S.S. Maheno: The abandoned shipwreck on K’gari

The S.S. Maheno a shipwreck that sits ashore K'Gari, Fraser Island in Queensland Australia

If there is anything movies have taught us to expect from islands, it’s that an island is never complete unless it has a shipwreck. K’Gari (formerly Fraser Island) has its own with the S.S. Maheno, a WW1 hospital ship that was lost in a cyclone until it washed up on its shores..

Exploring the Shipwreck

The S.S. Maheno sits on the shore as a landmark. When I did my flight over the island with Air Fraser, we circled over it allowing me to take the the aerial shot later in the article. Every angle offers a fantastic view, and to be able to get so up close to a real life shipwreck felt like an adventure. When we pulled up in our truck we all immediately made our way to the plaque. I was keen read and learn about the life the S.S. Maheno led and how it made its way here. It’s rare you can drive up so close to something like this. Usually you are placed into a car park that feels miles away, and the attraction isnt even sight.

The S.S. Maheno a shipwreck that sits ashore K'Gari, Fraser Island in Queensland Australia

The life of the S.S. Maheno

This shipwreck has had a vibrant history, starting life sailing back and forth across the Tasman sea. However in 1915 she was called into duty and has her dining rooms converted into hospital wards and transported casualties back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne, before being sent to the UK to serve wounded soldiers in Europe, taking them across the English Channel from France to England. 

After the war, the S.S. Maheno headed home and resumed her old life ferrying passengers back and forth until July 1935, where she was sold to an Osaka shipbreaker. She would never arrive at her intended destination, as a cyclone would tear her away from the ship towing her (the Oonah). Leaving her and the eight men aboard to drift away into the dark waters.

An aerial view of the SS Maheno Shipwreck from an Air Fraser Flight on KGari Australia

She eventually came to rest at her final destination, K’Gari, where her crew were found camped out three days later. Attempts were made to re-float the liner, however each time it was unsuccessful. So the decision was made to strip the liner, and leave it abandoned. 

Nowadays it has become a tourist attraction, with tourists jumping out of their vehicles either on their way to or from Eli Creek. Sat on the shore of 75 mile beach, she has been left to turn to return to mother nature. Its decay has made it dangerous for visitors, so there are signs urging any tourist to stay a minimum of three metres away. But this is still more than close enough to get any photos, all you have to do is pull over to get a fantastic unobstructed view.

S.S. Maheno FAQs

How do I get here?

The S.S. Maheno is on the 75-mile beach and is easily accessible by car.

Where else can I visit nearby?

Eli Creek is nearby and a popular tourist destination, this is a great place to take a dip and cool off or relax a little in the sun. Lake McKenzie is a great place you can visit before and then the S.S. Maheno afterwards. There are also other nature spots such as the pinnacles. You can book a tour with Get Your Guide on the link below. This will take you to some of the biggest spots on K’Gari (Fraser Island). By doing so it won’t cost you any extra but I may receive a commission which helps support the blog.

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