News

It's Alive! Fraser Island's coast is expanding

The Bundaberg-based RACQ CareFlight Rescue crew flew Orchid Beach to help a man who had fallen about 4m from a tree.
The Bundaberg-based RACQ CareFlight Rescue crew flew Orchid Beach to help a man who had fallen about 4m from a tree. RACQ CareFlight Rescue

THE sleeping sand giant is alive - Fraser Island is officially growing outwards, for now at least.

The world's largest sand island is under a constant make-over thanks to both local weather events and the annual passage of sand which floats past its golden shores.

Now it has reportedly grown by up to 60 metres eastwards.

Locals have taken notice of the development of further shoreline along the east coast of the island over the last five decades.

Fraser Island Association president David Anderson, who has lived on the island for 10 years and visited for the last 50, said the eastern coast had increased outwards in places by more than 50 metres.

"There are reference points around Eurong where the beach has widened and the island has grown," he said.

"On occasions, Fraser Island does lose a little sand but mostly it picks a lot up."

University of Queensland's Professor James Shulmeister will lead a team to study the island's sand formations in the coming months and hopes to find out exactly how much the island has grown.

Professor Shulmeister said the weather was responsible for the sand's movement.

"It would be expected after an El Nino event the island might grow," he said.

The cooler ocean temperatures typical of an El Nino keep tropical storms at bay and allow for the sand deposited on the island to stay put, he said.

"During a La Nina, the opposite happens," he said.

GROWTH PERIOD: Holiday makers like Helen and Matt Warren will have more sand to play on at Fraser Island with the beaches changing shape due to El Nino weather patterns.
GROWTH PERIOD: Holiday makers like Helen and Matt Warren will have more sand to play on at Fraser Island with the beaches changing shape due to El Nino weather patterns. File

 

However, while the island's size has increased a little in the short term, a big picture scale paints a picture of the island becoming leaner, he said.

"The same amount of sand floating past the island also leaves the island," he said.

"It is likely in the very longest term the island is losing size and being pushed towards the Queensland coast."

While locals have noticed a build-up of sand over time along Breaksea Spit north of the island, Professor Shulmeister said it was impossible for the island to extend much further north before the sand would be dumped into the deep ocean.

The formation of spits was also subject to climatic events, he said.

"Along places where spits can appear to grow and expand, with another year those same sand spits can be destroyed," he said.

Beginning Monday at Rainbow Beach, his team will work out the age of the dunes which have built up over the last million years to see if their formation can be linked to climate change.

When his team reaches Fraser Island in the next few months, they will investigate the Cathedrals first and then travel south of the island to study the still-visible traces of old beaches related to high sea levels 125,000 years ago.

ISLAND ON THE MOVE

El Nino occurs between every three to five years and can last from six months to two years

El Nino conditions are most favourable to sand being deposited at Fraser Island

Fraser Island is made up of sand that has travelled north from near Sydney and Newcastle

Topics:  fraser island




5 locations explored as potential dive sites for HMAS Tobruk

The HMAS Tobruk.

The five potential sites will be investigated for suitability

Toddler found on highway, mum found drunk

The woman's son was only three at the time

Another public holiday! But do we really want that?

Businesses may consider closing for the entire period.

Latest deals and offers

Help our musician Derek F. Smith be World’s Greatest

VOTE TODAY: Local musician Derek F. Smith needs your vote for World’s Greatest Musician in Toyota’s Feeling the Street competition.

Derek is competing in Toyota's Feeling the Street competition

MOVIE REVIEW: Ben-Hur isn't likely to become a new classic

Toby Kebbell plays Messala Severus and Jack Huston plays Judah Ben-Hur in a scene from Ben-Hur.

ANYTHING less than grand in a remake of Ben-Hur won't do.

Coming up on your TVs this September...

Don't miss A Place to Call Home as season four launches this September.

HERE'S a sneak peek at what's coming up on Foxtel.

Taylor Swift dismissed from jury duty

Taylor Swift was dismissed from jury duty in a sexual assault case

Zumbo's Willy Wonka hat trick trips up Queensland brickie

Adriano Zumbo and Rachel Khoo with Zumbo's floating dessert in a scene from Zumbo's Just Desserts.

NOOSA'S Michael Basset asked to recreate floating chocolate dish.

John Lennon's killer denied parole for 9th time

John Lennon

John Lennon's killer has been denied parole for the ninth time.

Bunnings starts demolition of historic foundry buildings

SAWTOOTH GONE: Demolition of Foundry sawtooth shed to make way for new Bunnings building.

Lane and footpath closures will take place

Australia's most expensive balcony and it hasn't been built

Viridian Noosa.

How Noosa millionares' squabble could affect body corporates

Receivers move in on Springfield's 'Tower of Power'

The 10-storey tower at Springfield is up for sale with interest high in the iconic structure.

Interest high in iconic 10-storey office building

Palm Lake Resort set to move in to Coast with 276 villas

Palm Lake Group has been given approval by Sunshine Coast Council to build a 276-villa over 50s resort and 120-bed aged care facility at the intersection of Caloundra Rd and Caloundra Mooloolaba Rd in Little Mountain.

New facility planned for Caloundra Rd

Warning for unit investors with price plummet prediction

The warning signs are flashing for one real estate sector in 2017 despite others performing the best they have in years and it's not going to be pretty.

One real estate sector looks set for a rocky 2017

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale