Fraser Island History

Fraser Island was named after a British ship captain James Fraser and his wife Eliza, who were stranded on the island in 1836. The captain perished there, but his wife survived and returned to England to tell their story. 

Butchulla people

The Butchulla have been living on Fraser Island for the past 5000 years. Before European colonisation, the Butchulla people called Fraser Island K’gari, meaning "paradise". The sea, the lakes and the forests supplied an abundance of food so Island's population was high.

Up to 160 years ago about 2000 Butchulla people were living on the island. That changed dramatically when the island became an immigration and quarantine post for ships that brought people and equipment for the gold fields in the area - forty years later only 150 tribe members remained. They were taken off the island to reserves on the mainland.

Not long after the island was colonised, its beautiful rainforests were discovered and Fraser Island soon became a thriving logging community. Logging continued on the island until the late 1980's and as of December 1992 Fraser Island has been World Heritage Listed to preserve the unique environment. 


As well as its beautiful rainforests, Fraser Island is also noted for its treacherous waters. The ferocity of these waters is evident in the magnificent shipwrecks that line the shores of the island. The most popular of these is the Maheno, which was beached there in 1935 and has become as much a part of the island as the natural land formations.

About Fraser Island