Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia
Long, sinuous Fraser Island stretches off the Queensland coast north of Brisbane. It is a unique ecosystem, inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992. The island was originally named Great Sandy, for the simple reason that its surface consists almost entirely of sand dunes. The sands reflect some 72 colors, mostly shades of red and yellow. It is the only place in the world where mature rainforest grows on sand dunes. The island’s interior has extensive forests of majestic kauri pine and fossil fern forests. In the 19th century, the island was extensively logged. Satinay trees were especially valued, being resistant to marine borers. Satinay timbers were used in construction of the Suez Canal and as far away as London. Another unique feature of the island is its lakes. There are some 40 perched lakes suspended in the dunes, as well as so-called window lakes and barrage lakes. Boomerang Lake is the world’s highest perched lake, 130m above sea level. At 190 hectares, Boomanjin Lake is the world’s largest perched lake. McKenzie Lake is particularly renowned for its clear waters and white sand beaches. Speaking of beaches, Fraser Island has a very special 75 Mile Beach of packed sand that is used as a highway, with all road regulations enforced: the speed limit is 80 kph and autos must give way to airplanes taking off or landing! Wildlife on the island totals 47 mammals including dingoes and brumbies, the feral horses surviving from imported Arabian and Clydesdales imported for the logging trade. In the seas off the shining white beaches, dolphins, dugongs, turtles, and seasonally. whales are seen. There are also 79 reptiles and 354 species of birds here. The dunes move constantly, propelled by wind, and in some places have enveloped whole forests or communities.