Traditional name for paradise found for island drawcard

By Jackson Graham

September 21, 2021

Queensland’s World Heritage-listed Fraser Island will be named K’gari
Queensland’s World Heritage-listed Fraser Island will be named K’gari. (David/Adobe)

The traditional name of Australia’s — and the world’s — biggest sand island is set to return. 

Queensland’s World Heritage-listed Fraser Island will be named K’gari, which is the Butchulla people’s name for the island and means ‘paradise’. 

The World Heritage Committee’s 44th session in July approved the change and the Queensland government is now working to reinstate the traditional name. 

Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation chair Jade Gould said years of campaigning had led to the move.

The island’s former title — named after Scottish settler Eliza Fraser who sought refuge on the island following a shipwreck in the 1830s — carried historical offence to many Traditional Owners.

“[Fraser’s] narrative directly led to the massacre and dispossession of the Butchulla people,” Gould said. 

“A word meaning paradise in Butchulla language is a much more fitting name for such an iconic place.”

The Queensland government is formally changing the island’s name to K’gari (Fraser Island), with the Department of Resources proceeding with the shift under the Place Names Act. 

Environment minister Meaghan Scanlon attended an official ceremony with Elders on the island on Sunday.

“K’gari, the surrounding waters and parts of the mainland are home for the Butchulla people who have long asked for K’gari’s name to be repatriated,” Scanlon said in a statement.

The island is located in a section of the Great Sandy National Park that has also carried the K’gari name since 2017.

Queensland changed the name for the Naree Budjong Djara National Park on Minjerribah, or North Stradbroke Island, in 2011, and the Gheebulum Kunungai National Park Mulgumpin on Moreton Island earlier this year after consultation with Traditional Owners and community. 


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