Island in the sun

Fraser Island is a paradise of sorts with its wild untamed beaches, towering old-growth forests, crystal-clear freshwater lakes, and bountiful wildlife. But, you need to watch out…

Island in the sun

Fraser Island, Australia: This is a heritage-listed island and is located along the south-eastern coast of Queensland, Australia. It is also called K’gari. Fraser Island is considered to be the largest sand island in the world, and was the homeland of the Butchulla tribe — an indigenous people of Queensland.

How to get there: Fraser Island is about 300 km north of Brisbane and 15 km off the coast of Hervey Bay and Maryborough. It is advisable to book a tour package, as movement around the island will be difficult without a 4 wheel drive and permits.

The island is unique as it has rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths. It is made up of sand that has been collecting for almost 7,50,000 years on volcanic bedrock that provides a natural drainage area for sediment carried on a strong offshore current along the coast. Unlike other sand dunes, plant life is abundant due to the naturally occurring mycorrhizal (a symbiotic association between a fungus and a plant) fungi present in the sand, which release nutrients that can be absorbed by plants.

Fraser Island is home to a small number of mammal species,as well as a diverse range of birds, reptiles and amphibians, including the occasional salt-water crocodile. The island is protected in the Great Sandy National Park.

Life on the island

Fraser Island has been inhabited by humans for as long as 5,000 years. In May 1770, explorer James Cook sailed by the island. In 1802, Matthew Flinders, an English navigator and cartographer landed near the most northern point of the island. For a short period the island was known as Great Sandy Island.

The island became known as Fraser because of the stories of a shipwreck survivor named Eliza Fraser. On May 22,1836, this Scottish woman, was shipwrecked off the coast of Queensland. She was taken in by the Butchulla people. She later wrote of her experiences claiming ill treatment. Other white people previously givenrefuge by the Butchulla people refuted her claim saying they had been treated extremely well. Fraser’s claim eventually led to the massacre and dispossession of the island’s tribe.

According to the 2016 Australian Census, the resident human population of just 182.


Today, the island is a popular tourist destination. The beaches are a veritable wonderland, bursting with unspoiled spots, lush greenery and soft sand beaches. But don’t be fooled by all this beauty. There are hidden dangers that you need to be aware of.

First off, there are dingoes that roam the beach in packs of 25-30. Dingoes are a type of wild dog native to Australia. They are known to move quickly and stealthily and can attack without warning. They are usually scavenging for food and look like they need a good feed. But, don’t be fooled because they are lean by nature.

The ocean is home to sharks, and the sea close to the beach is full of bait fish attracting these predators close to the shoreline. A trek up to Indian Head Lookout will give you with a good view of the sharks larking about in the sea. You could also watch humpback whales frolicking in the ocean.

These beaches are not patrolled by lifeguards and seas can be rough at times. Besides sharks, also look out for Irukandji jellyfish, blue bottle and other dangerous marine life that are abundant during the summer months. If you do get stung it can be painful and you will require medical attention.

The Butchulla people

Archaeological research shows that Aboriginal Australians occupied Fraser Island at least 5,000 years ago. There was a permanent population of 400–600 that grew to 2,000–3,000 in the winter months because of the abundant seafood resources.

In the 1840s, European settlers arrived with dire consequences for the Butchulla people. They wiped out the Aborginal lifestyle with their weapons, disease and food.

By 1890, Butchulla numbers had been reduced to just 300. In 1904, most of the remaining Butchulla were taken off the island and relocated to missions in Yarrabah and Durundur, Queensland.

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