AT’s guide to the best cheap accommodation for summer and Christmas holidays

Destination: Fraser Island, Queensland

Why do we rate it?
It’s World Heritage-listed and the biggest sand island in the world. There are freshwater lakes, beautiful beaches, ancient rainforests and fantastic activities.

Where is it?
It’s 330km or a 4hr drive north of Brisbane – including the ferry trip. Nearest airport is at Hervey Bay.

Where to stay
There are loads of holiday homes to rent, from the executive to those more akin to shacks. The two resorts are not new but offer good basic stays. Then there are cabins and campsites at Big 4 Frasers @ Cathedral Beach or National Park campsites.

How much is it?
The most upmarket resort on the island is Kingfisher, where a two-bedroom villa in high season will set you back $285 per night. Hotel resort rooms at Kingfisher are $199 per night. Frasers @ Cathedrals has a campsite from $39. Two-bedroom cabins are $180 and $220 for a cabin with an ensuite. A three-bedroom cabin is $220. The National Park sites set you back $10.30 for two people per night or $20.60 for a family pass.

At Kingfisher you should be able to book a two-bed villa or a resort room before October 31 for the busy Christmas period. At Frasers @ Cathedral you won’t get a cabin until after Jan 3 but there will be spare campsites from Boxing Day if you hurry. National Park bookings for camping can be made three months in advance, so try your luck from September 25 to secure a little luxury for next to nothing.

What to do
The 4WD tour up and down the beaches is one of the great drives of Australia. Everyone stops at the Maheno wreck for a photo. There are tours to the 100-plus freshwater lakes, the most famous being McKenzie Lake. Sandboard on the dunes. A day tour with park rangers is a highlight for kids, and you can even do a tour by canoe. There’s excellent fishing and walking, and the island is a mecca for twitchers (bird watchers to you and me).

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