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BREAKING AUSTRALIA REPORT: World Heritage Fraser Island officially restored to Indigenous name, K’gari, as voted by public

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: June.07: 2023:

#AceBreakingNews – The world’s largest sand island off the coast of Queensland, formerly known as Fraser Island, has officially been renamed K’gari

A line of Aboriginal traditional dances in a sandy area, trees behind
Traditional owners say the change has great significance.(ABC Wide Bay: Pat Heagney)none

The landmark decision by the state government to rename the island is being likened to the historic name change at Uluru.

Pronounced “Gurrie”, K’gari means “paradise” in native Butchulla language.

K’gari will now appear on official maps and road signs.

Traditional owners say the name change symbolises something greater than labels.

“It’s been an eight-year battle to actually get [here] … the fight was a journey of strength and courage,” Butchulla elder Chris Royan said.

“As traditional owners, we have always called it K’gari – so for us to officially get the rest of Queensland and Australia to call it K’gari, is really important.”

In local Indigenous creation stories, K’gari is the name of the White Spirit who helped create Butchulla country.

The popular tourist destination was named Fraser Island after Eliza Fraser, a Scottish woman who was shipwrecked on the island in the 1830s.

Historians say after Ms Fraser was rescued, she spread stories about the local Butchulla community that led to the dispossession and genocide of First Nations people. 

“We basically call this the ‘reclaiming’ not the ‘renaming’,” Ms Royan said.

“It’s time for the story of Aboriginal removal to be told.

“It’s a sad story but it’s the real story.”Dozens of people gather at a ceremony to celebrate the name change to K’gari. (ABC Wide Bay: Pat Heagney)none

Voted by the public

The World Heritage Committee officially changed the name of the World Heritage Area of the island to K’gari in 2021 – but Fraser Island remained the official place name.

The Queensland Department of Resources launched a survey calling for the public’s feedback on the name change in August last year.

More than 6,000 submissions were received, with about 70 per cent in favour of restoring the name K’gari.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said it was a historic day.

“K’gari is the name, it always has been and it always will be,” she said.

“From now on, all Queenslanders should refer to it as its rightful name, K’gari.”

Four title deeds for more than 19 hectares of land on K’gari have also been handed back to the Butchulla people.The name change is about recognising the people who have cared for the land for more than 60,000 years. (ABC Wide Bay: Pat Heagney)none

Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the handback was about recognising the people who had cared for the area for more than 60,000 years.

“It’s land with cultural significance, this land means they can bring together community and they can pass on cultural knowledge,” he said.

“One special condition of this is that the land can’t be sold, so it’s about handing it down from generation to generation.

Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Gale Minniecon said she acknowledged the changes could be an adjustment for tourists on the island.

“People will feel that they can’t deal with the change,” she said.

“They will experience loss, but it won’t be anywhere near the loss that our old people experienced back then. 

“They didn’t have their heart, their soul, their spirit broken.”

Boost to tourism

Professor of Earth and Environment on K’gari’s World Heritage Committee, James Shulmeister, said the island’s cultural history made it the tourism mecca that was enjoyed by millions of tourists.

“We talk about [K’gari] as a natural landscape, but it’s actually a cultural landscape,” he said.

“All the trees and all the landscape that you see is actually a result of 60,000 to 70,000 years of Indigenous occupation and Butchulla land management.

“Without that, the island would actually look completely different.”

Ms Royan hoped the historic name change would inspire other traditional owners looking to follow suit.

“Like Uluru, this has been a great battle,” Ms Royan said.

“I would say to everyone that wants to fight for their name and the country, keep fighting.

“It’s been a long time coming for us. Go with your heart.”Loading…

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