Aussie destination has its Indigenous name restored

Remember when Uluru was called Ayer’s Rock? It probably took you a while to get used to calling the red rock by its original named once it was restored back in 1993.

The world’s largest sand island, Fraser Island, is the latest destination to have its Aboriginal name restored.

The island will now be officially known as K’Gari. Fitting, as K’Gari means “paradise” in ‘Butchulla’ – the language of the people who have been the owners and guardians of Fraser Island from prior to European colonisation and settlement.

Read more: Fraser Island for first-timers (and why there should be a first time)

The island’s ‘new’ name was made official during a traditional smoking ceremony held at the Kingfisher Bay Resort on 19 September.

K’Gari has occupied a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992 and is known for its distinctive biological conditions and remnants of tall rainforest growing on sand dunes.

It is also home to rare or endangered animals, including the eastern ground parrot and the Fraser Island sand skink. UNESCO already refers to the island as K’Gari.

Read more: Incredible Australian islands for when you want to get off the mainland

“The name change recognises and honours the Butchulla peoples and their traditions, their culture and their ongoing connection to Country,” says Meaghan Scanlon, minister for the environment and the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Palaszczuk government recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island heritage and cultures, which represent an enduring and ongoing connection to Country for over 60,000 years.”

Read more: Enjoy these islands while you can

Community members say restoring the original name is not the end of this story.

“We have been campaigning for years to change the island’s name,” says Jade Gould, a spokesperson for the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation (BAC).

“But it is a hollow symbol if our rights are not recognised by the Queensland government.”

What do you think of the new, old name? Would you like to see more restoration of Indigenous names for Aussie destinations? Share your opinion in the comments section.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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