The local Aborigines call it K’Gari or ‘paradise’. Sculpted from wind, sand and surf, the striking blue freshwater lakes, crystalline creeks, giant dunes and lush rainforests of this gigantic sandbar form an enigmatic island paradise unlike any other in the world. Created over hundreds of thousands of years from sand drifting off the East Coast of mainland Australia, Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world (measuring 120km by 15km) and the only place where rainforest grows on sand.
Inland, the vegetation varies from dense tropical rainforest and wild heath to wetlands and wallum scrub, with ‘sandblows’ (giant dunes over 200m high), mineral streams and freshwater lakes opening on to long sandy beaches fringed with pounding surf. The island is home to a profusion of bird life and wildlife, while offshore waters teem with dugong, dolphins, sharks and migrating humpback whales.
Once exploited for its natural resources, sand and timber, Fraser Island joined the World Heritage list in 1992. At present, the northern half of the island is protected as the Great Sandy National Park while the rest of the island comprises state forest, crown land and private land.
This island utopia, however, is marred by an ever-increasing volume of 4WD traffic tearing down the beach and along sandy inland tracks. With over 350,000 people visiting the island each year, Fraser can sometimes feel like a giant sandpit with its own peak hour and congested beach highway.