From the President December 2023

From Zela Bisset FIDO President

This is a quick update on things I have done since becoming president of FIDO, which are related to preserving the natural environment and learning more about it.

The first group of photos is of a wildflower walk I attended with Glen, my husband, run by the Fraser Coast branch of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland (WPSQ). This group was influential in the early life of John Sinclair, with whom he learned a great deal about the wildlife of his home region. The walk was run by knowledgeable local naturalist Jenni Watt and her partner Peter Duck. On this rather hot exposed site, we found many vanilla lilies, Wide Bay Boronia and many other wildflowers. The value of this walk was greatly enhanced by a species sheet prepared by Jenni, which allowed me to remember many more names than I would have otherwise been able to recall. Jenni subsequently lent me a collection of back copies of Wambaliman, the newsletter off the branch. Examining these gave me an appreciation of the wide variety of activities carried out by this group, from running walks to active campaigns to preserve natural areas and short snapshots of interesting species observed by members. Jenni and Peter have been on a FIDO short trip with Lyndall and Su and afterwards contributed a valuable list of plant species that were identified on K’gari.

For my birthday in September, I elected to go on a trip to K’gari and support the newly formed Butchulla Enterprises Limited (BEL). I received a bespoke tour from Shantel Ah Kit, with whom my son Wyatt and I travelled back across the island after the FINIA tour in May. Shantel took Glen and I to some lovely forest areas in Pile Valley. We also spent time at Central Station, where Shantel showed us a sweet little piece of fruit on some of the prickly shrubs there, among other interesting information. The very next day, we backed up to have the full-day Beauty Spots tour run by Kingfisher Resort. At Boorangoora, we saw what is described as “site hardening” by QPWS ranger Linda Behrendorf, where paths are reinforced, and a substantial fence is erected around the picnic shed to keep wongari away from visitors’ food. The Maheno wreck is always great value for memoir photos. Eli Creek was disturbingly popular, and we saw quite a lot of unsafe behaviour. The toilet block and extensive boardwalks are also designed to keep this high visitation area beautiful, and indeed, wildflowers (Melastome sp) were blooming by the creek. Our guide, Andrew, was really entertaining and informative and displayed a genuine feeling for the island.


Soon after the September trip to K’gari, I represented FIDO at an event run by the QLD Conservation Council (QCC) at the Maroochy Botanical Gardens. I prepared a slide about photo activities for the networking session. I really enjoyed the group discussions where we mixed with conservation groups from Hinchinbrook, North Keppel and other offshore islands. After the day’s meeting, we were invited to have a look at the Blue Heart project. This is an initiative of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council to manage future sea level rises. It involves opening a low-lying area for tidal inundation. The council is buying back cane fields and opening tide gates. It’s a massive project involving a lot of legal work to set precedents. I commend the Sunshine Coast Regional Council for this because I think it will be a precedent for many other groups that will have to do something similar in the future.

Rainbow over the blue heart area being developed by Sunshine Coast Regional Council

FIDO has now also become a member group of the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee (MRCCC), and currently, I am the delegate. This is a very active group with many member organisations which conduct regular water quality testing in the Mary River. It has 8 employees, including field officers who work with landholders on reducing erosion and runoff, and they also undertake all kinds of structural work, such as installing pile fields in high-erosion bends of the river. I have attended meetings of this group for quite some time, as during my working life with the education department, I was the education delegate. The last meeting was held at Tribalink at Mapleton.
Volunteer safety has recently been a big theme with conservation groups, and Daryl Ebenezer of QWaLC ran a day at the Gympie campus of the University of the Sunshine Coast. I attended that day with fellow FIDO directors Sandra Naidoo, Isaac Neisler and Jade from FIDO’s The Pandanas project, so FIDO was there in force, and Darryl even made a joke about it! We also met Lindy Orwin from the Cooloola Coastcare team there; Lindy has been sharing with me some of their precautions and procedures to keep volunteers safe.