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Australia’s popular Fraser Island has reverted to its traditional name of K’gari

<i>Reuben Nutt/Tourism and Events Queensland</i><br/>The island's famous Champagne Pools decorate its 75-mile beach.
Reuben Nutt/Tourism and Events Queensland
The island's famous Champagne Pools decorate its 75-mile beach.

By Amarachi Orie, CNN

(CNN) — Forget Fraser Island. The world’s largest sand island is now officially known by its traditional name, K’gari, the government of the Australian state of Queensland announced Wednesday.

The name change formally recognizes the connection of the indigenous Butchulla people to the UNESCO World Heritage site on Australia’s east coast.

The Butchulla are the Aboriginal Australians who owned and cared for the area long before European settlement.

“In our creation stories, our stories handed down by generations, it has always been K’gari and always will be,” Gayle Minniecon, chairperson of Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, said in a press release.

“K’gari means to me, home. Home amongst my People, the descendants, the ancestors, the Midiru (Traditional Owners). It’s our place. It’s what we call home,” Joyce Bonner, Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation Language and Cultural coordinator, said in a statement ahead of the reinstatement.

A ceremony was held on the island on Wednesday to celebrate the name’s restoration.

The Queensland government began the process of changing the name back to K’gari—pronounced “GUR-rie” or “Gurri”—in 2021, following a years-long campaign by indigenous people.

Long popular with both foreign and domestic tourists, K’gari has a 75-mile beach, no roads, colored sand cliffs and approximately 100 freshwater lakes, according to the state’s tourism body.

It is also the only known place in the world where a rainforest grows on sand.

K’gari was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992. It was cited for its distinctive biological conditions, including “majestic remnants of tall rainforest growing on tall sand dunes, a phenomenon believed to be unique in the world.”

It is also home to a diverse group of rare or endangered animals, including the eastern ground parrot and the Fraser Island sand skink.

“The return to the island’s traditional name is a significant step in its history and reflects Queensland’s unique position as the only place on earth where our two ancient cultures continue to live side-by-side,” said Patricia O’Callaghan, CEO of Tourism and Events Queensland.

“Visitors to K’gari are spoiled for beautiful scenery but most importantly they can embrace the culture of the Butchulla People who have called the island home for tens of thousands of years,” she added.

CNN’s Lilit Marcus contributed to this report.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the meaning of the word K’gari. Butchulla elders have recently said it is simply a place name.

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