“Fraser Island is truly unlike anywhere on earth, and not just because it’s the world’s largest sand island and the only place on the planet where rainforest grows on sand!”
The island is a unique magical paradise, rich in natural beauty such as the amazing coloured sand cliffs, pristine fresh water lakes, ancient rainforests, diverse flora and wildlife, an Aboriginal heritage spanning over 5,500 years and a colourful European history.
Fraser Island was created during the ice age when the prevailing winds transported vast quantities of sand from New South Wales and deposited it along the coast of Queensland forming the island as we know it today.
The amazing spires and peaks of the aptly named Cathedrals and The Pinnacles display hues of red, brown, yellow and orange caused by the varying levels of iron oxide content. They are arguably the best sculptured coloured sands on Fraser Island.
But while sand is certainly the key to how the Island was formed, it is the abundance of fresh water that has made it so special.
Over 40 lakes dot the island and each displays its own distinct character from clear mirror lakes featuring pure white silica beaches (fine enough to clean jewellery with!) to some of the world’s largest peat coloured perched lakes.
The southern half of Fraser Island boasts many scenic walking tracks which take in some of the largest lakes including McKenzie, Birrabeen, Benaroon and Boomanjin. There is also a walking track to Lake Wabbyfrom the eastern beach.
The eastern beach, more commonly known as 75 Mile Beach can be regarded as the main highway on the island. Its length gives ideal access to much of the islands accommodation and features including the Maheno ship wreck, Eli Creek, the Coloured Sands, Indian Head and the Champagne Pools.
Eli Creek is a popular oasis for tourists seeking a cool relaxing swim. Nestled amongst beautiful palms, Eli Creek empties an extraordinary 120 million liters of water from the islands water table into the Pacific Ocean daily.
Indian Head is a large rocky headland providing the perfect vantage point for photographs of 75 Mile Beach as well as views of the vast sand dunes extending north. The headland is also a great lookout for viewing sharks, turtles, dolphins and rays in the clear shallow waters below. From August to November, whales may even be seen on their annual migration passed Fraser’s rocky headlands and into Hervey Bay’s protected waters.
A short casual walk from Indian Head is the Champagne Pools so named for their beautiful colour. The Champagne Pools are formed by a natural volcanic rock barrier partially shielding the beach from the ocean surf which can provide a unique bathing experience on hot summer days.
Fraser Island’s inland rainforest features magnificent old trees, ancient ferns, palms and vines. Outstanding among all the rainforest pockets is the Wanggoolba Creek valley near Central Station where huge Kauri, Satinay, Brush Box and hundreds of airy Piccabeen Palms can be found.
Central Station in the heart of the rainforest is so named because it was the central Forestry Department station from 1920 to 1959 and is now one of the most popular scenic areas on the island.
Forests like this remain one of the island’s most controversial features. Though the island was heavily logged, Pile Valley between Central Station and Lake McKenzie, where much of the logging took place, now has some of the tallest trees.
The Island also boasts over 230 species of birds – one of the largest and most varied in Australia. There are 25 species of mammal present on the island with the isolation ensuring that Fraser’s dingoes are the purest breed in eastern Australia and consequently no domestic dogs are permitted on the island.
The European history of the island is recent, with Fraser’s discovery being credited to Captain Cook who named many of the landmark features. The Island’s European name is the result of a dramatic shipwreck saga and consequent capture by local Aborigines of the captain and his wife, Eliza Fraser. Her ordeal brought world attention to the island, renamed in her honour.
The waters fringing the islands coastline have been the site for more than 50 shipwrecks with the most notable being the Maheno, a former trans-Tasman luxury liner and a World War 1 hospital ship. Today the ships rusted remains lie on the beach north of Happy Valley and are a popular attraction for visitors to the island.
Listed as a World Heritage site in 1992, Fraser joins the ranks of the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and Kakadu National Parks as a unique and exceptional environment. As part of Queensland’s natural and cultural heritage, it is protected for all to appreciate, enjoy and respect.