K’gari now recognised on maps and travel guides
If you have your sights set on a beautiful Australian getaway, we’ve got great news for you. Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island located along Australia’s east coast – has had its traditional name of K’gari reinstated.
It’s a comprehensive acknowledgment of the culture’s history, dating back 60,000 years. From now on, K’gari will officially be recognised on maps and travel guides, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome you to this incredible part of the world.
Traditional name restored to world’s largest sand island
Today, 7 June 2023, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk joined the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation for an emotional ceremony to formally reinstate the name used by traditional owners for the world’s largest sand island – K’gari (formerly Fraser Island).
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 today 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 Queensland 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 the island 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.
Premier Palaszczuk said the name K’gari came 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.”
It was through disrespect to the Butchulla people that the name, K’gari – the home of the Butchulla people – was taken away, Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation Chair Gayle Minniecon said.
“Our oral history, our creation story will now be told and learned as it should be.
“Our ancestors understood and committed to the importance of caring for the island since time immemorial and today we continue this cultural obligation.”
One of the world’s most loved islands
To work closely with the Badtjala (Butchulla) people and the local community on re-establishing the name, K’gari, was an honour, State Member for Hervey Bay Adrian Tantari said.
“K’gari is one of the most loved islands across Australia and the world.
“This is a momentous day for everyone connected to this sacred island.”
True name in all respects
The name change completes the picture for the Butchulla people and K’gari, by recognising and honouring their traditions, culture, and continued connection to their land, Resources Minister Scott Stewart said.
“She has always been K’gari to the Butchulla people.
“Now this beautiful area will carry its true name in all aspects: the national park, world heritage area, and the official place name.”
Butchulla people share language, culture, traditions
The Butchulla people had long shared K’gari and their own culture and traditions with people from across the world, and this change recognised their generosity, Minister for Treaty and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Leeanne Enoch said.
“So many people have been enriched by K’gari’s unique history and their shared experiences with the Butchulla people.
“I want to acknowledge the many generations of Butchulla people who have maintained their language, culture, and traditions, which are shared by all who visit the island.
“As Queensland continues on its Path to Treaty, the lands, place names, and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will form a much greater part of our shared experience.”
Another step toward reconciliation
K’gari had always been K’gari to the Butchulla people, Minister of Environment and Science Leanne Linard said.
“It is through the tireless efforts of many people, and those before, that we stand in unity and respect for Country and people, to celebrate another step towards reconciliation.
“The Environment Department recognised the name of the island section of the Great Sandy National Park as K’gari in 2017, and UNESCO formally adopted the name for the World Heritage Area in 2021.
“The department has built a strong relationship with the Butchulla People and remains committed to working with them to cooperatively manage the unique values of K’gari now and into the future.”
Feature photo @ top by Brian Pickering.
Flashback to 2014: Native Title Declared
Flashback to 2022: Celebrating 30 Years on the World Heritage List
Small businesses that are impacted by the change can access resources through the Small Business Hotline.
In 2022, almost 6000 public submissions were received with the majority in favour of the name change proposal.
The name change also changes the suburb of Fraser Island to K’gari.
Information on K’gari can be found at K’gari.