Years of Achievements
A Short History of the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation Limited (FIDO)
FIDO has a proud history of more than a quarter of a century of campaigning achievements to protect one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. FIDO’s aim has always been “to ensure the wisest use of the natural resources of Fraser Island”.
FIDO was formed in January, 1971, by voluntary conservationists from Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg to oppose sandmining applications by the American Dillingham company and Murphyores on Fraser Island. Murphyores and Queensland Titanium Mines had obtained very extensive mining leases in the early 1960s without any protest, before the voluntary conservation movement had become organised, but there was widespread public opposition to proposals to extend leases and start mining on Fraser Island.
Dr. Len Webb almost immediately suggested that the Fraser Island Defence Committee change its name to “… Organization” to produce the acronym and motto “FIDO, the Watchdog of Fraser Island”. This name inspired leading cartoonist, Stewart MacRae, to present FIDO with its famous bulldog logo. As FIDO grew so did the recognition of Fraser Island’s outstanding natural values. FIDO also became recognised internationally as the protector of one of the greatest natural wonders of the world.
FIDO believes that Fraser Island is unique in the world, being not only the largest sand island in the world but also the world’s greatest coastal sandmass. Despite frequent assertions by parochial politicians, FIDO has never diminished the size or the significance of this outstandingly attractive and very appealing sub-tropical island paradise.
FIDO is best known for its successful campaigns to stop the devastating environmental impact of sandmining and the destructive logging of Fraser Island’s magnificent forests, but the organization has actively addressed all aspects of management of Fraser Island. FIDO wants Fraser Island to be a well managed National Park with controlled tourism and other compatible uses. Its aim is “the wisest use of the natural resources of Fraser Island”.
FIDO prepared the very first management strategy for Fraser Island in 1975. This was revised and developed further in 1978, 1987, 1990 and 1991. FIDO’s watchdog role now focuses on the management of the Great Sandy Region. Compatible land-uses of well managed and controlled tourism, education and scientific research for the island have been encouraged. FIDO has actively opposed incompatible land uses including sandmining, logging operations, and urban land development. As Fraser Island attracts an increasing visitor numbers (over 300,000 annually) better management becomes more essential.
FIDO publishes a detailed newsletter, MOONBI, to keeps members and supporters informed of developments and the position taken on a variety of relevant issues. FIDO also plays a strong educational role and has produced a number of educational supplements. FIDO is not limited to armchair advocacy. FIDO has published books and maps to help people interpret and better understand the natural values of the region. FIDO was in the vanguard of ecotourism. It has run more than 100 safari tours to Fraser Island to monitor developments on the island, to raise campaign funds and to enable interested people to gain a greater appreciation of the Great Sandy Region’s outstanding values and issues confronting it.
FIDO undertook a very expensive and very deliberate project of constructing a boardwalk along Eli Creek to protect this fragile environment which was becoming rapidly degraded and to shame a reluctant and hostile Queensland Government into taking an active role in management of this world treasure. It has commissioned an independent study to confirm the feasibility of installing a light rail people mover on Fraser Island to reduce the environmental impact of the heavy rate of visitation.
FIDO is more than just an environmental advocate; it puts in physical effort where its mouth is. FIDO has contributed thousands of hours of voluntary effort controlling weeds in the areas of worst weed infestation and in extending Fraser Island’s Great Walk by the addition of the George Haddock Track
FIDO has also been in the forefront of developing mechanisms for resolving environmental conflicts. This has seen it involved in numerous Mining Warden’s hearings, (with successful challenges to rulings reaching the High Court of Australia) the first ever inquiry under the Environmental Protection (Impact of Proposals) Act, the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry (1975), and various Local Government Court hearings and a number of other challenges to administrative law in the Supreme Court of Queensland. In 1990-91, FIDO was heavily involved in representations to the Commission of Inquiry into the Conservation, Management and Use of Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Region which resulted in Fraser Island being inscribed on the World Heritage List. FIDO has made submissions to a great range of inquiries from Parliamentary Committees to a plethora of other tribunals.
In more than 25 years FIDO has been in the forefront of raising public awareness and influencing decision making in the interests of protecting one of the great natural wonders of the world.
Annual Presidents Reports
FIDO’s Postal Address: PO Box 909 Toowong Qld 4066
FIDO’s Registered Office: c/- Inns of Court Sunshine Coast, Level 2 ‘Ocean Central’ 2-4 Ocean Street, Maroochydore Qld 4558