Fraser Island, Australia

Fraser Island is considered the largest sand island of the world. This paradisiacal island is located at eastern Australia around 300 Kilometers north Brisbane (approximately 3 hours and half by car). It is about 124 Kilometers long and between 7 and 25 Kilometers wide; its area is 163000 hectares (402610 acres). Fraser Island is a unique luxurious combination of the Australian rich natural heritage.

This natural paradise has a maritime subtropical climate, with rainfalls (approximately 1800 mm per year) mainly from December to May. In summer the temperature usually reach 30ºC (86ºF); nevertheless in winter the temperatures fluctuate between 14ºC (57ºF) and 21ºC (70ºF), being July, the coldest period of the year.

The largest beach of Fraser Island runs 75 miles (120.6 Kilometers) along the east coast of the island and is one of the most wonderful beaches of the world. This marvelous place encompasses an amazing variety of landscapes, long surf beaches, nice cliffs, dense rainforests, beautiful freshwater lakes perched high up in its dunes, great basalt headlands and salt pans with eerie mangrove forests. Fraser Island has also many amazing landmarks such as the Maheno Wreck, the wonderful Champagna Pools, the zone of Ely Creek or the Indian Head (a nice place where it can see sharks in the surf).

The beaches and forests of Fraser Island are the habitat of a great variety of wildlife, including 230 species of birds (the largest and most varied bird community of Australia) such as sea eagles, osprey, kites, peregrine falcons gulls, cockatoos, terns, honeyeaters or the endangered grand parrots . Besides, the island is also home of the main population of dingoes (an Australian feral dog) of the world. Unfortunately the number of dingoes is decreasing in the island because of the threat of humans, who have killed many dingoes the last years, because they believe that these animals can be dangerous for the people. There are also other mammals such as possums, swamp wallabies, sugar gliders, flying foxes, echidnas and obviously kangaroos.

In addition to, the Island owns over 100 dune lakes, which are some of the cleanest freshwater lakes of the world. Probably, the most famous of these lakes is the McKenzie lake, a perched lake located at top of a sand and vegetable matter. This nice place occupies 150 hectares and has a wonderful beach composed by nearly pure silica sand. It is along with Eli Creek (the largest creek on the eastern coast of the island) the two major symbols of the wonderful Fraser Island.

History

Scientists believe that the Fraser Island was developed over a period of around 800 000 years. Formerly, this amazing Island was called Great Sandy and was occupied by the aborigine Butchulla tribe, who called the island K’gari that means “paradise” in the native language. The aboriginal Australians occupied the island since 5000 years ago. There was a stable population of 400 to 600 inhabitants in the island until arrival of the Europeans in the XVIII century.

Unfortunately, like in many other parts of the world; the European arrival to this zone (in 1836) signified the annihilation for the native people (the Butchulla tribe). The captain James Cook and Mathew Flinders sailed around the island at the end of the XVIII century; nevertheless, the first British that officially arrived to this Island were the Captain James Fraser and his wife Eliza Fraser. They arrived to the island, because of the Stirling Castle’s shipwreck. The Captain Fraser died in the island; but, his wife survived and was rescued. She returned to England and told her story; therefore, the island has now the name of Eliza and James Fraser.

British exploited the great forest richness of the island, like a source of wood. The exploitation of the forests was initiated in 1863 by the American Jack Piggott and continued until 1991. The Fraser Island has also several rich deposits of rutile, zircon, monazite and ilmenite, but these mining deposits were exploited only since 1950s; however, the mining activities in the island lasted only until 1977, because of an environmental campaign.

The Island was listed as World Heritage site in 1992 and is also part of the natural and cultural heritage of the Queensland State; therefore, currently, it is one of the most visited destinations of Australia. The Island can be reached by ferry from Hervey bay or by plane since the Maroochydore Airport of Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Fraser Island is currently one of the best places in Australia to take vacations.