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Fraser Island

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Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, being 125km long with an average width of 14km. This is one of my favourite places on earth with its crystal clear freshwater lakes and streams, tropical rainforests, sandy beaches, and magnificent sand dunes. The island is completely made up of sand but that hasn't stopped it from supporting a wide variety of plant and animal life. The island is located at the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, just off the coast of Hervey Bay.

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Many of the 40 lakes on Fraser are very unique perched lakes (they sit above sea level). They are able to retain their water because of the vegetation that has decayed over thousands of years, creating a clay-like lining in the sand. This organic base tends to stain the water a tea colour. Lake McKenzie is the most popular lake. It is about 10m deep and surrounded by pure white silica sand. My favourite lake, however, is Lake Wabby with the rainforest surrounding half of it and a huge sandblow surrounding the other half. It is one of the few lakes that provide a home to fish and turtles but slowly the sandblow is invading the lake. Lake Wabby is a barrage lake which is created when the moving sandblow creates a dam by blocking the water of a natural spring. Other popular lakes on the island include Birrabeen, Boomajin, and Benaroon.

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Lake Wabby and Lake McKenzie

There is no end to the water available on Fraser with the crystal clear freshwater creeks and streams that flow throughout the island and down the sandy beaches to the sea. Wandering along the beach of Fraser, you can come across hundreds of these streams where campers, tourists, and wildlife alike, get their fresh water from. Two of these creeks are special. Wanggoolba Creek flows over white sand through thick rainforest. Wanggoolba Creek at Central Station offers views of the largest single fern fronds in the world. The other special creek is Eli Creek. Eli Creek is on the ocean side of the island and it is the largest freshwater stream that flows into the sea.

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Eli Creek is completely freshwater

The sand dunes here are also the largest and oldest in the world and are said to be 30,000 years old. Some of these dunes have been named according to their shape, for example, "the Cathedrals" and "the Pinnacles". There are also the coloured sands with 72 different coloured sands on Fraser. Although made up of sand, there are also rocky headlands which include Indian Head, Waddy Point, and Middle Rocks. The Champagne Pools at Middle Rocks are natural rock pools and a favourite site to see.

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Coloured Sands and Champagne Pools

Fraser Island's sub-tropical rainforests are very remarkable. They not only have grown in sand but they are home to many ancient and rare species. Most of these forests are made up of satinay's and brush box which grow together with piccabeen palms and kauri pines (some of which are 200 years old). The west coast of the island is fringed with mangroves while wildflowers bloom on the island in August and September.

The island contains 200 species of birds, 25 mammals (the dingoes on Fraser are the purest bred in eastern Australia because of isolation), dugong and turtles, many reptiles, and whales off the coast in Platypus Bay.

Many places on Fraser Island were named by Captain Cook but the island itself gets its name from Eliza Fraser who was shipwrecked there. Another shipwreck which is a great tourist attraction is the wreck of the Maheno.

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Eliza Fraser and the wreck of the Maheno

Fraser Island became a World Heritage listing in December 1992. There were two criteria on which it was judged. The first of these criteria was whether "it had superlative natural phenomena, formations or features". The second criteria was whether it was "an outstanding example representing significant on-going geological processes, biological evolution, and mans interaction with the natural environment".

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