To say K’gari Fraser Island has had its fair share of drama would be an understatement. One of Australia’s most iconic islands is one steeped in history and mythology. It’s also consistently popular with adventurous travellers for its unmatched natural beauty and the opportunity to explore a unique, untouched wilderness just off the Queensland coast. But this unique patch of land hides some secrets too.
Here are some of our favourites.
23 ships have been wrecked on its shores
After 23 wrecks, K’gari has earned a pretty bad reputation when it comes to shipping. Its rugged shoreline, hidden rocks and other underwater hazards have scuppered many a boat. But this notoriety has also become part of the island’s appeal, and one of the final ships to be wrecked on its shores can still be seen today. The SS Maheno is now a rusting skeleton slowly disappearing into the sand and waves, and is one of the most eerie sights on the island.
Southeast Asian sailors introduced the dingo here 5,000 years ago
Undoubtedly it’s most famous inhabitant, dingos has been living on K’gari for thousands of years. First introduced from Southeast Asia by passing seafarers, the strain of dingo that make the island home is also the purest in Australia, thanks to their isolated location and little to no contact with other dogs or dingoes from the mainland. So when you spot a dingo, just remember its predecessors were actually Asian dogs marooned on a distant land who really did make the best of their situation!
The island is named after a famous ship wreck survivor
Eliza Fraser is an important figure in Australian history and the namesake of K’gari Fraser Island. Originally from Scotland, Eliza was one of the survivors of a terrible ship wreck which happened hundreds of miles north of what was subsequently named Fraser Island. She and her fellow shipmates managed to land ashore where she was taken in by local people. Her account of what happened to her is both believed and disputed in equal measure. Eliza implied she was treated badly by her hosts while others who had also been taken in by the same local people said they were treated exceptionally well. Whatever the truth, her account of her experiences and her life story are entwined with K’gari’s history.
It was formed during the ice age by sand
One K’gari fact that predates all the others is how the island came to be in the first place. The island formed during the last ice age as a result of the forces of wind, waves and ocean currents which forced huge amounts of sand north from the south-east coast of Australia. Pushed further and further up by these forces, sand dunes eventually formed and solidified into the island as it is today. That explains all the sand then! It is also the only place in the world where rainforest grows in sand.
A secret training base for soldiers during WWII
K’gari’s remote location made it the perfect place to train soldiers during World War II and Australian commandos lived and trained at various locations around the island. These men then went on to fight in deadly missions behind enemy lines in Japan and other areas of Southeast Asia.
From secret soldiers to ship wrecks and dogs that made the island their own, K’gari Fraser Island has had a fascinating history, and it’s all made the island what it is today!