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Monday, July 15, 2024

Fraser Island Reclaims Its Indigenous Name, K’gari

The profound cultural heritage of Fraser Island, a land steeped in history, now proudly carries its original Indigenous name, K’gari, a title revered by traditional owners for over 60,000 years. This momentous decision to reinstate the name came after thorough consultations with the esteemed traditional owners, tourism bodies, government agencies, and local government, honouring the island’s rich Indigenous heritage.

Chair of the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, Gayle Minniecon, shared how the Butchulla people were wronged. 

“It was through disrespect to the Butchulla people that her name, K’gari – the home of the Butchulla people – was taken away. Thankfully it is now, through respect to the Butchulla people that K’gari- her name- has been reclaimed.

Our oral history, our creation story, will now be told and learnt as it should be. Our ancestors understood and committed to the importance of caring for K’gari since time immemorial, and today we continue this cultural obligation

Minister for Treaty and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Leeanne Enoch said K’Gari’s unique history had enriched many people’s lives. 

“The Butchulla people have long shared K’Gari and their own culture and traditions with people from across the world, and this change recognises their generosity.

In addition to the name restoration, over 19 hectares of land have been rightfully returned to the traditional owners, further solidifying the commitment to reconciliation and preserving the sacred connection between the land and its custodians. This remarkable milestone symbolises a significant step towards honouring and respecting the deep cultural significance that K’gari holds for its traditional owners and the wider community.

K’gari—the white spirit who was sent down from the sky to help make the land and the seas that are home to the Butchulla people—was officially welcomed home this week by generations of Butchulla people and guests. Guests were welcomed on Country with a smoking ceremony, traditional dance and song, as well as a formal plaque unveiling.

The State Government has worked closely with the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, tourism bodies, government agencies and the Fraser Coast Regional Council over many years to embed the island’s original name progressively. In 2017, the Fraser Island section of the Great Sandy National Park was renamed K’gari (Fraser Island) and in 2022, the island’s World Heritage Area was renamed K’gari (Fraser Island) World Heritage Area.

To coincide with the restoration of K’gari, more than 19 hectares of land were transferred to the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation RNTBC.

This land can’t be bought, sold or mortgaged, and must be used for the benefit of its traditional owners, the Butchulla people.

Kgari Butchulla ranger walking on Kgari island

 Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was an incredible moment in history. 

“K’gari comes from the Butchulla people’s creation story of the island, which has been passed down orally for generations. I’m proud that today we can officially welcome K’gari home, and reinstate the name used by traditional owners for all these years.

“We will continue to recognise Indigenous languages through place names, in the spirit of truth-telling and reconciliation as we walk the Path to Treaty. While steps like this can’t change the wrongs of the past, it goes a long way to building a future where all Queenslanders value, trust, and respect each other.

This always was and always will be Butchulla Country

Fast Facts

  • Fraser Island is now officially known as K’gari – the name used by traditional owners for more than 60,000 years.
  • The reinstatement of the name follows extensive consultation with traditional owners, tourism bodies, government agencies and local government.
  • More than 19 hectares of land have also been returned to the traditional owners.

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