Fraser Island is now exposed to more threats than it has been since logging ceased in 1991.
Unmentionables: In the past while FIDO may have been actively concerned about issues beyond the boundaries of Fraser Island itself, we have rarely raised these issues in MOONBI. MOONBI 89 discussed the impact of the Mary River ceasing to flow into Great Sandy Strait ó now a real prospect as a result of upstream water use. There will also be adverse environmental consequences if the Hervey Bay City Council pursues proposals to divert the current outflow of Bogimbah Creek to meet the ever expanding demands of its growing urban population. In this issue we again go beyond the bounds of Fraser Island to deal with three key issues which are looming as at least as large a threat to the Great Sandy Region as sandmining and logging:
1. Fishing has been a part of Fraser Island since long before Eliza Fraser stumbled onto its shores and even traded her clothes with Aborigines in return for fish. Despite this long history of fishing and exploitation, there are now alarm bells ringing loud and clear about the management of the fisheries in the Great Sandy Region. While FIDO has previously focussed most actively on land-use issues we clearly cannot continue to ignore the impact on fisheries. (Stories pp. 6 & 10)
2. Marine slime moulds in the Great Sandy Region are a reflection of the quality of the run-off and clearly affect the health and productivity of the waters immediately surrounding Fraser Island. The story on slime moulds (p 6) indicates that this is not just idle speculation. The substance of data gathered by local fishermen indicates that there is cause for alarm.
3. Population growth in Hervey Bay and the Sunshine Coast is threatening to divert the water from the dune systems of Fraser Island and Cooloola will also affect the fisheries of the Great Sandy Region. Increasing demand for water for urban water supplies is part of a growing national problem. MOONBI ventures into the Migration debate but it is focussed on the most desirable human population for Australia rather than being based on race. (Story p 11)
Rational Economists Prevail: Economic rationalism has dominated Australian political thinking, particularly of Queensland's Borbidge Government for too long. It is costing the Earth & the environment:
* Marine: The Hervey Bay Marine Park has been put on hold because the Queensland Government refuses to make sufficient funds available to develop a Management Plan.
* Fire regime: The Fraser Island fire policy is based on what is cheapest and easiest rather than what might be the best for Fraser Island. (Story p 7)
* Roads: The debate over the tonnage limit on the road beside Wanggoolba Creek is largely motivated by the fact that it would cost the DoE more if it had to divert its own heavy trucks to another route. (Story p 8)
* Privatization: The rationale for privatization is mainly based on politicians not backing up their rhetoric with the public purse and then trying to pass the buck (or a lot of bucks) to private enterprise. FIDO has responded to identify some areas where we can accept private sector involvement in National Park management. (Story pp 4-5)
Orchid Beach Airstrip: Despite its fixation with the economies, when it comes to political opportunism the Borbidge Government can throw economic rationalism out the door and dig into its slush funds to provide an airstrip at Orchid Beach with an enormous taxpayer subsidy for the benefit of only a dozen residents and a few influential property owners who have speculated there. (Story p 4)
Free Range Camping: MOONBI 90 also discusses several topical issues entering into debates we have to have. The need for more vehicle free beaches is long overdue in the interests of public safety and preserving some fast disappearing species. The long established practice of unsupervised free-range camping, once widespread in Queensland, has disappeared almost everywhere else outside Fraser Island and Cooloola ó and for good reasons. Those reasons apply with equal validity to the Great Sandy Region. (Story p 8)
The administration of the local authorities in the Great Sandy Region has come under a spotlight due to the Inquiry into Local Government boundaries and the creation of a Development Control Plan for the freehold areas in and immediately adjacent to it. (Story p 5)
Fraser Neglect Slammed ó Premier's Promise 2
Policy Issues: ó Board of Management 3
Privatization Policy 4
Orchid Beach Airstrip Issues ó Boundaries Fiasco 5
Bological Issues: Dugong, Slime Kills Seagrass 6
Management Issues: Burning, Roads Close 7
Firewood collection Banned 7
Camping Impacts, Aircraft on Beaches 8
Wanggoolba Disgrace 8
Light Rail, DCP, Conflict of Interest, Kingfisher 9
Fishing Expo, Vale Rollo Petrie 10
FIDO's Annual Report 11
Australia's Population and Fraser Island 11
Then & Now ó FIDO's Silver Jubilee Project 12
The Report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Environment, Recreation and the Arts (HORSCERA) released the report of its inquiry into the management of World Heritage areas in Australia on 4 November.
The report criticized the management of the Fraser Island World Heritage Area after hearing submissions which referred to it as a Third-World Heritage area which suffered from a lack of visitor facilities and poor communication between federal and Queensland government authorities.
The report and the chairman were particularly critical of the Fraser Island management. Chairman, Warren Truss, Member for Wide Bay said, "Fraser Island was identified as one of the World Heritage areas in particular need of improved management and additional funding. ... The view was the Queensland National Parks and Wildlife Service takes no notice of the recommendations of the (World Heritage) consultative committee."
The report stated, "Queensland has more World Heritage areas than any other state, however, the Committee was a little disappointed with the meagre contribution of the Queensland Government to the inquiry."
It might well have been said that the Queensland Department of Environment (DoE) (which includes the QNPWS) has an agenda of its own which seems to take no notice of anybody but itself and wants things to stay that way.
FIDO's observations confirm that environmental degradation on Fraser Island seems to be accelerating. It is worse since the Borbidge Government was installed.
Staff cuts and budget constraints meant that for all of 1996 the Department of Environment had only enough staff and resources to carry out the most basic services of cleaning, maintenance and garbage disposal. The 96/97 budget allocation falls $1.1 million short of what was regarded as the minimum for basic management.
Recognizing the neglect which has become more acute for the past 6 months, FIDO has been urging Premier Borbidge to honour his pre-election promise and deliver his much vaunted "Fraser Island Rescue Package".
During a visit to Hervey Bay in early July, 1995, to announce the coalition's Fraser Island rescue package and to inspect the River Heads barge loading facilities, Mr Borbidge said that Fraser Island would receive a $10.5 million boost under a coalition government. He criticized Fraser Island which he said (and we agreed) was declining under a Labor Government. He said, "Camping grounds are worn out, picnic areas are a mess, roads are poorly maintained and fire management is lacking. There are not even enough road signs to guide visitors". He said that the rescue package would allow for upgrading camping areas and picnic areas, road and track maintenance, new national park walking tracks, tree planting and restoration and resource surveys. He said that wherever possible priority would be given to employing local youths to carry out the work.
He also promised $500,000 to upgrading the River Heads barge landing. He has delivered on none of these promises. The Borbidge Government has cut spending.
The reality: The Borbidge Government is weaseling on its pre-election commitment to Fraser Island. Since March, it has sacked many Fraser Island DoE workers; the DoE has abandoned road maintenance on the Wanggoolba Creek ó Eurong road and demanded that the Maryborough City Council maintain it; the DoE now has insufficient staff to even maintain pre-existing services let alone "boost" basic infrastructure.
On 1 November, in answer to a question in Parliament the Premier
told the member for Hervey Bay, Bill Nunn MLA, "Funding
of $5.366 million is provided in 1996/97 for management of the
Great Sandy Region of which $3.5 million will be spent on Fraser
Island management operations and $0.554 million on Fraser Island
capital works projects. .... It is planned that funding for Fraser
Island management operations will be maintained at the present
level of $3.5 million. ...."
The Premier's promise to boost expenditure is being wholly disregarded. His "Fraser Island Rescue Plan" seems to have been little more than a hoax, an electoral conspiracy. His cheap criticism to score political points in the pre-election run-up seem to be as cheap as the management regime he has now imposed on Fraser Island.
1. Money has not been delivered: The DoE in Maryborough which is responsible for the management of Fraser Island has advised that it has much less than the $3.5 million the Premier told Parliament had been allocated. They calculate that they will be $1.1 million short of the basic allocation. The DoE has only three sources of funds: grants from consolidated revenue, RAM fees and special grants such as the $323,000 from the World Heritage Unit of the Commonwealth for special projects. The access fees collected from visitors under the Recreation Areas Management Fees for the last few years has remained static at under $1.5 million. While the Borbidge Government squibs on increasing the fees, which have not changed for more than a decade, Fraser Island management suffers further. The Queensland Government contributes negligibly from consolidated revenue to meet the urgent management demands let alone the items promised in the Fraser Island Rescue Package which the Premier promised 16 months ago.
2. Of the capital works promised there has been a degree of double counting. $240,000 for the new boardwalk at Middle Rocks, the $85,000 for the new toilet and redeveloped day use area at Ocean Lake, the $40,000 for a new road at the Moon Point barge is money still in hand from the $36 million Growth and Development package provided by the previous Hawke and Goss Governments. The $59,000 for the Wabby Lakes viewing platform is being funded by a Commonwealth Government ecotourism grant.
Only the $5,000 for Eli Creek and the $125,000 for staff buildings is being provided by Premier Borbidge although he is digging into a slush fund to provide $250,000 to reopen an airstrip in a National Park which is contrary to the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Conservation, Management and Use of Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Region and the Great Sandy Region Management Plan.
3. Bias: It is significant that there is an enormous
bias in the distribution of the works and management program which
seem intended to advance the interests of an influential very
few ó 12 residents and 130 properties altogether at Orchid
Beach. They, more than any other Fraser Island users, will also
benefit from the capital works program. $425,000 or 80% of the
capital works allocated are aimed at the northern sector of the
island where the most privileged group of lobbyists in the Great
Sandy Region own properties. The most urgently needed project
to upgrade the Eli Creek boardwalk which attracts more than twice
the usage of the Middle Rocks area. Yet for most of the last
year, this walk has been partially submerged making impossible
to complete the circuit with dry feet. It will receive only a
On 12-13 October, Federal Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill, made his first visit to Fraser Island as the guest of Kingfisher Resort's Tony Charters, one of Australia's leading urgers for privatizing National Parks. He was met by a delegation of Fraser Island residents and National Park representatives who discussed issues including the future management of the island, commercial fishing, beach camping and the Orchid Beach airstrip. Neither FIDO nor any members of the CAC were advised of his visit nor given any opportunity to meet the Minister.
Senator Hill said, "It's obviously a beautiful area ... but I think that it is showing some signs of stress from the very large movement of people on the island'.
The Minister said that the $300,000 per annum Federal contribution to Fraser Island management of $300,000 was inadequate. We agree, but we are unhappy that Senator Hill has only promised an increase if the Commonwealth Government sells a significant share of Telstra.
He said that conditional on any increase in funding was the Commonwealth's demand to have a greater say in the island's management. "This is the only World Heritage area in Queensland where we don't have a joint Commonwealth-State Ministerial Council. It was supposed to be set up but it still has not been. It's about time we settled the permanent administrative structures."
The problems with the management of Fraser Island can only be partially blamed on the lack of funds. The truth is that when the DoE had the discharge of the $36 million Growth and Development Package established when logging was to cease they misused much of it in stupid ill-considered and frivolous ways. For example they spent $6 million buying out Orchid Beach while simultaneously facilitating a subdivision there.
Orchid Beach is a nightmare. The price paid was excessive. The buildings of the old Orchid Beach resort are unsafe and recent tenders for the demolition and removal quoted more than $80,000. This is money which the DoE doesn't have but worse, the closing of the resort has resulted in a much larger monstrosity with much larger population now occupying the area than would have been accommodated in the resort. The decision to buyout the resort is solely the decision of the DoE without any support from any part of the CAC yet one of the major officers involved in that decision and the secret excessively generous negotiations has subsequently been promoted and is now responsible for implementing the DoE's privatization model. If the Orchid Beach experience is any guide there is reason to be apprehensive about the outcome of this new direction.
Roads: The DoE stalled for four years on closing even one of the roads indicated in the 1993 Management Plan. In October, some pre-existing gates were finally locked. However, the DoE is dragging its heels on closing off some more contentious roads. They have not created one extra metre of vehicle free beach called for in the Management Plan.
The DoE roads policy developed unilatterally continues unmodified. They appear unwilling to negotiate the basic guidelines or vary the agenda they have adopted. They are certainly reluctant to review the continued use of the road beside Wanggoolba Creek east of Central Station where there is accumulating evidence of degradation as a result of its continued use by heavy vehicles.
Fishing Expo: The DoE facilitated a continuation of the Fishing Expo despite FIDO's strong objections. It has now been demonstrated by the camping monitoring studies by the U of Q that this event is the major factor associated with a major degradation of campsites and areas in the northern end of Fraser Island and the latest Discussion Paper on the fishery points the finger at the impact of large commercially run fishing competitions on the overall fisheries stock. The relocation of the Fishing Expo to Eurong was almost conspiratorial. A report on the first (and possibly the only) Eurong Event has not yet been published although there are plans to run yet another Expo in 1997 at a venue yet to be advised.
Consultation: The DoE must regard the process of community consultation as an irrelevant joke because the CAC is relegated to the lowest priority and particularly the matter of providing it with basic data such as the minutes or agendas for meetings. Many times on some of the most critical issues, the CAC is presented with a fait accompli.
The unanimous response to these frustrations by all current members of the CAC who represent a diverse array of stakeholders was to demand that the Environment Minister establish a Great Sandy Region Board of Management . This body should make decisions and act as a filter for the Minister, leaving him to adjudicate on critical issues. The solution seems simple, but it is one which the DoE has strongly opposed. Some bureaucrats feel that they would be constrained and forced to be far more accountable than they have been to date for the management of this outstanding natural region.
The work of FIDO now needs more resources to complete a number of very important projects. FIDO wants to advance our "Then & Now" project and to undertake more detailed planning for the light rail proposal. Please don't overlook FIDO in planning any bequests or donations.
The Environment Minister, Brian Littleproud, is reported as advising hat a proposal had already been received from a private interest to establish a private camping ground at Orchid Beach. ("Gympie Times" 22/7/96) He also said that Dilli Village was also being considered for resort development. While FIDO feels comfortable about Dilli Village we were extremely concerned about the proposed private development within the Great Sandy National Park at Orchid Beach. Fortunately, Brian Littleproud has ruled this proposal out. He said that he had received very few comments on his draft privatization guidelines although FIDO's had been noted. He also said that the DoE had not bee besieged by private developers wanting to take advantage of the draft guidelines to operate facilities within national parks.
He has still to rule on what is to happen about the shop which operates within the National Park and which is a blight on the whole planning process at Orchid Beach. While the population of Orchid Beach may have now expanded to a size which warrants a shop, the landholders (most of whom are not residents) unanimously reject the idea of relocating the shop to freehold land within the subdivision. The fact that the shop remains within the National Park means that it is exempt from having to comply with the same health standards which other shops on Fraser Island must observe. In other words as long as the National Park hosts the local shop, it is condoning a down-grading of standards and it is failing to adhere to the guidelines the minister tabled in Parliament. Worse the existing shop is a traffic hazard. The landholders don't want the shop within the subdivision because they don't want any extra traffic to go past this incredible diversity of dwellings.
In September after deliberating for some months over various drafts of what we could and could not accept, FIDO reached a consensus on a set of principles as a basis for any privatization within National Parks
1 These principles have been developed by FIDO in response to the Minister for Environment's Draft Guidelines for the establishment of tourism infrastructure in or near National Parks.
2 This policy does not address commercial tour operations and motorized transport in National Parks, which are subject to separate policies.
3 We regard all Crown Lands on Fraser Island as land awaiting National Park gazettal and therefore all comments here relating to National Parks should be interpreted as also including all Crown Land on Fraser Island.
1 The primary purpose of National Parks shall be nature conservation, and that purpose shall remain paramount.
2 It must be recognized that National Parks should be managed to preserve their wild and primitive characteristics, and that these qualities must be preserved for future generations of all species.
3 Recreation in any national parks must be consistent with the management plan for the park, and must be able to be stopped if monitoring shows adverse environmental impacts.
4 Facilities for humans in national parks shall be minimal, and aimed at minimizing the impact that humans have on nature conservation.
5 Day facilities may include walking trails, steps, board-walks, tables/chairs, barbecues, garbage receptacles and toilets.
It is our contention that the above should be the sole responsibility of Government, and that private enterprise has no role in these facilities.
6 We believe that there is a major risk to the conservation aims of National Parks if the Government hands its responsibilities over to private enterprise. Essentially we contend that private enterprise should be excluded from National Parks with the following possible exceptions:
a Where camping is allowed within the management plan, and subject to close monitoring of its impact, additional provision of camp sites and showers may be considered. Historically camping infrastructure in National Parks has been provided by the Government, and we believe that this role should continue.
It has long been FIDO's view that free range camping on Fraser Island is having adverse impacts, and this view has now been confirmed by University of Queensland studies. We believe therefore that it is imperative that free range camping be ceased, other than for legitimate cross country hikers who shall occupy a campsite for no more than 18 hours. We accept it may require a joint venture between the Government and private enterprise to achieve this within three years. Support from FIDO for such a joint venture would be conditional on free range camping being banned (with the sole exemption of hikers as outlined above), adherence to the above principles, and an Act being passed by the Parliament for the establishment of a camping ground, naming the site and size and other specifications as determined by the Government.
b. Provision of services such as waste collection, cleaning, maintenance of camping grounds, and the collection of camping fees. Where appropriate, these limited services may be tendered out for up to 3 years to allow national parks staff to concentrate on conservation work.
c Provision of unique proposals initiated by Government to further the conservation aims of the national park and to minimize the human impact on the national park (e.g. the light rail people mover on Fraser Island). Such a proposal would require a special Act of the Queensland Parliament, be consistent with the management plan for the national park, and be designed by the Government, be open to public comment, and put out to public tender.
FIDO urges that all other private developments in National Parks, and on public land adjoining National Parks, remain illegal, specifically:
shops, kiosks, cafes and other retail outlets, hotels, taverns, motels, resorts, back-packer hostels, caravan parks and other accommodation.
As mentioned previously, our position on National Parks shall be understood to also include all other crown lands on Fraser Island.
The push for Privatization continues. The HORSCERA report which
supported FIDO's criticisms of the Queensland neglect of Fraser
Island, urged a greater role for the private sector in maintaining
Australia's 11 World Heritage areas. This is one of its 54 recommendations.
The Goss Government purchased the Orchid Beach Resort at a coast of $6 million and it is to be demolished at further taxpayers expense to preserve the wilderness quality of the Top End of Fraser Island. However, the Borbidge Government is now actively working to facilitate the reopening the Orchid Beach airstrip on the site of the old resort which has now been incorporated into the National Park. Consultants advise that reopening an airstrip would cost $190,000 to get the strip up to a satisfactory standard and $65,000 annually in running costs. The Premier is committed to funding this out of his slush fund. Such expenditure for about a dozen residents can't be justified.
The Borbidge Government should uphold the public interest instead of just the interests of an elite few by delivering the $10 million promised boost to benefit more than 300,000 visitors and not just the handful of landholders and the lethal spiders at Orchid Beach. (It has been recently discovered that one of the greatest concentrations of what is believed to be the deadliest spiders in the world occurs near Orchid Beach).
Orchid Beach now eaccommodates many more than when the resort operated. The consultants employed by the DEH in 1992 who argued that the resort was a better alternative than a subdivision to achieve Fitzgerald's recommendations have been proven correct.
Before the Office of Local Government Commissioner, (OLGC) Greg Hoffman, was wound up he hurriedly finished the review of local authority boundaries in the Great Sandy Region which currently spans the Hervey Bay, Maryborough, Cooloola and Noosa local authorities. This review was a pathetic failure in achieving what had been suggested by the 1991 Commission of Inquiry into the Conservation, Management & Use of Fraser Island & the Great Sandy Region, headed by Tony Fitzgerald, Q.C.
Instead of incorporating the whole of the Great Sandy Region into one or two local authority areas (both Fraser Island and Cooloola are split between two separate councils) he only proposed to reduce the number of councils from four to three. He left Cooloola and Noosa Councils sharing Cooloola and recommended that all of Fraser Island be placed in Hervey Bay despite its appalling lack of vision and planning evident in its administration of Fraser Island and its exploitive approach.
$100,000 plus revenue pocketed: The Hervey Bay council annually collects $173,746 in rate revenue from Fraser Island ($755 per property) but admits that it spends annually only some $34,000 on services to the island. It also receives some other grants for roads and from the grants commission money on the basis of Fraser Island. There was a similar story with Maryborough City Council which collected $136,109 in rates and spent little more than $44,000 in providing services.
The Hervey Bay council's administration of Orchid Beach has been deplorable allowing an urban landscape to evolve which is the subject of almost universal criticism by everyone who has seen this planning hotchpotch where most principles of good planning and supervision have been ignored. In addition the Hervey Bay council has a very avaricious approach to tapping Fraser Island water to meet its growing population. Hervey Bay wants the capacity for Happy Valley and Eurong to expand to more than four times the current area they cover. The administration of the Happy Valley and the fact that it has allowed the public toilet there to spill down the road and across the beach for years does not inspire us with confidence that it would manage Fraser Island as well as it deserves.
FIDO argued that the whole of the Great Sandy Region should be brought under the control of one single local authority which would run from the northern shore of the Noosa River to Breaksea Spit. As far as the community of interest is concerned, it is most desirable that the Great Sandy Region be under one single, separate local authority.
Although creation of a separate single local authority would mean that there would be relatively few residents in the area (approximately 1500 residents), mainly based in Rainbow Beach and the Noosa North Shore, it could still be viable. It is feasible. Remote Aboriginal communities with a smaller populations in northern Queensland operate as local authorities.
FIDO wants a single council covering the whole area which places the greatest priority on preserving the natural integrity of this outstanding natural region. However, if the region has to be assigned to any single existing Council we would prefer Noosa to any other.
FIDO will continue to pursue the single local authority for the region option.
(From "Waves", the Newsletter of the Marine and Coastal Community Network)
Dugongs occur in the waters of 43 different countries of the Indo Pacific region stretching from eastern Africa to Vanuatu and between 27 north and south of the Equator.
In Australia their range is from Shark Bay, Western Australia, across the north to Moreton Bay, Queensland. There are an estimated 80,000 dugong in Australian waters, about 12,000 in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park waters. (There used to be about 2,200 in the Great Sandy Region until less than 6 years ago but the loss of seagrass in Hervey Bay has decimated their numbers there).
Adult dugongs can grow to lengths greater than 3 metres and weigh in excess of 400 kg. They are more closely related to elephants than to any other marine mammals.
Dugongs have a life span of about 70 years, Females, which are called cows, have their first calf between 9 and 17 years. Calves are born singly , with an interval of 3 to 7 years between when each calf being born. The gestation period is for 13 months and calves suckle for 18 months. During this time there is a strong bond between the calf and the cow.
Dugong are the only strictly marine herbivores, feeding almost exclusively on seagrasses.
A previously unknown species of reduced limbed skink discovered by Mike West some years ago has now been described and named Coggeria naufragus. This is a new genus but it is hardly new for Fraser Island and has now been found to be relatively common on the island. This small sand swimming reptile has been found at depths of up to 20 cm. It lives on earthworms and has almost 200 teeth. What this latest "find" demonstrates is that Fraser Island has a lot more wildlife yet to be recognized and properly described. The more we probe the more we discover.
The health of the marine environment in the Great Sandy Region seems to be rapidly declining. Apart from the loss of sea grass (story follows) there has been throughout 1996 a disturbing incidence of dead sea turtles as well as dugong washing ashore. Such a loss cannot be sustained and the population is rapidly declining. Now the large sand crab population is declining. Sunfish blanmes technology. "Global Positioning Systems and colour sounders enable harvesting to be too efficient." Crabs were once caught only on lines or in dilly pots. Their migratory path has now been mapped out and they are being caught by trawling. "
A humpback whale calf was born in Hervey Bay off Station Hill on Sunday, 6 October while the mother was being watched by the "M.V. Contentment". Those aboard saw the mother give a distinctive shudder and drop her tail up and down before going quiet. They then saw a discolouration in the water before a small dorsal fin appeared. The mostly white calf about 2.5 m long had not been seen previously.
At last some light is being shed on the sudden dramatic and disastrous dugong in Hervey Bay. The sequence of events appears to be as follows:
1. A dramatic increase in slime moulds;
2. The proliferation of slime moulds smothers the sea-grass and reduces its capacity to photosynthesize and therefore its growth and productivity;
3. The loss of seagrass means that dugongs, sea mammals which graze exclusively on seagrass starve (in many cases to death).
There are still many hypotheses to be more fully tested and more research is needed to confirm the cause/s of sudden increase in slime moulds but there is now strong evidence to link slime moulds and land-use. A leading advocate for more research is Joe McLeod who, in addressing the Community Advisory Committee for the Great Sandy Region, made the following points:
* Wallum normally has low pH but drainage increases acidity.
* Acid soil is influencing sea grass growth;
* The impact of acid soils in Tin Can Bay has been demonstrated to affect sand crabs, whiting and mullet populations;
* It may take up to 10 years to rectify the problem;
* All estuarine ecosystems require freshwater for energy fluxing and organic material;
* There is now no energy fluxing from the Burnett River into Hervey Bay;
* There is now less freshwater flowing from the Mary River into Great Sandy Strait and Hervey Bay;
* There is a link between fishery productivity and slime moulds which are associated with the acid runoff from the mainland;
* The sea grass beds off Fraser Island and Tin Can Bay Military area do not appear to have been affected to the extent of those which receive mainly run-off from significantly modified environments;
* Some of the worst impacts of modification and the changes to the marine pH occur in the areas drained by the canals in the Cooloola Village estate and where drains from Forestry plantation areas run directly into Great Sandy Strait.
FIDO supports much more research on the cause and effects of slime moulds. Already there is significant prima facie evidence that unless something is done, the marine areas of the Great Sandy Strait could become rapidly depleted of fish, crabs and dugong.
FIDO also regards assessment of the impact of mainland run-off as important as a basis for:
(a) advocating a limit on further limitations of the flow of the Mary River,
(b) arguing for an indefinite moratorium on the taking of more water from the Great Sandy Region particularly, Bogimbah Creek and Searys Creek (Cooloola), and
(c) more closely monitoring the landuse in the Mary and Burrum Rivers and other catchments flowing into Great Sandy Strait.
English researcher, Richard Lindsay, returned to follow up his earlier discovery with more study. The fens have revealed the existence of much rare and endangerd fauna including the ground parrot, Lewin's rail, the false water rat, acid frogs and most significantly, a fish tolerant to acidic conditions, the Oxleyan Pygmy Perch.
For some time FIDO has been questioning current burning practices on Fraser Island. We were alarmed in 1993 at the clearing of the Banksias beside the roads which lead to the publicized saga of "The Banksia Serial Killers". As a result of our concern, the practice of clearing of Banksias along Fraser Island's major roads lapsed. However, this year we had reason to write to the DoE because the practice seemed to reappear in quite a few places associated with controlled burns.
However, FIDO has other serious concerns about the DoE's current burning practices.
Essentially FIDO's position supports the practice of controlled burns on Fraser Island. Burning of the Australian environment including Fraser Island has been a part of Aboriginal culture for at least 50,000 years (and now possibly more than twice as long). Aborigines burnt much of the bush annually for purposes of hunting, traversing, fostering fruiting and a variety of other reasons. Because the Australian ecology has evolved in a regime of regular, relatively light burning means that most of Australian plant communities have changed since the Aboriginal burning regime ceased.
Since the advent of a non-Aboriginal culture the practice of regular burning has altered with a significant environmental changes. One consequence has been the expansion of rainforests into areas where fire previously held the rainforest back. There is evidence to support this on Fraser Island and Cooloola. However, the most obvious impact throughout the continent has been the dramatic increase in the density of the understorey.
Photographic records for Fraser Island bear witness to how much the structure of the forest has changed since the Aboriginal burning practices ceased. FIDO's Silver Jubilee project will confirm this. Areas which once men rode horses through freely are now almost impenetrable to people on foot. The botanical balance is changing.
However, while FIDO supports the practice of burning we disagree with just how it is being carried out. The two issues we dispute most are the frequency of burning and the timing of the burning. The two problems are inter-related as far as the DoE is concerned.
Current DoE policy is to burn at the time when the bush will easily ignite and it takes less personnel to get the fires going. If the ground is still damp and the fires don't take. They then have to start again but leaving the road and lighting fires further in. This is difficult, time consuming and more expensive. Therefore, the DoE only wants to ignite fires once (from the roadsides) and make sure that it burns the whole of the intended area. This particular policy means that the fires burning season now virtually does not begin before the end of July and it is based on the premise that there will be a "Good burn" (i.e. it will light easily). This is where we differ.
FIDO wants burns done on a mosaic pattern as soon as the forest litter is dry enough to burn. We would like to see the fires begin in late April and May as soon as the bush begins to dry out but while there is still plenty of moisture in the ground. We also believe that the litter should not be allowed to accumulate for 3 or more years (in some cases almost 40 years) before areas are burnt. The accumulation of litter over the years creates hotter fires. Hotter fires scorch higher up the trees. Very hot fires can severely damage or kill the trees while low intensity cool fires remove a lot of the competition which competes with the canopy trees for moisture and nutrient.
The answer is more frequent and earlier burns and this requires more personnel. The Queensland Government is reluctant to devote any more resources to Fraser Island. The economic rationalists are dictating that Fraser Island's fire regime is not being well managed.
If 1997 produces another Department of Environment media release in July trying to make the public more complacent about the smoke rising from Fraser Island, FIDO members should respond by pointing out that the only reason that such palls of smoke hang over Fraser Island is because the Queensland Government is too miserable to manage a World Heritage property the way that it should be. We inherited the July-August burning regime from Forestry. There is no valid reason why it should be continued. We should be managing Fraser Island now to protect its outstanding natural values not just protect its tall forests as resources for industry.
The DoE has belatedly closed some (but certainly not all) of Fraser Island's roads proposed under the Management Plan. The DoE issued notices to all Fraser Island visitors that as from 21 October, Lake Bowarrady and Coomboo Lakes in the central and northern area of Fraser Island will be now accessible only by foot. The leaflet with the following map which indicates all tracks to be closed points out that many other lakes including Lake Garawongera will still have direct vehicle access available.
DoE managers told the GSR CAC on 6 November that other closures scheduled for mid 1997 include the beaches from Waddy Point to Middle Rocks and from the Sandy Cape Light Station to Rooneys Point and many other roads and tracks including the North Wathumba track will be closed. We expect the track from the Bullock Road to Awinya Creek (past Lake Gnarann), which is to also be closed under the Management Plan but which has been allowed to remain open at this time, to close then also. It was left open only to appease some residents.
There is some more good news from the DoE! They have gone further towards implementing the Management Plan by banning the collection of firewood from anywhere on Fraser Island.
The message is "Dead or Alive! No firewood is to be gathered." FIDO welcomes this policy. We hope that the DoE will soon carry the policy a few steps further and ban open fires (using wood supplied by the DoE) for all but authorised campfires in campgrounds such as Dundubarra. There is little doubt that some of the heaviest and most enduring impacts on campsites occurs as a result of the proliferation of open fires. Now that the DoE has banned the collection of firewood the only way that fires in the immediate future can occur on Fraser Island is by people carrying their own firewood across or using DoE supplied wood, or by buying it Certainly FIDO would prefer the greatly diminished DoE budget to be used towards improving management of Fraser Island rather than on supplying wood which is recklessly burnt in bonfires and leaving enduring impacts on the landscape. While the new policy may reduce the impacts of fires it does not go far enough but at least it is trending in the right direction.
University of Queensland researchers led by Marc Hockings have now completed a study which confirms FIDO's own monitoring. They found that the foredunes of Fraser Island have continued to degrade very seriously over the past 12 years despite its World Heritage listing. This is also despite the fact that the number of campers has fallen slightly during the past 6 years. The study based on aerial photography backed up by on the ground sampling and monitoring shows that the impacts of camping last for many years and the recovery time is much slower than people thought. Further, if a site is used again after it has recovered, it will rapidly deteriorate. They found that the siting of fire rings was a major contributor to the degradation.
However, the largest single impact was as a result of new areas being opened up for camping mainly north of Orchid Beach. Another finding was that some sectors of the beach which were heavily used by free range campers had their carrying capacity greatly exceeded during peak holiday times such as Easter and Christmas.
Now armed with this new compelling data the DoE has begun to initiate a camping management Strategy. The story above relating to the collection of wood also shows the direction. Another study associated with this monitoring program by the U of Q was the study of wader birds along Fraser Island's ocean beach. This seems to suggest that in addition to the bird strikes by passing four wheel drives, the disturbance of nesting sites in the foredunes by free-range campers is responsible for a significant part of the population decline.
Free-range camping on Fraser Island and Cooloola has been a strong attraction for the past 25 years but the data suggests that this era may necessarily come to an end here as indeed it has had to come to an end in every other popular camping area. It is a sad and unpalatable fact which many Fraser Island users are now having to address.
A future MOONBI will report on more fully on the report findings
and illustrate the data with diagrams.
Aircraft use of Fraser Island beaches is now being reviewed. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is questioning the safety of the beach take-offs & landings with so much four wheel drive traffic using the beach.
FIDO was questioning the use of so many aircraft ever since the Management Plan began preparation. In recent years the number of aircraft using Fraser Island for joy-flights has proliferated enormously. However, it is not just safety which is being questioned by FIDO but the impact of the noise intrusion on the enjoyment of Fraser Island's tranquillity. We would like at least height limits be placed on overflying Fraser Island the same as on whale watching. We also would like noise standards introduced to stop the aircraft being intrusive on wilderness values.
Wanggoolba Creek at Central Station is one of Fraser Island's most famous landmarks. It is being ruined by bureaucratic inaction and indecision to stop the loss of the rainforest trees which once formed a closed canopy over it. Large trees keep falling down between the road and the creek and thinning the canopy. However, the canopy loss is almost exclusively where this major cross island road passes within fifty metres of the creek. Where the traffic is kept further away from the creek bank there is no problem. The situation has progressively worsened along the walking track beside the stream since we first became alarmed more than four years ago.
FIDO believes that the heavier traffic (heavy trucks and buses) are creating excessive vibrations which is transmitted through the sand and destabilizes tree root systems. The DoE's 35 tonne garbage compactor and firewood trucks are amongst the heaviest vehicle to use the road. We want a four tonne limit on vehicles which can use this road until all traffic can be redirected.
A road engineer told FIDO in January that the road beside Wanggoolba Creek is adversely impacting on the stability of the embankment, however, we lack the resources to secure the measurement data. Despite the evidence the DoE has refused measure the seismic vibrations and impact of heavy vehicles. There is a prima facie case that the DoE's inaction is based on self interest on wanting to use the most direct routes for its trucks.
When FIDO raised the matter in a published letter in the "Chronicle" in late July the DoE immediately went on the defensive and had Environment Minister, Brian Littleproud, reply attacking FIDO's claims and demanding that FIDO an entirely voluntary, unfunded organization produce the onus of proof that weight of its vehicles were the major problem causing the degradation of the forest.
The DoE was unaware that there is not one, but two, colonies of King Ferns (Angiopteris evecta) in Wanggoolba Creek until FIDO drew this to their attention. The second colony which is obscured from the walking track is within 50 metres of the road.
Other road issues: Although FIDO regards the side-cutting beside the Wanggoolba Creek as the most urgent matter relating to roads which has yet to be addressed, there are other issues which are almost as important, particularly the sediment which is being washed off roads into the lakes and streams. There is also significant impacts due to desiccation of the microclimate which are being ignored. With the closure of many roads, the problem is being reduced. However, the as traffic is concentrated on fewer tracks it is important that because they represent the only part of Fraser Island which most visitors will see, that their environs should not be degraded.
Beach traffic: The need to segregate traffic from pedestrians recreating on beaches is becoming more critical. A woman sun baking on the beach at Inskip Point was run over by a vehicle travelling from the barge to Rainbow Beach last year. Although the driver has been sent to jail, her death has added an impetus to resolve this issue. The Cooloola Council rather than close the beach just reduced the speed limit. FIDO believes that in the interests of public safety, all traffic must be excluded from major beach recreation areas such as Eurong. It will mean that these beaches will soon need to be by-passed.
The more the problems of the impact of the four wheel drive vehicles is scrutinized the more the case for light rail is advanced. The problem seems now to be to attract an investor. In October 1991, consulting engineers, Gutteridge Haskins and Davey presented FIDO with an independent evaluation of the feasibility of a tourist tramway on Fraser Island.
They proposed a model based on a tramway system similar to that used by Queensland sugar mills. They estimated that track construction would be $130,000 per kilometre for 18.2 km. All up the capital outlays including earthworks and drainage, bridges, track work, stations, turnouts, one locomotive and rolling stock was $5,150,000. Annual operating costs would be $251,000.
The report concluded: If an average of 75 passengers pay per tram (50% of capacity) then the fare to cover costs would be $5.53 each. To achieve this level of patronage would require 83,000 tourists to make the return trip each year and pay $11.06 each. While the capital recovery charge would remain constant (assuming a fixed interest rate) and the operating and maintenance costs would increase with inflation and, based on recent experience, would double every 10 years.
The figures show that this would be very feasible. There are many more than 83,000 day trippers crossing Fraser Island annually and they are paying much more than an average of $11.00 per head. On that basis the rail line should show a significant profit.
FIDO is prepared to make copies of this report available to any person or corporation interested in exploring this as a commercial venture. It is one of FIDO's priority objectives to interest any investor interested in making some ethically and environmentally sound investment to take up the issue of building a light rail on Fraser Island. Any FIDO member who can offer suggestions as to how to transform a feasible plan requiring about $6 million in capital into a reality should contact us as soon as possible. The longer this project is delayed, the more Fraser Island becomes degraded.
In August, the Queensland Government finally released a Discussion Paper on the Planning Issues and Options for the preparation of Town Planning Controls for the Great Sandy Region. This is the first stage in developing a Development Control Plan for the freehold areas which fall within the ambit of local governments in the region. The most significant areas are the villages and townships of Orchid Beach, Happy Valley and Eurong on Fraser Island and Rainbow Beach. However the DCP will affect all freehold land within the defined region and also significant mainland areas outside the region but which impact on it such as the townships of Tin Can Bay and the fishing villages on the mainland side of Great Sandy Strait as well as Mary River Heads.
FIDO supports this initiative and has made lengthy submissions and been involved in discussions. While the most significant outcome will affect the overall size of the urban areas of Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay the DCP should go a long way towards reinforcing the objectives of the Great Sandy Region Management Plan especially on Fraser Island. Much though depends on which council eventually administers Fraser Island.
To say that there is a major difference between FIDO and Orchid Beach property owners is an understatement.
These privileged land speculators are determined to maximize the value of their properties. They have been actively trying to scuttle many of the Management Plan recommendations which touch on them. They have stalled closing roads and beaches and the creation of a wilderness zone on the top end of Fraser Island. They are reopening the airstrip. They have successfully prevented the removal of brumbies recommended by the Management Plan. The Waddy Point district is the only area which has not removed them. They are well heeled and an active and influential lobby group who have the ear of Premier Borbidge. Some are prepared to transform Fraser Island into a Gold Coast if it means they make more money from their investments.
It is therefore worrying to discover that the DoE employs one of the most active advocates for the Orchid Beach residents at Waddy Point. The government should remove of any appearance of conflict of interest by ensuring that any ranger with an interest in property on Fraser Island avoids working in the same sub-district. Local rangers may not be as committed to the Great Sandy Region Management Plan as they should be.
FIDO noted with curiosity that the ill-advised Kingfisher Resort recently placed an advertisement
It seems that the financially troubled Kingfisher Resort which continues to expand into much denser settlement (like a fishing village in parts) is anxious to recover some of its outlays. FIDO does not recommend investment in this poorly sited resort which falls well short on environmental protection.
In a tacit admission that FIDO has been right to criticize its poor standard of sewage treatment from Day 1, the Kingfisher Resort has now decided to replace it with a better upgraded sewage plant. We will continue to monitor the position and the quality of its discharge.
In Early November, the resort opened a Wilderness Lodge for groups and announced that it would offer a three day Wilderness Adventure for backpackers for $70.00 per day. This is considerably more than other backpacker packages. It has also replaced some older buses and its fastcat ferry.
Any interested members of the public, FIDO or conservationist groups are invited to join the FIDO Executive and John Sinclair for a 2/3 day inspection of Fraser Island on Saturday Sunday 1 & 2 February going on to Monday for those who can make the time. Discover the issues and the background. Participate in the debate of policies and strategies. Anyone interested should contact Billie Watts (07) 3356 2684.
There was a reduction in the number of competitors in the 96 Fraser Island Fishing Expo which was held for the first time away from Orchid Beach. It dinted the profitability of the event for the organizers who are anxious to get back to Orchid Beach. FIDO understands that as a result of the 1996 Fishing Expo held for the first time at Eurong there is now litigation pending between the Eurong Resort and the event's organizers, Kgari Events. As a result of this we understand that Kgari Events are endeavouring to relocate the event further north. Their attempt to return to Orchid Beach has been rejected by the Environment Minister and we understand that they are now exploring holding the event at Cathedral Beach.
In the meantime there has been a re-evaluation of fishing competitions by the Queensland Fisheries Management Authority (QFMA). In Discussion Paper No 3 on the subtropical Inshore Fishery of Queensland which includes the Great Sandy Region, they said: Fishing competitions differ from other forms of recreational fishing because they result in a high concentration of fishing effort in local areas over a short time period. These competitions are seen by many to have the potential to affect fish stocks adversely. Criteria to manage "commercial" fishing competitions have been developed.
In another re-evaluation a study of wading birds expressed alarm that the 96 Expo was being held at Eurong where the largest remaining concentration of pied oyster catchers and red capped dotterals occur. The impact on these birds has not been documented but our observations suggest that there has been a reduction in numbers since the event in May.
The study of camping impacts by the Uof Q referred to elsewhere shows a close correlation of the degradation of the foreshores north of Waddy Point with the growth in the contestants in the Fishing Expo. Although the DoE have yet to produce a written report on the assessment of the impacts of the 1996 Fishing Expo, we understand that material advising that the 1997 Fishing Expo will be held on Fraser Island have already been distributed.
FIDO wants the Fraser Island Fishing Expo to be wound up sooner
rather than later because every indicator points to the adverse
environmental impact it is having on fish, foredunes and birds
not to mention wilderness.
MOONBI welcomes contributions from anybody which has information relevant to the better management of Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Region. Contributions should be sent to the Editor, John Sinclair, PO Box 71, GLADESVILLE, NSW, 2111. Phone (02) 9817 4660 Fax: (02) 9816 1642. The next MOONBI is scheduled for about April, 1997
On 16 August, FIDO lost one of its oldest friends and supporters with the death in Townsville of the 86 year old Rollo Petrie. 86 year old, Rollo, had the longest living memory of Fraser Island. However, it is the clarity of that memory going back to 1913 which represents such a loss.
The Petrie family have had a tradition of leading pioneering lives in Queensland. They were the first "free" family to settle in the Brisbane convict settlement in 1837. They remained there since. They also have a very long association with Fraser Island since Rollo's great grandfather, Andrew, landed there in 1842 and first noted its huge stands of timber. His grandfather, Tom, helped negotiate with Aborigines for the rights to harvest that timber in 1862, and Rollo's father, Walter, became the first district Forester on Fraser Island in 1913.
Rollo continued his family tradition of strong interest in Fraser Island but, recognizing the impact of logging, he was amongst our most vocal advocates to stop the saws and let Fraser Island recover its former glory.
After several other publishers rejected the manuscript for Rollo Petrie's autobiography, GO BUSH Safaris decided to publish the first part of Rollo's life story "Early Days on Fraser Island ó 1913-1922" because we believe that it is important to understanding the environment. It vividly presents the clear recollections of this wonderland more than 75 years ago. Rollo launched it in Maryborough just three months before his death.
Rollo's pioneering life included timber getting on the Atherton Tableland, clearing cactus in the Burnett, mustering brumbies fencing in the Channel Country, helping establish road trains to shift cattle, and working in sheep and wheat near Moree.
In his last few years Rollo moved from his family home, "Yebri", in Petrie to Boonooroo on Great Sandy Strait overlooking Fraser Island. However, ill-health forced him to take up residence in "Petrie Gardens" retirement village at Tiaro overlooking the Mary River flats where his great grandfather recovered the legendary Durumboi, an escaped convict who lived for 14 years with the Aborigines. He moved to Townsville only two months before his death to be closer to his family. He is survived by his two sons, Bill and Jim and Daughter, Janice.
Rollo Petrie's autobiography describes his life as a boy from age 3 to age 12 growing up on Fraser Island as well as the changes he has observed since then during his regular visits there since. He lamented the loss of the opportunities for a more adventurous life which he enjoyed and the development of what he describes as "self-reliance" which he attributes to a combination of isolation and the pioneering spirit.
John Sinclair brought the book together and helped to bring it to print because of its major contribution to the environmental understanding of Fraser Island. It helps give the public a much greater awareness of the environmental and social changes which have affected the island just in the period of one person's lifetime.
The well illustrated, 96 page well presented and illustrated book which retails for $17.95 can be obtained from GO BUSH Safaris , PO Box 71, GLADESVILLE, NSW, 2111 (Phone (02) 9817 4660 ó Fax: (02) 9816 1642)
In FIDO's 26th year, new unique features of Fraser Island were still being discovered, including the fens and a new species of lizard. There were also small, but significant extensions to the National Park, including the former Orchid Beach Airstrip and resort site. However, much of our time was spent striving to improve the management of Fraser Island, essentially the responsibility of the new Queensland and Federal Governments.
In Queensland, the Coalition took Government after the Mundingburra re-election. During the State election campaign the Nationals had announced World Heritage Listing would remain for Fraser Island, although the nomination of the remaining Great Sandy Region remains uncertain.
There was also a promise to spend $10 million to improve the management of Fraser Island. Neither the Premier nor the Environment Minister have spelt out how this money will be allocated, and we eagerly await the State Budget next month to see if the money is actually allocated.
These positive announcements are rather overwhelmed by many worrying decisions made since the change of Government.
One major concern is the plan from the Environment Minister to allow private developers to build and operate private facilities in National Parks. This would appear to be in breach of the Nature Conservation Act. He plans to use Fraser Island as the guinea pig for his scheme, specifically land at Orchid Beach (which has been included in the National Park) and at Dilli Village (which has been degazetted from the State Forest and we have been assured will be gazetted National Park). FIDO will vigorously oppose the "privatization" of our National Parks, and other Crown Land, on Fraser Island.
FIDO is also alarmed that Fraser Island is now the worst managed World Heritage Area in Australia. There is minimal funding from State and Federal Governments to maintain existing facilities, let alone establish vital new facilities.
Fraser Island will only remain on the World Heritage List if its values are protected. Attempts to fund its management through privatization are fraught with danger, and FIDO fears private operators in National Parks would only hasten their demise. Fraser Island must receive adequate funding in the forthcoming Budget, and FIDO is seeking input into how the promised $10 million is allocated.
The Federal Government's role in managing Fraser Island remains low key. Despite its' responsibility under World Heritage Listing to ensure the values are maintained, Senator Hill appears to have left most day-to-day management in the hands of the Queensland Government.
The Federal Budget offered Fraser Island nothing, as all funds for World Heritage Areas are dependent on the Government getting the Senate to agree to the partial sale of Telstra. Its' future is uncertain.
Issues for FIDO's attention next year include
* an interpretation centre, to educate tourists,
* beach camping, which is impacting bird-life
* road-closures (promised but not enacted)
* development control plans for the island
* nomination of Cooloola for World Heritage Listing
* Federal Government's role in management
* tonnage limit on certain island roads
* extension of the National Park to the southern tip of Fraser Island
* private developments in National Parks and other Crown Lands.
Thanks once again are owed to John Sinclair, who has continued his enthusiastic and articulate campaign to preserve Fraser Island.
Thanks also to the tireless Executive of volunteers, particularly Billie Watts, Terry Hampson and Judy Tambling, who are fundamental to FIDO's existence.
As defenders of Fraser Island, FIDO members must realize that all our efforts may be in vain unless we consider the impact of a considerably larger population in Australia.
If nothing is done to reduce the current rate of Australia's immigration, our population will have doubled within 60 years. The younger half of our present population will see most Australian cities including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne more than double in size to be as large and as congested as Jakarta or Bangkok. The current immigration rate means that Australia is drawing in more people than inhabit Maryborough, Hervey Bay and Bundaberg each and every year.
While some Australians may be seduced into believing that is a good thing, most Australians will be worse off. The environment will be devastated; traffic and people congestion will prevail in the cities; our scarce water will become more precious and rationed; and other impacts will be even more unacceptable. National Parks and other places like Fraser Island will be over-run with people. Current management plans can't cope with such intensified use of such finite areas.
Evidence suggests that we may have already passed this continent's optimum population level and that we should aim to stabilize Australia's future population at about 12 to 15 million. This could be achieved over the next 100 years by reducing Australia's immigration rate.
Due to the rate of permanent residents leaving Australia to reside in other countries, it is not necessary to stop all immigration and to abandon genuine refugees. We could still accept some migrants on humanitarian grounds but we would no longer be trying to import the unsustainable
We are right to debate the way immigration affects the ultimate size of Australia's population and impacts on this nation's future. This debate is long overdue. FIDO hopes that the debate will focus more on the environment and the consumption of resources and much less on race.
The City of Hervey Bay is expected to grow by 35,020 from 38,230 to 73,250 in 2011. This population growth will ripple out to impact significantly on Fraser Island.
So while FIDO may be classified as the "Watchdog of Fraser Island" we also must maintain an ever vigilant eye on what is happening away from Fraser Island which can irreversibly undo many of our achievements to date.