DINGO DEBATE: Hidden dangers on idyllic Fraser Island
THE peaceful beauty of Fraser Island, with its clear waters, nature treks and idyllic beaches, can be deceiving.
Every year hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the island for rest, relaxation, fun and adventure.
But many don't realise they are walking into a wilderness.
The dangers aren't as obvious as bears, wolves or lions.
In fact, the chances of seeing some of the island's most dangerous creatures are slim.
But there's one animal that tourists flock to the island to see, one that can deceive in its appearance.
"They look like handsome young dogs, not a wild animal, a predator," Fraser Island resident David Anderson said.
He is speaking of the island's iconic dingoes, animals that resemble a domestic dog in many ways, but remain as wild as their ancestors.
It was a dingo that caused the tragic death of 9-year-old Clinton Gage in 2001.
And dingoes were involved in three serious attacks on children on the island earlier this year.
Two of the incidents could easily have been fatal.
One involved a six-year-old boy, while the second attack saw a 9-year-old French boy and his mother airlifted off the island.
The latest incident saw a 14-month-old boy pulled from his parent's camper trailer in the middle of the night, leaving the toddler with a fractured skull and bite wounds.
Mr Anderson speaks with frustration of a recent incident on the island.
Two children, aged 9 and 11, seen strolling along the beach by themselves, picked up by rangers and returned to their parents.
There was no attack this time, no threat - but a perfect example of the relaxed attitude some take to the island - an attitude that can result in disaster.
"People have got to have that knowledge that they're not puppy dogs," Mr Anderson said.
"They still have this image of a dingo being cute and cuddly, like a domestic dog."
When his grandchildren visit, Mr Anderson is careful to demonstrate the kind of behaviour that will stand them in good stead if they do encounter a dingo on their walks.
They know not to feed them, carry sticks to ward them off - not to provoke them - and they have been told to never approach them.
It's this kind of education that he believes could help protect children and adults alike and, after three serious attacks, he believes the safety messages are finally having an effect.
"I think the publicity has done more good than harm," he said.
"People are now aware that dingoes can and do attack children."