MOONBI is the name given by the Butchalla Aborigines to the central part of their homeland, Fraser Island or "Kgari"
MOONBI is the newsletter of Fraser Island Defenders Organization Limited, PO Box 70, BALD HILLS, QLD, 4036
FIDO's Home Page: www.fido.org.au — E-Mail: john @sinclair.org.au
FIDO, "The Watchdog of Fraser Island", aims to ensure the wisest use of Fraser Island’s natural resources.
FIDO's Registered Office: c/- Stephen Comino and Cominos, Equity House, Lang Parade, Milton, 4065 (ACN 0099-69-135)
ISSN 0311 - 032X Registered by Australia Post - Publication QBH2293 15 May, 1999
Political Shenanigans Interfere
CAC Restructure:In November, not long after the 6th Meeting of the Fraser Island World Heritage Community Advisory Committee, the Environment Minister, Rod Welford sacked it with the view to reconstituting it with a better balance for conservation. However, he ran into unexpected troubles when the sacked Chair, former National Party Cabinet Minister, Lin Powell. He refused to go and in a paradoxical move for a National Party politician, Powell tried to get his Canberra mates to over-rule Rod Welford. While Powell's efforts didn't succeed in helping him retain his position which had distorted Fraser Island management priorities, the furore he created was sufficient to delay the appointment of a new CAC for months.
The 7th CAC Meeting due to be held on 23 January remains deferred because Senator Hill won't accept the CAC nominations proposed by Rod Welford and has offered his own nominations which FIDO couldn't accept. Without CAC meetings the DEH lapsed back into a mode of not meeting deadlines and not being accountable to any community group. The poor reporting to the CAC has been a source of continuing friction and criticism but even that trickle of information to the CAC ceased.
After 6 months, and at the time of this MOONBI going to press, the political impasse had still not been resolved.
Environment Department Restructuring: The old Department of Environment and Heritage has become the Environmental Protection Agency as from 1999. We applaud the name change to "Protection". This implies that it has a more positive role for the environment than was previously evident. However, it has also meant a hiatus in getting some positive action for Fraser Island. Upper echelons of the bureaucracy have been more preoccupied with their personal future than the distraction of protecting places such as Fraser Island. We hope that this bad period is now well behind us and no more department restructuring occurs for at least another decade.
Parliament House Dinner: It was great for FIDO to finally be welcomed in Queensland's Parliament House by two State Parliamentarians, Rod Welford and Terry Sullivan in January. In a place where our political enemies have constantly lambasted FIDO and its Officers during the Bjelke-Petersen regime, it was nice to know that at last our 28 years of advocacy for Fraser Island have at last been recognized and are being appreciated by the current Queensland Government. It was even more enlightening to hear Environment Minister, Rod Welford describe the Fraser Island with such affection. He spent a summer holiday there in 1968 when it was far more pristine and known only to a privileged few. He said with sincerity that his present position was the best chance he has had to help protect Fraser Island and he is determined to do that. However, he will require more cooperation from the Commonwealth.
A Digest:More than most MOONBIs, this issue is a digest of data from many other sources. It is interesting that there is slowly a convergence of opinion coming to support the stand which FIDO has taken for so long. For example, there is now an almost universal recognition that the erosion of the roads on Fraser Island is the most serious and immediate problem to be confronted by management. However, while many are only looking at the symptoms of how the eroded roads inconvenience Fraser Island vehicular traffic, not enough attention has been paid to the issue of what happens to the thousands of tonnes of sand scoured off the road network each downpour. There have been some very heavy downpours last summer and the impacts have been horrendous. Few have yet recognized the cause of the degradation and accepted what has to be done to avoid it in future.
Transport Study: In March, FIDO was advised that it will receive $5000 Queensland Government grant to proceed with its proposed Transportation Study. $5,000 is much more than we had initially intended to apply to this project and we are curious about the determination of the conditions of the grant but we are now engaging consultants to proceed with the study. The details are contained on page 2.
In This Issue
Transport Studies 2
CAC Debacle 3
The Minister said 4
Ramsar for Great Sandy Strait 5
Dingo Management Strategy Critique 5-6
Aircraft Safety Issues 6
From the Fraser Island Association Newsletters 7-8
Torrential Rain & Track Havoc 8
Burning; Fireweed; Where Will It End? Public Liability 9
Changing to the QPWS; Road disgrace; Fire 10
Fuel for Frustration; Road closure; From our clippings 11
FIDO's War on Weeds, FIDO's AGM 12
FIDO Gets $5,000 Grant — But!!
In November, 1998 FIDO sought a service based grant of $15,000.00 (the maximum) from the Queensland Government to assist its voluntary conservation efforts. FIDO had sought funds to produce an extra issue of MOONBI annually, organize voluntary working bees, employ of a research assistant and for education and a public transport study on Fraser Island. In March, we were FIDO was granted $5,000. However, instead of being a general grant the whole $5000 was specifically for "undertaking of a public transportation study on Fraser Island"..
FIDO's Objective: On the Public Transport Study on Fraser Island FIDO's original application stated:
For more than 25 years, FIDO has been seriously concerned about the environmental impacts of the existing systems of transport on Fraser Island. In the past our focus was principally on the impacts of four wheel drives but more recently we have become more concerned about the impact even of pedestrian traffic in heavily used areas, particularly around the lakes. FIDO has for 25 years advocated a light rail system on Fraser Island. To this extent from our own resources we have initiated a preliminary feasibility study into light rail on Fraser Island. Given the amount of environmental degradation which is occurring on Fraser Island and which is attributable to the existing transportation systems on Fraser Island, FIDO requires more resources to enable us to pursue the defining of a more ecologically sustainable system for Fraser Island. This matter is one of high priority. FIDO proposes to employ a part-time research officer to spend about 50 hours over a period in examining the options for improving the transportation systems on Fraser Island.
Exceeds Request: $5,000 greatly exceeds what FIDO had proposed to allocate to the task. Since none of the grant can be spent on other proposed projects, we have engaged engineering consultants, GH&D to pursue the study for us.
Assistant Needed: FIDO wanted to engage a part time assistant to work on a number of projects including the Transport Study, thus developing another well informed person, well briefed on the diverse management issues related to Fraser Island. We anticipated that 50 hour study of transport would enable them better advocate alternative options to the present model. It would fit in with other studies and responses on other identified issues which would consume the bulk of their part-time hours. Had we got the full grant, the part-time Research Assistant could have included the Transport Study with other tasks.
Using Consultants: FIDO has selected GH&D to undertake the study because they have already assessed the feasibility of a light rail for FIDO in 1992. FIDO now wants to identify ways of change patterns of recreational transport on Fraser Island to be more sustainable.
Duplication?? While giving FIDO $5000, the Queensland EPA through the Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (QPWS) is seeking Commonwealth Government funds to undertake its own Transportation Study on Fraser Island. It seems like a duplication of effort and the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing. FIDO is liaising with Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service to ensure that there is no duplication of effort. Hopefully the two studies will complement each other.
GH&D's brief from FIDO is :
* Identify the preferred route for the first east west light rail on Fraser Island which would be most effective in reducing the environmental impact of existing transport usage;
* Assess the potential usage of the preferred route for both passengers and freight taking into account FIDO's response to the LIGHT RAIL FEASIBILITY ASSESSMENT done for the Commonwealth Government in 1998 by Bramley Tourism Analysts P/L;
* Consider the economic feasibility of preferred route as well as the potential environmental impacts it would create and how these could be minimized.
* Identify the changes to the existing patterns of recreational use of Fraser Island which could follow the construction of the light rail on the preferred route;
* Summarize the benefits and disadvantages that such a light rail might have; and
* Suggest the next stages to make a light rail (if deemed feasible on face evidence) become a reality.
When this report is available , which will hopefully be by late July, it will be posted on FIDO's Home Page on the net: www.fido.org.au along with any other important FIDO reports including our response to the Dingo management strategy.
FIDO Doesn't Benefit
Those who think that the $5,000 from the Queensland Government will help relieve our financial crisis should recognize the strings attached to it. These require us to spend the whole $5,000 on the Transport Study. It doesn't help us meet the administrative expenses. FIDO contacted the Inquiry Officer in the EPA to find out why the strings were attached to our grant but so far although we were promised an explanation we haven't had one.
Therefore, FIDO continues to rely on the public and member support to gain the requisite funds to meet basic operating expenses, printing, postage, telephone, etc. We hoped to employ a part-time Officer to help relieve the pressure on the unpaid volunteers who have conducted the affairs of the organization for 28 years. That is a dream which we will pursue because the complexity of the management of this incredibly beautiful but fragile landscape, requires a sustained, applied and well-informed effort. We have been fortunate in having volunteers in the past to provide that but we need people in the foreseeable future who can apply FIDO's corporate memory to improving Fraser Island management. The sooner we can start grooming someone for that task the better.
Political Impasse Paralyses
Fraser Island Management
MOONBI 94 reported on the sacking of the Fraser Island World Heritage Community Advisory Committee. It has since taken six months to appoint a new CAC. This is because Federal Environment Minister, Senator Robert Hill has not agreed to the nominations of the Queensland Environment Minister, Rod Welford.
Welford had proposed to stick to most of the members of the previous CAC but notably without the former Chair, Lin Powell. He had wanted the new CAC in place to keep up the proposed meeting schedule which had the 7th meeting of the CAC being held on Fraser Island on 23 January and the 8th meeting which was to have been a joint meeting with the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) on 23 April. The 9th Meeting was scheduled for 16 July
Dispute on the Chair: The problem arose because Senator Hill wanted former Hervey Bay mayor and Liberal Party candidate Fred Kleinschmidt to chair the committee and he wouldn't agree to Rod Welford's nominee. Hill also differed with other changes which Welford had proposed but after these were removed from contention, the sticking point was who would chair the CAC.
FIDO Preference: FIDO didn't want Fred Kleinschmidt for fear that his personal agenda could over-ride his responsibility to ensure the committee works efficiently. Kleinschmidt is committed to retaining Hervey Bay's option to us Fraser Island for a future urban water supply. This is probably one of the most contentious issues affecting future management decisions on Fraser Island. Since the CAC Chair is also a member of the Management Committee it is important to have someone to report the CAC views without being overlaid with their private agenda.
Bias for Locals: The Commonwealth wanted the Chair should come from Hervey Bay or Maryborough. This is despite the fact that most Fraser Island visitors come from outside the this region. It is estimated that only about 10% of all island visitors are local. Almost all 170,000 people annually on commercial tour operations are from outside the region. About 40,000 others are international backpackers. The majority of Australians on self drive visits come from southern Queensland (outside the region) or interstate. Both the Maryborough & Hervey Bay Mayors are on the Management Committee. Local views are heard strongly
FIDO is worried about the delays to the CAC because so much rides on an early decision.
Log Jam Created
Because CAC composition has not been agreed, there has been no CAC and no management reports to stake-holders.
Because the CAC doesn't exist, there have been no meetings since October, 98 and none likely before July.
Because there have been no meetings, there has been no input from the community to the Management Committee. The Management Committee hasn't met for a year.
Because the CAC Chair is also a member of the Management Committee, this is incomplete.
Because there has been no meeting of the Management Committee, there no group to prepare the agenda for the next meeting of the Ministerial Council.
Because there has been no meeting of the Ministerial Council, there has been no decision on how to carve up the $1 million in additional funding announced during the Federal Election Campaign last August and a number of other outstanding matters. There has been no meeting of the Fraser Island Ministerial Council for more than a year and a number of matters urgently need to be addressed.
Because the CAC hasn't met, there have been no deadlines for reporting to the public on some vital issues.
Delays & Deferred Deadlines: The Dingo Management Strategy needs input from the CAC. The Draft Camping Management Plan has been delayed. It also needs CAC input. An early draft was shown to the CAC last July, but since then there has been nothing further to emerge. The October CAC meeting set a proposed date adjoining 23 April to hold a Fire Management Workshop on Fraser Island. Without a meeting to coincide with this workshop has been deferred. Now even if this precursor to a Fire Management Plan for Fraser Island is held later in the year it will be too late to even begin to implement such a Plan before next summer and the now urgent need to implement a new burning regime on Fraser Island has been lost for another year.
And all of this is because politicians from opposite sides of the political divide in Australia can't agree on a CAC Chair.
Stalemate Stops the SAC
In the meantime, the Scientific Advisory Committee's plans to hold a Values Workshop to review the World Heritage values of Fraser Island stalled. The SAC planned to hold the workshop bringing together all leading scientists who could make an input into the reviewing Fraser Island's natural and cultural values in September, 1999. Peter Valentine from JCU, Townsville, has experience in facilitating a review of Great Barrier Reef World Heritage values. His role was universally supported by the scientists. The workshop was being funded by the Commonwealth, but it refused to fund the workshop with Dr. Peter Valentine as the facilitator. This has resulted in a stalemate. It will now cost $5,000 more to bring in an alternative facilitator. Thus the Values Workshop has been stalled for at least a year. This is after a huge amount of work by interested scientists, the production of Discussion Papers, and preparatory meetings.
FIDO is keen to see the workshop proceed as soon as possible because we believe that the World Heritage values of the whole of the Great Sandy Region have not been fully recognized. Cooloola has been inexplicably omitted and Fraser Island's values have been understated. Likewise there is a need to recognize the marine areas.
The Environment Minister Said:
The following extracted from some of the Queensland Environment Minister, Rod Welford's, media statements during recent months. While not all are directly related to Fraser Island many are relevant to its future and management.
On the demand for outdoor recreation in natural areas of South East Queensland: Mr. Welford said: "Nature based recreation and tourism in Queensland’s unique national parks and state forests are fast growing, popular activities. For example, 25% of people aged over 15 and living in South-East Queensland went camping an average of twice over the past 12 months. The number of camper nights exceeded total attendance at the home games of the Broncos, Bullets, Brisbane Lions and Queensland Reds combined. We have to recognize that with our ideal Queensland climate, more and more people want to enjoy our natural landscapes. This means we have to sustain and manage these resources in a way that guarantees enjoyment for generations to come. ... The study shows the most popular activity undertaken was picnicking (65%), following by walking or nature study (60%), swimming (39%), driving in 2WD vehicles on unsealed roads (31%), riding on motorized watercraft (26%), bicycle riding (25%) and camping (25%)".
The information is part of the South-East Queensland Outdoor Recreation Demand Study, which questioned more than 2200 people living in Brisbane, Ipswich and the Gold Coast about their recreation activities during the past year.
How Queenslanders Rate the Environment: Mr. Welford said an Australian Bureau of Statistics survey showed 71% of Australians are concerned with at least one specific environmental problem. 32% of people surveyed stated air pollution as their greatest environmental concern. Another 53% of households admitted they took no specific water conservation steps in their homes. 64% of people involved in the ABS survey stated that information on the environment influenced their behaviour or actions.
"Queenslanders believe we’ve made great strides in the past decade to improve our environment, more so than any other state. This is very positive, but the high level of concern about the environment, particularly on issues such as air pollution, shows we need to build on that good work and further improve people’s quality of life," Mr. Welford said:
On the need to step up the war on weeds: Rod Welford said, "Entire Queensland ecosystems would be destroyed within two decades if the war against weeds came to a halt. While rural Queenslanders are alert to this threat, the people living in our major cities have not yet realised the seriousness. Recent research by the Queensland Herbarium shows that if just half of the 1,226 introduced plant species in the State were allowed to grow unrestricted, weeds would take over entire ecosystems within 20-30 years. We all need to recognise that the introduction of alien species is second only to land clearing as a threat to the world’s biodiversity. Most Queenslanders understand the problems caused by an introduced species such as the cane toad, but weeds are not picked up in their car headlights in quite the same way so the problem doesn’t register as often."
FIDO concurs with the Environment Minister on the subject of weeds. This is why we are working so actively to address the weed problem on Fraser Island and this is why we are planning a Weeds Working Weekend at Eurong on 16 & 17 July.
Specifically on Fraser Island
On 12 December, Rod Welford told the "Courier Mail": "Fraser Island has become so popular we risk destroying the place. If we accept that the island has a (visitor) carrying capacity which is not unlimited, we have to look at managing numbers either in certain areas or on the island as a whole. Unless we get a clear idea of how to manage the growth in tourism, it will overwhelm our ability to manage the island , and we are fast running out of time to pull it into line. Options for limiting human impact on (Fraser Island) have yet to be sorted out. It will be a tough decision." He said he hoped to have recommendations go before Cabinet early in 1999.
Light rail possibility: He indicated that one option included curtailing the number of tour buses regularly visiting major but vulnerable attractions. He also told the "Courier Mail" that the concept of light rail, "perhaps little cane trains like they have at the Big Pineapple" can't be dismissed. "If we want to maintain the opportunity for tourism experience on Fraser we have to look at ways of enabling people to go there with less impact."
From DEH Annual Report
The only reference to Fraser Island in any Annual Report to Parliament is from the Recreation Areas Management Board. It reported for the 1997/98 year that: "Receipts totalled $2,875,750. Visitor numbers continued to rise. Increases were recorded for private recreational visitors and those on commercial tours. The final interest and redemption payment was made clearing the Board's outstanding debts.
"The Sandy Cape Lighthouse and two houses were acquired by DoE on behalf of the State. The site will be used as a base for enforcement, recreation management and general estate protection for the northern end of Fraser Island.
"The Orchid Beach Resort was demolished and selected revegetation commenced.
"A weed control strategy was written. Staff continue to co-operate with officers from the Department of Natural Resources for controlling bitou bush on the southern end of the island.
"A total of 175 infringement notices were issued for breaches of the RAM legislation. Several prosecutions for illegal commercial activities were undertaken.
"Staff increased from 24 to 30. "
FIDO's Comment: This is not much news about the site which has been voted Australia's most popular "Place of the Heart". It doesn't tell us much for the millions outlayed. FIDO has requested more detailed monthlyor quarterly reports be available to the interested public.
Ramsar for Great Sandy Strait
On 8 February, Rod Welford announced that the Queensland Government is seeking world recognition for the waters of Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Inlet under the ‘Ramsar’ Convention on Wetlands. Under procedures for Ramsar listing, the State Government must forward its proposal to the Commonwealth for endorsement before it can be submitted to the international committee.
"The Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Inlet have outstanding landscape and ecosystem values with habitats that support a significant number of rare species of plants and animals. It is one of Australia’s most ecologically diverse areas with tidal wetlands just as environmentally significant as the World Heritage-listed Fraser Island. Ramsar listing will guarantee long-term protection for these valuable habitats and ensure any uses of these waters are sustainable," Mr. Welford said.
Values: 93,160 hectares (equivalent to about 55% of the area of Fraser Island) are in the nomination. "It is the largest area of tidal swamps within South East Queensland consisting of intertidal sand and mud flats (roughly one third), extended seagrass beds, mangrove forests, saltmarshes, and often contiguous with freshwater Melaleuca wetlands and coastal wallum swamps. The strait is an exceptionally important feeding ground for migratory shorebirds and important for a wide range of other shorebirds, waterfowl and seabirds, marine fish, crustaceans, oysters, dugong, sea turtles and dolphins," he added.
Fens Included: Some freshwater swamps and mangrove systems on Fraser and the eastern side of Tin Can Inlet below 2 metres below sea level have been included. Freshwater flows into tidal reaches are essential to maintain healthy conditions for juvenile fisheries resources.
Excluded from the nomination are privately owned land, local government foreshore reserves and some key public amenities, the Urangan Boat Harbour and a 500 metre zone around it, the Snapper Creek Boat Harbour and a number of jetties and boat ramps.
Prelude to World Heritage? FIDO has long recognized the enormous biological value of the marine areas surrounding Fraser Island and have long proposed them for inscription on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage values were identified by the Commission of Inquiry into the Conservation, Management and Use of Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Region in 1991. The current Queensland Government is committed to again nominating the area. Many Ramsar sites are also World Heritage sites and also International Biosphere Reserves. Great Sandy Strait deserves at least 2 gongs and we hope sooner rather than later.
The Convention: The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is an international treaty which aims to halt the worldwide loss of wetlands and to conserve those that remain through wise use and management. Because the treaty was first signed in the Iranian town of Ramsar in 1971, it is also called the ‘Ramsar Convention’. Australia was one of the first group of 18 nations to sign the convention. Nowadays, more than 110 countries are signatories.
Parochial Response: It is curious that the Hervey Bay community, which has seen the enormous benefits from the World Heritage Listing of Fraser Island, are unhappy that Southern Hervey Bay is not being included in the nomination. However, the Cooloola Council has opposed the nomination of Tin Can Bay. They see this as fettering their options for greater urban development. They haven't experienced the benefits of world recognition as has Hervey Bay. This could explain these opposite reactions to the Ramsar nomination. The QPWS is now actively working on assessing southern Hervey Bay for a Ramsar nomination to complement that of Great Sandy Strait and Tin Can Bay.
Draft Dingo Management Strategy
In April, the QPWS released the long awaited and overdue Draft Dingo Management Strategy with little fanfare.
Considering the urgency of the problem, the draft is most disappointing. The QPWS has had over 12 months to work on the Draft which is a meagre eighth (8) pages including the glossary and Bibliography. FIDO has made a comprehensive response which we have placed in full on our Home Page: www.fido.org.au.
The Draft Strategy was significant more for its omissions and oversights than for its content.
* The bibliography didn't include any reference material which gave an insight into dingoes prior to 1994.
* The significance of the genetic purity and the importance of the Fraser Island Dingo population is significantly under-rated, stating only, "Fraser Island dingoes ... are likely to be the purest strain of dingoes on the eastern Australia seaboard"
* It doesn't address the need to preserve and sustain such an important gene pool.
* There is no recognition that dingoes have a right to remain on Fraser Island in the wild.
Small Elite Population: The strategy is based on a low population "of 25 to 30 packs (which) peaks at approximately 200 animals during whelping in June-July." This falls to about 100 before breeding recommences about 10 months later. The viability of the gene pool is already at risk. For this reason, FIDO rejects three of the seven recommendations of the strategy which call for relocation, (to wildlife parks of problem animals), destroying (rogue animals) and culling. These practices haven't curbed dingo attacks in more than 5 years. The population around 1915 to 1922 was possibly up to 2,000. FIDO wants every dingo on the island tagged to accurately identify each individual and to better study behaviour, distribution, replacement and movements.
FIDO believes that the biologically importance of the Fraser Island dingo strain is a value which must be protected in the wild on Fraser Island. This strategy needs to ensure that a viable wild population of dingos is maintained on Fraser Island.
Environmental Changes: FIDO believes that the significant environmental changes mainly due to the understorey herbage being replaced by woody shrubs has meant a decline in small mammal numbers, which were a major food source for dingoes. Thus the lack of a Fire Management Plan is probably contributing to the current dingo problems.
Changed Behaviour: The current spate of dingo attacks seems to result from changed behaviour of animals to humans. To a large extent this changed behaviour is human induced. FIDO considers that the most overlooked factor has been the fact that dingoes have been increasingly enticed to come closer and pose for the cameras. This enticing of dingoes to approach humans without fear is quite deliberately saying to the animals that they have nothing to fear from humans. Amongst other aspects of FIDO's submission is a call for the strategy to help increase all dingoes wariness about too closely approaching humans, and for more research into ways of deterring dingos from frequenting high-use areas such as .
Culling & Destruction Not Acceptable: In recent years more than 30 "rogue" animals which were blamed for attacks on humans have been destroyed. Despite this, the frequency of dingo attacks on humans has not diminished and this must be seen as a failed policy.
Humans, Not Dingoes Are The Problem
Although there have been about 400 reports of dingo incidents on Fraser Island in recent times. Rangers blame the increasing dingo boldness on visitors who persist in feeding them. Strong warnings for over a decade not to feed dingoes these warnings have gone unheeded. Some of the worst and most regular offenders are regular island visitors.
Bevan Lucas of Maryborough, a Fraser Island ranger was fined $500 for feeding wild dingoes. However, Lucas will not be sacked from the QPWS.
A Rainbow Beach taxi driver, who was convicted for operating illegal tours of Fraser Island in his taxi has also been fined for feeding dingoes. At Lake McKenzie in front of plain clothes QPWS Rangers he had thrown cake to the dingo which he called Sally. He later fed chicken bones and scraps to a pair of goannas at Lake Wabby. The feeding of animals cost him $1320.
Fraser Aircraft and Public Safety
Increased Risk:FIDO first wrote to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority expressing our concern about the increasing use of the Fraser Island ocean beach by aircraft aver 2 years ago. Annual visitation to the island has increased from 5,000 prior to 1971 to more than 300,000 visitors now. This has been associated with a huge increase in the volume of vehicular traffic using the beach.
More Take-offs and Landings: Until the mid 1980s few aircraft used Fraser Island's beach. All were on specific charters. Now up to six aircraft daily place themselves on the Ocean beach and hang out a shingle touting for joy-flight business. This generates many times more aircraft takeoffs and landings.
Observations: Over recent years, an increasing number take-offs and landings have been aborted due to the sudden unexpected movement by vehicles or pedestrians. We have observed aircraft just barely clearing vehicles travelling in the same direction as the aircraft where drivers were oblivious of the approaching aircraft. We have observed pedestrians on the beach who, being up wind of the approaching aircraft, were not aware of its approach for take off or landing.
Reported Incidents: Our concern was reinforced by a number of recent aircraft accidents. Last year a float plane sank off Kingfisher Resort just after the passengers alight. The aircraft then disappeared never to be seen again. In January, another aircraft in the same fleet had a wheel fall off just as it became air-borne taking off from the Ocean beach. The plane managed to make a tragedy free landing at Hervey Bay to the relief of the passenger.
Unreported Incidents: Both of the above were reported in the media but FIDO had reports of two major aircraft accidents over the Easter weekend which escaped any media reporting. In one "about half a kilometre north of Eurong a plane was seen upright on its nose end".
Guidelines Diluted: Operational guidelines require aircraft operators to have staff on the beach at "busy times" to supervise the takeoffs and landings and to assess the condition of the beaches. However, only a very few days seem to be in a "busy period". This safeguard is removed in the interests of profit. The increased aircraft usage is also adding increased noise to reduce the amenity of Fraser Island users in an otherwise tranquil setting
CASA Action Needed: CASA has a poor record until tragedy strikes. CASA needs to respond to public concern and review the current guidelines which allow aircraft to land beside undirected motor traffic. The beach is a surface of quite variable character which often changes very swiftly and with little notice. It is not a suitable landing strip to be using with so much surface traffic using busy beaches.
From the Fraser Island Association Newsletters
FIDO and the Fraser Island Association (FIA) have differed on many issues but we exchange newsletters. FIA regularly lambastes FIDO's position. The FIA is mainly concerned with protecting and indeed maximizing the interests of island property owners.
In this MOONBI, we provide a digest of from FIA newsletters showing the different perspectives on some topics. They also reflect an increasing convergence of thought. FIDO takes issue with many of the issues advocated by the FIA especially their strenuous and so far successful advocacy to stop the closure of roads and beaches scheduled to be closed under the Great Sandy Region Management Plan and to reopen many others.
New FIA President, Eric Parups, reported in the December 98 Issue: "From a time when it was a surprise to see another vehicle on the beach we have descended (FIDO's emphasis) to a continued stream of traffic including boats, caravans and tourist buses. The island is being loved to death with its fish, pippi and worm resources placed under great pressure. Grassed areas are becoming barren and many areas are having to be closed to camping for revegetation"
Radio Tower on Indian Head Advocated:Despite this perceptive observation, Eric Parups then pursues some very negative solutions: "Areas which should remain accessible are being closed. ... It is imperative that the UHF Repeater Station be erected on Indian Head to provide some measure of safety for the thousands of visitors on the island, not just over the school holidays but for all year round. If we allow people to frequent the island in such numbers, we must allow for the necessary safety and rescue services to operate."
The April FIA Newsletter reported: "There will not be a UHF Repeater Station on Indian Head. ... A better alternative has been worked out which is likely to be approved and funded by the State Government. Two repeater stations will be built but they will operate on the same public use frequency. One station will be on a hill at Middle Rocks near the planned location of a marine light beacon and the other will be on a hill behind Corroboree Beach. ... These will give radio coverage from Happy Valley to Orchid Beach and possibly to Sandy Cape"
FIDO's Comment: Needless to say FIDO had opposed the outrageous and visually intrusive Indian Head proposal particularly when there was another effective but slightly more expensive alternatives. The Indian Head proposal was overwhelmingly objected to by the CAC in October and even many FIA members. We are fascinated that the new stations will be "funded by the State Government".
On the Orchid Beach Airstrip:The September Issue advised: "During the 6 months since it was reopened more than 400 flights have been made to Orchid Beach. ... Without (State Government) funding adequate maintenance could not continue and the ALA would close."
FIDO's Comment: This is yet another externalization of the cost of maintaining the Orchid Beach community. Government funding of the ALA (Aircraft Landing Area) is the very vexed issue. FIDO calculates 6 months would use $32,500 (half the annual grant). 400 landings amount to a taxpayer subsidy of over $80 per landing. That ignores the $190,000 capital grant to reopen the airstrip. No wonder Air Fraser Island which runs flights from Hervey Bay to Orchid Beach every Friday afternoon and every Monday morning (daily during the school holidays) thinks the subsidy is great. However, this subsidy cannot be justified. $65,000 would pay for a detailed feasibility study into a light rail service for Fraser Island which would benefit more than the passengers who could afford the 800 flights to Orchid Beach each year.
Building Projects:"New house building at Orchid Beach is proceeding at a steady rate with two or three under construction at most times during 1998. Few if any would have conformed to the first draft of the Development Control Plan."
FIDO's Comment: The Hervey Bay Council continues to demonstrate its irresponsibility for managing this World Heritage area. This adds to why FIDO wants this Council stripped of Fraser Island from its area. Another reason has been the failure of the Council even to reply to requests from the DEH for permission to rid the town area of Happy Valley from weeds which are a major problem there.
On Native Title Claims:The December 1998 issue reported: "The claim by John Lee Jones in the Supreme Court of Queensland on behalf of the Dulingbara, Butchalla and Ngullungbara tribes for Fraser Island has been struck out by Justice John Muir. The case had been before the court for a number of years and was opposed by the state and federal governments."
The April 99 Issue added, "At the Federal Court Directions Hearing in Brisbane on February 10, 1999, Hon Justice Drummond made orders in respect of the Native Title Determination Application by Olga Miller for approximately 24 hectares and Fiona Foley on behalf of the Wondunna Clan for approximately 4500 hectares on the west coast of Fraser Island between Bennett Creek and Dundonga Creek. For each of these applications the Court ordered that:
1. The matter be referred to the National Native Title Tribunal for mediation.
2. The National Native Title Tribunal report back to the Court on the progress of mediation by 6 August, 1999."
FIDO's Comment: John Lee Jones unfortunate ambit claim which covered the whole of the Great Sandy Region and a good deal more was used as an argument why Australia needed the Wik Legislation. Although it has been struck out, Jones has vowed to lodge another claim or appeal and fight on.
Torrential Rain & Track Havoc
The April, 99 FIA Newsletter reported some alarming news with the extent of the rain and damage in February:
"Some 410 mm were recorded at Cathedral beach between 5pm on 9 February and 10 am the next morning plus an additional 150 mm during the next day". (This amounts to 22.5 inches in about 40 hours) "Roads were severely eroded and boards washed out at Middle Rocks, at Yidney Rocks and Poyungan Rocks bypasses and also the road to the Wanggoolba barge service. There was severe erosion at Lake McKenzie and Central Station, on the road into Kingfisher Resort the Woralie Track, the causeway into Puthoo Creek and on the woodchip hill at Lake Birrabeen. At Happy Valley the boarded track was undermined and one way had to be closed; the old up road was washed away. ... Priority was given to getting roads open and all were repaired within about 7 days. Between 16 and 17 February another 125 mm fell and some ramps had to be repaired again." (Eurong recorded 1042 mm [40"] to April 30)
Against that background the President's April Report compared the torrential rains with the last known period of such rain — 1974. He stated: (In 1974) there were no sleeper tracks, but of course we wouldn't have thought of bringing motor cruisers, caravans and buses to the island . Well formed tracks which encourage water to run off quickly might suit the policy of allowing unlimited size and type of vehicle on the island but when the weather flexes its muscle, we all reap the results of our folly. The tracks need to incorporate good engineering practice to ensure that storm water run off is controlled and does not continue to build up speed resulting in major washouts which not only delay traffic and cause unnecessary maintenance costs, but also create life-threatening situations as well as damage to the environment. ...
I guess that it is inevitable that as more and more people claim their inalienable right to race all over Fraser Island, the facilities need to be provided to cater for them. (FIDO' emphasis)
FIDO's comment: FIDO has observed the environmental impact of the water washing down the roads for years with increasing alarm. We are now getting others to recognize that a major problem exists.
However, FIDO is not about to agree to the inevitability that more and more people have an inalienable right to race all over the Island. Motorists lost their right to drive to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko because of the environmental damage created. Now more people annually walk to the summit than ever drove there. They park their motor vehicles at least 10 kilometres away. More visitation is sustainable with alternative management.
There are alternatives. Alternative patterns of recreation have evolved on Fraser Island over 25 years as the FIA President noted. We need to change the recreational patterns again to ensure that visitation to this extremely fragile World Heritage island is sustainable. Given the fragility of Fraser Island and the failure of any engineers to come up with a way to prevent the damage to and from roads on Fraser Island, we have to look at other ways to address the problem.
It is good to know that the FIA and FIDO share the same concerns about the environmental impact of the roads. What we have now to agree on is the best way to address the problem.
On Fishing:"Recommendations have been made to the Fraser Island Ministerial Council that all commercial fishing in the World Heritage area should cease. Compensation will need to be paid to those adversely affected"
FIDO's Comment: We are unaware of when and how such recommendations could have been made. The Fraser Island CAC has not formally considered such a proposal. FIDO wants many more controls on fishing in the World Heritage area both commercial and amateur. We would also ask the question: is the Fraser Island Fishing Expo an amateur or commercial fishing venture for Toyota and the people who compete for the very expensive prizes?
On Barge Fares:"Barge fares were generally increased from August 1. The vehicle charge has increased by $5.00 to $55 at Inskip Point and to $65 at River Heads and Urangan where the passenger charge has also increased to $5 per person over the age of 5."
FIDO's comment: Increased barge fares should be a deterrent to even faster increase in Fraser Island visitor numbers. However, FIDO believes that the increase should be going to the people who operate the island as a whole for the benefit of the public, not for the profit of the people who operate the barges with a monopoly. It is ironical that the barge owner has been vociferous in demanding that he be given over a year's notice before Departmental Access fees are increased so that he can factor in the cost in his other tour operations but other tour operators are given no notice of such hefty barge fare increases.
Some small bits form the FIA April Newsletter:The 16th Annual Toyota Fishing Expo will again be held at Orchid Beach from May 22 to 28.
The battle to keep the South Waddy Point Beach open to vehicles is escalating. Orchid Beach Community and Recreational Association and also Waddy Lodge have joined the fight.
A new Fraser Island Map produced by Hema maps called Hema Fraser Island, to be released by Easter, will show updated and more information plus contour lines and more walking tracks which have been positioned accurately by GPS
Our financial membership at last count was 195. We send out about 435 newsletters.
The Visitor Management Strategy was issued in May, 1998. ... Implementation of the strategies is very slow and the implementation plan is about six months behind schedule.
Contractors started work on February 25 on the Middle Rocks Project to construct a new walking track, expand the parking area and realign the road. Work is scheduled for completion by June 8.
Expensive road maintenance at Orchid Beach:When Hervey Bay Council allowed the Orchid Beach subdivision, one of the conditions was that all "roads" should be palletted. The FIA reports: "Hervey Bay road gang has replaced 300 boards in Orchid Beach township boarded roads and another 300 are scheduled for replacement about March, 1999."
FIDO's Comment: When the Hervey Bay City Council agreed to FIDO questioned who would be responsible for the upkeep of these very expensive road surfaces which inevitably deteriorate quite rapidly as evidenced at Sandy Cape lighthouse which carries relatively little traffic. We got some clues in the December, 98 issue.
On Fraser Island Burning
There was a contradiction on the reports of the DEH burning on Fraser Island between the reports of the FIA and the "Courier Mail".
The FIA reported that: "National Parks were able to get some good regeneration burns done this year, the best for three years because conditions were right with light rains before burns and no strong winds. After the burns these areas benefitted from heavy rain so the island should be in fair shape for the summer season."
On the other hand the "Courier Mail" of 12 December, 1998 place a different interpretation on the events: "A wet winter has allowed only low intensity burn-offs in hundreds of hectares. Staff numbers are limited and departmental money is tight. Recently (the Department) spent $7000 in overtime to control one burn-off which just about blew the budget. Traditionally the Aborigines burned off the grasslands beneath the forest canopies which led to descriptions of... a forest park in which men could easily walk and ride horses. The bush (now) more often than not is impenetrable. "We don't know what fire regimes are appropriate for the different areas. We don't even know what 'natural' is," the senior Departmental Officer says."
Fireweed is an increasingly common problem on Fraser Island. FIA reports: Contact with fireweed can occur through swimming in the surf or tidal pools (such as the Champagne Pool) or it can be transferred to sensitive parts of the body by fingers which have stripped weed from fishing lines. Severe pain will be felt, a red rash will appear in patches on the skin and the skin may blister. The genitals are particularly sensitive areas.
Scientific opinion is that there are two types of fireweed. One is actually an animal — a stinging hydroid — in the same generic class as corals. The other is a marine algae which form part of an algal bloom under favourable conditions. The red weed and fireweed come in on north easterly winds.
The DEH adds: It now appears that the majority of injuries variously , an incorrectly lumped under the term "fireweed" are actually caused by marine algae, Mermaid's Hair, Lyngbya majuuscula. This algae is a natural toxic organism which proliferates (to form an algal bloom) under favourable environmental conditions.
People are advised not to enter the surf, especially when large amounts of weed are in evidence on the beach or discolouring the water. Persons who enter the surf under such conditions are strongly advised to shower in fresh water immediately on leaving the surf. Treatment is the use of hydrocortisone 0.5% creams if applied before blistering occurs. Severe cases must be treated by a qualified medical practitioner.
FIDO's Comment: While there is now more known about "fireweed" FIDO wants to know why this problem which was virtually unknown from Fraser Island until the 1990s, has now become a much more common occurrence, and what are the environmental factors contributing to it.
Where Will it End?
For some time FIDO has been concerned at the implications of the increasing litigiousness of Fraser Island visitors. This has been justified when we see how the threat is resulting in many outcomes adverse to Fraser Island management have evolved. Visitors are increasingly demanding compensation from the Government for events for which the Government is not responsible.
Increased litigiousness has had two major implications:
Payouts: The first is that Fraser Island funds are being eroded by over-generous out of court settlements with litigants. FIDO has been advised that on the advice of the Queensland Crown Law Office, $5 million has been paid out to claimants who have suffered injury for diving into Lake Wabby.
New Precedent: In March, 1998, the High Court of Australia in the case, "Romeo Vs the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory" upheld that people entering natural areas have to accept greater responsibility for any accidents or injury to themselves. Hopefully this will reduce the number of future claims and slow the flow of funds intended for managing National Parks for the public interest into the pockets of the injured few.
Duty of Care: The second factor is that the DEH has become obsessed about its "Duty of Care" almost to the point of paranoia. This is evidence in the preoccupation with communications and evacuation procedures which is causing the wilderness values of Fraser Island to be eroded. It is also is evident in the obsessive removal of any potential threats to the public such as the felling of the 300 plus year old Syncarpia in the Lake Boomanjin picnic area. Duty of Care as interpreted by the DEH has become the rationale for felling and lopping trees in many parts of the Great Sandy National Park.
However to illustrate the significance of the threats which have the DEH cowering the "Courier Mail" in November reported on the problems greater use of Queensland National Parks: "Last year the owners of two 4WDs asked for compensation because their vehicles were scratched by flora on Fraser Island."
Broken Necks in Wabby Lakes
One of the more sobering notes in the Eurong Visitor Information Centre concerns the numbers and occasions of the five broken necks in Wabby Lakes. All we on younger international tourists; all we a result of diving into the lake; all but one resulted in permanent paralysis. Most resulted in compensation claims for damages being lodged with the QDEH.
On 7/10/89 a 22yo West German woman broke her neck and became a quadriplegic. On 28/9/90 a 27 yo Canadian was left a tetraplegic after breaking a neck there. On 11/4/ 91 a 22 yo Englishman became a tetraplegic after breaking his neck. On 5/6/92 a 30 yo English nurse made a miraculous recovery from tetraparesis after breaking her neck diving.
Reform of Process Overdue
The need to have a more positive approach to Fraser Island management is critical. FIDO hopes that the reorganization of the DEH into the new Environmental Protection Agency and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service will remove much of the inertia which has paralyzed the conservation bureaucracy of Queensland for too long. A more open communication with the public would also help to dispel the mistrust which has grown up with the Service for too long. The secrecy and confidentiality with which Fraser Island planning has proceeded over recent years has not inspired trust and confidence. Neither has been the withholding of reports and straight factual data.
MOONBI Got $$$ Wrong
MOONBI 94 also reported that the Commonwealth Government had provided only and additional $130,000 of new money to manage Fraser Island and that the other $870,000 was the remains of a Growth and Development Package developed in 1991 by the Hawke Government. That was not an accurate picture.
The $870,000 wasn't spent and was due to be reclaimed by the Federal Treasury. We are indebted to the personal intervention by Senator Hill to ensure that those funds were reclaimed and applied specifically to improve management and infrastructure on Fraser Island. Without his support Fraser Island would have been so much worse off.
MOONBI 87 FIDO reported (June 1995) on standards proposed for Category 3 roads (major scenic/tourist routes). These "tracks" would have a "pavement width maximum 4m, minimum 3m, and up to 6m at passing bays. ...Passing bays minimum 100m up to 200m on two way roads depending on alignment and terrain. On one way roads, passing bays may be constructed at a frequency of no more than every 500 metres and preferably no less than 1 km apart. 5m maximum to be brushed or cleared from overhanging trees or branches to a height of 4.5m.."
The DEH ignored even this draft policy for so long that it is now possible to drive two 50 passenger buses abreast (heaven forbid) for lengthy sections of the one way road leading to Lake McKenzie and the one way road east from Eurong. In many place the graded road width is more than 6 metres — more than 2 metres wider than proposed. This total disregard for the Draft Road Standards is a disgrace.
Road run-off has now been identified as one of the major causes of environmental degradation of this World Heritage site. The wider the road the greater the volume of sand which is likely to be sluiced along and into the lakes and streams. Some streams are now ceasing to flow. Elsewhere the lakes are being made shallower as a result of the sediment pouring in from the roads.
Those who allowed the draft road standards to be so disregarded for so long need to be seriously reprimanded. Such blatant disregard for standards is inexcusable.
Changing to the QPWS
Departmental reorganization of the Dept of Environment and Heritage (DEH) into the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and QPWS has had an enormous dislocating effect. For several months, the Department has marked time while waiting for the new players to take up their positions before moving forward.
The degradation of Fraser Island didn't mark time during this period of transition. Heavier rains than usual accelerated the degradation. We seem no closer to any implementing policies or practices to address (if not solve) the problems.
The Camping Management Strategy which was in Draft form last July has not been released as this MOONBI went to press. The Tourism Strategy has proceed only at a snails pace. The Draft Dingo Strategy has only just been released. There has been no meetings of the Management Committee or the Ministerial Council Management of Fraser Island has marked time or slipped backwards.
Change in Regions and Directors:Last August FIDO took the Regional Director (Central Queensland), Bill Fisher, based in Rockhampton, on an inspection of parts of the Island. The Regional Director is also Chair the Management Committee which advises the Ministerial Council for Fraser Island. Since then management of Fraser Island has been transferred to the Southern Region based in Toowoomba.
In January, FIDO took the Acting RD (Southern), Mike Harris on an inspection of the island. We were optimistic that progress had been made but a new RD (Southern) and Chair of the Fraser Island Management Committee has been appointed. We have yet to have an opportunity to meet with the new QPWS Manager (South Queensland), Cathy Skippington or to arrange to show her the issues of greatest concern. Since the decisions for such planning have to be initially executed in the Regional Office this has slowed down the whole procedure.
Fire Plan Further Delayed
Having the QPWS develop a Fire Management Plan (FMP) for Fraser Island continues to a major priority of FIDO. The 1991 Fitzgerald Report the development of a Fire Management Plan. Although a FMP will not achieve the desired outcome for Fraser Island for at least a decade, each year which passes compounds the problems and delays any moves to address them.
Last October, before the DEH "restructuring" began, we had a potential date about the weekend of 23 April for a Fire Management Workshop and a promise of both of funds and facilitation. Since then DEH has been "restructured". Changing Regions has brought the process to a full stop.
There is now no indication of when such a workshop might eventuate and another year has slipped by without finalizing a plan. If an immediate start was made now to organize the proposed Workshop it wouldn't be held before July and the Plan would not be finalized before the summer. It is improbable that any start could be made to implement the policy before 2000.
Fuel for Frustration
Time Lapse:On 26 March 1999, FIDO finally received a reply to a letter written to the Regional Manager on 8 October, 1998. More disturbing than the inordinate time-lag was the information this correspondence conveyed.
Excuses! Excuses! Implementation of the five year old Management Plan for Fraser Island is being stalled by a seemingly endless number of excuses. Now reasons given for not taking action . Most common is that other reports or other actions previously unforeshadowed are prerequisites and these will take forever to deliver. The following extracts from this long overdue letter will help understand FIDO's frustration.
Lake Boomanjin: ... a longer term solution is expected .. redesign of visitor facilities and vehicle access. This is part of a project submitted on the Southern Lakes Master Plan and dependent on the outcomes of the Camping Management Plan.
Lake McKenzie: Preliminary investigations of an alternative route have been undertaken. It is envisaged the Transport and Access Plan project, if approved.. will not change the need for a road in this area in the mid-term future. It is desirable to commence the more detailed planning and consultation ...
Wanggoolba Creek: It was agreed that noise from the road detracts from the experiences gained on the walking track. The relocation of the road will be considered as part of the Transport and Access Plan. ...
Walking Track Policy: In June 1995 the Commonwealth provided $27,500 for the preparation of a Walking Track Management Strategy for Fraser Island. (All this has been long expended). Due to commitments to finish other Commonwealth funded projects and to undertake priority actions determined by senior management ...there has not been any progress this year. It is hoped that we can allocate funds next year to undertake this project. As with other management Strategies we expect to put the draft plan out for public comment before preparing the final plan. (FIDO can't see any outcome within 5 years of the Commonwealth funds being expended and that is outrageous).
Road and Beach closures
Awinya Creek:The reopening of the track (to Awinya Creek) was undertaken by Ministerial direction ... (Brian Littleproud). This was the first confirmation of this political role. The DEH has not made any attempt to revert to Management Plan in the 9 months that Rod Welford has been Minister.
South Waddy Beach ... beach closure is planned to take effect when alternative parking area and boardwalk/walking tracks have been constructed.
Making construction of a "boardwalk" a pre-requisite could delay the beach closure almost indefinitely. Without vehicle access a boardwalk could be a white elephant. FIDO believes that the boardwalk as a prerequisite is unjustified. There are many higher priorities for new boardwalks.
The Draft Camping Management Plan (which was due to be released last October or November) is now due for release for public comment and action In Easter (now delayed until mid May).
From Our Clippings
A few grabsfrom our clippings on topics not covered elsewhere in this MOONBI, provide some insight into the many issues and aspects which FIDO has to address as part of management of the Great Sandy Region.
Caribou Week: A RAAF spokesman said in December that Fraser Island was an ideal training ground for the Amberley based No 38 Caribou Squadron both in terms of location and flying conditions. (This use has never been referred to the CAC or been subject to any community consultation. Such faite accomplis are unacceptable).
Olympic Torch: The Olympic torch will be taken to Fraser Island on 18 or 19 June, 2000. (It appears that it will go to Kingfisher Resort. No consultation though).
Asian Influx: Fraser Island and Moreton bay tourist destinations are proving increasingly popular among Asians in their scramble to find new experiences away from packed beaches.
Sunscreen: QPWS have erected signs warning swimmers not to wear sunscreen into the lakes. Wearing sunscreen might reduce pollutants. Cancer Council spokesman said that if sunscreen was causing damage it to the lakes then people might have to wear sunscreen and swim elsewhere. .
Kingfisher Managers: Brisbane based Tourism Leisure Corporation (TLC) which operates Kingfisher Resort on Fraser Island will now also manage Undarra Experience which operates Queensland's only privatized National Park.
Tewantin - Tin Can Bay Road: Queensland State Transport will carry out a Route Location Study for this road. FIDO and the Noosa Parks Association believes this road is in the best interests of the Great Sandy Region . It will divert traffic from the Cooloola National Park but it is being opposed by other conservation groups.
Road Claims Life: A man was killed when a caravan gouged a hole in the side of a tourist bus on the Tin Can Bay- Rainbow Beach Road at the bottom of the East Mullen Range. Locals said it was inevitable with four wheel drives towing caravans on a road which is very uneven, rough and undulating.
Fraser Island defender, John Sinclair, was awarded the Gatton College Gold Medal from the University of Queensland for his environmental protection work, particularly his leadership of the conservation movement in the 1970s campaign to stop sandmining and logging.
Tourism Growth: Fraser Island accommodation owners are experiencing a boom. The numbers of visitors continues to grow. In March, Kingfisher Resort reported a 41% growth on last year's figures. Operators claim that Fraser Island tourism was holding up while other areas are suffering due to fallout from the Asian crisis and overstocking. (The environment isn't matching numbers).
Seagrass Recovers Well: Hervey Bay seagrass beds have made a remarkable recovery after being almost wiped out 6 years ago. Floods destroyed 90,0000 ha of seagrass in the Bay which has about a quarter of all Queensland seagrass. It has now bounced back to what it was previously. A study of Queensland seagrass beds has mapped 4000 sq km, roughly equivalent to the area of Queensland under sugar cane.
Fish Kill: Millions of dead fish washed up on about 40 km of Fraser Island's beaches between Orchid Beach and Sandy Cape in December. The fish were only two species 5cm long bullseye fish and 7.5 cm leatherjackets. The incident baffled the experts.
New Trawler Control: Amateur anglers welcomed the ban on trawlers working in Hervey Bay during peak winter whiting months (1 June to 31 August). Stricter limits will also apply to "by-catch" of sand crabs. (It seems that Hervey Bay's spanner crabs are deliberately targetted to be a "by-catch". Trawlers also need to fit devices to let turtles escape from nets.
Valley of the Giants: There has been some media focus recently on the Island's Valley of the Giants. Former Forester and Deputy Director of National Parks, Clive Price said that the area was saved by the Forestry. Mike West correctly reported that the Forestry had already made a devastating impact leaving behind the Big Stump (3.3 metres in diameter) and were on the eve of returning there in 1990 when stopped by greenie action.
New call for Island sandmining/logging: A report aimed at kick-starting Hervey Bay's economy was slammed by the local Tourism and Development Bureau because, amongst other things, it found suggestions for resuming sandmining and logging on Fraser Island offensive.
RFA revives Antagonism: Editorials in the "Chronicle" used the review of the RFAs to slam the cessation of Fraser Island logging. "Public opinion ... was wrongly used ... to halt Fraser Island logging because of apathy ... Let it not happen again."
The EPA has released a Draft Environmental Weeds Strategy for Queensland. .
And that is only part of the news!!!
This formor a copy of it should be completed and posted to reach Secretary, FIDO, PO Box 70, BALD HILLS QLD 4036, on or before 4 August, 1999 to be valid under Article 31 of the constitution. Please photocopy this form and return it promptly.
Section 248 of the Companies (Queensland) Code provides that all members be given 21 days notice of any meeting (including A.G.M.s) at which they are entitled to vote. It is important that as many proxies as possible are received. The Proxy Form is also taken as your apology for non attendance.
Twenty First Annual General Meeting
(please print in BLOCK letters)
being a financial member of the Fraser Island DefendersOrganization Limited do hereby appoint
......................................................... or failing him/her
............................................................... as my proxy, to vote on my behalf at the Twenty-second Annual General Meeting, to be held at the Australian Services Union Building, 32 Peel Street, South Brisbane, 6.30 pm, Wednesday, 4 August, 1999, at 6.30 pm. and at any adjournment thereof.
Signed this ........................... day of ....................., 1999
NOTE: In the eventof members desiring to vote for or against any resolution they should instruct their Proxy accordingly because unless otherwise instructed the proxy may vote as they think fit.
Help FIDO's War on Weeds
The integrity of the Fraser Island World Heritage area is being seriously impaired as weeds invade and over-run natural vegetation.
Sisal or "flax" (Agave sisalana) was introduced to teach Fraser Island Aborigines to weave like "civilized" indigenous cultures such as New Zealand's Maoris. The QPWS enlisted the aid of the Australian Army to battle this major weed in two centres of infestation. After a 5 year campaign, they have not succeeded in eradicating it. This same sisal has now been discovered in Eurong along with most of the 52 identified weeds growing on Fraser Island.
For this reason FIDO has organized a Weeds Working Bee to assist the QPWS clean up Eurong, a centre of infestation but one largely outside the QPWS jurisdiction, on the weekend of Saturday, 17 and Sunday, 18 July, 1999.
FIDO wants volunteers to assist it in eradicating the weeds from Eurong. FIDO plans that the weekend will cost volunteers no more than $25.00 per person including meals and accommodation. We need to know names of volunteers as soon as possible and whether they need or can provide transport so that we can coordinate arrangements, timing and catering etc.
Volunteers should notify Billie Watts (07) 3356 2684 or Terry Hampson (07) 3403 7250 (office hours), or write to FIDO PO Box 70, BALD HILLS, QLD, 4036.
On the problem of weeds the Queensland Environment Minister, Rod Welford said, "Entire Queensland ecosystems would be destroyed within two If the weed problems in Eurong are contained soon it will enable more effort to be put into eradicating weeds at other infestation centres which are all associated with human settlements.
Please let FIDO know if you are available as soon as possible and enjoy a weekend on Fraser Island and contribute to preserving the island's integrity for future generations.
Fraser Island Defenders Organization Limited
Notice of Meeting
Noticeis hereby given that the Twenty Second Annual General Meeting of the Fraser Island Defenders Organization Limited will be held at the Australian Services Union Building, 32 Peel Street, South Brisbane, 6.30 pm, Wednesday, 4 August, 1999.
1. To receive the Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheets and Reports of the Directors and Auditors
2. To elect Directors for the ensuing term in accordance with the Articles of Association.
3. General Business.
BY THE ORDER OF THE BOARD
DATED this 15th Day of May, 1999