National Geographic : 2010 Sep
• It wasn't enough simply to cre- ate 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. ey 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 so , sandy skin a rainbow of colors, and fashioned a chain of jewel-like lakes to be her eyes into heaven. He lled 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 a er 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. Fraser Island's storied landscapes have in- spired many of Australia's greatest writers and artists, and its delicate ecosystems fired pas- sions in one of Australia's rst great grassroots Iron oxide colors Arch Cliff a luminous red, one of a palette of hues seen in Fraser's mineral- rich sands. Bound together by a kind of natural cement, some dunes rise 800 feet high. Trees and other vegetation manage to survive thanks to fungi that release nutrients from the sand. By Ro Smith Photographs by Peter Essick Ro Smith has covered every corner of Australia, his adopted country since 1981. Peter Essick specializes in nature and environmental photography.