The Maheno on the Easter Beaches on Fraser Island
The Maheno on the Easter Beaches on Fraser Island Jane McIntosh Bodie

The shipwrecks off Fraser Island you haven't heard about

WHEN one thinks of shipwrecks and Fraser Island, the Maheno immediately springs to mind.

The naval ship was washed ashore by a cyclone in 1935 and the disintegrating wreck remains a popular tourism attraction.

IN DISTRESS: The SS Maheno just after it went aground on Fraser Island on July 8, 1935.
IN DISTRESS: The SS Maheno just after it went aground on Fraser Island on July 8, 1935.

But it's far from the only vessel that has come to grief in the region.

While these cases are the most famous, a total of 23 wrecks were recorded in Fraser Island waters between 1856 and 1935.

The Sandy Cape light house was switched on in 1870 but this, and a smaller light on Woody Island, did little to alleviate the number of ships wrecked.

The Panama

In the uncertain waters off the island, the Panama, an American ship, 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.

But 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.

Know where the name 'Fraser Island' comes from? Eliza Fraser's story is one of the finest tabloid spins in history https://t.co/4SdAh9DfcF

— SBS Australia (@SBS) August 30, 2017

The Stirling Castle

In May, 1836, the Stirling Castle was shipwrecked after 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.

A model of Stirling Castle, one of the famous shipwrecks off the coast of Fraser Island.
A model of Stirling Castle, one of the famous shipwrecks off the coast of Fraser Island. Carlie Walker

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

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.

For Australians - re Fraser Island - Eliza Fraser comes from Stromnesspic.twitter.com/7sLWxmEVx7

— Meg Gilley (@MegGilley1) August 2, 2017

The Ottowa

The ship was wrecked just south of Indian Head on March 28, 1879.

The accident proved fortuitous for the local Butchulla, who raided the ship's cargo while the crew was away looking for help.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will visit beautiful K'gari or Fraser Island. But there is more to this #Qld paradise than meets the eye. Explore its fascinating history in our Islands exhibition: https://t.co/kH4jnKl5GA #slqislands #RoyalVisitAustralia #KGari #FraserIsland 🏝 pic.twitter.com/I3D3xqALpD

— State Library of Qld (@slqld) October 21, 2018

The Seabelle

The Seabelle was among the first ships to sink off the coast of Fraser Island.

It was a 158-tonne ship that met its watery grave not far from the north-eastern side of Fraser Island in March 1857.

According to rumours, 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 died.

A model of the Seabelle at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island.
A model of the Seabelle at Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser Island. Carlie Walker

The Investigator

Explorer Matthew Flinders was aboard The Investigator.

He was the first-recorded European to land on Fraser Island.

In 1802, as he was exploring the Cooloola Coast, Flinders mapped the Great Sandy Peninsula and landed near Great Sandy Cape so his naturalists could collect botanical samples.

There, his party had friendly meetings with the Aborigines, swapping presents of hatchets and fish nets.

Happy 243rd birthday to explorer Matthew Flinders! Discover his travels around Australia on his page in Trove: https://t.co/1lBnFxBTQs pic.twitter.com/L3PNviKSj5

— Trove (@TroveAustralia) March 15, 2017

The Marloo

The luxury Italian liner hit the Sandy Cape shoal in calm water on September 27, 1914, and beached, strewing the cargo of green tomatoes and bottles of whisky all over the beach.

Help was sought from the nearby Sandy Cape lighthouse keeper.