Fraser Island, or better known as K’gari (gurri), is just off the coast of Hervey Bay and can be travelled to by barge or helicopter. It is the largest sand island in the world, coming in at a staggering 1,840km2.
Both the XL7 and XL8 classes participated on an excursion to K’gari from 14th to the 18th of October.
3.0 Method of Research
4.1 History/Past uses of the Island – Indigenous
The Indigenous, like everyone else placed their faith and beliefs into a Religion. One such belief is of how K’gari was created. According to the beliefs of the Butchulla people, way back in the First Time, Booral the God who lived within the sky, sent his messenger Yindingie, who was tasked with descending upon Earth and to make land and other things. Yindingie was not alone however, for he had a helper who was named K’gari. K’gari was an elegant white spirit who was also from the sky. She adored helping Yindingie with all his tasks and she worked very hard. However, Yindingie did not want K’gari to work too hard, so he told her to lay on some rocks he had just created, and rest. When she awoke, Yindingie had had finished making a beautiful bay with perfect sandy beach, little islands, a fine river, and in the distance, a lovely mountain
“oh” said K’gari. “what a beautiful place”. She wanted to stay here forever. Yindingie said she couldn’t do that.
“why not?” asked K’gari
“Because you are a spirit and you belong in the sky” he explained
K’gari had already fallen in love with this extravagant land and she begged and pleaded with Yindingie to let her stay, and finally, he gave in
“Very well” he said. “But you cannot stay here as a spirit. I will transform you into something else”. So Yindingie told K’gari to lay down on the rocks once more and when this was done, he reconstructed her into a grand island. She was clothed with trees, shrubs, ferns and beautiful orchids. Lakes were made to be her eyes and he put the sound of her voice into the gently flowing streams. Yindingie made birds, dingos and fish to live on her land, air and sea. Then he made some people. He taught all these animals the magic of procreation so that each kind could have children and those children could have children, so that K’gari would never be lonely
The Indigenous had many uses for the island and were extremely resourceful. Paper bark was an especially helpful tool for survival to the Butchulla for many reasons, they used it for bedding, cradles for babies were made from it, shelter was made from it and it was even used to cook food.
4.2 History/Past uses of the Island – European
The Europeans first sighted K’gari in May 1770 by Captain James Cook who called it the “Great Sandy Peninsula”, mistakingly thinking it was part of the mainland. It was believed to be part of the mainland for 29 years, when Matthew Flinders explored parts of Hervey Bay and discovered the truth of K’gari being an island. In 1836, Captain James Fraser was shipwrecked on Swains Beach, which is north of Fraser Island. The remaining survivors travelled north on a life boat and eventually found themselves stranded on Fraser Island. Out of all the survivors left there, only Eliza Fraser, the wife of Captain Fraser, survived to return to the mainland, because of this, the island was named after her. The Europeans mostly used the island for sand mining and logging.
4.3 Present uses of Island
The island is currently being used for mostly tourism and recreational activities. Things like 4WD driving tours where they take you on an off-road tour through the forest and give you information about the island and its properties. You learn about the different types of lakes K’gari has, dingos and rivers. They also tell you about the history of the island and all the interesting ways the Butchulla people made use of it.
4.4 Impacts on the Island ecosystems
The biggest impact on the islands ecosystem to date has been logging. In 1842 the explorer Andrew Patrie reported good pastoral lands and excellent forests to the world. Logging of the valuable Kauri pine commenced in 1863. After the Gympie gold rush of 1867, demand for timber sky-rocketed and logging expanded to become the region’s major industry for over a century. Relics of timber-cutting camps, sawmills, tramways, jetties, wharves and towns remain today.
4.5 Future threats
4WD tours are great fun and highly informative. They’re popular among the guests of K’gari and are held in high regards by many. This may seem like a harmless endeavour but the threat it poses to the ecosystem. Because the vehicles constantly drive on the same track, the level of that has sunk to almost sea level