Tips For Visiting The Famous Maheno Shipwreck On Fraser Island

Undeniably the SS Maheno Shipwreck on Fraser Island is one of the most famous attractions on the world’s largest sand island to visit. But what’s the story behind it, and why is it such a popular tourist attraction?

In this guide, you’ll learn about the fascinating history behind the famous shipwreck as well as things you need to know before visiting Fraser Island.

What makes the shipwreck special?


This shipwreck is steeped in history and has become one of the most iconic symbols of the island which attracts thousands of visitors every year. It’s name ‘Maheno’ means ‘island’ in Maori language to reflect its New Zealand heritage.

Built in 1905 in Scotland, it was originally a luxury passenger sailing ship between New Zealand and Australia. During World War 1, the ship was then converted into a hospital ship for injured soldiers as it made its way over to the Mediterranean and North Sea playing a crucial role in Gallipoli.

After the war, the ship returned to being a passenger liner before being sold to a Japanese ship-breaking company.

While it was being towed to Osaka, a cyclone hit the seas and the Maheno ended up washing to the shore of Fraser Island in 1935.

Today, the shipwreck is a popular tourist attraction on Fraser Island. Visitors are drawn to the site, not just for its historical significance, but also for its eerie beauty. The contrast between the rusting remains of the ship and the pristine beaches of Fraser Island is something you won’t find in other parts of Australia.

It’s not the only one of the Fraser Island shipwrecks


Did you know between 1856 and 1935, 23 shipwrecks ended up on K’gari (Fraser Island)? The first of the Fraser Island shipwrecks to land on the island was called Stirling Castle in May 1836, with the Maheno Shipwreck being the last in July 1935.

In 1870 the Sandy Cape Lighthouse turned on its light to try and prevent the ships from sinking, but it sadly didn’t help too much with the rough seas. The Maheno is the only remaining wreck that you can see in K’gari now.

Do not stand on the shipwreck


You’ll notice a sign at the shipwreck which states you need to stay three metres from it. Please abide by these rules and whatever you do, do not stand on the shipwreck because you’ll basically vandalising a piece of history which still sits on the island.

You see, the wreck is very easily accessible from the 75 Mile Beach that it’s not difficult to walk right over to it. But, please remain from standing on it for photos. It’s pretty remarkable that the wreck is still sitting there after all these years of the furious waters and rough seas bashing it daily.

How to find the shipwreck


Unsure how to find the famous shipwreck? It’s located between to Eli Creek and The Pinnacles on 75 Mile Beach on the Eastern side of the island. If you plan on visiting Eli Creek, check out our guide 10 Tips To Know Before Visiting Eli Creek In Fraser Island.

Things to do know before going to Fraser Island


Unsure how to plan your trip to Fraser Island (K’gari)? Check out our guide for 15 Things To Know About Planning A Fraser Island Trip as I break down some of the things you might have no idea about including sacred places only women and are allowed to visit, hidden gems and much more.

How to get around Fraser Island


Meanwhile in terms of getting around the island, you have a few options to consider which is either a 4WD Coach Tour (which is what we did), a tag-along tour which is popular with backpackers, hire your own 4WD or trek the island on the 90KM Fraser Island Great Walk.

Check out our guide for the Best Fraser Island Tours vs Tag-along Tours vs Self Drive to help you decide which option suits you best.

I’d also recommend checking out my 4WD K’Gari Explorer Tour Review so you can see what our tour actually looked like. I break down everything about the tour in the most honest light so you can decide if it’s right for you.

Where to stay on Fraser Island


Wondering where to stay in Fraser Island? Here’s our top picks if you’re not doing the camping experience and looking for hotel accommodation.

  1. Kingfisher Bay Resort: located on the West Coast, Kingfisher is an upmarket resort with heaps of daily activities, multiple swimming pools and restaurants to choose from.
  2. K’gari Beach Resort (formerly Eurong Beach Resort) – Located at Eurong, this centrally located hotel is perfect for those looking to tick off all the 75 Mile Beach attractions.
  3. Fraser Island Retreat – located in Happy Valley, this retreat offers bungalows as well as a swimming pool and an onsite bistro and bar.

More Fraser Island guides to read


Looking to explore Fraser Island and find out about all the best spots to visit, hidden gems and everything you need to know? Read our popular Fraser Island guides to read before you go.

Maheno Shipwreck on Fraser Island

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