How was Fraser Island Formed?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 12/07/2018

Reading time: 3 mins

Find out how the largest sand island in the world was formed over millions of years ago!

The famous sand island spans 123 kilometres down and 23 kilometres across, making it the largest sand island in the entire world. It is a world heritage listed sight and is the only sand island to have a full rainforest growing on top of it. But how was this wonderland island created?

The History of the Island

The Island is thousands of years old, with a long history with humans. Its original name was ‘K’gari,’ an aboriginal word meaning paradise. The Butchulla people were the local aboriginal community on this island, living in the sand for over 5,500 years. Europeans sighted the land in 1770, but the name ‘Fraser’ did not arise until 1836. The island was renamed after Captain James Fraser. The captain and his crew endured a shipwreck to the north of the island, surviving the crash by swimming ashore. Unfortunately, Captain Fraser never made it off the island, with two stories of his death. Eliza Fraser, the captain’s wife who was present on the island, stated the Aboriginal people murdered him. Whereas another survivor stated that the captain’s death was from natural causes. To this day we still do not know the truth to this matter. Nevertheless, since then the island has been known as Fraser Island.

  • The Formation of the Island

    Fraser Island is ancient, estimated to be millions of years old. It was formed during the Ice Age; The formation was due to years of wind, ocean currents, and waves pushed the deep siliceous sand from the far south-east coast of Australia. The sand is pushed up onto the dunes and is moulded into a magnificent island sculpture. This formed a string of islands along the Queensland coast, with Fraser Island being the largest.

  • The Formation of Fraser Island’s Sand Dunes

    The sand dunes of Fraser Island formed over 750,000 years ago. Developing as sand sediment was slowly pushed from the southeast coast of Australia all the way to the outter ocean by the wind and current. These sediments slowly created sand dunes, which progress across the island, although only the dunes behind the eastern beaches remain today. They protect the inland of the island from the wind and storms, acting as a barrier for the inner island’s rainforest and rock formations.

  • The Formation of Fraser Island’s Rainforests

    What makes this island is so unique is the rainforest growing from the sand itself, which is usually a rare ability as sand is notorious for its low nutrients essential for plants. Fraser Island’s sand has a mycorrhizal fungus present, which gives the proper nutrients for plant growth. Leading to the widespread of ancient plantlife.

What to do on the Fraser Island

The island is bursting with interesting activities for any kind of traveller. Take a day, a weekend, or even a couple weeks to discover the sandy island. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a relaxing break amongst the spectacular backdrop or a more upbeat adventure, the Island has you covered. Trek out and adventure into the lush rainforest, plunge into the crystal-clear swimming spots, or simply marvel at the stunning scenery and native wildlife flooding the land.

Related article: Is a day trip to Fraser Island worth it?

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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