Prince Harry and Annastacia Palaszczuk speak with Butchulla children during a ceremony for the unveiling of the plaque to dedicate the popular holiday spot's 206,970 acres of pristine rainforests to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy project.
Prince Harry and Annastacia Palaszczuk speak with Butchulla children during a ceremony for the unveiling of the plaque to dedicate the popular holiday spot's 206,970 acres of pristine rainforests to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy project. George Seymour

Prince Harry welcomed by traditional owners

PRINCE Harry was today welcomed to K'gari, or Paradise, by the traditional owners of Fraser Island.

In a space between towering satinay trees in Pile Valley, the prince received a blessing from the Butchulla who performed their smoking ceremony, welcoming him to K'gari, which translates to Paradise in their language.

The prince arrived on the island off Queensland's Hervey Bay this morning, you can following the rolling coverage of his 

He was to have been accompanied by his wife Meghan Markle, but the pregnant Duchess of Sussex pulled out of the ceremony that could only be reached by jolting four-wheel drive along rough sand roads.

After a special walk to the island's Big Tree, a satinay 1000 years old that survived Fraser's logging past, he emerged into a clearing to a rapturous welcome.

Aunty Mally Clarke drew laughter from the crowd and the Prince when she called out "he's even better looking in person".

"I'll take that as a compliment," Harry said from behind the microphone set up in the forest clearing.

Harry told the hundred-plus crowd of media and guests that it was his pleasure to add the K'gari/Fraser forest to the Queens Commonwealth Canopy before the Butchulla performed a number of traditional story dances.

Harry shook hands with each dancer before an impromptu meet and greet among those gathered in the forest before leaving to see the crystal clear fresh waters of the island's iconic Lake McKenzie and a trip along the beach.

Among those present were Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and traditional owners of the Bulburin area in central Queensland, the second Australian location added to the Canopy.

Satinay trees from Fraser Island were used in the 1930s to rebuild London's docks, thanks to their capacity not to rot while submerged in water.

Logging ended on the sand island in 1991 following a long campaign by conservationists who also won the fight against sand mining that had occurred from 1949 to 1976.



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