Twenty-two hectares of K’gari land returned to traditional owners

By Anna Macdonald

June 15, 2022

Fraser Island
Fraser Island. (karegg/Adobe)

The Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation has received freehold title for the K’gari (Fraser Island) World Heritage Area, on top of its existing native title. 

A ceremony took place on Tuesday on the world’s largest sand island, conferring more than 22 hectares of the island’s 166,038 hectares to the corporation.

Butchulla woman Chantel Van Wamelen said the land transfer would see a return of Butchulla cultural practices on their country. 

“The Butchulla people have three laws: what is good for the land must come first; do not touch anything that does not belong to you; and if you have plenty, you must share.

“We want to build ranger bases so our mob can better protect our land. We’re also hoping to run women’s and men’s camps to help Butchulla people connect with country,” Van Wamelen said. 

Van Wamelen added the island was part of the Dreamtime story, where a white spirit called Princess K’gari was turned into the island by Rainbow Serpent Yindinjie. 

Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships minister Craig Crawford called the transfer a vital part of Queensland’s path to treaty. 

“The truth is the more our First Nations people practice culture, revive language and keep traditions alive, the more it enriches all of us.

“It helps to connect all of us, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to country and a sense of place, and unites us in acknowledging a shared history that dates back as the world’s oldest living civilisation,” Crawford said. 

According to the Queensland government, more than 6.24 million hectares of land have been transferred back to traditional owners.

The state’s resources minister Scott Stewart said he was honoured to return the site to its rightful owners. 

“Although this land transfer will not rectify past injustices, I hope it can provide future benefit to the Butchulla people,” Stewart said. 

The island was renamed to its traditional name of K’gari last year, meaning paradise in the Butchulla language. 


READ MORE:

WA signs off on five-year Native Title transfer to Noongar Land Estate

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