Fraser Island is located approximately 300 kilometres north of Brisbane. Its length is about 120 kilometres. It was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1992. The island is considered to be the largest sand island in the world at 1840 km². Its resident human population was 360 at the census of 2006, of whom 11 were Indigenous Australians. It is administered by the Fraser Coast Regional Council.
Fraser Island has over 100 dune lakes, as well as the second highest concentration of lakes in Australia after Tasmania. The freshwater lakes on Fraser Island are some of the cleanest lakes in the world. A popular tourist area is Lake McKenzie which is located inland from the small town of Eurong. It is a “perched” lake sitting on top of compact sand and vegetable matter 100 metres above sea level. Lake McKenzie has an area of 150 hectares and is just over five metres in depth. The beach sand of Lake McKenzie is nearly pure silica and it is possible to wash hair, teeth, jewelry, and exfoliate one’s skin. The lakes have very few nutrients and pH varies, though sunscreen and soaps are a problem as a form of pollution.
Eli Creek is the largest creek on the east coast of the island with a flow of 80 million litres per day.
Central Station remains as a popular tourism destination on the island. The station is surrounded by bushwalking tracks to enable full appreciation of the variety plants living on the island. Some of the rarest ferns grow along the rainforest near the station. With year-round south-easterly wind, huge sand dune on the island move at the rate of 1 – 2 metres a year, burying away everything on the way, thus making sand on the island extremely rich with nutrients. Sand is constantly washed ashore from as far as New South Wales.
Archaeological research and evidence shows that Aboriginal Australians occupied Fraser Island at least 5000 years ago. There was a permanent population of 400-600 that grew to 2000-3000 in the winter months due to abundant seafood resources. The arrival of European settlers in the area was an overwhelming disaster for the Badtjala people. Documented aggression between the Europeans and Aboriginal Australians occurred when the officers of the ‘Stirling Castle’, including Captain James Fraser and his wife Eliza Fraser were shipwrecked on the island. European settlement in the 1840s overwhelmed the Aboriginal lifestyle with weapons, disease and lack of food. By 1890 Aboriginal numbers had been reduced to only 300 people. Most of the remaining Aborigines, the Badtjala tribe, left the island in 1904 as they were relocated to missions in Yarrabah and Durundur, Queensland.
The trees on Fraser island were logged extensively as they made excellent timber. Logging took place starting in 1863, being initiated by American Jack Piggott. Railway tracks were laid through the forest to facilitate logging, but were later removed. The logging industry continued right through until 1991 following the concerns of the Fraser Island Fitzgerald Inquiry, led by the Honourable Justice Gerald Edward Fitzgerald. The wealth of the island lay in its rich deposits of rutile, ilmenite, zircon and monazite. Sand mining leases were first granted in 1950 and lasted until 1977 following an environmental battle.
Dingoes were once common on the island, but are now decreasing. They are some of the last remaining pure dingoes in Eastern Australia and to prevent cross-breeding, dogs are not allowed on the island. There was no recorded history of dingoes attacking humans on Fraser Island up until 1995. In April 2001, a boy wandered away from his family and was discovered dead, with indications of a dingo attack. Thirty-one dingoes were killed by authorities as a result of the incident. In 2004, a dingo entered a hotel room on the island where a baby was lying on a bed. It was chased off before any incident occurred. Feeding or attracting the attention of dingoes remains illegal. The remaining number of dingoes on the island is estimated to be 120 to 150 as of January 2008 and sightings are becoming rarer.
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