WALKING TO K’GARI – ANCIENT ABORIGINAL PATHWAYS TO THE WORLD’S LARGEST SAND ISLAND – INITIAL THOUGHTS
K’gari (Fraser Island) is native country of the Butchulla People and they have been stewards of the land for tens of thousands of years. The island is the world’s largest sand island with dunes exceeding 240 m in relief that have been periodically active for over 1 My. Presently, K’gari is separated from the mainland by a shallow strait and a large bay. The Great Sand Strait allows water from Hervey Bay, the Mary River and Tin Can Bay to exchange with the Coral Sea.
Oral histories of the Butchulla People speak of walking across the Great Sandy Strait to K’gari. Our research team intends to develop a multi-disciplinary approach to identify these pathways. Through analysis of current topographic and bathymetric maps coupled with shallow marine subbottom profiling, the team will reconstruct the environment at various key elevations: . The elevations represent the mid Holocene highstand elevation and the deepest water depth presently observed in the Great Sandy Strait.
We will present information from oral histories and reconstructions of the environment based on available maps. Locations from the oral histories will be identified on the reconstructions. Our work will continue into the austral winter of 2022 with subbottom surveys and further revision of our environmental reconstructions and integration of oral histories.