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Fraser Island: A Brief History Fraser Island: A Brief History

Fraser Island: A Brief History

So you’ve booked your Fraser Island tour? Lucky you! The island is absolute paradise and home to some of the most stunning rainforest walks, lakes and creeks on Australia’s east coast. You may not know however, that Fraser Island is rich with history. Here is a brief snapshot to ensure that you enjoy the full Fraser Island experience.


It is assumed that people have occupied Fraser Island for over 20,000 years and before European discovery, the island was home to the Butchulla people. They called the island ‘K’gari’ which means paradise! Captain Cook first laid eyes on the paradise in 1770, where saw a number of natives standing on a headland, which he then called ‘Indian Head.’ In 1802 Mathew Flinders stopped by the island for a day to collect wood and water.


In 1836, Captain Fraser and his ship washed up on the shores of the island. The group was forced to take shelter on the island and during this time Captain Flinders passed away. The castaways were soon rescued by a search party and upon arrival to the mainland, mixed stories of the ordeal began to circulate. Eliza Fraser declared that the aborigines killed Captain Fraser, despite one survivor’s account that he had died of natural causes. The island soon became known as Fraser’s Island.

In 1842 explorer Andrew Petrie returned from Fraser Island boasting good pastoral lands and forests, and soon after, logging commenced in the 1860s. European migration soon began and hostility between the new habitants and the natives arose. By the late 1800s most of the original habitants had been relocated to other island missions.


Leading into the early 1900s Fraser Island became a major resource for timber and minerals and it was not until the 1930s that the island was recognised for tourism purposes. In 1970 it was declared a tourist destination by the state of Queensland and as logging was in its peak there was major controversy surrounding the conservation of the island. In 1992 the island was declared a World Heritage Listed site and today, there are many remnants of the island’s rich industrial and aboriginal history. 

Katie tobias blogger

  About the author: 

Katie Tobias is an accomplished freelance travel blogger. Katie is a social media Guru, working full time for the Nomads & Base Backpackers group. Katies wit, love for researching & knack with words makes for an entertaining and informative read!

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