About K'gari | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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About K'gari

K'gari is located off the Queensland coastline, about 300km north of Queensland's capital city of Brisbane. It is the largest sand island in the world and is more than 120km long and 22km across at its widest point.

K'gari is a complex ecosystem of sand dunes and lakes with subtropical forests growing solely on sand, and contains half of the world's perched lakes and was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1992, in recognition of its outstanding natural universal values. It was included on the National Heritage List in 2007.

K'gari is a unique natural environment to explore and an ideal location for scientific research.


The Indigenous Butchulla people are thought to have inhabited the island for 6,000–8,000 years before the arrival of European settlers. They named it ‘K’gari’, meaning ‘paradise’.

Captain James Cook sighted the island in 1770 and, in the nineteenth century, Europeans named it Fraser Island in honour of Eliza Fraser who was shipwrecked there in 1836.

In more recent times, Fraser Island was known as a location for sand mining and timber logging that began in 1863 and ended in 1991.

Sand mining began in 1949, but stopped in 1976 after environmentalists took the case to Australia's High Court.

Conservation groups were instrumental in the creation of the Fraser Island National Park, and its subsequent inclusion as a World Heritage site.


Fraser Island Wanggoolba Creek.jpgThe Great Walk

The K'gari Research and Learning Centre at Dilli Village is located on the K'gari Great Walk.

This walk is one of a number of scenic walking trails maintained throughout Queensland.

You can stay at Dilli Village, leave your vehicle while you walk part of the track, and return to the camp at night.

The entire walk around K'gari takes 6–8 days to complete. For more information, visit the K'gari Great Walk website.

Eli Creek

Walk the boardwalk and explore Eli Creek, the largest fresh water creek on the north-eastern side of the island, with an outflow of 80 million litres of pure water a day.

You can even float downstream to emerge on Seventy Five Mile Beach.

Perched Lakes

K'gari has more than one hundred lakes. Lake Boomanjin is the largest perched lake (above sea level) in the world, with 200 hectares of surface area.

Central Station and Wanggoolba Creek

Visit the historic remnants of Central Station, a once busy logging camp which is now a ranger base and a scenic picnic and camping area.

From the campground, a boardwalk descends into the tropical rainforest leading down to Wanggoolba Creek.

Here you can see diverse animal and plant life including eels, the world's largest fern fronds (Angiopteris), and towering flooded gums.


There are many different ecosystems on K'gari. These include rainforests, wallum forests, coastal communities, beach zones, freshwater lakes and creeks, and sand dunes.


A natural waterhole on Fraser Island.K'gari's rainforests are cool, dense and humid with an enormous diversity of plant species.

The dense canopies allow little sunlight to filter through to the forest floor.

The air within the rainforest is kept moist by the vegetation and water is recycled within the system.

The undergrowth includes fungi, seedlings, liverworts, saplings, mosses, lichen, ferns and leaf litter, where carbon dioxide is trapped and released with the breakdown of organic material.

Wallum forests

Wallum forests are open woodlands with a diverse range of flowering plants.

They are dominated by fire tolerant species such as eucalypts, banksias, acacias and grass trees.

The forests provide food for nectar-feeding mammals, birds and insects, and are home to a range of frogs and lizards.

The Wallum forests grow on sandy soils and are tolerant of wet conditions.


K'gari has more than 120km of spectacular beaches.

Shrubs and grasslands stabilise the dunes and provide a habitat suited to the harsh coastal conditions.

The salt tolerant plants adapt to the movement of sand and stabilise coastal dune systems.

The western side of K'gari is dotted with complex mangrove systems and white sandy beaches.

Freshwater lakes

There are more than one hundred freshwater lakes on K'gari, of three types—perched, window and barrage.

Perched lakes have sealed bottoms and rely on direct rainfall for replenishment.

Window lakes occur when the ground level drops below the water table and ground water is exposed.

Barrage lakes form when moving sand dunes block a watercourse.

Sand dunes

The dune systems of Fraser Island can tower more than 200 metres above sea level and reach 60 metres below sea level.

Flinders Sand Blow is one of the most spectacular on the island.

Sand blows move as they are driven by the prevailing wind, consuming forests and streams as they migrate slowly over time.


Whales, dugongs and dolphins

Hervey Bay is one of the largest humpback whale-watching areas in Australia.

A dingo on Fraser Island.More than 5,000 whales stop in the protected waters of Hervey Bay each year as part of their annual migration between July and October.

Dolphins and dugongs can be seen in the waters of K'gari throughout the year.

Bird life

More than 350 species of birds have been recorded on K'gari.

It is a resting place for some migratory birds, as it acts as a transition zone between tropical and subtropical areas.

While some only visit, many other species make it their home due to its diverse range of habitats.


Because of their isolation, K'gari's dingoes are thought to be the purest strain of dingo in Australia.

Please remember that they are wild animals and you must not feed them or approach them.

Contact with humans can have a major impact on their survival and your safety.

Before visiting K'gari, obtain information about dingoes and their habits from the Department of Environment and Science.

Other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish
  • 48 species of mammals inhabit Fraser Island and most are nocturnal.
  • 79 species of reptiles have been recorded and this includes 18 species of snakes, of which 6 are considered dangerous.
  • 18 species of frogs and 24 freshwater species of fish found on the island.
  • Countless species of saltwater fish inhabit the surrounding marine waters.