Incredible islands – Fraser Island Australia

Located just off the coast of Queensland, Australia, Fraser Island is not part of the Great Barrier Reef as it is too far south. Despite the great beauty and environmental richness of many of those Great Barrier Reef islands, Fraser Island is probably more important as an ecological paradise as it has many features which make it unique in the world.

For starters, Fraser Island is the world’s biggest sand island, and it is truly special. With a length of 123 kilometres and, at its widest point, a width of 22 kilometres, Fraser has a total area of 184,000 hectares.

It is the island’s natural diversity which makes it so interesting. If you are imagining a sand island to look like something resembling a great sand dune, then you are entirely wrong. Fraser Island does have some unbelievably big dunes, which can grow to a height of 244 metres, and which move from between one and two metres per year thanks to the winds which pulverise the island at times. However, the island is also covered in some thick vegetation, which includes rain forests, eucalyptus forests, mangrove forests, swamps and heathlands.

Part of the reason why the island is so lush is because the sands contain a type of fungi which provide nutrients to the plant life and, with abundant rainfall and lots of fresh water combined with a sub-tropical climate, it is no wonder the vegetation is able to thrive.

Not surprisingly, Fraser Island is World heritage listed, so it is able to remain its natural state, and the scenery here is absolutely stunning.

You would expect a sand island to have beaches, and one magnificent beach runs along the east coast of the island for 120 kilometres. It is used for normal recreation purposes, such as swimming and fishing, but also as a road for vehicles and as a runway for scenic flights.

The island also has over 100 freshwater lakes, which are some of the cleanest in the world. The reason for this is that some of this water may be stored 30 metres or more below sea level and for up to 100 years before resurfacing. The volume and pressure of freshwater held, and the amount that flows out from the island daily, prevents intrusion by the surrounding salty, sea water.

Forty perched dune lakes (half the number of such lakes in the world), including the much photographed Lake McKenzie, can be found on the island. These lakes are formed when organic matter, such as leaves, bark and dead plants, gradually builds up and hardens in depressions created by the wind.

Birds are the most abundant form of animal life seen on the island. More than 350 species of birds have been recorded. A species of particular interest is the ground parrot, an endangered species found in the island’s wallum heathlands.

Whilst many visitors head north to visit the islands of the Great Barrier Reef, it is worthwhile taking a day or two longer to visit Fraser Island, which truly is an incredible island.

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