BY CALEB PEARMAN
People who visit Fraser Island for the first time often struggle to find the words to describe the beauty of this magical island. But also animal life, especially the 230 species of birds, Australia's purest dingo's and many other species contribute to the unique island environment.
Aboriginals of the Butchalla tribe have been living on Fraser Island for the last 5000 years. And because the abundance of food supplied by the sea, the lakes and the forest the number of inhabitants was quite high. 160 years ago about 2000 aboriginals were living on the island. That changed dramatically when the island became an immigration- and quarantine post for ships that brought people and equipment for the gold fields in the area. forty years later there were only 150 tribe members left. These were taken off the island to reserves on the mainland.
FAUNA ON FRASER ISLAND
The diversity of the island's natural habitat supports a wide range of animals, many of which are at the northern or southern limit of their distribution or are considered to be rare or vulnerable.
Each animal has a place in nature's ecosystem, be it as a predator or pollinator, soil enricher or seed carrier. Even the smallest animal can cause an environmental imbalance if disturbed and it is for this reason that we should do our best to respect and conserve the native fauna of Fraser Island.
There are 47 other species of mammals on Fraser Island including the Swamp Wallaby, Small Eared Mountain Possum and the Sugar Glider.
FLORA ON FRASER ISLAND
One of the most remarkable features of Fraser Island is its vegetation. A large variety of different types covers most of the island.
Most obvious are the mangrove forests on the West side of Fraser Island, the scrub in the North and South and the Rainforest in the middle.
As sand by itself contains hardly any nutrients, the vegetation on Fraser Island, especially on the dunes near the coast, has to obtain its nutrients from the rain and sea spray.
Salt tolerant species grow well on these dunes and gradually enrich the soil on which they grow. More inland the dunes become older and already have layers of nutrient deposited by the more salt tolerant species long ago. Bigger trees and more dense scrub develops and the in turn enriches the soil even more. Therefore, in the centre of Fraser Island the richest layers exist and it is here that majestic, lush subtropical rainforest grows. In the valleys, protected by the high central dunes and with an abundance of fresh water, these amazing rainforests have become a rare example of nature’s ability to adapt to the most unusual circumstances.