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Fraser Island Shipwreck

Kyle Huber


Behind the Shot

Located off the southeastern coast of Queensland, Australia, and about 160 miles north of Brisbane, Fraser Island is a popular tourist destination for Australians and international visitors alike. Fewer than 200 people live full-time on the long, narrow island, which has the honor of being recognized as the world’s largest sand island. Mangrove and eucalyptus groves and other smaller plants grow freely on the island, and various mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians make the island their home.

Kyle was invited to tour the island as part of a project he was undertaking with Qantas Airlines. One of the key tourist areas on the island is the wreck of the SS Maheno. Originally an ocean liner, the ship operated in the Tasman Sea, crossing between New Zealand and Australia from 1905 to 1935. It was briefly converted into a hospital ship during World War I, and served until November 1918, when it returned to its commercial duties.

In early July 1935, partially scrapped and without propellers, the Maheno was being towed to its new owners in Osaka, Japan. Only 50 miles off the coast of Australia, though, a cyclone hit and the Maheno and its crew of eight Japanese sailors were beached on the coast of Fraser Island. Found 10 days later, the crew had set up a camp onshore and was patiently waiting for rescue. After several attempts, it was decided that the ship would be scrapped and the hulk left in place.