Social Commentator

What’s in a name?

Mr. Paul Dillon, a Sunshine Coast author of several books on Queensland colonial history has written once again another straight-shooting, straight-talking book about the Wide Bay frontier during colonial times: Fraser Island Massacre Vrai ou Faux.

Captain Cook called it the Great Sandy Island; the locals called it Fraser Island; now the Queensland Labor government calls it K’gari. It’s the place to be when you need a secluded, tranquil haven set among hundred-year-old gum trees, with palms, ferns, exotic plants, mysterious lakes and waterways. It’s the place to be if you want to catch a fish or two, or see a dingo in the raw.

Gone are the days of sand mining for rutile, zircon, ilmenite and monazite; gone are the days of the bullock and the timber-getter, safe are the blackbutt, the Fraser Island turpentine and the kauri. Gone are the Fraser Island brumbies speeding over the sandhills with outstretched tails and flying manes, or chased along the back beach in motor trucks. Gone to are the corroborees, and the Fraser Island Aboriginal gum-leaf orchestra.

Each creature as it crawls from its chrysalis yearns to tell of its origination and as it struggles to become a butterfly spins a yarn of self-interest and self-promotion. A group has arisen that claim to be the long-lost tribes and clans of Fraser Island. To that end, they have persuaded the Queensland Labor government to acknowledge their existence and in turn their heredity rights. Accordingly, the Queensland Labor government consented to a grant of native title known as QCD2014/015 – Butchulla People #2 over Fraser Island and recently re-named the area as K’gari.

In making that claim the clans have felt it necessary to impeach and defame the forbearers and pioneers of another group of citizens. Whether it was necessary to adopt that approach is another matter. However, in doing so it extended to the offended party the right to at least examine the material put forward.

But massacre there was none. This book by Paul Dillon is a forensic audit of the modern-day political flotsam and jetsam that has grown up around the politics involved in bringing into existence the political identity known as K’gari. The book is obtainable from Connor Court Publishing, Brisbane.