO in 1992 in recognition of its natural values.  The official citation pays tribute to the island’s exceptional natural beauty and refers to over “250km of sandy beaches with long, uninterrupted sweeps of ocean beach, with more than 40km of strikingly coloured sand cliffs, as well as spectacular dune blowouts, ocean surf beaches, spectacular tall rainforests growing on low nutrient sands, perched dune lakes including both clear white water lakes and dark black water lakes, banksia woodlands, heath, patterned swampy fens and sheltered mangrove areas in a spectacular mosaic landscape”.

Fraser Island provides a globally significant example of geological processes and biological evolution including complex coastal dune formations that are still evolving, an array of lakes that is exceptional in terms of number, diversity, age and the evidence of dynamic and developmental stages along with outstanding examples of ecosystems that have developed in response to maritime conditions and poor soils in coastal dune formations.


Separating Fraser Island from the mainland the Great Sandy Strait is listed by the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.  The wetlands include rare patterned fens, mangrove colonies, sea-grass beds and up to 40,000 migratory shorebirds.  Rare, vulnerable or endangered species include dugongs, turtles, Illidge’s ant-blue butterflies and eastern curlews.


The shifting sands of Fraser Island and those of nearby Cooloola, have continually concealed and revealed a unique geological history.  The dunes have the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world.

While most of the sand that makes up Fraser Island has come from the far south-east of Australia, some of it has travelled for thousands of kilometres and millions of years from Antarctica, starting its journey before landforms Australia and Antarctica were separated from each other.

Mobile sand blows formed by the prevailing south-easterly winds, progress across the island often burying forests and other plant communities.  The rate of movement of the dunes each year depends on factors such as wind strength, the amount of moisture in the sand and plant colonisation.


There are three rocky outcrops of igneous rock from volcanic activity on the island.

Indian Head is the most prominent landmark on Seventy-Five Mile Beach.  The 60-metre high rocky bluff, shaped rather like a whale, is a spectacular viewing platform.  You can often see birds of prey resting on the cliff tops and sharks and stingrays swimming in the clear waters below.

Middle Rocks contain the largest true rock pools on the island being Champagne Pools, also referred to as The Aquarium.  They form superb natural fish traps and were used as such by the Aboriginal people.  Washed by waves at high tide, the bubbling sea water makes them excellent swimming holes.

Waddy Point is the northern-most outcrop.


Fraser Island was first sighted by Captain James Cook in 1770 while travelling up the east coast of Australia.  Captain Cook named the island “Great Sandy Peninsula” in the mistaken belief it was connected to the mainland.

In 1799 Matthew Flinders in the ‘Norfolk’ explored parts of Hervey Bay and discovered the peninsula was in fact an island.

In 1836 Captain James Fraser on the brig ‘Stirling Castle’ was wrecked at Swain’s Reef, north of Fraser Island.  The survivors travelled south in a life boat and eventually found themselves marooned on Fraser Island.  Of them, only Eliza Fraser, the wife of Captain Fraser, survived.  Europeans named the island after Captain James Fraser.


The Butchulla people are the indigenous people of Fraser Island.  The tribal lands of the Butchulla extended from Burrum River in the north, south to Cooloola National Park and west to Mount Bauple.  The Butchulla people’s name for Fraser Island was k’gari, pronounced Gurrie, which means paradise.

The Butchulla tribe consisted of six clans, giving permanent population of about 700.  This population increased to around 2,000 during winter when other tribes would visit to feast on fish such as tailor and mullet.  There are now few living descendants.

View from a hill on K'gari (Fraser Island) of a rocky beach, impassable by 4wdThe shifting sands of Fraser Island and those of nearby Cooloola, have continually concealed and revealed a unique geological history.

View our rates page for information on hiring your own self-drive 4wd to explore K’gari (Fraser Island) or fill out an enquiry/booking form.

Lake Wabby

Lake Wabby is surrounded on one side by the massive Hammerstone Sand Blow and on the other side by eucalypt forest.  This is an example of a barrage lake, formed when a creek became blocked by a shifting sand dune causing the water flow to be dammed.  Its emerald green waters are home to 13 species of fish.  Access by foot from the eastern beach is 45 minutes.

Lake Wabby, emerald green in colour is unique to Fraser Island.

Lake Wabby, emerald green in colour is unique to K’gari (Fraser Island).