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Long-Distance Walks with Mark Moxon

Fraser Island: Day 5: Waves, Wrecks and Dunes

Strange sand on Seventy-Five Mile Beach
Strange sand on Seventy-Five Mile Beach

I designated day 5 as a rest day, both because I had planned for an extra day somewhere along the line, and because my feet were quite, quite buggered. Despite it being a rest day, I wandered north up the beach for some 6.5km, but this time without a pack or shoes; it was then that I realised the best way to walk on the beach is with what the Aussies call 'beach shoes': bare feet.

Mark's shadow on Seventy-Five Mile Beach
Alone on Seventy-Five Mile Beach, all you have for company is your shadow

The Maheno

The wreck of the Maheno
The wreck of the Maheno

About 3.5km north of Eli Creek lies the wreck of the Maheno. The Maheno was a luxury passenger ship that was sold off to the Japanese for scrap in 1935, but as it was being towed north towards its new home, a cyclone blew it onto the beach on Fraser Island where it still rests and rusts today. It's a weird sight that you can see for a good hour's walk to the north and south, and at low tide you can get right up to the wreck and, if you ignore the warning signs, walk round inside it.

The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles
The wonderful colours of the Pinnacles

A couple of kilometres north of the Maheno are the Pinnacles, the northernmost point that I reached on the island. As a destination, if a tramp such as this can be said to have a destination, the Pinnacles were a marvel. Fraser Island is famous not only for its fairly unique environment – rainforest thriving on nothing but sand – but also for its actual sand, which has built up over such a long time that it gives geologists the same feelings that Pirelli calendars give car mechanics. For these reasons Fraser Island is a World Heritage area1 and the layered coloured sands of the Pinnacles are a vivid reminder of its deserved standing among natural phenomena. Imagine a combination of Purnululu and Nambung, and you're not far off the rainbow-coloured spires of the Pinnacles; stick in a blue sky peppered with surreal cloud formations, and it's a postcard photographer's delight. It certainly made a worthy and fitting destination for my rest day's walk.

The Pinnacles
The Pinnacles

1 World Heritage areas, like the Grand Canyon, the Taj Mahal and the Egyptian pyramids, are protected for future generations to enjoy by the United Nations World Heritage Committee; they are deemed to be places that, if altered, would be an irreplaceable loss to the planet. Australia is particularly rich in World Heritage sites; there's the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu, Uluru, Tasmania's western wilderness, the wet tropics of northern Queensland, Shark Bay, Fraser Island, Lord Howe Island and the Willandra Lakes, and the list is growing all the time.