• Central Station - Fraser Island
  • Central Station - Fraser Island
  • Dingo - Fraser Island

Fraser Island - History

Fraser Island has a rich heritage dating back some 1500 years when aborignals first inhabitated the island. European settlers came to Fraser later in the islands life and changed the landscape via logging and modern developments. Fraser Island is part of the Great Sandy National Park and the area specific to Fraser Island was listed as "World Heritage" in 1992.

Fraser Island - Cultural History

The local aboriginal tribe that inhabits Fraser Island arrived approx 1500 years ago and are known as the "Butchulla" people. They named Fraser Island "K'gari", which in the native tounge means paradise. The local population numbered between 400 at it's smallest and bewtween 4000 - 6000 during it's peak. Many tribes from the surrounding areas would come to Fraser Island during the winter months when fish and other sea life were in abundance. Remnants of the aboriginal culture can still be found on Fraser Island in the form of midden heaps, campsites, fish traps, bora rings and stone tools.

Unfortunately European settlement had a negative impact on the local inhabitants and disease was introduced by European sailors when travelling along Queensland's coast. The island was used as a quarantine and immigration outpost whilst the Gympie gold rush was at it's height. The aborignal inhabitants continued to decline in numbers and after reaching a number of 180 in 1904, the mission of Fraser Island set up for the locals was closed and the local inhabitants were moved to missions located in Caboulture, north of Brisbane and Yarabah, near Cairns.

Fraser Island - European History

It is not widely known, but the first Europeans to visit Fraser Island are the Portugese. They are belived to have mapped the coast of Fraser Island in the early 1500's, and there have been caly pipes found in the aboriginal midden heaps which were thought to be exclusively used by Dutch sailors back i the 1700's.

English explorers, Captian James Cook and Captain Matthew Flinders saw Fraser Island in 1770 and 1799 respectively. However both explorers believed the island to be connected to the mainland of Australia and not an island at all. Matthew Flinders was the first european to be recorded stepping on the island in 1802 after disembarking his vessel named "Investigator". Flinders and his companion Robert Brown collected flora and fauna samples which were previously undiscovered. It was unti laround 20 years later that it was discovered by Edwardarson that Fraser was indeed an island.

Fraser Island received it's name via an interesting turn of events. The ship known as the "Stirling Castle" ran aground 1,500km north near Cairns. The crew are said to have manned the lifeboat and drifted south for several days until reaching what is now Fraser Island. The crew were set to work by the local aborigines, however the captain, whose wife was Eliza Fraser, was speared as he was to weak for working. The gruop were eventually rescused and returned to the saftey of the mainlaind. Eliza wrote many books regarding the island and her experiences during the shipwreck and subsequent capture. As a result the island was named Fraser Island in honour of her tribulations.

In the 1860's timber logging began on Fraser Island. The timber logged was Satinay, Kauri Pine, Brush Box, Tallowood, Blackbutt and Cypress. Logging remained until 1991 when Fraser Island was nominated for "World Heritage" listing. Whilst the timber industry was underway Fraser Island saw the construction of sawmills, jetties and a tramline. Cattle, bullocks and horses were brought to Fraser Island for commrecial purposes. Central Station was constructed in the early 1900's as the centre and headquarters for Fraser Island logging, and is still a major attraction to this day. During it's peak there were approx 30 houses and a small school constructed for the logger's families.

During World War II, Fraser Island was used as a commando training facility. The "Z-Force" commando school saw up to 100 people trained and consisted of a hospital, canteen, post office and cinema. The shipwreck of the Maheno, was used for aerial bombing practice along with the old timber jetty near the now Kingfisher Bay Eco Resort and Village. The most faomus mission taken by "z-Force" was a raid on Singapore Harbour, were over 40,000 ton of ship was sunk by 12 men.

Fraser Island's rich history makes it a truley unique visit for travellers world wide. Along with it's visual beatuy the visitor can be taken back to a time forgotten by learning about Fraser Island's cultural history....