While she slept, Yindingie transformed her body into a long, slender island of crystalline sand, the largest such island in all the world. He clothed her with the most luxuriant of rain forests, painted her soft, sandy skin a rainbow of colors, and fashioned a chain of jewel-like lakes to be her eyes into heaven. He filled the air with colorful birds, and then, so she would never be lonely, he set a tribe of Aborigines on the island—the Butchulla people, who passed down the story of its creation and in whose language K'gari came to be the word for "paradise."
A lot of water has washed its shores since then. Today paradise goes by the name of Fraser Island, renamed by newcomers after a Scottish sea captain and his wife were famously marooned here among the Aborigines in 1836. But by any name or reckoning, it remains a place apart, with an uncanny ability to weave itself into the dreams of all who draw near.
Fraser Island's storied landscapes have inspired many of Australia's greatest writers and artists, and its delicate ecosystems fired passions in one of Australia's first great grassroots environmental campaigns in the 1970s, stopping the mining of its mineral-rich sands and bringing an eventual end to logging on the island. And for succeeding generations of locals and visitors alike, it has been a prism through which to see and appreciate the often nuanced beauty of the Australian bush.
For all the paintings, poetry, and prose Fraser Island has inspired, this is not an easy place to categorize. One moment you're hiking through a cathedral rain forest, all giant ferns and piccabeen palms, and the next you're in fragrant eucalyptus woodland, gazing through a break in the trees at a sea of golden dunes—and beyond them, in the soft, summery haze, rolling coastal heaths bright with wildflowers. Changes in landscape that logic tells you should be hundreds of miles apart happen here one after the other, as swiftly and magically as a twist of a kaleidoscope barrel.
The greatest wonder of all, perhaps, is that most everything here grows on nothing more substantial than sand held in place by humble fungi. No dreamscape could be woven of slenderer thread.