Saturday, 17 January 2015

Fraser Island

Fraser Island is an island located along the southern coast of Queensland, Australia, approximately 200 kilometres north of Brisbane. Its length is about 120 kilometres and its width is approximately 24 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. It is also Queensland's largest island, Australia's sixth largest island and the largest island on the East Coast of Australia.
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 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 part of the Fraser Coast Region and protected in the Great Sandy National Park.
Park features

Fraser Island is the world's largest sand island and an area of remarkable natural beauty. It was listed as a World Heritage Area in 1992 to recognise the island's internationally significant natural features:
evolving dune, lake, soil and forest systems, the extent and age of which are outstanding examples of ongoing geological and biological processes
unique landscapes, which are examples of superlative natural occurrences.
Growing on seemingly infertile sands are a great variety of plant communities ranging from coastal heath, mangrove forests and swamps to subtropical rainforest.
The many archaeological remains found on Fraser Island record thousands of years of culture and tradition, and provide important links to their past for the Butchulla people.
The island is 123km long and covers an area of 166,038ha, so you need to allow plenty of time to explore and appreciate it.

Fraser Island has been inhabited by humans for as much 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. Its resident human population was 360 at the census of 2006.
Fraser Island is separated from the mainland by Great Sandy Strait. The southern tip, near Tin Can Bay, is situated to the north of Inskip Peninsula. The most northern point of the island is Sandy Cape where the Sandy Cape Light operated from 1870 to 1994. The establishment of the lighthouse was the first permanent European settlement on the island. The bay on the north east coast is called Marloo Bay and on the north west coast is Platypus Bay. The most westerly place on the island is Moon Point.
Eli Creek is the largest creek on the east coast of the island with a flow of 80 million litres per day. Eli Creek has its own unique and varied wild life. Coongul Creek on the west coast has a flow rate of four to five million litres per hour. Some of the swamps on the island are fens, particularly near Moon Point. This was only discovered in 1996 when a group of experts who had attended a Ramsar conference in Brisbane flew over the island and conducted an aerial survey. From above they noticed the distinct patterns of potholed peat which are devoid of trees. This was the first instance of fens found in Australia and in a sub-tropical region, although more were subsequently found on the adjacent Cooloola coast.
The total volume of sand above sea level on Fraser Island is 113 cubic kilometres (27 cubic miles).All of the sand, which originated in the Hawkesbury, Hunter and Clarence River catchments in New South Wales has been transported north by longshore transport. Along the eastern coast of the island the process is removing more sand than it is depositing, resulting in the slow erosion of beaches which may accelerate with sea level rises attributed to climate change. The sand consists of 98% quartz.
All hills on the island have been formed by sandblowing. Sandblows are parabolic dunes which move across the island via the wind and are devoid of vegetation. In 2004, there was an estimated total of 36 sandblows on the island. With year-round south-easterly wind, the sand dunes on the island move at the rate of 1 to 2 meters a year and grow to a height of 244 meters. The dune movement creates overlapping dunes and sometimes intersect waterways and covers forests. Dune-building has occurred in episodes as the sea levels have changed and once extended much further to the east. The oldest dune system has been dated at 700,000 years, which is the world's oldest recorded sequence.
Places to see
Lake Boomanjin
This is the largest perched lake in the world, covering almost 200ha. Its waters are stained brown by tannins leached from the vegetation. Please read water safety.
Central Station
Many memorable walks leave from Central Station. Stroll through the rainforest along Wanggoolba Creek boardwalk, visit the peaceful Basin Lake, or stand among the impressive satinay trees in Pile Valley.
Lake McKenzie (Boorangoora)
This inland, perched lake is a popular site. Its white sand and sparkling blue waters attract many visitors, with busiest times between 10.30am and 3pm. Please read the water safety. There are short walks to the lake from each of the three fenced picnic areas. Popular sites also attract dingoes, so please remember take no food or drinks (except water) to the lake for safety sake.
Lake Wabby
This is the deepest lake on Fraser Island. Its shore lies at the advancing edge of the Hammerstone Sandblow. Take Cornwell's Break Road up to the ridge above the lake, where a short walk leads to a splendid lookout offering a view of this barrage lake and the sandblow that is slowly engulfing it. It is considered a significant cultural site by the Butchulla people. The water is shallower than it first appears. Do not dive or jump into the lake. Swimming is not recommended. Please read about water safety.
Eli Creek
Cool off next to this crystal clear freshwater creek that flows through vegetated banks and right out to the beach. Watch for eels and frogs from the boardwalk, and see small empire gudgeon and jungle perch fish swimming against the current. Please read the water safety.
Kingfisher Bay
Sheltered coastline, impressive views across the Great Sandy Strait and historical sites are all within easy walking distance of Kingfisher Bay.
Lake Allom
Tucked into a rainforest hollow, this lake offers a cool respite from the salty beach environment. A circuit track around the lake meanders through a variety of plant communities. Wait on the viewing platform and watch for freshwater turtles, but please do not feed them. Please read the water safety.
Wungul Sandblow
Enjoy expansive coastline views from the first dune crest of this sandblow.
Waddy Point headland
Take in a vista of beach and ocean. Watch for sea turtles, sharks and stingrays coasting along.
Binngih Sandblow (Waddy Point)
Catch sweeping views across Waddy Point headland and north over Marloo Bay to Sandy Cape, the site of the only lighthouse on Fraser Island.
Ocean Lake
Ocean Lake is home to a variety of water birds taking advantage of the reeds and undisturbed sections of the lake. Nearby, an easy walk through cypress, banksia and melaleuca woodland offers a good lookout with panoramic views.

The coloured sands found at Rainbow Gorge, The Cathedrals, The Pinnacles and Red Canyon are examples of where the sand has been stained over thousands of years due to the sand conglomerating with clay. Hematite, the mineral pigment responsible for the staining acts like cement. This allow the steeper cliffs of coloured sand to form. Coffee rock, so-called because when it is dissolved in water it turns the colour of coffee, is found in outcrops along the beaches on both sides of the island.

east coast of Fraser Island

The 120 kilometres beach runs along most of the east coast of Fraser Island. It is used as a landing strip for planes and an informal highway for vehicles (highway rules state that vehicles must give way to aircraft if they are oncoming). Along the beach are theChampagne Pools, Indian Head, the Maheno Wreck and the outflow of Eli Creek. Exposed volcanic rocks are found at Indian Head, Waddy Point and Middle Rocks as well as near Boon Boon Creek.
Freshwater Lakes

Fraser Island has over 100 freshwater 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 5 metres in depth. The beach sand of Lake McKenzie is nearly pure silica. The lakes have very few nutrients and pH varies, though sunscreen and soaps are a problem as a form of pollution. Freshwater on the island may become stained by organic acids found in decaying vegetation. Because of the organic acids a ph level of 3.7 has been measured in some of the island's perched lakes. The high acidity levels prevent many species from finding habitat in the lakes.

Another perched lake on the island is Lake Boomanjin, which at 200 hectares in size, is the largest perched lake in the world. In total there are 40 perched lakes on the island, half of all known lakes of this kind on the planet. Lake Boomanjin is feed by two creeks that pass through a wallum swamp where it collects tannins which tint the water red. Lake Wabby is the deepest lake on the island, at 12 metres (39 ft) in depth and also the least acidic which means it has the most aquatic life of all the lakes.
Some of the lakes on Fraser Island are window lakes. These form when the water table has risen to a point higher than the surrounding land. Most of the valleys on the islands have creeks which are fed by springs. Motor boats and jet skis are banned from the island's lakes.
Fraser Island been voted ‘Sexy’ and a 'World’s Best Beach'...
YTravelBlog names Fraser Island's gorgeous 75 Mile Beach in their list of must-do beaches in Oz (Jan 2015).
Trip Advisor names 75-Mile Beach in their Top 25 Aussie Beaches as part of their Reader Choice award honour roll (October 2014).
The Travel Channel named Fraser Island in their top Adventure Destinations for 2014. (April 2014).
Australian Traveller Magazine named Fraser Island in their 100 Greatest Holidays of Australia (with a mention about Kingfisher Bay Resort and our Junior Eco Ranger program. (April 2014).
TNT Australia Magazine released their top Aussie islands - including Fraser Island at the top of the list - in the May 6-19 issue of their popular travel magazine. (May 2013).
Fraser Island, jutting off the east coast of Queensland, has  been voted number 1 in UK newspaper The Telegraph's travel section poll on Favourite Australian Island Escapes (April 2013).
Fraser Island's 75 Mile Beach is one of the ten best in Australia according to a new book - 101 Best Australian Beaches (November 2012).  The author's picked Fraser's popular eastern beach as one of their 'favourites' writing: "This long beach on Queensland's Fraser Island boasts ancient coloured dunes, bubbling freshwater springs, pristine lakes, and rainforest filled with wildlife.  An astonishing 354 species of birds have been seen on the island, while the surrounding waters are home to dolphins, whales, dugongs, turtles and huge rays."
TNT Magazine has just named Fraser Island in their 'sexy' Top Ten Australian Islands (October 2012).
American travel website CNNGo has named Hervey Bay as the World’s 'Best Humpback Whale Watching' destination. (September 2012).
National Geographic has recently named Fraser Island as one of the World’s Best Beaches saying "World Heritage-listed Fraser was an "ecologist's dream".  The Queensland sand island was the only Australian location to make the 2012 list. (June 2012).
Australian Geographic listed Hervey Bay in the top ten places to Whale Watch in Australia and The Courier Mail named Fraser Island as one of the top ten best getaway drives in South East Queensland (June 2012).
The Daily Times (UK) named Fraser Island's eastern beach in their list of the world's STRANGEST beaches... rainforest growing in sand; swimming in fresh water on an ocean beach; it's a gazetted highway; it's a landing strip for planes... we call that pretty awesome!  (June 2012).
Lonely Planet named Fraser Island in their Top Five Treasured Australian Islands (May 2012).
Discovery’s Travel Channel has previously listed Fraser Island as the World’s Best Beach chosen through consultation with Travel Channel and experts from the US’ leading travel publications including Islands and Travel & Leisure magazines.
Australian Traveller Magazine rated Fraser Island at number 9 in the list of 100 things to do before you die.

American business magazine Forbes listed Fraser one of the World’s Sexiest Islands, and the only Australian island to make the list.  The list says Fraser Island’s “enormous sand dunes provide plenty of space and privacy for frolicking on the beach” and it names Kingfisher Bay Resort as the place to stay.
PLUS in 2006 Conde Nast Traveller readers voted Fraser Island into the Top 10 Pacific Islands and previously have voted it to be one of the World’s Top 10 Tropical Islands for three years running.

Stretching over 123 kilometres along the southern coast of Queensland, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in recognition of its natural values as an outstanding example representing ongoing ecological and biological processes and as an example of superlative natural phenomena.
It is a stunningly beautiful, every changing sandscape that offers holiday makers a variety of experiences in the great outdoors; romantic beachside escapes for honeymooners; fun family fishing holidays; couples retreats; hiking holidays; four-wheel-drive adventure holidays; time out lazing poolside sipping cocktails; bird watching... you name it... and best of all its only 45 minutes from the Hervey Bay mainland.

Fraser Island features complex dune systems, which are still evolving, and the array of dune lakes is exceptional in terms of number, diversity and age.  The highest dunes on the island reach up to 240 metres above sea level.  Forty perched dune lakes (half the number of such lakes in the world) can be found on the island.  A surprising variety of vegetation grows on the island, ranging from coastal heath to subtropical rainforests.  It is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of over 200 metres.

The island also contains many sites of archaeological, social and spiritual significance.  Middens, artefact scatters, fish traps, scarred trees and camp sites bear witness to the lives of original inhabitants.

Fauna
Estimates of the number of mammal species present on the island range from 25 to 48. Mammals found on Fraser Island include swamp wallabies, echidnas, ringtail and brushtail possums, sugar gliders, squirrel gliders, phascogales, bandicoots, potoroos, flying foxes and dingoes. The Swamp Wallaby finds protection from dingos in the swampy areas which have dense undergrowth. There are 19 species of bats which live on or visit Fraser Island.

  Fauna

Until 2003, when they were removed by the Environmental Protection Agency,there were a few brumbies (horses) on the island, descendants of Arab stock turned loose for breeding purposes, and joined in 1879 by horses brought over for the logging industry.

Dingoes were once common on the island, but are now decreasing. The Fraser Island dingoes are reputedly some of the last remaining pure dingoes in Eastern Australia and to prevent cross-breeding, dogs are not allowed on the island. According to DNA-examinations from the year 2004, the dingoes on Fraser Island are "pure". However, skull measurements from the 1990s detected crossbreeds between dingoes and domestic dogs among the population.

Up until 1995, there were no official records of dingoes attacking humans on Fraser Island. In April 2001, a boy named Clinton Gage wandered away from his family and was discovered dead, with indications of a dingo mauling. Over 120 dingoes were killed by rangers as a result of the incident, though locals believe the number was much greater. After the 2001 attack, four dedicated rangers were allocated dingo management roles and ranger patrols were increased. There are fines for feeding dingoes or leaving food and rubbish out which may attract them.

As of January 2008, the number of dingoes on the island was estimated to be 120 to 150, and sightings have become less common. A University of Queensland researcher, Nick Baker, claims the dingoes on Fraser Island have adopted unusual behaviour. Rather than hunt in small packs, Fraser Island dingoes had developed a tolerance for each other and work together in one big hunting pack. Dingo-proof fences, consisting of metals bars across a concrete pit and a 1.8 m high mesh fence were built around nine island settlements in 2008, to keep the dingos out of the townships.

In late 2009, a former ranger on the island, Ray Revill, claimed 70% of the dingo population, which was then estimated at between 100 and 120 animals, was malnourished. In March 2010, three separate reports of dingos biting tourists were made. Backpackers have been criticised for ignoring advice from park rangers as they try to provoke reactions from dingoes while taking photographs.

There has been a total of 74 different species of reptiles recorded on Fraser Island. 18 species of snakes have been identified with one third of them considered dangerous. Goannas, snakes, geckos, skinks and frogs are all present on the island. Some frog species have evolved to cope with the acidic waters of lakes and swamps on the island, and are appropriately called acid frogs. The island is home to the recently discovered Fraser Island sand skink. Freshwater turtles such as Kreffts river turtle are found in the island's lakes and creeks.

Saltwater crocodiles are exclusively tropical reptiles and usually found in Far North Queensland (several hundred kilometres north-west of Fraser Island,) however, occasionally during the warmer season (December through March, when water temperatures reach consistent tropical temperatures) crocodiles may appear in areas in and around Fraser Island. This is very rare, but during the 2008-2009 summer season at least four crocodiles (one over 4 metres in length) were present. It is thought that these reptiles are seasonal visitors, as they always disappear during the cold months (presumably returning to tropical northern Queensland.) This sort of activity was apparently reported but unverified decades ago (a handful of crocodiles have also historically been observed on very rare occurrences around Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coasts during the warmer season) but within recent years has been proven and observed more often. Crocodiles do not breed nor do they appear to have any permanent populations living on Fraser Island.

Fraser Island forms part of the Cooloola and Fraser Coast Important Bird Area (IBA). There are over 350 different species of birds on the island.[5] Birds of prey include sea eagles, peregrine falcon, osprey and kites. Other common birds include pelicans, terns, honeyeaters, gulls, kingfishers, kookaburra, owls, doves, thornbills, ducks, brolgas, and cockatoos. The island is visited by 20 species of migratory wader birds from as far afield as Siberia. There are 22 different species of gulls and terns, four species of falcons and six species of kingfishers. A rare, bird on the island is the Eastern Ground Parrot, already extinct in some parts of Australia.

Cetaceans, such as Humpback Whales and some species of dolphins are frequent visitors to the area. Dugongs and tiger Sharks can also be found in surrounding waters. Mud crabs are found on the western side of the island near mangrove-lined estuaries. 24 freshwater fish species are found in the island's lakes.
There has been 300 species of ants recorded on Fraser Island. Long finned eels and giant earthworms are also found on the island.

Whether it is Sunrise or Sunset, Fraser Island is a unique part of this region. Fraser Island attained its World Heritage Listing in December 1992 in recognition of the island's exceptional sand dunes systems, it's rainforests on sand and it's pristine freshwater lakes. Its unusual formation of sand and rainforest make it a special source of adventure for visitors to explore. Fraser joins the ranks of the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru and Kakadu National Parks as a unique and exceptional environment. As part of Queensland’s natural and cultural heritage, it is protected for all to appreciate, enjoy and respect. Fraser Island is the largest Sand Island in the world. Although well known among fisherman and 4WD enthusiasts, it is the history and Aboriginal heritage that gives Fraser Island its individual character, expressed through wonderful coloured sand cliffs, unique fresh water lakes and diverse flora and wildlife.

Fraser Island is one of the most rare and mysterious features of the Queensland coastline. Sand is the key to how the Island was formed but it is the abundance of fresh water in its many lakes and crystal clear creeks and streams that has made it so special. Pristine clear mirror lakes and the peat coloured perched lakes, are some of the largest in the world. Each of the lakes has its own particular character. Mysterious, moody and beautiful, they are excellent subjects for photography, great places to see birds, other fauna and flora and a welcome oasis for hot summer days.

Lake McKenzie pictured below is set in the middle of a rich Blackbutt forest (the mainstay of the old logging industry) and is one of the most popular lakes on Fraser Island.  Because it is only a short distance from Central Station, it is popular with day trippers as well as longer term tourists. Good camping and picnic facilities are available near the lake. To ease the congestion, the road past the lake is a one way loop around the picnic grounds and camping area. Not marked on the map is a road which closer to the lake, which is used exclusively by the tour operators to allow elderly or infirmed people easier access to the lake foreshore.
The water in the lake is crystal blue because the Blackbutt forests, which surround the lake, do not leach tannin into the lakes like the paperbark trees do. The Blackbutt trees were the mainstay of the logging while in was in progress on the island. Lake McKenzie is very popular with swimmers and sunbathers because of its large beaches and clear waters. It is also the closest lake to the Kingfisher Bay resort on the western side of the island and so gets a lot of visitors from there.

Flora
The flora of Fraser Island is unique and diverse. More than 865 species of plants thrive on the island. It is the only place on Earth where tall rainforest grows in sand. The island contains the largest extent of wallum heath remnants in Queensland. In Pile Valley, 1,000 year old rough-barked satinays are found. Despite being logged the kauri pines dominate in some areas. Scribbly gums, red gums, piccabeen palms, Blue Quandong, brush box and pandanus all grow on Fraser Island. Along the coast, the foredunes are dominated by salt-tolerant species which includes pigface, goats foot vine and beach spinifix. Spinifix sericeus is an important foundation species. Decayed matter from this dune grass breaks down in the sand, providing vital nutrients for other plant species, such as the Beach Oak. The rare Angiopteris evecta, a species of fern that has the largest fronds in the world, grows on Fraser Island. The southwest coast is dominated by mangroves.

As one travels from east to west across the island, the dune age increases. These leads to the progressive maturing of vegetation in the same direction, except for some areas along the western coast where soil leaching has decreased the nutrient soil layer to a depth beyond the reach of plant roots. Each lake on Fraser Island is surrounded by concentric vegetation zones. Typically these zones range from rushes in the shallows, then a mix of pioneer species on the beaches, through to sedges, heath, paperbarks, shrubs and finally eucalypt or banksia woodlands.

There are 25 species of mammal present on the island. Isolation has ensured that Fraser's dingoes are the purest breeds in eastern Australia and consequently no domestic dogs are permitted on the island. Other native mammals include wallabies, possums, flying foxes and echidnas. Dugong feed on the sea grass beds, turtle breed on some island beaches as well as the mainland, and each year make their annual migration to Fraser's rocky headlands and protected coastline.
History
The earliest known name of the island is 'K'gari' in the Butchulla people's language (pronounced 'Gurri'). It means paradise.

 Butchulla


According to Aboriginal legend, when humans were created and needed a place to live, the mighty god Beiral sent his messenger Yendingie with the goddess K'gari down from heaven to create the land and mountains, rivers and sea. K'gari fell in love with the earth's beauty and did not want to leave it. So Yendingie changed her into a heavenly island - Fraser Island.

The name Fraser Island comes from Eliza Fraser and her story of survival from a shipwreck on the island. Captain James Fraser and his wife, Eliza Fraser, were shipwrecked on the island in 1836. Their ship, the Stirling Castle, set sail from Sydney to Singapore with 18 crew and passengers. The ship was holed on coral while travelling through the Great Barrier Reef north of the island. Transferring to two lifeboats, the crew set a course south, attempting to reach the settlement at Moreton (now Brisbane). During this trip in the lifeboats, Captain Fraser's pregnant wife gave birth in the leaking lifeboat. The infant died soon after birth. The Captain's lifeboat was becoming more and more unseaworthy and was soon left behind by the other lifeboat which continued on. The sinking boat and its crew was beached on what was then known as the Great Sandy Island. Whether the survivors died due to disease, hunger, exhaustion or battles with the native population will never be known for sure; most likely a little of all of the above. Captain Fraser died leaving Eliza living among the local peoples. She was rescued 6 weeks after being shipwrecked by a convict, John Graham, who had lived in the bush as an escapee, and who spoke the Aboriginal language. He was sent from the settlement at Moreton by the authorities there who had heard about Eliza' plight, and negotiated her return. Within 6 months, Eliza had married another sea captain. She moved to England and became a sideshow attraction in Hyde Park telling ever more lurid tales about her experiences with white slavery, cannibalism, torture and murder. As she is known to have told several versions of the story, it is unknown which version is the most accurate. She was killed in a carriage accident in Melbourne in 1858 during a visit.

Aboriginal Australians
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 Butchulla people. European settlement in the 1840s overwhelmed the Aboriginal lifestyle with weapons, disease and lack of food. By the year 1890, Aboriginal numbers had been reduced to only 300 people. Most of the remaining Aborigines, the Butchulla tribe, left the island in 1904 as they were relocated to missions in Yarrabah and Durundur, Queensland. It is estimated that up to 500 indigenous archaeological sites are located on the island.

Europeans
Initial European contact was limited to explorers and shipwrecks. The first recorded European to sight Fraser Island was James Cook who passed along the coast of the island between 18 and 20 May 1770. He named Indian Head after viewing a number of Aboriginal people gathered on the headland. Matthew Flinders sailed past the island in 1799, and again in 1802, this time landing at Sandy Cape, while charting Hervey Bay. His 1814 chart is a combination of both voyages, but did not confirm Fraser Island as being separate from the mainland. However, Flinders did suggest the presence of shallow swampy areas at the lower part of the bay. Flinders was told of an opening at Hook Point, between Fraser Island and the mainland, by two American whalers who were hunting whales in Hervey Bay. In 1842, Andrew Petrie discovered good pastoral lands and forests, attracting graziers to the island. Lieutenant Robert Dayman was the first European to sail between Fraser Island and the mainland in 1847.


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