Maheno Shipwreck on Fraser IslandK'gari

Experience More - Subscribe to Our Weekly Events Newsletter

Posted 2023-04-20 by Roy Chambersfollow
Maheno Shipwreck on Fraser Island/K'gari

The Maheno Shipwreck is a bit of a landmark in the K'gari World Heritage Area on Fraser Island. It is worth a stop and is the premium place to watch the sunrise on the east coast of the island.

About the name Fraser Island & K'gari

Prior to European settlement, the Butchulla people lived on an island that they called 'Paradise', or K'gari (pronounced gurri) in their own language. Europeans named it Great Sandy Island, until Eliza Fraser was shipwrecked for a total of 6 weeks on the island aided by the local indigenous inhabitants before she was reached by Europeans. Then they renamed the island after her. Now as far as I can tell, the name is still officially Fraser Island as is the locality, while K'gari refers to the World Heritage Area, which is basically the whole island anyway. So you can use either or both names as you prefer.

About the S.S. Maheno

Built in 1905 it mostly serviced the route between Australia and New Zealand, though also travelled to Canada on many occasions. During WWI it was converted into a hospital ship and served at Gallipoli, as well as in the English channel. After the war it transported many wounded soldiers back to the antipodes before returning to commercial service.

At the end of its life in 1935 it was being towed up from Sydney to be sold as scrap in Japan. During a cyclone the tow cable broke and the ship was washed up onto the beach on Fraser Island/K'gari. Attempts to refloat it failed and it remains there today, where the beach has been renamed after the ship.

Visiting the Shipwreck

Most people will stop at the Shipwreck the first time they go past as they drive along Maheno Beach between Eli Creek and The Pinnacles. It is an interesting spot for a quick stop. You are not allowed to get onto or in among the shipwreck, though a lot of people do for photos. But climbing on the wreck could cause damage to the slowly decaying hulk and injury to yourself.

I talked to some fisherfolk who chose that spot for fishing, but there is no particular advantage at low tide, but during high tide the wreck might provide shelter that will attract more fish. It is as good as spot as any for some beach fishing.

The best time to visit the wreck is early in the morning for sunrise. You can see the sun rising anywhere along the east coast of the island, but if you want a spot with something to photograph along with the sunrise, then head to the shipwreck.

It generally is not a busy spot at sunrise, though it depends on how many people want to go to the wreck on the day you visit or whether any convoys of campers decide to see the sunrise there. I do recommend parking your vehicle up the beach to avoid blocking people's photos.


Because of its war service, ANZAC day dawn services are held at the wreck every year. It would be hard not to think of all the wounded ANZAC soldiers who were rescued, treated and brought home on the vessel.


It would be very hard to spend much time on Fraser Island/K'gari without going past the Maheno Shipwreck as you drive down the beach. So it makes sense to stop and have a look. There is no reason why you can't use that spot as a nice place to sit on the beach and relax, as many people do. But if you make a specific trip to the wreck it will be to see the sunrise.

110714 - 2023-06-12 15:14:38


Copyright 2022 OatLabs ABN 18113479226