Fraser Island to be renamed K’gari following indigenous-led campaign

The Queensland government is backing an Indigenous-led push to officially rename the area that covers Fraser Island, the surrounding waters, and parts of the mainland as K’gari.

The iconic World Heritage Area – found within the Great Sandy National Park – has been the focus of a long-running campaign by the traditional owners, the Butchulla people, to officially restore the island’s indigenous name.

K’gari is the Butchulla word for ‘paradise’.

The island’s former namesake, Elizabeth Fraser, was shipwrecked on the island in the 1830s, and the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation said her account of the incident directly lead to the massacre and dispossession of the traditional owners.

“A word meaning paradise in Butchulla language is a much more fitting name for such an iconic place,” Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Jade Gould said.

A big galangoor nyin to our deadly Butchulla dancers for a their welcome to Country, smoking ceremony and performance at today’s renaming ceremony of the World Heritage Area to K’gari 💚

Posted by Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation – BAC on Sunday, September 19, 2021

QLD Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon was on the island at the weekend to recognise the decision in a ceremony at Kingfisher Bay Resort.

Minister Scanlon said the decision – formally adopted at the recent 44th session of the World Heritage Committee – builds on the name change of the Island’s national park to K’gari (Fraser Island) section of the Great Sandy National Park, which was declared in 2017.

“That was the first step in the process,” Minister Scanlon said.

“I look forward to working with the Butchulla people, stakeholders and the community to progress the necessary steps now for the formal renaming of the entire island to K’gari.”

K’gari is the biggest island in Queensland and sixth biggest in Australia at 123 kilometres long and 22 kilometres across at its widest point. The biggest sand dune is more than 240 metres high.

A man walking through the water at McKenzie Jetty at K’gari.

Other QLD national parks have previously been renamed in consultation with traditional owners and the community, including Naree Budjong Djara National Park on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) and Gheebulum Kunungai National Park Mulgumpin (Moreton Island), both of which are home to the Quandamooka people.

Meanwhile, QLD Resources Minister Scott Stewart on Friday announced the new locality of Yaraka, 220 kilometers south of Longreach in Western Queensland.

The change officially removed the town of Yaraka from its previous locality of Isisford, for the first time giving Yaraka its own unique address.

Yaraka, named after the Indigenous word for white spear grass, celebrated its centenary in 2017, with the town established when the railway line from Emmet to Yaraka was opened in 1917.

The town has an official population of 15 residents and its unofficial mascots, a pair of emus named Carol and Kevin, became worldwide sensations after they were banned from entering the local pub due to bad behavior.

This article originally appeared on Escape


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