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About the name change

K’gari (formerly Fraser Island) is located off the Fraser Coast of Queensland, Australia. For many years, the Traditional Owners, the Butchulla people, have had a strong commitment to reinstating the island’s traditional name.

Name change timeline

In 2011, the alternative names K’gari and Gari were recorded in the Queensland Place Names Database.

In 2021, the Queensland Government started the process to rename Fraser Island to K’gari. In this year, the Fraser World Heritage Area was also renamed to K'gari (Fraser Island) World Heritage Area.

Getting the name change right has been important to us. Throughout 2022, we consulted with:

  • local councils
  • Traditional Owners
  • emergency and postal services
  • the public.

We received nearly 6000 submissions, making it the largest place name consultation undertaken in Queensland.

On 7 June 2023, the island was officially renamed K’gari.

Where to from here?

We’re pleased to move forward together toward a future that recognises the important histories of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

K'gari will remain a popular tourism destination for all to enjoy. The island's new name pays respect to the thousands of years of Butchulla tradition that have come before and will continue into the future.

Why K'gari?

K'gari (pronounced 'GUR-rie' or 'Gurri') is the Butchulla peoples' traditional name for the island, and comes from their creation story that explains how the island and surrounding lands were formed. The silent 'K' reflects the Traditional Owners' interpretation of spelling the place name using the English alphabet.

You can hear more from the Butchulla people, their connection to their traditional lands, and the creation stories that shape them.

Where did the name ‘Fraser Island’ come from?


Fraser Island was named after Captain James Fraser of the British ship Stirling Castle, which ran aground in May 1836 on Swain Reefs (near present-day Rockhampton) while travelling from Sydney to Singapore. Also on board was his wife, Eliza Fraser.

The survivors headed south in a leaking lifeboat, hoping to reach the convict settlement at Moreton Bay. Twelve survivors eventually reached the northern tip of Great Sandy Island (which would later be renamed after Captain Fraser).

Surviving on the island

The castaways repaired their boat, and traded goods for fish with the local Aboriginal people. Six of the castaways took guns and set off to walk south along the beach, with the other half of their party, including the Frasers, obliged to follow.

Along the way, the Aboriginal people accompanying the survivors took the party’s clothes, blankets and possessions. Reaching a camp, the castaways were divided among family groups to assist with hunting, fishing and gathering firewood. Aboriginal women tended to Eliza's sunburned body, and she was required to nurse children and contribute to tasks. However, she was inept and resentful, drawing the ire of the other women.

The castaways stayed on the island for weeks. Captain James Fraser is reported to have died in early August 1836, possibly from starvation or from a spear wound. Six weeks after he died, a search party arrived.

Returning home

The survivors recovered from their ordeal at Moreton Bay and then returned to Sydney, where newspapers published exaggerated accounts of their experiences. Eliza stayed at the home of the colonial secretary, was feted in Sydney society and received a large sum of money raised by public donations.

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. She appeared regularly at Hyde Park telling ever more lurid tales about her experiences to earn money and was known to have told several versions of the story.

Although Eliza Fraser’s stories were disputed by other survivors at the time and afterwards, the tales contributed to the Western narrative of Aboriginal people being ‘savages’ and ‘cannibals’, and had dire implications for Indigenous people all over the world.

Last updated
31 July 2023
Last reviewed
21 February 2023