'Entitled' Instagram tourists blasted over illegal act on Aussie island

A regular visitor on the island has called on 'ignorant tourists' to heed the warning signs.

A regular visitor to world-famous K’gari has struck out at “ignorant tourists” who “do whatever they like” on the World Heritage Listed island, while condemning those who climb over one of its most infamous attractions.

The metal shell of SS Maheno has become a top tourist destination since it was shipwrecked during a cyclone in 1935 on the eastern side of what was formerly known as Fraser Island. But it’s also a social media influencer’s dream, and visitors to the Queensland tourist site are often photographed standing inside the vessel’s rusty remains, despite a large “danger” sign warning people not to come within three metres of the “deteriorating shipwreck”.

“I regularly witness tourists touching and climbing on the wreck, even after reading the sign or being informed,” the man who regularly takes tourists to the island told Yahoo News Australia. “It seems to be a common problem on the island with visitors feeling entitled to do as they please because they paid for a permit to come visit so they can do whatever they like. The same applies to the rules with dingoes, and most if not all of the latest attacks stem back to ignorant tourists.”

A tourists photographed in the hull of the SS Maheno on K'gari, and right another touching the rusty bow.
Plenty of tourists have climbed onto the rusty remains of the SS Maheno on K'gari to have their photo taken. Source: Instagram

‘There is no excuse for disobedience’

A quick browse through Instagram shows many visitors to the island standing within the boat’s hull, ignoring the sign that says “unauthorised access prohibited”.

“The shipwreck remains are collapsing,” the sign reads. “Sharp, rusty metal is hidden in the surrounding sand. Surging waves and metal fragments pose a serious health risk to visitors. Serious injury or death could result from attempting to get close to the shipwreck ruins. For your safety, stay back. Take your photos and move away carefully.”

And if that’s not enough to scare tourists off, the sign also warns offenders risk a maximum penalty of 50 units which equates to a $7,740 fine, according to a spokesperson for the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES). They told Yahoo News Australia that while rangers “generally take an educational approach by issuing verbal warnings”, they can also hand out a penalty infringement notice of $464.40 to anyone breaching the three-metre approach limit.

The danger sign in front of the SS Maheno warning the shipwreck's remains are collapsing.
The danger sign in front of the SS Maheno warns "the shipwreck remains are collapsing”. Source: Facebook

“Our number one priority is the safety of residents and visitors to K'gari,” the spokesperson said, explaining the 3m rule was put in place to protect visitors and the historical value of the wreck. “The wreck above the sand is crumbling [and there is] rusty steel, and people could fall through the structure.”

But the fed-up visitor said not enough fines are being handed out to scare tourists off the vessel.

“There are rules and regulations wherever you travel, but on an island the disobedience of rules are magnified,” he claimed. “There are enough warnings in place across the island, on the barges that come to the island, and all the brochures and permits issued. There is really no excuse for disobedience to these rules but that’s what happens. Most that I speak to or advise of the warning sign, are apologetic and move away, but a small minority will abuse me because they feel they can do as they please.”

Social media backlash

It was this small minority that reared its head when the man recently posted a reminder of the rules on Facebook, alongside a photo of the ‘danger’ sign.

“Just putting this here because of the amount of people that I see in and on the Maheno shipwreck,” he wrote. “Indian Head used to have a similar sign for the face of the headland which carried an 80 penalty unit fine. Tourists ignored the rules and now complain that the headland is now closed. If you want to blame someone, it’s not QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service), the Butchulla or the name change to K’gari, it’s the tourists that don’t give a rats a*** and do as they please. What is happening to our country?”

Tourists have been accused of ignoring the rules to get their shot with the ship. Source: Facebook
Tourists have been accused of ignoring the rules to get their shot with the ship. Source: Instagram

But it wasn’t long before disgruntled tourists hit back, saying they were “just sick of the nanny state” and accusing the original poster of being a “Karen”.

Tourists say they can choose what risks they want to take

“I’ll go inside and on the wreck as I please, it’s on a public beach.” one man wrote, to which the poster replied: “It’s in a National Park and World Heritage Listed in its own right.” While others argued that “people are responsible for their own actions” and that the government is “just trying to profit from citizens".

“I am a little over being told I can’t do something by some person sitting in an office that has no life experience and is wrapped up in bubble wrap,” another said. “I’m not saying I want to see people getting hurt, but shouldn’t it be our choice what we consider dangerous based on our life experiences.”

Meantime supporters of the sign worked to remind people why it was there in the first place. “Sadly if they didn’t warn you, some goose will get injured and an ambulance chasing-lawyer will get the goose a payout because they weren’t warned,” one person wrote. “I mean, if you want a 100-year-old rusted piece of steel through your foot that you couldn’t see due to soft sand, by all means, enjoy the public beach.” said another.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube.