Shipwreck Fraser Island

Experience the Wonder of a Shipwreck on Fraser Island

Exploring a shipwreck on Fraser Island is a must when you visit this picturesque destination. As one of the main attractions, each wreck affords you the chance to discover the rich and dramatic history of the island. The island reportedly recorded 23 shipwrecks between 1856 and 1935, although arguably the most iconic is the Maheno shipwreck. Located a mere 6km from Cathedrals On Fraser, it is an ideal activity to include in your holiday plans. Pack a beach picnic and take a moment to revel in the story behind the wreck while you reconnect with nature, your family and friends.

A Short History About Fraser Island and the Maheno Shipwreck

In the past legends of beauty has often stirred tales of countries declaring war and people seeking revenge. Correspondingly, the story of Fraser Island’s creation, alongside its many shipwrecks, has the potential to evoke a sense of fatal beauty reminiscent of these legends. Although the truth about the island and the Maheno shipwreck is far more interesting.

  • It must be the gods. Butchulla lore details how god Beeral created the earth and directed two messengers, Yindingie and K’gari to transform the essence of the globe into a paradise. Once complete, K’gari was enamoured with the splendour of the earth and ached to stay. On a beautiful temperate day, as K’gari slept in the scenic waters of a charming bay, Yindingie artfully granted her desire and transformed her fellow messenger’s body into a picturesque paradise. An island referred to by the indigenous Butchulla people as K’gari, meaning ‘paradise’.
  • The discovery of Fraser Island. Fraser Island stretches 122 km in length and 22 km in width atop a volcanic shelf, making it the largest sand island in the world. The island is the result of sediment which has accumulated over the past 750 000 years due to the eastern seaboard’s prevailing long-current. First discovered by British explorer James Cook in May of 1770, the island has had various names. Although today it is named after Eliza Fraser, a shipwreck survivor, who spent six weeks moored on the island in 1836.
  • The last voyage. The combination of a beautiful paradise juxtaposed by disintegrating wreckages is evidence of the ocean’s majesty and the influence of weather systems’ ability to generate smooth sailing conditions or wreckages, as is the case of Maheno’s last voyage. After being decommissioned, the Maheno was being towed to Osaka, when it was caught in a cyclone around 80 km off the coast of Queensland. As a result, the towline broke and on 12 July 1935; the Maheno found its final home on Fraser Island’s 75 Mile Beach.

Fast Facts About the Maheno Shipwreck on Fraser Island

Built by the Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand, the Maheno was a turbine powered boat which operated for around 30 years, between 1905 and 1935.

  • Ocean liner. Originally commissioned as a passenger boat, the SS Maheno launched on 19 June 1905. As a commercial ship, it boasted a first, second and third class, which could accommodate up to 420 passengers. During its time as a commercial liner, it operated between Sydney and Melbourne as well as Vancouver.  
  • World War I. The Maheno’s tenure as ocean liner was short-lived, as after just a few months on 18 November 1905, the ship was converted into a hospital ship for use in World War I. Only after the war ended in 1918 did the Maheno resume its commercial operation.
  • 115 years old. In 2020 the SS Maheno turned 115 years old. As it is older than 75 years, it is protected by the Commonwealth’s Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976.

About Cathedrals On Fraser

Discover all Fraser Island has to offer from our beautiful campgrounds. Our centrally located site offers ten accommodation options, including cabins, permanent tents and campsites. Explore our accommodation options and book now to avoid disappointment.

General safety information

Safe Driving on Fraser Island

Aim to travel two hours either side of low tide wherever possible. Ensure you are not driving on the beach two hours either side of high tide.

It is recommended that you reduce tyre pressure before you get to Fraser Island. This is even more important if you are towing (don’t forget to reduce your trailer/caravan tyre pressures too!) If you are an inexperienced driver or towing a trailer or caravan, we recommend taking the Mantaray barge out of Rainbow Beach to avoid the need to take an inland track. Generally, the eastern beach route will be a smoother journey. During dry weather the sand at Inskip Point can become very soft and vehicles can easily get bogged getting on and off the barge.

For more tips on sand driving, visit here.

Emergency Contacts

In an emergency, dial 000.  If you don’t have mobile reception try 112. Help can be hours away, so carry a well-stocked first aid kit and medical supplies.

Fraser Island Police (Eurong): 4123 7911
Tow Truck Services (Eurong): 4127 9449 or 0428 353 164
Fraser Island Taxi: 4127 9188

To read more about what to expect and how to be safe on Fraser Island, visit:

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