Queensland’s government has announced that Fraser Island will now be known by its original name, K’gari, which means ‘paradise’.
Located around 250km north of Brisbane, K’gari was inhabited by its traditional custodians, the Butchulla people, for thousands of years.
Advocates from the Butchulla people have been advocating for the island to be reverted back to its original name for years.
K’gari, which is pronounced “Gurri”, means paradise and is the name the Butchulla people have always given the island, derived from its Dreamtime creation story.
Fraser Island has been renamed. It will now be called K’gari, which means paradise. ❤️💛🖤👊🏽
— Dr. Francis Bobongie-Harris (@drbobongiharris) September 19, 2021
The name Fraser came from Eliza Fraser, a Scottish woman who was shipwrecked on the island in the 1800s and who claimed after she was rescued that the island’s indigenous people mistreated her while there.
According to Jade Gould, the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson, this resulted in the massacre and dispossession of the Butchulla people.
“A word meaning paradise in Butchulla language is a much more fitting name for such an iconic place,” Gould said in a statement on the Queensland government website.
A traditional smoking ceremony was held at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Saturday as part of the renaming celebration, featuring Butchulla representatives and elders.
“On behalf of the Butchulla people we pay respect to our Elders who are no longer with us to hear this news,” Kate Doolan of the Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation.
“Today is a time of reflection for our people and for those souls who long advocated for such a meaningful change over such a lengthy period of time.”
The World Heritage Committee has already signed off on the renaming and the Queensland government is finalising the paperwork after the ceremony.
The national park on the island was changed to K’gari four years ago, but advocates continued to push for the whole island to have its name reverted back.