FRASER ISLAND

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K'GARI

K'gari -the Aboriginal name for Fraser Island -named after the beautiful White Spirit Kgair. Sand deposited over a period of 800,000 thousand years resulted in the formation of K'gari, the world's largest sand island. Spanning 124 kilometres and covering an area of 163,000 hectares, sands reach a maximum height of 240 metres above sea level and extend to 100 metres below sea level in places. It may be impossible to explore every inch of its beauty, yet just a taste can leave you feeling charmed and captivated. The land is diverse - it has an abundance of fresh lakes and crystal clear creeks and streams. Towering satinay and brushbox trees are among the forest giants, some over a thousand years old. The variety of vegetation on Fraser is exceptional, ranging from mangroves to 200 year old kauri forests, and wallum heathlands that fill with wildflowers in the early Spring.

The first Aboriginal occupation of Fraser Island is thought to have been about 20000 years ago -the Badtjala people continue to maintain a presence there. It was home to three indigenous tribes - Ngulungbara in the north, Badtjala in the central region, and the Dulingbara in the southern part of the island. They experienced the island as a paradise for thousands of years, with the native flora and fauna, providing endless bounty in fish and seafoods, nuts and fruits and a good supply of fresh water. Their heritage is evident in archaeological sites on the island, and midden heaps, ceremonial bora rings, and stone implements can still be seen on tours throughout the island.

FRASER ISLAND

By comparison, the European history of the Fraser Island is recent, Fraser's discovery credited to Captain Cook in 1770 who named many of the landmark features including Indian Head and Sandy Cape. Fraser's European name is the result of the shipwreck of the Stirling Castle in May of 1836 and subsequent capture of survivors who landed on the island by local Aborigines, including Captain Fraser and his wife, Eliza. Captain Fraser is alleged to have died of wounds received during the ordeal and Eliza rescued by escaped convicts living on Fraser. Her misfortune brought world attention to the island, renamed in her honour.

With the discovery of Kauri Pine on Fraser Island, logging began in 1863, encorporating attempts at reforestation with the planting of 28000 young Kauri pines in 1883. Grazing leases were taken out in the 1870s. From 1943 until 1945 various sites on the island were used for commando training. Sandmining commenced in the 1960s, ending in 1989. It became a recreational reserve in 1894, a Forestry reserve in 1908, and the first sections of National Park were established in 1971, with further extensions later in the 1970s. Fraser Island was World Heritage Listed in 1992. As part of Queensland's natural and cultural heritage, it is protected for all to appreciate, enjoy and respect. It remains a favorite tourist destination, popular amongst bushwalkers, fisherman and 4WD enthusiasts.

LAKES

Over 40 in number, Fraser Island lakes fall into three categories.

Window Lakes occur when hollows or fractures in the sand dunes expose the water table, forming a 'window'. Water levels vary in accordance with rises and falls in the water table.

Perched Lakes occur where hard pans are formed between sand dunes by decaying vegetation and iron particles cementing sand grains together. Lakes form as water collects in the pans forming lakes 'perched' above the water table. Lake Boomanjin is the world's largest perched lake, over 190 hectares in area. Although not unique to Fraser, it is the greatest collection occuring in one area.

Lake Wabby is a beautiful example of the third type of lake found on Fraser Island, formed by the blocking of a stream by a sand blow. It is expected that in the future the sand blow will envelope Lake Wabby which will then cease to exist.

Very few nutrients exist in the pure lake water, hence only a small number of fish are able to live in each. Tortoises seem to thrive and are regularly seen at Lake Allom and Lake Bowarrady.

MAHENO

The Maheno is listed alongside the Panama, Cheng Chow, Marloo as shipwrecks recorded off the Fraser Island coast. Built in 1905 in Scotland, the triple screw steamer could manage speeds of 17-25 knots. Used as a trans-Tasman luxury liner, then a hospital ship during the first world war, she was on her way to be scrapped on the 8th July 1935, when, caught in a freak cyclone, she broke the towline and washed onto the eastern beach of Fraser Island, north of Eli Creek. Said to have been used for target practice during military training in the 1940s, her wreck remains in place.

FAUNA

Twenty-five species of mammals are present on the island, including swamp wallabies, possums, gliders, fruit bats, bandicoot and echidnas. Isolation from domestic dogs has ensured that Fraser's dingoes are the purest breed in eastern Australia. Reptiles found on the island include tortoises, frilled lizards, gecko, skink, sand goanna, snakes and a wide variety of frogs. Dugong feed on the seagrass beds, sea turtles breed on some island beaches as well as the mainland, and each year whales make their annual migration to Fraser's rocky headlands and protected coastline.

WILDLIFE

Fraser Island is home to approximately 200 species of birds. Dotterels, pied oyster catchers, pelicans, terns and gulls can be spied along the coastal landscape while overhead the skies are prowled by magnificent birds of prey brahminy kites, white-breasted sea eagles, ospreys and peregrine falcons. The island's heathlands shelter kingfishers, jabirus and brolgas, and some of Australia's rarest birds including the ground parrot, marbled frogmouth, black breasted quain and little tern.

Twenty-five species of mammals are present on the island, including swamp wallabies, possums, gliders, fruit bats, bandicoot and echidnas. Isolation from domestic dogs has ensured that Fraser's dingoes are the purest breed in eastern Australia. Reptiles found on the island include tortoises, frilled lizards, gecko, skink, sand goanna, snakes and a wide variety of frogs. Dugong feed on the seagrass beds, sea turtles breed on some island beaches as well as the mainland, and each year whales make their annual migration to Fraser's rocky headlands and protected coastline.