Fraser Island has reverted to its traditional name of K’gari

Wednesday | June 7, 2023

Forget Fraser Island. The world’s largest sand island is now officially known by its traditional name, K’gari, the government of the Australian state of Queensland announced Wednesday.

The renaming legally acknowledges the Butchulla people’s historical relationship to the Australian east coast’s UNESCO World Heritage site.

Long before European settlers arrived, the Butchulla, an Aboriginal Australian group, owned and looked after the region.

K’gari has always been the main character in the creation myths that have been passed down through the generations, according to Gayle Minniecon, the chairwoman of the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation.

“To me, K’gari represents home. I feel at home with my People—the ancestors, the descendants, and the Midiru (Traditional Owners). It belongs to us. We refer to it as our home, Joyce Bonner, the language and cultural coordinator for the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, said in a statement prior to the reinstatement.

On the island, a ceremony commemorating the name’s restoration was place on Wednesday.

After an extensive campaign by indigenous people, the Queensland government started the procedure to change the name in 2021.

The Queensland government claims that K’gari, which is pronounced “GUR-rie” or “Gurri,” means “paradise” in Butchulla.

According to the state’s tourism organization, K’gari features a 75-mile beach, no highways, colored sand cliffs, and about 100 freshwater lakes. It has also long been a favorite destination for both local and foreign tourists.

Additionally, it is the only spot in the world where a rainforest is known to grow on sand.

In 1992, K’gari was included on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It was highlighted for having unusual biological characteristics, such as “majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on tall sand dunes, a phenomenon believed to be unique in the world.”

A variety of rare or threatened creatures, such as the eastern ground parrot and the Fraser Island sand skink, call it home.

According to Patricia O’Callaghan, CEO of Tourism and Events Queensland, “the return to the island’s traditional name is a significant step in its history and reflects Queensland’s unique position as the only place on earth where our two ancient cultures continue to live side-by-side.”

In addition to the stunning environment, visitors to K’gari can also immerse themselves in the Butchulla People’s culture, who have lived on the island for tens of thousands of years.

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