On the 28 of October, 2017, a Butchulla Celebration Day was held at Central Station, K’gari to mark the third anniversary of the Butchulla Peoples’ Native Title Consent Determination on 24 October, 2014.
A committee of Elders and community members spent months organising the 2017 anniversary of government recognition of Butchulla People as traditional custodians of Fraser Island.
Attendees caught the barge from River Heads and then buses to Central Station where both community members and invited guests were cleansed with smoke and water as they entered the designated ceremonial grounds. Attendees then walked along a specially constructed pathway that was decorated with artworks constructed from Fraser Island sand and ochre.
A dance ceremony occurred through-out the day, which showcased the Butchulla community’s connection to birds and animals. Butchulla song men and dancers renewed connection to country and the strength of their culture. Butchulla linguist, Joyce Bonner, shared Butchulla language as an integral part of the day including a translation of the three Butchulla laws in song (assisted by the ladies of the organising committee, and demonstrated by Conway Burns, much to the amusement of the audience). The community was invited to join the final farewell dance.
Everyone shared a meal with a huge barbecue manned by staff from both Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the Department of the Environment and Heritage Protection with more than enough to share, although understandably, it was the celebratory cake caught all the children’s attention.
Gifts and awards were important part of the event, which recognised partners and supporters as well as key community members.
Sponsors included the Queensland Government, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, National Parks Sports and Racing, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Kingfisher Bay Resort, Cool Dingo 4×4 tours, Palace Backpackers, Central Queensland Indigenous Development and Fraser Coast Regional Council.
Although it’s been three years since Native Title was determined, there was a feeling of elation and, perhaps more significantly, a beginning, with the return of the Butchulla community to K’gari.
It was a truly special day with the organisers, dancers and participants to be congratulated on what it is hoped will become an annual event.
Article compiled by Sue Sargent and published with the permission of the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation