Paradise is reclaiming its name. After a renaming ceremony on Wednesday, Fraser Island is now officially known by its traditional Aboriginal name, K’gari. How good!


To the Butchulla people, the world’s largest sand island has always been known as K’gari, pronounced ‘Gurrie’ and meaning ‘paradise’ in the Butchulla language.

The name is representative of the white spirit who helped make the land and sea when it was sent down from the sky. And although K’gari has been an alternative name for the island for some time, the traditional name has now been officially restored.

A Change Years in the Making

Although the World Heritage Area of the island was renamed K’gari by the World Heritage Committee back in 2021, the Queensland State Government needed to process the reclaiming of the name via the ‘Place Names Act’.  

This involved a public poll about the renaming of the island which was launched by the Queensland Department of Resources in August 2022 and saw more than 6,000 submissions. Around 70% of these were in favour of the traditional name of K’gari being restored to the island.

During an official renaming ceremony held on K’gari on Wednesday, and attended by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, the Traditional Owners danced and sang as rain fell to wash away the colonial name.

‘We will continue to recognise Indigenous languages through place names, in the spirit of truth-telling and reconciliation as we walk the Path to Treaty,’ said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

‘While steps like this can’t change the wrongs of the past, it goes a long way to building a future where all Queenslanders value, trust, and respect each other.’

‘This always was and always will be Butchulla Country.’


Why ‘Fraser Island’ Was a Controversial Name

The Butchulla people have been advocating to restore the traditional name for years, especially given the origins of ‘Fraser Island’, and this change is marked with the same significance as the name change of Uluru.

The colonial name was given to the island after Eliza Fraser, a Scottish woman, became shipwrecked there and was taken in by the Butchulla people back in 1836. 

However Eliza later claimed that rather than helping her, the Butchulla people had captured her, despite other colonists on the same shipwreck disputing her story. 

Eliza’s claims ultimately led to the massacre and dispossession of the island from the Butchulla people – so there’s really no reason to keep the name Fraser around! 

‘It was through disrespect to the Butchulla people that her name, K’gari – the home of the Butchulla people – was taken away,’ said Gayle Minniecon, Chair of the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation.

‘Thankfully it is now through respect to the Butchulla people that K’gari – her name – has been reclaimed.’

‘Paradise’ is infinitely more fitting anyway. Welcome back K’gari! 


Photos thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland