Visitors pose for a photo at Fraser Island's Lake McKenzie.
Visitors pose for a photo at Fraser Island's Lake McKenzie. Mark Seabury

Fraser Island celebrates 25 years as a World Heritage Site

KNOWN for its pristine lakes, unique dingoes and stretches of beautiful beaches, today marks 25 years since Fraser Island became World-Heritage listed.

Conservationist John Sinclair said the world's largest sand island would not be as beautiful as it is today if it wasn't for local environmentalists fighting to end timber logging and sand mining.

Dr Sinclair led the fight against the industries from 1971, by forming a group called the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation.

When the island was finally World-Heritage listed on December 7, 1992, Dr Sinclair described the event as a major "sigh of relief".

John Sinclair.
John Sinclair. Contributed.

"By that stage, we were starting to get some battle fatigue, and hoped it would be the end," Dr Sinclair said.

"We were just concerned about maintaining natural integrity of the island."

FIDO was successful at stopping sand mining leases on December 31, 1976 when all sand mining on Fraser Island ceased.

Logging on the island stopped in 1991.

Since then, Fraser Island has grown into a major tourism destination and now attracts almost half a million visitors annually.

Moon Point Fraser Island.
Moon Point Fraser Island. Lucy Wilson

Dr Sinclair said his love for the island and all it had to offer began as a child when he and his family would visit on holidays.

Now aged 78, Dr Sinclair still has a strong involvement with the island, partaking in roles such as helping research, advocacy work, and working as a consultant.

"The battle is ongoing - when the island was declared as a World Heritage site it had less than 40 species of weeds, now there's over 200," he said.

"Over the years I've watched the changes in the forest as it recovers from the effects it had from logging."

The island, also referred to as K'gari, was the traditional homeland of the Butchulla people for thousands of years.

The Butchulla people's non-exclusive rights over 164,958 hectares of land and waters on it were recognised by the Federal Court of Australia in 2014.

Butchulla spokesperson Ranger Conway Burns said indigenous people still play a crucial role in conserving the island's culture and nature.

"The anniversary celebrations are a great occasion to promote our people's ongoing connection to country," said

"A lot has happened in the past 25 years, but our connection to K'gari goes back some 60,000 years and is worth recognising and celebrating."

Kingfisher Bay Resort senior ranger Ann Bauer said to preserve the natural beauty, visitors to the island were encouraged to take only photographs and leave only footprints.

"With Fraser Island becoming World-Heritage listed 25 years ago, now K'gari will remain as a paradise forever," Mrs Bauer said.

To celebrate that it has been a quarter of a century since the the World-Heritage Listing, a new Instagram page has been created at @visitfraserisland.

Fraser Coast Tourism and Events is encouraging locals and visitors to share photos from their visit by using the hashtag #visitfraserisland.

Fun Fraser Island Facts

Much of the water from the annual average rainfall of 1600mm is absorbed into a dome-shaped water table below the dunes.

Eli Creek releases 4.2 million litres of water an hour

It is the only place in the world where tall rainforests are found growing on sand dunes at elevations of more than 200m.

Fraser Island's Valley of the Giants contains trees more than 1200 years old and greater than 4m across the trunk, all growing in sand.

Butchualla people were forbidden to pick wild flowers as these had to be left for the bees which provided honey.

Wanggoolba Creek is known as the silent stream because the water makes no sound as it flows over the sand.

Twenty-three wrecks were recorded in Fraser Island waters between 1856 and 1935 - the last being the Maheno.



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