The original inhabitants of Fraser Island (or K'gari) & the nearby mainland were the Butchulla people. A small group were permanent residents on the island. During winter aboriginal people would flock to Fraser island to feast on the aundance of food supplied by the ocean.
The Butchulla people would travel to & from the mainland by canoes made of a long single sheet of bark sealed at both ends with bees wax. The canoes were also used for fishing & hunting Dugong & Turtles. A fire would be lit in the canoes on a bed of sand or seaweed & fish would be cooked as soon as it was caught.
For shelter the Butchulla people cut strips of bark about 2.3 metres long into a shield shape & from them formed a roof. In winter this was warmed with possum skins & a fire at the entrance. Sticks were used to harvest a wide range of wild yams & other roots. Knives were made from stone. Axes were made of rock fastened to a wooden handle by gum & bees wax. Rocks or stones had to be brought from the mainland as Fraser Island only has coffee rock (pictured on this page) which is brittle and crumbles.
Bees played an important part in the Butchulla peoples culture, party for thier wax, but also for thier honey, being thier main source of sweetness.
Grass trees (Xanthorrhoea) provided a valuable food source for the Butchulla people, using the base of the leaves as a type of cabbage. The leaves were eaten either raw or cooked & the fruit roasted. Pandanus leaves were used to make baskets & poisonous fruits were placed in a dilly bag & soaked in running water to wash out the poisons.
A man could not marry a woman of his own clan & children belonged to the clan of the mother. Cannibalism was practiced, only from those who died in combat or at an early age. No humans were deliberately killed for food. The bones of the dead were dried & hung in a dilly bag in the hollow of a tree, known as the Burial Tree.
Today the Butchulla people still live in Hervey Bay and still have a presence on Fraser Island. An aboriginal community called Scrub Hill lies on the outskirts of Hervey Bay and welcomes tourists on certain days of the week.
They have a flourishing aboriginal bushtucker farm and a shop where aboriginal art and other products can be purchased from.
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