Help me understand the potential name change
- change the name of the geographical feature Fraser Island to K’gari
- change the name of the locality of Fraser Island to K’gari.
What does the proposal include?
We are proposing to:
How do you pronounce K’gari?
Consultation with Butchulla elders has determined that pronunciation and spelling will vary among different family groups. Both pronunciations ‘GUR-rie’ and ‘Gurri’ are commonly accepted and used. There is no emphasis on the K.
Where did the K’gari name suggestion come from?
The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon MP, Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs, requested support from the Honourable Scott Stewart MP, Minister for Resources, to commence the process under the Place Names Act 1994 (the Act) to rename Fraser Island to the Butchulla Peoples traditional name for the island, K’gari.
Has Native Title been determined over Fraser Island?
There are two registered Native Title groups representing the Butchulla people.
In October 2014, the Federal Court of Australia formally recognised the Butchulla People’s non-exclusive native title rights and interests over approximately 163, 826 hectares of land and waters on Fraser Island. These rights and interests are represented by the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation (BAC).
This was followed by another successful native title claim in December 2019, which formally recognised both exclusive and non-exclusive native title rights and interests in favour of the Butchulla People over parts of the mainland, the waters in between the mainland and the island, and the waters immediately surrounding the island in December 2019. These rights and interests are represented by the Butchulla Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC).
On 31 July 2021, the UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee changed the name of the Fraser Island World Heritage Area to the K’gari (Fraser Island) World Heritage Area.
What engagement has been undertaken so far?
For more than a decade, the Queensland Government has carried out various engagement activities with stakeholders on Fraser Island.
In 2011, this led to the alternative names, (K’gari and Gari), being recorded in our place names database.
Since then, informal, and targeted stakeholder engagement has taken place to move towards a proposal for a name change including extensive consultation with Butchulla Elders, BAC, and BNTAC representatives.
Engagement has also occurred with Australia Post, emergency services, Fraser Coast Regional Council and government agencies.
Where does the suggested name, K’gari, come from?
K’gari is the Butchulla Peoples’ traditional name for the island. The name K’gari comes from the creation story of the island, which has been passed down orally for generations between the traditional owners of the surrounding land and waters, the Butchulla People.
K’gari is the name of the white spirit that was sent down from the sky by the god Beeral, to help his messenger Yindingie make the land and seas that are home to the Butchulla People.
To fully understand the origins of the proposed place name of ‘K’gari’ the following texts retell the creation story in its traditional context, along with artwork that is used when passing this cultural knowledge on between generations:
- K’gari: the Creation of Fraser Island authored and illustrated by Nai Nai Bird (2019) and published by Cengage; and
- Legends of Fraser Island authored by Olga Miller and illustrated by Nai Nai Bird (1994) and published by Rigby Heinemann.
Who was Fraser Island named after?
Fraser Island is named after Captain James Fraser of the British ship Stirling Castle, which was shipwrecked off Sandy Cape at the northern tip of the island in May 1836. Also on board was his wife, Eliza Fraser, and crew, many of whom perished during the wreck. Those who survived, including James and Eliza, made their way to the island by lifeboats and were taken in and cared for by the Butchulla People.
Captain James Fraser is reported to have died in early August 1836 after being speared by a member of the clan group that James, Eliza and the crew had joined. Only a few weeks later, Eliza and the remaining crew were rescued and taken to Brisbane on 21 August 1836, where newspapers published exaggerated accounts of the crew’s mistreatment by the Butchulla people while on the island.
Eliza remarried and returned to Britain, using the media to continue to publish sensationalised accounts of her survival story to gain donations from the public. This contributed to the Western narrative of Aboriginal people being ‘savages’ and ‘cannibals’ and had dire implications for Indigenous people all over the world.
On 10 May 1842, historian and politician Henry Stuart Russell first named the island ‘Frazer Island’ in honour of Captain James Fraser’s death, and later corrected and popularised the use of Fraser Island as a name.
However, Eliza’s story through the media is a key reason that Fraser Island is often misreported as being named after Eliza Fraser, instead of her husband Captain James Fraser.
What would be the change impact for residents and businesses on the island?
The name of the island will become K’gari and the existing locality of Fraser Island will become the locality of K’gari. This means some amendments for addressing - for example if your current address is street number, street name, Kingfisher Bay Village, Fraser Island 4581 it would become street number, street name, Kingfisher Bay Village, K’gari 4581.
If you live in the locality of Eurong on Fraser Island addresses will remain the same i.e. ## street number/street name Eurong 4581.
Do I need to change my business name?
No. If your business name includes the words Fraser Island, you are not obliged or legally required to change your business name to K’gari. However, many businesses and organisations are already changing their names to recognise the Butchulla peoples’ name for the island.
What does a ‘geographical feature’ and a ‘locality’ mean?
A geographical feature, also known as a place or area, is a geographical formation on the earth such as a mountain, creek, island, forest, lake etc. In this case it is the island.
A locality (or otherwise known as a suburb in an urban setting) is an area with defined boundaries that provides the official location name for addressing purposes. There are currently two localities recorded on the island – ‘Fraser Island’ and ‘Eurong’.
The locality of Eurong will not be impacted by this proposal.
K’gari or K’gari Island?
The geographical feature, traditionally named K'gari, is still an Island and when referring to it in that context it could be referred to as K’gari Island or the Island of K'gari. However in a general sense when we refer to traditional places, such K'gari, Uluru or Kakadu it is not necessary to also include a description of the geographical feature.
How are places named?
Consistent and accurate place names are the basis of a number of vital activities, including map production, communication services, population censuses and statistics, and emergency services.
Because of this, Queensland follows strict place naming guidelines and processes. Place naming is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Resources which administers the Place Names Act 1994.
Place Names are also playing an increasing role in the recognition of Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islander People’s culture and history.
Help me give feedback
Why should I get involved?
Your feedback helps us to ensure that any change will reflect the expectation of interested parties.