Fraser Island History
The Butchulla people are the indigenous people of Fraser Island. There were six clans in the Butchulla Nation and the territory extended through Fraser Island, Double Island Point, Tin Can Bay, Bauple Mountain and north to a point at Burrum Heads in Queensland.
The Butchulla people's traditional name for Fraser Island was K'gari which means paradise. According to Butchulla legend, Fraser Island was named K'gari after the beautiful spirit who helped Yindingie, messenger of the great god Beeral, create the land. As a reward to K'gari for her help Beeral changed her into an idyllic island with trees, flowers and lakes. He put birds, animals and people on the island to keep her company.
It is uncertain how long Fraser Island had been occupied by the Butchulla people. Evidence suggests that it was more than 5,500 years and maybe 20,000. Population numbers are unknown though it has been said that during times of plentiful resources up to 2,000 people lived on the island with the stable number around 300 to 400.
Captain Cook first sighted the Fraser Island Butchulla people during 1770 and named Indian Head on the eastern beach after them. Captain Matthew Flinders was one of the first white men to have contact with the islanders and had peaceful meetings with them in 1799 and 1802.
Colonization by Europeans caused great conflicts with the Aboriginal people as the European settlers did not understand or respect their tribal boundaries, their social structure or the importance to them of their environment.
Land was cleared and agricultural practices established which in turn disturbed the natural supply of food cycles of the native people. Traditions and hunting methods had to be altered for survival.
Logging was started on Fraser Island in 1863 by ‘Yankee Jack' Piggott and continued until December 1991 when the island was nominated for World Heritage listing.
Day-to-day management of the island today is primarily the responsibility of the Department of Environment and Heritage through the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.