Highlights of Fraser Island
Introduction to Fraser Island
Fraser Island is the Earth’s largest island made of sand. The island has complex dune systems that are still evolving, and an array of rare and unique features in its sand environment, including dune lakes and rainforests.
Fraser Island is basically an immense sandbar, with a size of 120 kilometres by 15 kilometres. 800, 000 years of longshore drift created the island. The island’s varied ecological environment is one of its outstanding features. Sand dunes are more than 220 metres tall, and rainforests and more than 40 lakes of freshwater feature across the landscape. From high viewing points on the island, there are sightings of whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles.
The island was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992 to recognise its exceptional natural features.
Fraser Island Gallery
Guide to Fraser Island
Fraser Island is located off the east coast of Australia, in the State of Queensland. It is the biggest sand island on Earth, at 122 kilometres in length. It extends down the south coast of Queensland. Huge rainforests grow on the sand and many freshwater lakes are found inland from the island’s coast. The combined factors of moving sand-dunes, tropical rainforests and lakes of freshwater makes Fraser Island unique.
The island is strikingly beautiful, with vast white beaches backed by sand cliffs in amazing colours, immensely tall rainforests and many clear blue freshwater lakes. Huge deposits of sand make up the island, and are good evidence of changes in the climate and sea levels over the previous three-quarters-of-a-million years. The island features complicated dune systems that are still in the process of evolution, and a large number of dune lakes that are unique because of their diversity, range, and age.
The island’s highest dunes are over 250 metres above sea level. About 40 dune lakes are found on the island. These lakes are created when natural objects, such as dead plants, leaves and bark build up and solidify into depressions formed by wind.
The island also has a number of barrage lakes, created when shifting sand-dunes stop the flow of a watercourse, as well as window lakes, created when a depression reveals part of the water table.
A vast array of vegetation grows on the island, from heath on the coast to subtropical rainforest. It is the sole place on Earth where huge rainforests, up to 50 metres tall, grow on sand dunes at elevations of higher than 200 metres.
Birds are the most plentiful animals on the island, with over 230 species being found. Migrating wading birds use the island as a place to rest during their migration between southern Australia and Siberia, where they breed. The ground parrot, an endangered species, makes its home in the wallum heath lands.
There are few species of mammal on the island. Bats are the most prevalent, especially the flying fox. The Fraser Island dingoes are the purest dingo population in the eastern part of Australia.
The Fraser Island lakes are not a good environment for water species, due to the high acidity, purity and low levels of nutrients in the water. A couple of frog species have been able to adapt to live in this challenging environment. Commonly know as ‘acid frogs’, they can bear the acid conditions of the island’s swamps and lakes.
Video of Fraser Island
History of Fraser Island
First occupation of Fraser Island was up to 2,000 years ago. Archaeological evidence of Aboriginal settlement includes middens, canoes and gunyah trees. The Kabi Kabi and Badtjala groups of Aboriginal people can show a traditional link to the island. In 1802, Matthew Flinders was the first European to discover the island, but after that it was for the most part visited only by explorers, convicts who had escaped, and survivors of shipwrecks.
In 1860, Fraser Island was declared an Aboriginal reserve. However, this status was largely taken back 2 years later when valuable wood was found on the island. The remaining reserve area was revoked in 1906, after the traditional Aboriginal people had been relocated from the island. The centre of Fraser Island was declared a forest reserve in 1908, and by 1925 most of the island was set aside as state forest. Fraser Island – Great Sandy National Park was declared in 1971.
Now, the rest of Fraser Island is made up mainly of about 78, 000 hectares of vacant Crown land, which has been proposed as an increase to the National Park, subject to determination of interest in the land of the traditional Aboriginal people. Parts of this have been well-managed for purposes of conservation, and had previously been proposed for “preservation zoning”.
Getting to Fraser Island
Almost all major airlines fly into Brisbane, Australia. If not, it may be necessary to connect to Brisbane from Sydney, Australia.
Hervey Bay is the mainland location from which to access Fraser Island.
Hervey Bay is approximately 3.5 hours drive from Brisbane.
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