K'gari is second home to our island rangers
THOUSANDS of years ago, Jermaine La Rocca's ancestors walked the lengths of K'gari, otherwise known as Fraser Island, as some of its traditional owners.
Fast forward to the 21st century and Jermaine is making his own mark on the island as a ranger at Kingfisher Bay Resort.
"I've been working at Kingfisher on and off for about nine years now," he said.
"It's my home away from home."
It wasn't the picturesque scenery or the surroundings which made Jermaine, who lives on the mainland in Hervey Bay, want to work on the island.
Rather, it was his desire to submerge himself in his heritage.
"I didn't know much about my culture at the very beginning because I was born and raised somewhere else but I moved here to be closer to my family," he said.
"I started working on the resort grounds just to find out a bit of information when it comes to my cultural background and I've learned so much, like some of the language.
"Bush tucker and the medicine range is my speciality."
Jermaine's focus on the island is communicating with guests, offering tours, educational talks and sharing dream time stories.
"People get really into it and are very passionate about it," he said.
"I've had a lot of comments from house guests who say they want to meet the local inhabitants of the island and learn their culture.
"It's nice that I can be the bridge between the gap for them."
It's a similar feeling for Annie Bauer, who is a senior ranger on the island and has been for 20 years.
Previously working at Fraser Coast Anglican College in the outdoor education and international department, Annie said she found herself always returning to K'gari.
"I've got a small team of five rangers and they do canoe paddles, archery and educate school groups," she said.
"I think it's the beauty of the place, the nature of the place and the fact (K'gari) is world heritage listed which makes it so attractive.
"Especially if visitors are doing a tour, the tour guide will give them information about the island while seeing it as well."
Last Wednesday, a celebration was held to honour the island being world heritage listed for 25 years after a lengthy and difficult battle.
The day was filled with traditional dances and songs by the Butchulla people as well as the presentation of hundreds of years old weapons to their rightful owners.
Annie said the celebration, was an "eye opener".
"The whole ceremony was incredibly welcoming and it was so nice to see everyone involved," she said.
"It felt like we're all one and there are no barriers."
Jermaine said it gave him a fresh appreciation for his roots and his ancestors.