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Fraser Island

Fraser Island (K’gari, Gari) is a heritage-listed island located along the southeastern coast in the Wide Bay–Burnett region, Queensland, Australia. It is approximately 250 kilometres (160 mi) north of the state capitalBrisbane, and is a locality within the Fraser Coast Region local government area. In the 2016 census, Fraser Island had a population of 182 people.

Together with some satellite islands off the southern west coast and thus in the Great Sandy Strait, Fraser Island forms the County of Fraser, which is subdivided into six parishes. Among the islands are Slain Island, Tooth Island, Roundbush Island, Moonboom Island, Gardner Island, Dream Island, Stewart Island, and the Reef Islands, all part of the southernmost parish of Talboor.

Its length is about 123 kilometres (76 mi) and its width is approximately 22 kilometres (14 mi). It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1992. The island is considered to be the largest sand island in the world at 1,840 km2. It is also Queensland’s largest island, Australia’s sixth largest island and the largest island on the East Coast of Australia. It was formerly the homeland of the Butchulla tribe.

The island has rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths. It is made up of sand that has been accumulating for approximately 750,000 years on volcanic bedrock that provides a natural catchment for the sediment which is carried on a strong offshore current northwards along the coast. Unlike on many sand dunes, plant life is abundant due to the naturally occurring mycorrhizal fungi present in the sand, which release nutrients in a form that can be absorbed by the 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 saltwater crocodile. The island is protected in the Great Sandy National Park.

Fraser Island has been inhabited by humans for as long as 5,000 years. Explorer James Cook sailed by the island in May 1770. Matthew Flinders landed near the most northern point of the island in 1802. For a short period the island was known as Great Sandy Island. The island became known as Fraser due to the stories of a shipwreck survivor named Eliza Fraser. Today the island is a popular tourism destination.

In 2009 as part of the Q150 celebrations, the Fraser Island was announced as one of the Q150 Icons of Queensland for its role as a “Natural attraction”.


Fraser Island’s climate is generally mild and is not subject to extremes in temperature due to the moderating influence of the ocean. Temperatures rarely rise above 35 °C (95 °F) or drop below 5 °C (41 °F) and humidity is consistently high. Rainfall is heaviest during the summer and early autumn, and the annual average is 1,271 mm (50.04 in). Cyclones can be a threat; Cyclone Hamish brushed the island as a category 5 in March 2009, while Cyclone Oswald in January 2013 was significantly weaker at a Category 1. Both storms however caused severe beach erosion, particularly on the islands northern tip. The average annual temperature of the sea ranges from 21 °C (70 °F) between July and September to 26 °C (79 °F) between January and March.


At the 2011 census, Fraser Island had a population of 194 people.


A 4WD Bus in Fraser Island

Scenic flight over Fraser Island which lands and takes off from the beach

Estimates of the number of visitors to the island each year range from 350,000 to 500,000. The chance of seeing a dingo in its natural setting is one of the main reasons people visit the island. The use of boardwalks and marked tracks by visitors is encouraged to reduce erosion.

Urinating tourists have created environmental problems in Fraser Island lakes and on coastal dunes. The foredunes are used as a toilet by bush campers, who are estimated to number 90,000 each year . Many of the perched lakes have no outflow or inflow which exacerbates the problem. Water quality in some lakes is being affected by storm water run-off from dune roads, and by swimmers’ use of sunscreen.

In April 2009, a vehicle overturned on the beach after being hit by a wave. Two backpackers were killed in the accident. Following the incident speed limits on the beach were reduced from 100 km/h to 80 km/h, and from 40 km/h to 30 km/h inland. Everyone who hires a vehicle on the island from an organisation accredited by the Fraser Coast 4WD Operators Association must attend a one-hour-long briefing on vehicle safety.

“Central Station”, which was formerly the hub of the forestry industry when there was logging on Fraser Island, is now a popular tourist destination. Some of the rarest ferns grow in the rainforest near the location.


Fraser Island Ferry

The island can be reached by a ferry from River Heads (South of Hervey Bay) to Kingfisher Bay and Wanggoolba Creek or Inskip Point to north of Rainbow Beach to Hook Point, or by chartered flight from Maroochydore Airport .

four-wheel drive is required for all landings (except Kingfisher Bay), and travel on the island (except within the Kingfisher Bay Resort). A permit is required for vehicles and is obtainable on-line from DERM and several outlets at Rainbow Beach. Several firms provide four-wheel drive vehicles for hire. Tour buses travel the island as well as several kinds of self-drive tours departing regularly from Hervey Bay, Rainbow Beach and Noosa.


Tailor is one of the more common species sought by anglers on Fraser Island and along the Queensland coast. Other fish caught on the eastern coast include jewfishgolden trevally and surf bream, while whitingflathead and surf bream prefer the calmer western waters. Pilchardsbloodwormsyabbiespipi and sandworms can all be used for bait. Fishing is banned in the island’s creeks and lakes.


There are many campgrounds on Fraser Island with varying amenities and access. The main camping areas are: Dundubara Campground, Cathedrals on Fraser, Waddy Point campground, Central Station Tent Sites, Waddy Beach (tent only campsites), Cornwells Break (large group site), One Tree Rocks camp zone (Eurong-One Tree Rocks), however there are others. Permits are required for camping and also for vehicle access.


There are various possibilities for overnight hiking on the island. Most notable is the 90 km long Fraser Island Great Walk. A shorter hike would be for example to start in Kingfisher Bay (ferry drop off) and head to Lake McKenzie, stay there for one night, and then hike back.

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