A Time Line of Significant Events – Part 3

1900 to 2014


Due to a severe drought, 150 cattle and an unknown number of sheep were loaded on to punts at Mary River heads and towed to Yankee Jack’s Creek.  The stock remained on the island for nearly two years.  Fifteen shearers were brought to shear the sheep at a lake about 24 kilometres from Yankee Jack’s Creek, and forty-five bales of wool were hauled to the mainland by bullock wagon.  The name ‘Sheep Station Lagoons’ is a relic of this period of temporary occupation.


The Bogimbah Creek Aboriginal settlement was abandoned and the remaining population was transferred to other “missions”.  Most were taken by the Christian missionaries to Yarrabah (near Cairns).  Most of the remainder were escorted by mounted police in an overland trek first to Woodford, (near Brisbane) and subsequently to Cherbourg.  A few managed to escape the deportations and were subsequently employed in the timber industry which displaced them.

A number of descendants of the survivors of the Butchalla and the early missions now reside in the Hervey Bay area and other parts of Australia.  Several residents of Yarrabah are also descended from Fraser Island Aborigines.


A new light rail line was established to extract timber.  Cutting of big stands of tallowwood and blackbutt in the Poyungan and Bogimbah Creek areas began.  This coincided with the closure of the Aboriginal mission at Bogimbah Creek.  Logs were hauled by steam train from the forests in the centre of the island to the coast.  These stands were almost exhausted by 1915.

Until then the timber was formed into large rafts and floated up the Mary River to the Maryborough sawmills.  With the change of harvesting from lighter pines to the denser hardwoods which would not float, techniques changed.  Logs were loaded on to barges and punted up the river.  This led to a government agreement in 1907 to give the two Maryborough sawmills exclusive access to Fraser Island.

An unrepentant Archibald Meston, the State Protector of Aborigines, produced a report for the Queensland Parliament justifying the treatment inflicted at the Bogimbah Mission.


The remaining Fraser Island Aboriginal Reserve was revoked in after Aborigines were removed.


Captain Kent obtained freehold land at Wathumba Creek and a lot of public funds to establish a “shark factory” at Wathumba Creek on Fraser Island.  Some machinery was taken to the island but the factory was never built and the entrepreneur absconded with the bulk of the money.  The freehold land subsequently became a centre of a long land use conflict.  (See 1972)


The central part of Fraser Island was declared a forestry reserve.


Surveys showed that most of the native kauri and hoop pines had been removed from the Cooloola vine forests.  The numbers of white beech and satinays was also dramatically reduced.


Walter Petrie established a new Forestry headquarters at the “Dipuying” site on Bogimbah Creek near the old Mitchell Brothers plantation site.  This was the first permanent Queensland Government presence on Fraser Island and to carry out the first forestry research in Queensland by establishing an arboretum.


SS Marloo having hit bottom on Breaksea Spit was beached in the lee of Waddy Point near where the Orchid Beach resort was established.


The tramline was shifted from Bogimbah to tap the Wanggoolba Creek hardwood stands.  Logging of the west coast forests, including large cypress to 2.5 metres in diameter, was carried out between Yankee Jack and Bowarrady Creeks.


Forestry camp was moved from Bogimbah Creek to the mouth of Wanggoolba Creek and another arboretum was established.


McKenzie’s wharf and sawmill were established on Fraser Island’s west coast.  It installed a light rail network to extract timber from the island.  Hepburn McKenzie, a large New South Wales timber merchant contracted to purchase timber off about 4000 hectares of Fraser Island.  The contract provided for the cutting and sawing of 100,000 super feet a month from April 1919, with a complete removal in ten years.  The sawmill was built near the quarantine station, three kilometres inland up Foulmouth Creek (the creek was named for the bad language used at the camp).  A rail line was constructed ro bring the logs down from the forest.  It was milled into large slabs to be shipped to Sydney for further milling there.   McKenzies Jetty marks the terminus of the rail line.


The Forestry camp was shifted from the mouth of Wanggoolba Creek to Central Station.

The first detailed timber resource survey of Fraser Island was made.  By 1948, 70% of the previously estimated timber reserves had been removed. There have been two detailed inventories since, in 1958 and 1977, and from 1968 the annual removal of forest timber from Fraser Island had averaged 21,000 cubic metres.


Six bores were drilled along Cooloola beaches at Kings Bore to depths of 15 – 165 metres searching for oil.


McKenzie’s sawmill operated closed.  After that all Fraser Island logs were shipped to Maryborough by barge to be milled equally by Hyne and Son and Wilson Hart sawmills.  .

The Queensland Forestry Department continued to operate the tramlines.


Tramlines played a major part in transporting timber from the forests to McKenzies Jetty and to other loading points.  The McKenzie’s Jetty terminus was used until 1937.

Motorized transport took over.  The practice of rafting logs from Tin Can Bay up Sandy Strait to Maryborough ceased.

A demonstration against vice-Regality occurred on Fraser Island near North White Cliffs.  In another incident most of the Forestry Workers mutinied against the Forester in charge.

There are a number of relics of the timber industry still evident in the region.   These are significant artefacts in pioneering new technology for modern exploitation.  Relics include log haulers and path ways, old sawmills, tramlines and jetties.

The police continued to round up Aborigines and deport them to Cherbourg.  “Banjo”, Henry Owens was the last reported Fraser Island Aborigine to be sent there.

The Buchanan family established a banana plantation in the Cooloola sandmass.  When the second banana crop failed this site was planted up with exotic pines.


The Happy Valley tourist resort was established by the Warry family of Maryborough.  The Governor was a regular guest but the resort closed after a few years due to the Great Depression.


The SS Maheno was grounded on Fraser Island.


During the second world war, one of Australia’s most famous military commando units, Z Force, trained on Fraser Island.  It also was based at Balarrgan, near the deteriorating McKenzie’s Jetty.  A number of relics from their training are still preserved there.  The “Maheno” was used as a target for bombing practice.


Two of Australia’s most significant artists, painter Sydney Nolan and writer/poet Judith Wright visit Fraser Island.  Nolan later produced two series of paintings based on his experiences, and subsequently introduced his friend Patrick to the attraction of Fraser Island and the fascinating story of Eliza Fraser.  Patrick White eventually weaves Fraser Island into his novel “Eye of the Storm” and his book “Fringe of Leaves” fictionalized the story of Eliza Fraser.


On Fraser Island, seismic surveys were carried out as part of an oil exploration programme.  Sandmining operations occurred between Teewah Village and the Noosa River on the foredunes.


Fraser Island was proposed as a new homeland for the Nauruan people whose Pacific island home was virtually destroyed by phosphate mining operations.  The Commonwealth Government proposal was opposed by Maryborough timber interests and rejected.


Extensive scout drilling established the existence of commercial rutile and zircon deposits, and mining operations commenced at Teewah Beach in the southern part of Cooloola.  Queensland Titanium Mines sought and obtained a mining lease at Inskip Point.  Applications for more mining leases in the high dunes of Cooloola were opposed by the Noosa Parks Association (NPA) and the Cooloola Controversy over future mining began.


Two town reserves were surveyed and subdivided at Eurong, Happy Valley was expanded and Orchid Beach Tourist Resort established.  Since then there has been little further urban subdivision.  About this time a number of squatters shacks at Teewah Village at Cooloola were legitimized and some subdivision also occurred there.  The first proposal to create the Cooloola National Park was being developed by the NPA.


Queensland Titanium Mines (QTM) operated a sandminbng dredge, tearing up about 1000 acres of the low lying northern finger of Cooloola.  The development of this mining venture led to the construction of the bitumen road to Rainbow Beach and the establishment in 1970 of a thriving township within a decade.

Mining commenced at Inskip Point and ceased at about 1974.  A small beach mining operation began in the Freshwater Camp area during 1974 and ended in 1976. 

Rainbow Beach became the temporary base for the sandmining industry.  It grew rapidly following the release of land and the development of the Fraser Island ferry service from Inskip Point in 1968.  It is now one of the four major service centres for the Great Sandy Region but all of which are outside the defined area of this nomination.

Mining companies take out major mining leases on Fraser Island.  There was no publicity and no public opposition.


Construction began on the artificial reef established on the northern end of Great Sandy Strait to enhance the fish habitat.

Work begins on the Eurong resort and Gordon and June Elmer begin a barge service from Inskip Point to Fraser Island.

The voluntary conservation movement becomes established in Maryborough and Hervey Bay and turns its attention to Fraser Island.


The glamorous new tourist resort opened at Orchid Beach.  The land use conflict between mining and national park in Cooloola was gathering momentum and the NPA was becoming well organized to pioneer a new regime of eco-action in Queensland.


The Cooloola Controversy reached a crescendo.  Conservationists opposed the extensive sandmining lease applications in a Mining Warden’s hearing in May.  The Mining Warden recommended that the leases be granted.  The Cooloola Committee was formed from a coalition of conservation interests, led by Dr. Arthur Harrold of Noosa, and successfully persuaded the Joint Government parties in Queensland that Cooloola should never be mined for its $150 million worth of rutile and zircon.  Despite creation of a parochial “Truth About Cooloola Committee” which was unashamedly pro-exploitation, overwhelming public opposition to mining forced the joint government parties to back down on 26 August.  The Queensland Government endorsed this decision and resolved that Cooloola should be a National Park.

The government, determined not to allow a repeat of the debacle, commissioned a land-use study to endorse the economic exploitation of the mineral sands on Fraser Island.

There were an estimated that there were about 5000 visitors to Fraser Island.  At the same time subdivision was under way at Rainbow Beach and the settlement began to grow from the three mining company houses where the main shopping area now stands.  Within 20 years Rainbow Beach would have about 800 residents.


January:  A new sandmining company Dillingham combined with Murphyores to apply for four new mining leases.

The Fraser Island Defenders Organisation was formed.  A hearing in the Maryborough Mining Warden lasted for two weeks in May.  The Warden recommended that mining be allowed to proceed.  FIDO vowed to fight on and still continues its role as the watchdog of Fraser Island.

Visitor numbers doubled from 5,000 to 10,000 mainly as a result of the growing controversy.

What was to become the first stage of the Great Sandy National Park was declared.  It covered 24,807 hectares.  It was subsequently enlarged in by instalments 1977, 1979, 1986, 1990 and 1992 until it covered only about half of Fraser Island.

December:  Fraser Island sandmining commenced by QTM on foredunes about 15 kilometres north of Hook Point.


Cyclone Daisy swept across Fraser Island and stripped metres of sand from the beach.  At Orchid Beach it carried away about 50 metres of foredune leaving the swimming pool suspended over the beach.  The mean wind velocity of 157 kilometres per hour with gusts of 222 kph were recorded at the Forestry Station.

Subdividers seek to rezone 160 acres of freehold land on the Wathumba Creek estuary, wholly enclosed within the National Park into 428 subdivisions.  This was the beginning of a twenty year saga over rezoning of this land which was bitterly contested by FIDO throughout.

The campaign for a Cooloola National Park focussed on extending the proposed park boundaries to include the whole upper catchment of the Noosa River.  The Widgee Shire Council opposes this and proposes a super highway through the “Western Catchment”.


The Cherry Venture  was grounded near Double Island Point in a winter storm. Committee of Inquiry into the National Estate visit Fraser Island.  The Commonwealth Government offers the Queensland Government money to acquire the Wathumba inholding and add it to the National Park but the Conservator of Forests refuses to accept the money claiming that the price offered was excessive.


John Sinclair on behalf of FIDO opposed new mining leases sought by Queensland Titanium Mines in the Bogimbah area.  Despite presented unchallenged evidence the Warden found in favour of the sandminers because he said that “Sinclair hasn’t shown that he represented public interest as a whole”.  The Warden had confused “public interest” with “public opinion”.  Sinclair appealed.

The Privy Council rejects QTM’s appeal that the Queensland Government had no right to prevent it mining the Cooloola high dunes without payment of full compensation.

Australian Conservation Foundation first proposes Fraser Island for World Heritage listing.  The Commonwealth Government secretly issued export permits which effectively gave the green light to Dillinghams to commence mining.

The CSIRO Division of Soils began a seven year study of the dune systems of Cooloola.

The Sir Thomas Hiley Information Centre at Kinaba, the main interpretive centre for the southern Cooloola National Park, was opened.

Cambridge Credit which had amassed a significant area of land for subdivision in the Cooloola area went into receivership.


FIDO discovered that export licences were issued.  A public furore began.  FIDO commissioned Peter Stanton to produce the first ever Management Plan for Fraser Island.

The Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry began and extended from May to October.  Dillingham began operations.

John Sinclair won his High Court appeal (Sinclair vs Mining Warden at Maryborough).   The case determined that one person can represent the public interest.

Dillinghams unsuccessfully challenged the status of the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry tin the High Court.

The Commonwealth Government purchased 404 ha at Elanda Point from Cambridge Credit receivers for $420,000.

The first stage of the Cooloola National Park was gazetted on 18 December covering 23,030 hectares.  It was deformed with a shape like a doughnut or it had a hole in the heart.  This hole allowed timber interests continue to extract one and a half million super feet (2667 cubic metres) of commercial timber per annum from Cooloola’s tall forests until 1991, when the park was enlarged to 55,000 hectares


November:  The Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry recommended to the Commonwealth Government restrict export licences for mineral sands from Fraser Island to only sand mined from beach leases.  Sandmining ceased on Fraser Island in December.  Less than 1,000 hectares were affected by sand mining.

Federal Environment Minister, Kevin Newman declares Fraser Island the first item to be recorded on the Register of the National Estate and foreshadows in Parliament that Fraser Island will be nominated for World Heritage.

Peter Stanton produced a Management Plan for the Cooloola Committee.


A bitter vitriolic campaign over the cessation of sandmining ensues with pro-mining lobbyists threatening to deter foreign capital investing in Australia.  Meanwhile an arbitrator intervenes to reduce the price of sand mined from Fraser Island from the earlier price negotiated.


The Queensland Government commissioned a Management Plan for Fraser Island.  The report was released on Its recommendations were never implemented.  FIDO updated and developed its Management Strategy.


Sandmining interests challenge the export ban on minerals from Fraser Island and bring pressure to bear on the Federal Government including a threat by the US Government to take the matter to the International Court of Justice on behalf of the Dillingham Corporation.  The government sticks to its policy.

The National Parks and Wildlife Service releases a Draft Management Plan for Cooloola National Park.   This is so vigorously opposed by commercial and four wheel drive interests that nothing ever becomes of it.


A bore hole to 623 metres was drilled by the Queensland Mines Department in, at Sandy Cape, to extract stratigraphic information.  Bores have also been drilled at Cooloola.  Other drilling was carried out to establish the levels of the water tables in the sandmasses.

Cooloola was included on the Register of the National Estate.  The Foreign Investment Review Board approves Saudi Arabian acquisition of remaining Cambridge Credit lands.


Whale watching becomes a major industry in Hervey Bay as the population of humpback whales decimated by earlier commercial whaling operations in eastern Australia begin to make a significant come-back.


FIDO begins the Eli Creek project which then cost it $9,000 in materials and 18 weekends of voluntary working bees to stop the degradation of one of Fraser Island’s most popular tourist attractions by constructing a board walk, public toilets and shelter shed.

Hervey Bay City Council tries to deny the public right of objection to rezoning land for subdivision at Orchid Beach by backdating an application.  FIDO manages to appeal successfully to the Supreme Court to have proper procedures observed.  FIDO also managed to stop the rezoning of land at Moon Point for subdivision.


A study by the Institute of Applied Social Research showed that 125,325 camper nights were spent in Cooloola while 166,529 bed nights were spent in hotels and motels in the Noosa Shire.  This did not include day trippers to Cooloola.  The employment generated by the Cooloola National Park was estimated at 171 persons, almost all of whom live outside the region.

There are about 200 permanent residents within the nominated region.  Of these about half live on Fraser Island.  Most of the rest live in the Teewah area and settlement adjacent to the Noosa River.  The tourist industry is the main source of employment.


When Local Government Minister, Russ Hinze makes a Ministerial rezoning of land at Orchid Beach to forestall FIDO’s appeal to the Local Government Court.  FIDO unsuccessfully challenged the rezoning in the Supreme Court because the organization believed that the rezoning was not in the public interest.


Queensland Government vetoes any World Heritage nomination for Fraser Island or “one inch” of Queensland.  This was a result of an ACF presentation of a World Heritage nomination for the whole Great Sandy Region.

Part of Maroom Fisheries Habitat Reserve is revoked to allow for the mouth of Wanggoolba Creek to be dredged.


The old Wilson Hart sawmill changed names and ownership.  It was also relocated from its Maryborough site to Urangan in Hervey Bay.

Cathedral Beach camping area opened.  The Fraser Island Public Access Act establishes conditions of access and charges fees for going to Fraser Island for the first time.


The Queensland Government agreed to grant land at Inskip Point for subdivision and residential purposes in exchange for mining companies relinquishing some mining leases on northern Fraser Island.  Over 10,000 hectares of mining claims were retained.

Inskip Point Peninsula was proposed as a major area for major expansion of Rainbow Beach as a service centre for the Fraser Island and Cooloola region.  The Kingfisher Resort was first mooted and received approval from the Maryborough City Council.


The Fraser Island Recreation Board produced a Recreation Management Plan for Fraser Island.  FIDO’s Management Strategy was again revised to discuss other land use issues than just recreation.

FIDO spent two weeks in the Local Government Court arguing against approving the proposed 2,200 bed resort at North White Cliffs.  The Court had no jurisdiction to consider the public interest and only considered the “environment” in as much as it affected “Amenity”.  The resort was conditionally approved.


The Fraser Island Recreation Board estimated that there were 204,000 visitors to Fraser Island of which 124,00 stayed one or more nights (37,000 camped for fishing and 43,00 camped as part of nature based groups).  There had been a tenfold increase in visitors to Fraser Island between 1975 and 1985.  At the same time there were 118,200 camper nights spent in the Cooloola National Park.  It was estimated that there were 120,000 day visitors to the Cooloola National Park.


The campaign to stop Fraser Island logging and to have the region given World Heritage status gained new momentum.  The Johannes Bjelke-Petersen era of 22 years of government of Queensland came to an end.


The Queensland Government extended the Great Sandy National Park but did not indicate that their election platform of making the whole of Fraser Island would be fulfilled.  This led to a public furore.  More than 300 submissions were received from 238 persons and organization.

A Commission of Inquiry into the Conservation, Management and Use of Fraser Island and the Great Sandy Region chaired by Mr E.G Fitzgerald was established by the Queensland Government to recommend a plan for the future of the area.


Over 130 years of logging on Cooloola ended in March.  The Commission of Inquiry reported in May.  The Queensland Government accepted the major recommendations.  The whole Great Sandy Region was nominated for World Heritage on 1 October.

Logging ceased on Fraser Island in November.

All sandmining leases were acquired back by the government.

Construction work commenced along Fraser Island’s sandfly shores near Dundonga Creek which was titled Kingfisher Bay Resort.


The Queensland Government announced that it was developing a Management Plan for the whole of the Great Sandy Region.

The Urangan Sawmill, formerly the Wilson Hart Sawmill, ceased to operate after the last logs from Fraser Island were processed.

Kingfisher Bay Resort opened in August.

Fraser Island was inscribed on the World Heritage Listing in December.  Cooloola and Great Sandy Strait were unfortunately not included.

Double Island Point Lighthouse was automated.


Management Plan for the Great Sandy Region developed further with the release of Draft plan in May.  The plan was adopted the following year but never gazetted.

Orchid Beach resort closed.  More than 500,000 people visited Fraser Island and Cooloola and a further 50,000 went whale watching in Hervey Bay.


A workshop of stakeholders and fire ecologists meet in Hervey Bay to develop the helps to draft the Fraser Island Fire Management Plan


FIDO organizes the first Fraser Island Conference 20-20 Vision at Noosa.  It was to be the first of a series of Biennial Fraser Island Conferences organized by FIDO.  Prof Ron Boyd presented paper on the finding of submarine chasms off Breaksea Spit.


The Fraser Island Natural Integrity Alliance was established as a coalition of stakeholders from Local Government, State Government agencies and non-government stake-holders concerned about the protection of Fraser Island’s natural integrity.


Planning begins for a non-government initiative for a 50 kilometre extension of the Fraser Island Great walk between Lake Garawongera and Arch Cliffs.


FIDO with support from Burnett Mary Regional Group intensifies its weeding efforts in the Eurong township starting with three full weeks annually.


Volunteers put in more than 2,000 hours to develop Stage 1 of the George Haddock Track and to establish the Harold Charles Barracks near Lake Allom as a base.

FIDO doubles its effort with weeding operations to deal with the weed threats to Happy Valley adding another three working bees annually.