The Butchulla People are the traditional custodians of the area surrounding beautiful Hervey Bay and K'Gari (Fraser Island). Our vessel is proudly named "Milbi" which is Butchulla for sea turtle.
After a long and unwavering fight to gain recognition of native title, Friday 24 October 2014 marked the successful resolution of the Butchulla People’s claim over Fraser Island. Their Island home, K'gari, was placed back in the hands of its traditional custodians.
Our gratitude is deep for all Butchulla People past and present, with particular appreciation to Elder, Aunty Joyce Smith.
We embrace the spirit and have deep respect for the culture of our traditional land and sea custodians - for they are the beginning of time.
Hunters, aware that animals found on the island could die out if hunted excessively, only took what was necessary for food. Even today, scarce resources are protected, often using the totem system which forbids their use. Monitoring soil, plants and animals provided clues to Aboriginal people on how to best manage their land. Boorangoora (meaning 'waters of wisdom' and also known as Lake McKenzie) was a place for decision-making. The wise ones would meet here to listen for messages on the breezes sent from the spirits. Butchulla people camped near fresh water sources such as Boorangoora to eat and drink. They did not swim in these waterholes, taking care not to dirty their source of drinking water. If the land grew tired, they moved camp to allow rain, sun and wind to cleanse the site.
Respect for the rights of others was, and remains, integral to Butchulla way of life. Women and men kept their business separate. Each group guarded their own knowledge and sacred sites. This respect extended to the plants and animals that provided of the people. Butchulla people did not cut down trees, but gathered branches for shelters, bark for canoes, piccabeen palm fronds for useful baskets, and vines for nets. This ensured continued growth of plants for future use.
Tourism is not new to K'gari (Fraser Island). Each winter, as certain fish, tailor and mullet arrived in waters around the island, Aboriginal people from other language groups trod established pathways looking to share this bounty. They sought permission from elders, or were invited by them, to cross Great Sandy Strait and enter Butchulla land not he western side of the island. Numbers would swell from around 400 people to a couple of thousand throughout the season. Visitors were always made welcome, as sharing was a way of life. With summer's return, seasonal seafood moved on, as did these visitors. It was everyone's responsibility to live the 'proper way' according to lore.