<p>Pioneering plants get a toehold above the tide line on Australia's Fraser Island.</p>

Pioneering plants get a toehold above the tide line on Australia's Fraser Island.

Fraser Island

Aboriginal gods wanted a paradise on Earth. So they created Fraser Island.

It wasn't enough simply to create the world; the Aboriginal god Beeral wanted it to be beautiful as well. And so he sent two trusted messengers, Yindingie and his spirit helper K'gari, to render the raw material of creation into a paradise. They did such a splendid job that by the time they were finished, K'gari longed to stay in this wonderful place forever. She lay down in the warm waters of a particularly beautiful bay, and there she went to sleep.

While she slept, Yindingie transformed her body into a long, slender island of crystalline sand, the largest such island in all the world. He clothed her with the most luxuriant of rain forests, painted her soft, sandy skin a rainbow of colors, and fashioned a chain of jewel-like lakes to be her eyes into heaven. He filled the air with colorful birds, and then, so she would never be lonely, he set a tribe of Aborigines on the island—the Butchulla people, who passed down the story of its creation and in whose language K'gari came to be the word for "paradise."

A lot of water has washed its shores since then. Today paradise goes by the name of Fraser Island, renamed by newcomers after a Scottish sea captain and his wife were famously marooned here among the Aborigines in 1836. But by any name or reckoning, it remains a place apart, with an uncanny ability to weave itself into the dreams of all who draw near.

Read This Next

Ötzi the Iceman: What we know 30 years after his discovery
Sanctuary gives hope to chimps, rescuers
Golden hour dazzles at these 10 national parks

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet