Fraser Island is a place of shipwrecks. The island, about 100 kilometres from the coast of Queensland, Australia, has been shaped by the forces of nature and man.
It is believed that from 1856 to 1935 that there were about 23 different wrecks submerged or grounded around Fraser Island waters.
The Maheno Shipwreck on Fraser Island
The Sandy Cape Lighthouse was built in 1870. It operates still today as a navigation beacon. Since its commission, the wreckages have been fewer as it was made easier for Captains to Navigate between Fraser Island and Little Woody Island.
Here are some of the commonly known shipwrecks on Fraser island.
The Maheno Shipwreck
The majestic “Maheno” Shipwreck has a fascinating history and a great story. It’s a must-see icon of the island that will also provide brilliant photographs, especially at sunrise and sunset.
When you consider the rusty old relic was once a luxury passenger liner with polished timbers, crystal chandeliers, exquisite china, and a grand piano it’s difficult to fathom that now it’s just a rusted old wreck.
This ship carried over 300 wealthy passengers in luxury. Now it’s just laying on 75 Mile Beach on Fraser Island.
The wreck is positioned along 75 Mile Beach just near the Pinnacles. Over the years it continues to be pounded by waves with the incoming tides.
Slowly but surely it is being devoured by the corroding salt and sea spray.
But the colourful history of this shipwreck makes for a great story.
In the beginning, she served the Trans-Tasman ocean route as a luxury passenger liner in her early years and later served as a hospital ship in WWI.
On her retirement, she was sold to Japan for scrap metal. On 9th July 1953, she was being towed up the eastern coastline from Sydney when a cyclone hit.
The severe rough seas snapped the tow rope and she drifted helplessly.
This was the beginning of her fateful demise as she washed up on the beach on Fraser Island.
Since this tragic ending, most of her interior was either salvaged or scavenged by others on the island.
Fortunately, in recent years lots of items have been located and donated back to the island to be preserved in a mini museum display at Happy Valley.
It is truly interesting to see all the memorabilia and read in-depth about Maheno’s history.
And what is even better is to actually visit this shipwreck.
Unfortunately, it is inevitable that the wrecks days are numbered as it is fast deteriorating, so if you have the chance start planning an amazing holiday to Fraser Island to see this iconic shipwreck along with all the other fascinating attractions on the island.
The Panama, one of Fraser Island’s best-known shipwrecks, was an American sailing vessel that met its fate in 1864 near Rooney’s Point.
After the sailing ship battled the furious waters of the Breaksea Spit, it was wrecked. The majority of crew members and passengers opted to settle on the beach after the shipwreck.
However, when Aboriginal tribes raided their camp and took their possessions, they were driven back aboard. The Aborigines also tried to board the ship, but the crew successfully fended them off.
To prevent future problems, the skipper, along with a few crew members, climbed into a lifeboat and were quickly rescued not far from Woody Island.
The Sterling Castle
The Sterling Castle, which was sunk in 1836 as it collided with a reef north of Fraser Island, is one of the most famous shipwrecks on Fraser Island.
The ship carried among its passenger Captain James Fraser, after whom the island was eventually named.
Both the Captain and his wife, Eliza, survived to Waddy Point, where they were eventually rescued.
The remains of the ship were actually discovered in the area by Aborigines, who then buried them. The crew perished after a few weeks among the indigenous people, but Captain Fraser died soon afterwards.
Eliza Fraser lived with the locals for several months before being discovered, along with three-stranded castaways.
She returned to her hometown, where she rapidly became a celebrity.
In the township of Orchid Beach, she has a road named after her ” Eliza Avenue ” and also another road ” Sterling Castle” in honour of this shipwreck.
The Seabelle was one of the first vessels to sink off the coast of Fraser Island, according to historical records.
The inaugural voyage of the Seabelle began in 1844, when it was a 158-ton vessel that sank near the northern coast of Fraser Island in March 1857.
According to reports, a woman and her two daughters were able to flee the wreckage and found refuge among the natives.
However, according to other records, the three of them were albinos.
A Captain was hired to capture and transport the two albino girls back to Sydney where they were admitted to a mental asylum. They were never reunited with their mother and unfortunately perished at the asylum.
An aerial shot of the Marloo shipwreck of the beach – Fraser Island
The Marloo Wreck is located off the coast of Orchid beach. The wreck is generally visible as you descend the jump-up to Orchid beach.
The shipwreck is of the merchant’s vessel the SS Marloo. The steamer was built in 1891 and was later wrecked in 1914.
This is a popular fishing and diving spot for the locals of Orchid beach.
Wrapping it up
Shipwrecks are a common occurrence on Fraser Island, due to the island’s location near the Breaksea Spit.
The Maheno Shipwreck is one of the most well-known shipwrecks on Fraser Island and certainly one of the most photographed in the world. Just take a look on Instagram.
This old wreck is slowly being consumed by the sea and the sand so the advice is that if you want to get over to the island better do it now and start planning.
Another interesting fact is that even to this day there have been many yachts that have had a fateful demise around the island.
One ran aground at Waddy Point and another struck a Humpback whale and sank close to Platypus Bay.
The moral of the story, the waters surrounding Fraser Island are treacherous.
If you are interested in shipwrecks take a trip to Fraser Island, it is an amazing history lesson.
The Maheno Wreck Information Board
Map of Fraser Island