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Why Was K'gari Called Fraser Island?

Updated Fri 08 Jul 2022

Fraser Island Sign

Fraser Island is located in the Wide Bay–Burnett region off the Fraser Coast and southeastern side of Australia. Originally named K'gari, which means “paradise,” this island has carried important meaning for its traditional owners for thousands of years, and today is a tourist hub. But when did K’gari get the name “Fraser Island?”

K’gari’s traditional owners, the Butchulla people, inhabited the sacred island for over 5,000 years before early settlers to Australia came upon the paradise known as Fraser Island today. While Captain James Cook was likely the first settler to set eyes on the island as he sailed past in 1770, Matthew Flinders is said to be the first European explorer to land on the island in 1802. 

K’gari was known as the “Great Sandy Island” for a brief period, but the name “Fraser Island” wouldn’t be coined until 1836 when a group of 11 shipwreck survivors would make their way to the island. Eliza Fraser was one of the party and it is said the island was then renamed “Fraser Island” for the shipwrecked woman. Now, the land has been renamed as K'gari out of respect to the Traditional Owners and a dark colonial past.

To learn more about why Fraser Island is known as "K'gari," read more here!

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