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Fraser Island's Maheno Shipwreck: Interesting Facts Fraser Island's Maheno Shipwreck: Interesting Facts

Fraser Island's Maheno Shipwreck: Interesting Facts

You will notice that most Fraser Island tours will include a visit to Maheno Shipwreck. There’s no doubt that you have seen your friends, or friends of friends, in photos taken in front of the eerie wreck. But what is the wreck's significance? Is it REALLY a shipwreck? And what happened to the survivors? Here's a quick little history lesson on Fraser Island's Maheno Shipwreck.


  • 'Maheno' is the Maori (native New Zealand language) word for 'island'

  • The ocean liner was built in Scotland in 1904 and was the world's first ever triple screw steamer (we don't know what that means either)!

  • It was first used as a hospital ship in World War I and then later purchased by a Sydney company to travel between Australia and New Zealand

  • The Maheno was then sold to a Japanese company whom planned to melt the ship into scrap metal and resell. The ship began its journey back to Osaka Japan in 1935 by tow, linked to another boat by chain

  • On this voyage the ship found itself in the middle of a seasonal cyclone off Fraser Island's coastline and lost its link to the other ship, which soon disappeared. It then washed upon the shores of 75 Mile Beach – luckily there was only a small crew onboard

  • Tales of the survivors soon began to hit headlines. There were stories of the Japanese crew members being too afraid to step off the boat for fear of cannibalism of the natives (only rumours of course)!

  • Other stories tell of the 8 crew members who camped up on the shores of Fraser Island for 3 days before being spotted by a plane

  • Crew members attempted to fix and refloat the boat but after proving unsuccessful, the ship was left abandoned

  • The Maheno shipwreck soon became a sacred for the native aboriginals, where the men would gather to play the didgeridoo and the women would venture to the site to give birth

  • Today, it is a popular tourist attraction that sits upon Fraser Island’s 75 Mile Beach and in simple terms – well worth the visit!

Katie tobias blogger

  About the author: 

Katie Tobias is an accomplished freelance travel blogger. Katie is a social media Guru, working full time for the Nomads & Base Backpackers group. Katies wit, love for researching & knack with words makes for an entertaining and informative read!

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