Explore the shipwrecks of Fraser Island.

While it is primarily known for its exquisitely sparkling lagoons and dark green rainforests, Fraser Island also offers a lot in terms of it’s shipwrecks. Indeed, while the lagoon is quite serene thanks to the coral reefs, beyond the reef is found a particularly turbulent sea.

Consequently, Fraser Island has seen its share of spectacular shipwrecks throughout the years.

These shipwrecks have quickly established themselves as a vital part of the island’s history and some of them- like the Maheno- are now major tourist landmarks.

The Maheno

Easily the most famous ship to have wrecked on Fraser Island, the Maheno shipwreck is now one of the island’s major attraction.

Constructed back in 1905, this ship used to be among the very first steamers driven by turbine. The ship’s regular route originally used to take her all the way from Sydney to Auckland.

During World War One, however, the Maheno was commissioned as a hospital ship.

After the war, the ship was towed to Japan to be sold for scraps and it was during the towing that she was caught in a cyclonic storm.

The two chain snapped, leaving the Maheno to drift towards Fraser Island.

Fraser Island Beach

The Panama

One of Fraser Island’s better-known shipwreck, the Panama was an American ship that found its demise in 1864, near Rooney’s Point.

The shipwrecked happened after the sailing ship battled the furious waters of the Breaksea Spit. Following the shipwreck, most crew members and passengers decided to camp out on the beach.

However, they were forced back into the ship when Aboriginal tribes ransacked their camp and stole their belongings. The Aborigines also attempted to get onboard, but the crew managed to fight them off.

To avoid further incidents, the captain, accompanied by some crew members boarded a lifeboat and were soon rescued not far from Woody Island.

The Sterling Castle

Another well-known Fraser Island shipwreck is the Sterling Castle. In May 1836, it was shipwrecked as it hit the reef north of Fraser Island.

Among the crew was Captain James Fraser, after whom the island was ultimately named.

Both the Captain and his wife, Eliza, managed to make it to Waddy Point, where they were eventually rescued.

They lived for several weeks with the Aborigines but sadly Captain Fraser passed away.

Eliza Fraser lived among the locals for several months until she was finally rescued, along with three shipwrecked survivors.

She went back to her hometown, where she quickly became a celebrity.

The Seabelle

According to historical records, the Seabelle was among the first ships to sink off the coast of Fraser Island since there is very little documentation about it.

The Seabelle used to be a 158-ton ship that met its watery grave not far from the north-eastern side of Fraser Island in March 1857.

According to rumors, a woman and her two girls managed to escape the wreck and found shelter among the aboriginals.

Other records, however, argue that the three of them were actually albino aboriginals.

The Captain was commissioned to bring the two girls back to his country, where they unfortunately passed away.

Map of Fraser Island

Explore more with our Fraser Island map and find your way around Australia’s world famous sand island. Zoom in on the map to discover more.

Facts + Weather

How big is Fraser Island? How was Fraser Island made? Where is Fraser Island? How did Fraser Island get it’s name? This special iconic place invokes so many questions – see our Fraser Island Facts page to get all the answers.

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About 'Fraser Island Australia'

Fraser Island Australia is a 'Web Magazine' website that is dedicated to all things related to Queensland's iconic great sandy island. We are passionate about Australia's great natural wonder, its vast beaches and lakes, its incredible vistas, its natural beauty and the unforgettable experiences that are waiting for all who visit. Our aim is to discuss Fraser Island, its history, its environment, its wildlife and its spectacular destinations. We hope that this website will inspire all who visit, just as much as Fraser Island has inspired us.

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