A year-long campaign has seen Fraser Island formally adopt the traditional Butchulla name, K’gari.
The campaign saw the World Heritage Committee formally rename the heritage-listed island this week.
The renaming sees the removal of a name that Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson Jade Gould said is painful for her people
“The Butchulla people have been campaigning for years to change the name,” Gould said.
“The name Fraser Island is a tribute to Eliza Fraser—a woman whose narrative directly lead to 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.”
The Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation’s Kate Doolan also welcomed the renaming.
“On behalf of the Butchulla people we pay respect to our Elders who are no longer with us to hear this news,” Doolan said.
“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.”
K’gari is the largest sand island in the world, and is now registered on the World Heritage List as its traditional name.
K’gari was officially renamed in a ceremony on the island, Queensland Environment Minister Meagan Scanlon was in attendance.
Minister Scanlon said the formal adoption of K’gari for the World Heritage Area honours the Butchulla people – their traditions, culture and connection to Country.
“K’gari, the surrounding waters and parts of the mainland are home for the Butchulla people who have long asked for K’gari’s name to be repatriated,” she said.
The Minister said the Queensland Government is dedicated to backing the rename, including seeing K’gari featured on Australian maps.
“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,” she said.
“Other national parks have 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.
The Minister confirmed to media that both herself and the Commonwealth Minister have approved the renaming process. The decision now has to pass the Department of Resources process of Place Names Act.
By Sarah Smit