Highway of Fraser Island

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Fraser Island is an island located along the southern coast of Queensland, Australia, approximately 200 kilometres (120 mi) north of Brisbane. Its length is about 120 kilometres (75 mi) and its width is approximately 24 kilometres (15 mi). It was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1992. The island is considered to be the largest sand island in the world at 1840 km². It is also Queensland's largest island, Australia's sixth largest island and the largest island on the East Coast of Australia.
The island has rainforests, eucalyptus woodland, mangrove forests, wallum and peat swamps, sand dunes and coastal heaths. It is made up of sand that has been accumulating for approximately 750,000 years on volcanic bedrock that provides a natural catchment for the sediment which is carried on a strong offshore current northwards along the coast. Unlike many sand dunes, plant life is abundant due to the naturally occurring mycorrhizal fungi present in the sand, which release nutrients in a form that can be absorbed by the plants. Fraser Island is home to a small number of mammal species, as well as a diverse range of birds, reptiles and amphibians, including the occasional saltwater crocodile. The island is part of the Fraser Coast Region and protected in the Great Sandy National Park.
Fraser Island has been inhabited by humans for as much as 5,000 years. Explorer James Cook sailed by the island in May 1770. Matthew Flinders landed near the most northern point of the island in 1802. For a short period the island was known as Great Sandy Island. The island became known as Fraser due to the stories of a shipwreck survivor named Eliza Fraser. Today the island is a popular tourism destination. Its resident human population was 360 at the census of 2006.

The total volume of sand above sea level on Fraser Island is directly proportional to the mass of 113 cubic kilometres (27 cubic miles). All of the sand, which originated in the Hawkesbury, Hunter and Clarence River catchments in New South Wales has been transported north by longshore transport. Along the eastern coast of the island the process is removing more sand than it is depositing, resulting in the slow erosion of beaches which may accelerate with sea level rises attributed to climate change. The sand consists of 98% quartz.
All hills on the island have been formed by sandblowing. Sandblows are parabolic dunes which move across the island via the wind and are devoid of vegetation. In 2004, there was an estimated total of 36 sandblows on the island. With year-round south-easterly wind, the sand dunes on the island move at the rate of 1 to 2 metres a year and grow to a height of 244 metres. The dune movement creates overlapping dunes and sometimes intersects waterways and covers forests. Dune-building has occurred in episodes as the sea levels have changed and once extended much further to the east. The oldest dune system has been dated at 700,000 years, which is the world's oldest recorded sequence.
The coloured sands found at Rainbow Gorge, The Cathedrals, The Pinnacles and Red Canyon are examples of where the sand has been stained over thousands of years due to the sand conglomerating with clay. Hematite, the mineral pigment responsible for the staining acts like cement. This allows the steeper cliffs of coloured sand to form. Coffee rock, so-called because when it is dissolved in water it turns the colour of coffee, is found in outcrops along the beaches on both sides of the island.
The 120 kilometres (75 mi) beach runs along most of the east coast of Fraser Island. It is used as a landing strip for planes and an informal highway for vehicles (highway rules state that vehicles must give way to aircraft if they are oncoming). Along the beach are the Champagne Pools, Indian Head, the Maheno Wreck and the outflow of Eli Creek. Exposed volcanic rocks are found at Indian Head, Waddy Point and Middle Rocks as well as near Boon Boon Creek.

Fraser Island has over 100 freshwater lakes, as well as the second highest concentration of lakes in Australia after Tasmania. The freshwater lakes on Fraser Island are some of the cleanest lakes in the world. A popular tourist area is Lake McKenzie which is located inland from the small town of Eurong. It is a perched lake sitting on top of compact sand and vegetable matter 100 metres (330 ft) above sea level. Lake McKenzie has an area of 150 hectares and is just over 5 metres (16 ft) in depth. The beach sand of Lake McKenzie is nearly pure silica. The lakes have very few nutrients and pH varies, though sunscreen and soaps are a problem as a form of pollution. Freshwater on the island may become stained by organic acids found in decaying vegetation. Because of the organic acids a pH level of 3.7 has been measured in some of the island's perched lakes. The high acidity levels prevent many species from finding habitat in the lakes.
Another perched lake on the island is Lake Boomanjin, which at 200 hectares in size, is the largest perched lake in the world. In total there are 40 perched lakes on the island, half of all known lakes of this kind on the planet. Lake Boomanjin is feed by two creeks that pass through a wallum swamp where it collects tannins which tint the water red. Lake Wabby is the deepest lake on the island, at 12 metres (39 ft) in depth and also the least acidic which means it has the most aquatic life of all the lakes.
Some of the lakes on Fraser Island are window lakes. These form when the water table has risen to a point higher than the surrounding land. Most of the valleys on the islands have creeks which are fed by springs. Motor boats and jet skis are banned from the island's lakes.

Estimates of the number of visitors to the island each year range from 350,000 to 500,000. The chance of seeing a dingo in its natural setting is one of the main reasons people visit the island. The use of boardwalks and marked tracks by visitors is encouraged to reduce erosion.
Urinating tourists have created environmental issues at Fraser Island lakes and coastal dunes. The foredunes are used as a toilet by bush campers which are estimated to number 90,000 each year. Many of the perched lakes have no outflow or inflow which exacerbates the problem. Water quality in some lakes is being impacted by storm water run-off from dune roads and swimmer's use of sunscreen.
In April 2009, a vehicle overturned on the beach after being hit by a wave. Two backpackers were killed in the accident. Following the incident speed limits were reduced from 100 km/h to 80 km/h on the beach, and from 40 km/h to 30 km/h inland. Everyone who hires a vehicle on the island from a Fraser Coast 4WD Operators Association accredited organisation must attend a one hour long briefing on vehicle safety.
Central Station is a popular tourism destination on the island. Some of the rarest ferns grow along the rainforest near the station.
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