Aesthetic Importance of Fraser Island (K’gari)

Fraser Island (K’gari) is World Heritage values recognises that it has areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance including:

  • Diverse range of features that are of exceptional natural beauty;
  • Over 250 kilometres of clear sandy beaches with long, uninterrupted sweeps of ocean beach;
  • Majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on tall sand dunes, a phenomenon believed to be unique in the world;
  • More than 40 kilometres of strikingly coloured sand cliffs;
  • Spectacular blowouts;
  • Half of the world’s perched freshwater dune lakes occur on the island, producing a spectacular and varied landscape.

It is also has World Heritage recognition for “containing superlative natural phenomena including being:

  • Largest sand island in the world; and
  • The world’s largest unconfined aquifer on a sand island has also been found here.

Fraser Island (K’gari) has attracted and inspired some of Australia’s most famous writers, poets, artists and composers.


Sir Sidney Robert Nolan was one of Australia’s leading artists of the 20th century.  He painted the most haunting images resulting from his visit to Fraser Island in 1947.  Nolan had read about the story of the shipwrecked Eliza Fraser, who became stranded amongst local Aborigines and was rescued by escaped convict David Bracewell, and painted a series relating to his version of the story.


Sidney Nolan, Australia 1917-1992 / Platypus Bay, Fraser Island 1947 / Enamel on board / Purchased 2013. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The Bridgeman Art Library


Australian Nobel Laureate, Patrick White, a friend of Nolan’s was commissioned to write the libretto for an Opera about the story of Eliza Fraser.  The opera was never produced but some of White’s libretto has been incorporated into a Noh drama produced by the Music department of the University of Sydney.

More significantly White wrote two novels, based on Fraser Island.  A Fringe of Leaves, published in 1976, is a fictionalised version of the story of Eliza Fraser.  In his award winning novel, Eye of the Storm, published in 1973, Patrick White sets a powerful scene on Brumby (Fraser) Island as a cyclone passes over.

The Eye of the Storm was adapted into an Australian drama film directed by Fred Schepisi. It stars Geoffrey Rush, Charlotte Rampling and Judy Davis. It won the critics award for best Australian feature at the 2011 Melbourne International Film Festival and had a September 2011 theatrical release.

(original and more recent book covers)

 15700957 19335899

EyeOfTheStormNovel images

Legends of Moonie Jarl, written by Butchulla writer Wilfred Reeves and illustrated by his sister Olga Miller was first published in 1964.  It was the first book of Aboriginal stories authored by Aboriginal people published in Australia.



Leading 20th Century composer Peter Sculthorpe was also commissioned to produce the music to accompany Patrick White’s opera libretto.  Although the opera never proceeded Sculthorpe’s compositions have been developed into the Great Sandy Symphony, (which can be found on the Peter Sculthorpe: Requiem album performed by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Arvo Volmer & James Judd). This has five movements: The Sea Coast, The Boro-ground, The Rain-forest, The Garrison, and Dune Dreaming.

Peter Sculthorpe_ Requiem

Other artists whose work has been influenced by Fraser Island include poet Judith Wright and many photographers.

The natural beauty of Fraser Island continues to inspire creativity even from people who don’t actually go to visit the island.  Fraser Island (K’Gari) needs to be managed not exclusively for the 400,000 visitors attracted to it annually but for the millions of people around the world who will only ever know it vicariously.