Fraser Island

State of Queensland
S25 13 0 E153 7 60
Date of Inscription: 1992
Criteria: (vii)(viii)(ix)
Property : 181,851 ha
Ref: 630
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Fraser Island lies just off the east coast of Australia. At 122 km long, it is the largest sand island in the world. Majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on sand and half the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes are found inland from the beach. The combination of shifting sand-dunes, tropical rainforests and lakes makes it an exceptional site.

Fraser Island, also known by its Aboriginal name of K’gari, lies along the eastern coast of Australia. The property covers 181,851 hectares and includes all of Fraser Island and several small islands off the island’s west coast. It is the world’s largest sand island, offering an outstanding example of ongoing biological, hydrological and geomorphological processes.  The development of rainforest vegetation on coastal dune systems at the scale found on Fraser Island is unique, plus the island boasts the world’s largest unconfined aquifer on a sand island.

The property has exceptional natural beauty with over 250 kilometres of clear sandy beaches with long, uninterrupted sweeps of ocean beach, strikingly coloured sand cliffs, and spectacular blowouts. Inland from the beach are majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on sandy dunes and half of the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes.

Criterion (vii): Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world, containing a diverse range of features that are of exceptional natural beauty. The area has over 250 kilometres of clear sandy beaches with long, uninterrupted sweeps of ocean beach, including more than 40 kilometres of strikingly coloured sand cliffs, as well as spectacular blowouts. Inland from the beach are majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on tall sand dunes, a phenomenon believed to be unique in the world. Half of the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes occur on the island, producing a spectacular and varied landscape. The world’s largest unconfined aquifer on a sand island has also been found here.

Criterion (viii): The property represents an outstanding example of significant ongoing geological processes including longshore drift. The immense sand dunes are part of the longest and most complete age sequence of coastal dune systems in the world and are still evolving. The superimposition of active parabolic dunes on remnants of older dunes deposited during periods of low sea level, which are stabilised by towering rainforests at elevations of up to 240 metres, is considered unique. Fraser Island also has a variety of freshwater dune lakes which are exceptional in terms of number, diversity and age. The dynamic interrelationship between the coastal dune sand mass, aquifer hydrology and the freshwater dune lakes provides a sequence of lake formation both spatially and temporally.

The process of soil formation on the island is also unique, since as a result of the successive overlaying of dune systems, a chronosequence of podzol development from the younger dune systems on the east to the oldest systems on the west change from rudimentary profiles less than 0.5 metres thick to giant forms more than 25 metres thick. The latter far exceeds known depths of podzols anywhere else in the world and has a direct influence on plant succession, with the older dune systems causing retrogressive succession when the soil horizon becomes too deep to provide nutrition for tall forest species.

Criterion (ix): The property represents an outstanding example of significant ongoing biological processes. These processes, acting on a sand medium, include biological adaptation (such as unusual rainforest succession), and biological evolution (such as the development of rare and biogeographically significant species of plants and animals).

Vegetation associations and succession represented on Fraser Island display an unusual level of complexity, with major changes in floristic and structural composition occurring over very short distances. Both heathland and closed forest communities provide refugia for relict and disjunct populations, which are important to ongoing speciation and radiation. Evolution and specialised adaptation to low fertility, fire, waterlogging and aridity is continuing in the ancient angiosperm flora of the heathlands and the associated vertebrate and invertebrate fauna. Since listing, patterned fens have been discovered on the property, which along with those at Cooloola, are the only known examples of sub-tropical patterned fens in the world. These fens support an unusual number of rare and threatened invertebrate and vertebrate species.

The dynamic interrelationship between the coastal dune sand mass, hydrology, the ongoing processes of soil formation and the development of plant communities is remarkable in its scale and complexity given the uniform substrate. In particular, the development of rainforest vegetation communities, with trees up to 50 metres tall on coastal dune systems at the scale found on Fraser Island, is not known to occur elsewhere in the world. There is clear zonation and succession of plant communities according to salinity, water table, age and nutrient status of dune sands, exposure and fire frequency. The low shrubby heaths (‘wallum’) are of considerable evolutionary and ecological significance.  Fauna including a number of threatened species of frog, have adapted to the highly specialised acidic environment associated with wet heathlands and sedgelands in this siliceous sand environment.

Suggested Bases:

Hervey Bay (pronounced Harvey Bay) is a string of beachside towns located in south east Queensland, around 5 hours drive north of Brisbane. Hervey Bay is home to many retired people. Its main attraction is an 868 meter long pier that extends into the ocean. The town (population approximately 50,000 and growing fast) is a centre for whale watching. People flock to Hervey Bay every Whale season, which starts late July and goes through to early November. It is also a gateway to Fraser Island and the southern Great Barrier Reef. It has fantastic weather and consequently draws ‘sea-changers’, backpackers and those who don’t like living in houses. Its offshore protection provides beaches almost free from waves. The large bay is formed by Fraser Island and the coast. Hervey Bay is not so much a single town, as a few seaside towns merged along the bay, Urangan, Torquay, Scarness, Pialba, and Point Vernon each have their own shopping precinct, parks and playgrounds [read more].

Sunshine Coast is a peri-urban area and the third most populated area in the Australian state of Queensland. Located 100 km (62 mi) north of the centre of Brisbane in South East Queensland, on the Coral Sea coastline, its urban area spans approximately 60 km (37 mi) of coastline and hinterland from Pelican Waters to Tewantin. The estimated urban population of Sunshine Coast as of June 2018 was 333,436, making it the 9th most populous in the country. The population of the area has grown steadily at an average annual rate of 2.4% year-on-year over the five years to 2018. The area was first settled by Papuasians migrating from northern Australia. Europeans settled in the area in the 19th century, with development progressing slowly until tourism became an important industry. The area has several coastal hubs at Caloundra, Kawana Waters, Maroochydore and Noosa Heads. Nambour and Maleny have developed as primary commercial centres for the hinterland, although Maleny falls outside the urban area defined by the ABS that this article refers to [read more].

Brisbane is the state capital of Queensland. The Greater Brisbane region has a population of about 2.2 million people, making it the third-largest city in Australia. Large enough to be cosmopolitan yet small enough to be friendly and accessible, Brisbane is a ‘garden metropolis’ famous for its leafy, open spaces and the pleasant pace of life that unfolds between the zig-zags of its iconic river. Gaining international exposure during the 1982 Commonwealth Games, the 1988 World Expo, the 2001 Goodwill Games and the 2014 G20 Summit, Brisbane’s year-round warm climate, spectacular scenery, pleasant locals and world-class facilities have been the draw-cards for many domestic and international visitors, making Brisbane the fastest-growing city in Australia. Despite this rapid development, it maintains a youthful enthusiasm and is arguably one of the most laid-back and forward-thinking of any Australian capital city. It is perhaps best known as the main setting of the award-winning animated kids TV series Bluey [read more].

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