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Logging History of K'gari (Fraser Island)

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Tue 29 Aug 2023

K’gari (Fraser Island) is known for many things: its unique and diverse landscape, its thriving flora and fauna, and its reputation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination in Australia. But the world’s largest sand island is also known for its logging history! Many travelers visiting this fascinating island in Australia may not know that K’gari played a huge role in the timber and logging industries in Australia throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries. Let’s dive into K’gari’s logging history so you can learn a bit more about the significance of this wondrous island!

Exploring K'gari

A Brief Summary of K’gari’s History

K’gari (Fraser Island), is a mysterious and gorgeous island with a somewhat turbulent history. The sand island of K’gari dates back about a million years, with the Earth’s natural processes helping form the magnificent landscape. Full of perched lakes, dense rainforests, and a wide range of plants and animals, K’gari is a mesmerizing place. 

The Butchella people are a group of indigenous Australians who are the Traditional Owners of the land. They inhabited the island for at least 5,000 years and named the island “K’gari” because it means paradise. In the 19th Century, as much of Australia became colonized by European settlers, the Butchella people were displaced and the island was renamed “Fraser Island” after a woman named Eliza Fraser was shipwrecked there. Once the island fell under the control of the Europeans and their growing commercialism, the island became an essential part of the logging business.

Butchella Sign

When Did Logging Begin On K’gari (Fraser Island)?

K’gari’s logging history officially began in 1863 near Wanggoolba Creek. This lush area of the rainforest is full of towering trees that became incredibly attractive to the settlers on the island. And because the island was not yet protected and the native people had been pushed out, there was no one stopping loggers from harvesting the majestic trees from K’gari. 

Kauri Pine, Hoop Pine, Cypress Pine, Blackbutt, Tallowwood, and Satinay trees were all extensively logged from the mid 19th Century onwards. The timber was used all over the world for construction, furnishing, and marine industry projects. Australia’s timber industry continued to grow with the Gympie Gold Rush of 1867. The demand for timber skyrocketed and K’gari (which was called Fraser Island at the time) continued to supply Australia and the world with its beautiful trees. 

Trees on K'gari

When Did They Stop Logging On K’gari (Fraser Island)?

Logging on K’gari (Fraser Island) continued into the late 20th Century but was officially stopped in 1991. The late 20th Century saw the emergence of activists and conservationists across Australia, and slowly more and more land around the country became protected. In 1971, parts of K’gari became national parks, and more of the island followed suit over time. 1991 saw the official outlawing of logging on K’gari. In 1992, K’gari was officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Area due to its fascinating landscape, ancient sand dunes, and breathtaking rainforests. 

And another win for the island has occurred in recent years! In 2021, the Queensland Government has officially changed the name of the island from “Fraser Island” back to K’gari. For years the island was called by its European name instead of its original name. Out of respect for the Butchella People, the Traditional Owners of the land, the island has been renamed K’gari!

Girl walking in rainforest

K’gari In The Present Day

Nowadays, with the many protections and regulations in place, K’gari is thriving. It is a popular tourist destination, and travelers come from all over the world to visit the wonders of the largest sand island on Earth. But it is important to remember the island’s past and ensure that we all take the necessary steps towards protecting and preserving this special place. 

Central Station is a tourist hotspot on the island that reflects K’gari’s logging history. You can see old cabins that were used by the loggers who lived on the island, and there are many informational signs in the area that highlight the flora and fauna that needs to be protected. 

Conservation of K’gari is essential, and acknowledging the cultures and traditions of the Butchalla People is also important. But travelers can still book tours and enjoy K’gari! As long as you are a responsible traveler who follows all the rules of the island and makes an effort to leave the land as pristine as when you arrived, you can happily soak in all the natural beauty of K’gari!

Travelers on K'gari

Read more about K’gari’s history here! Call us at +61 7 4128 4479 or live chat with us online if you need help booking your next K’gari adventure.

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