Fraser island is a beautiful world heritage listed island off the coast of Queensland and knowns for its huge ancient rainforests and spectacular lakes. Although it is a popular tourist destination, there are many things people don’t know about this magical spot. Here’s your guide to this unique and stunning island.
Domestic dogs aren’t allowed
Fraser Island is famous for it’s wild dingo population, and their conservation as a species native to the region is held to the highest degree. While they might be a nuisance and even a threat outside of the island, on the island there’s a very serious effort taken to preserve their genetic purity.
For this reason, domestic dogs aren’t allowed on the island, with no exceptions. There’s very little in the way of true pureblood dingoes left in Australia nowadays (at least, compared to how it used to be); they interbreed with domestic dogs, and slowly but surely there’s more dog than dingo left.
It’s the largest sand island in the world
The island itself is massive - around 30 kilometres wide and a staggering 120 kilometres long - that’s 1,840 kilometres squared all up.
On top of that, while it has a diverse ecosystem with everything from rainforest to swamps, it’s completely made from sand, top to bottom.
Fraser Island stands as a catchment area for the end point of disintegrated volcanic bedrock, which has accumulated over the course of thousands of years to form a large island-shaped clump. That might not sound too romantic, but the end result is a thriving ecosystem of plant and animal life.
Humans have lived there for at least 5,000 years
When Captain Cook swung by Fraser Island on his inaugural voyage to Australia, he might have thought it uninhabited. However, the Butchulla people had been living on and around the island, which they call K’gari (Paradise), for what we believe to be about 5,000 years (some estimates placing it as high as 50,000!).
They’re the traditional owners of the land. Not just the island, but also a huge swathe of the Great Sandy region of mainland Queensland belongs to them, although Fraser has a special significance in their religion.
To that end, there’s a plaque that welcomes people to the island in the tongue of the Butchulla people:
Galangoor djali! Galangoor.
Butchulla bilam, midiru K’gari galangoor nyin djaa.
Ngalmu galangoor Biral and Biralgan bula nyin djali!
Wanya nyin yangu, wanai djinang djaa.
Good day. Welcome!
Butchulla people, Traditional Owners of K’gari, welcome you to country.
May all our good spirits be around you throughout the day.
Wherever you go leave only footprints.
There’s a gorgeous, gigantic shipwreck
Visitors to the island don’t always expect to see the colossal rust-brown hulk sitting on the sandy shores of Fraser Island, but it’s the final resting place of one of our oldest war veterans.
The S.S Maheno had a long service life: Starting as a luxury liner built in Scotland, it ferried customers both domestically in Australia and internationally to Canada until the first World War, where it served as a hospital ship in Gallipoli for the ANZACs. It then saw service in the Battle of the Somme, and stuck around in the English Channel until the end of the war.
By 1935, it was due to be scrapped, but a cyclone pushed it off of it’s path and straight onto Fraser, where it’s stayed ever since as a popular tourist attraction. It’s a little more rusted and worse for wear than it used to be, but it’s still a beautiful attraction to see up close.
The flight of the foxes
The nocturnal flying foxes that inhabit Fraser Island during the nighttime usually inhabit caves and other rocky outcrops during the day. Unfortunately, while they love taking advantage of Fraser’s abundant plant life, there’s not much in the way of sleeping quarters for the little critters, who have to fly all the way back to the mainland before they can turn in.
Come dusk, you’ll see scores of the little blighters gliding in from across the water, salivating at the mouth. Come dawn, they’ll glide right back off again, if a little fatter and heavier.
It used to be a secret commando training facility
During the second World War, Australia used Fraser Island to train their crack troops, the Z Special Unit. One of the reasons that the Maheno is so busted is because they used it for explosives and demolitions practise!
There’s still a couple of old artifacts lying around, including a concrete map of Singapore Harbour that they used for training purposes, and various casings and other remnants littered around the area.
It’s strange to think of the serene countryside being used to train commandos, but it does make sense: Fraser is remote, it’s got a 70 mile beach that to this day is used as an aeroplane runway, and it’s got a lot of varied and harsh landscaping.
Visit Fraser Island
If these interesting facts have caught your attention, maybe it’s time to book a flight to Fraser Island and witness this special island for yourself.
27 / 10 / 2016