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, "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 009-969-135)
FIDO's Postal Address: PO Box 70, BALD HILLS QLD 4036 John Sinclair, PO Box 71, GLADESVILLE, NSW, 1675
ISSN 0311 - 032X Registered by Australia Post - Publication QBH2293 17 November, 2000
In This Issue
Fraser Island Run Down; Political Impotency 2
Decision making Paralysis; Financial Starvation 3
Federal Funding Not much better; Budget Anomalies 4
Fraser’s Economic Value; Local Government 5
Fire management, World class interpretation 5
Overseas Impacts on Fraser; Waders; Climate 6
Vale Judith Wright; Coastal acid sulphate; Snippets 7
Fishing Expo; Walking Tracks; Roads & Rail 8
New Law Protects World Heritage 9
Flying to Orchid Beach? Dingos, Visitor Numbers 10
New in Brief; Lighthouses Protected 11
FIDO 's 2000 President’s Annual Report 11-12
Two Key Documents
MOONBI 98 carries two extremely important Educational Supplements. These are relevant
to the most urgent of the Fraser Island management issues which FIDO is
busy addressing. Continue to use these basic documents as references. Feel
free to copy them.
“Summary of Reviewed Fraser Island World Heritage Values” is the unedited
version prepared by the Fraser Island Scientific Advisory Committee after
a long process of consultation and research. It identifies those values
which Australia as a party to the World Heritage Convention is sworn to
protect and which have now been adopted as the basis for Fraser Island
“Values of Fraser Island Tourism” outlines both the positive and negative
benefits of tourism on Fraser Island. Fraser Island tourism is now worth
over $250 million to the Queensland economy. However it produces many negative
impacts. Neutralizing and containing these negative impacts to ensure that
they don’t detract from the World Heritage values described above is the
greatest challenge to the management of the island. The key point to note
is how easily the patterns of recreation form and become entrenched. Everybody
concerned with the future of Fraser Island needs to address issues to ensure
that the patterns of recreation having negative impacts are not allowed
to continue to be self exacerbating.
Fraser Island Is Running Down
Beattie Government short-changes Fraser Island again: For the second successive
year funds allocated by the Beattie Government for National Park management
have failed to reach Fraser Island. At the time of going to press the QPWS
Southern region had not advised if any funds would be allocated to Fraser
Island. With more than a third of the financial year expired, this is disgraceful.
The Beattie Government had indicated that it planned to match the Federal
Government contribution to the Fraser Island World Heritage site in its
Financial Deprivation: Fraser Island is the most financially deprived all of
Australia's 14 World Heritage sites when visitor impact is taken into account.
It needs an annual budget of at least $10 million to sustain the current
rate of visitation. Currently the whole cost of managing the island, (including
salaries for 34 ranger staff, all maintenance and some capital expenditure)
is coming out of the $3.7 million visitor access fees collected by the
Recreation Areas Management (RAM) Board and the $628,000 contribution by
the Federal Government.
The Commonwealth is also short changing Fraser Island. The budget for Fraser
Island needs to be at least comparable with Kakadu and other heavily visited
World Heritage sites. (See Rundown)
Since MOONBI 97
While there have been a number of positive signs that
better management for Fraser Island may be on the way, nothing much has
yet occurred on the ground. A promising start has been made towards better
the fire management on the island. A workshop has been held which reached
strong consensus on the action needed; many of the old fire trails have
been reopened; and Rangers have achieved more effective burns this year
than they have for a decade. The interpretive signs on the island are having
a positive impact.
On the negative side has been the failure to implement
some key elements of the Management Plan including road and beach closures.
The snail pace progress towards resolving some of the most intractable
issues such as the impact of the existing patterns of recreation (roads,
camping impacts, etc.) and moving towards establishing more sustainable
patterns of recreation can’t all be blamed on lack of resources. Misplaced
priorities and poor management have played a part. The Fishing Expo (see
p8) consumes a huge QPWS effort while nothing is done about a Walking Plan.
On the larger scene one page of this MOONBI is devoted to global issues
and their direct impact on Fraser Island (p6). Another is devoted to the
implications of the new Commonwealth EPBC Act (p9).
There is little dispute amongst experts that Fraser
Island is in serious trouble. It is now by almost any standard the most
neglected World Heritage area in Australia. It now has the most dubious
distinction of being Queensland's most poorly supported National Park.
Everybody in a position to objectively judge and compare the condition
of Fraser Island a decade ago with its condition at present to supports
The Run Down
The Fraser Island run down is both literal and metaphorical.
Literally the run down is due to surface sediments filling the lakes and
lower areas as a result of accelerated erosion. This is mainly due to the
failure to address the impact of vehicle based recreation. Sand is literally
running down hill and pouring into many of the lakes every time the island
receives heavy rain. In one downpour in the last two years about 2 metres
of sand was deposited at the Pile Valley turn-off from the Central Station
Metaphorically it is due to the hopeless delays and virtual
paralysis in decision making and because that Fraser Island is now the
most poorly funded World Heritage area in Australia.
There are many aspects to the Fraser Island run down.
Political impotency: This includes both a paralysis in decision making
and a failure to provide adequate funds, particularly in the light of the
enormous financial significance of Fraser Island to the state and national
Failure to assess environmental impacts: There has been a reluctance
to evaluate of the impacts of roads and access as a basis for decision
Poor Visitor Management: Two years ago a visitor management plan was
developed but implementation of this languishes due more to the lack of
will to implement it than to the lack of resources. The continuation of
the Fishing Expo despite its much greater impact at the Orchid Beach site
has been apparently sanctioned. The camping management plan has been stalled
for 15 months. But the Walking Track Management Plan has been hidden from
the public for five years.
The only one glimmer of light on the horizon has been
some progress towards a Fire Management Plan. But that has been a poor
consolation when it is realized that there are inadequate resources available
to implement any Fire Management Plan, which is, developed. About $4 million
allocated to recreation management on Fraser Island this financial year,
more than 90% of the total budget, but with only $223,000 allocated to
natural resource management and $19,000 for cultural management, the resources
which attract the visitors as being degraded and invaded at an accelerating
The degradation, which is now, alarming FIDO has continued irrespective of
which political party is in power. During the last decade we have seen
both Labor and National-Liberal Party Governments in Queensland. It doesn't
seem to matter which party is in power because neither government is willing
to honour its promises or obligations when it comes to Fraser Island and
there seems to be positive discrimination against it.
Goss Government: After more than two decades of political hostility to FIDO
and a determination to exploit the natural resources of Fraser Island to
a maximum, the election of the Goss Government was a welcome change. They
saw Fraser Island placed on the World Heritage List but then when presented
with the Management Plan failed to provide neither the statutory basis
nor the funds to implement the Management Plan. They splashed money around
to buy out the former Orchid Beach resort and then allowed Orchid Beach
to become a planning shambles. Most of the $38 million Growth and Development
Package it developed with the Hawke Government to compensate for the loss
of the timber industry was spent on paying out industry and employees.
Some was squandered on such poorly devised plans such as Orchid Beach.
Virtually no money went into natural resource management on Fraser Island.
Government: The brief history of the Borbidge Government proved to
be a nightmare for Fraser Island. Borbidge promised to invest $10 million
in developing Fraser Island infrastructure. Instead it cut out spending
any consolidated revenue at all to Fraser Island for one year. It ignored
the Management Plan and revoked part of the National Park to reopen the
Orchid Beach airstrip. They splashed around ten times more money developing
the Mary River Heads car park to facilitate access to the island and reopening
Orchid Beach airstrip than they spent on natural resource management. They
installed a political crony, Lin Powell, as CAC chair to try to silence
criticism. It was a big step backwards.
Borbidge Government made other decisions contrary to the Management Plan.
At the behest of Toyota they relocated the Fishing Expo back to Orchid
Beach where it has had extreme environmental impacts. They slowed and reversed
implementing parts of the Management Plan.
Government: When the Beattie Government came to power in mid 1998,
FIDO was optimistic that there would be a real improvement. In Opposition,
Labor has shown so much concern for the state of Fraser Island and with
commendable political commitment. They have yet to deliver on any of their
policy in relation to Fraser Island. So far this year the Beattie Government
has failed to allocate any consolidated revenue to manage Fraser Island.
Fraser Island now receives the least amount of money from consolidated
revenue of any National Park in Queensland. A separate source of revenue
from the visitor access fees can only be used for recreation management.
It can’t be used for natural resource management.
is not just failure to provide adequate funding which disappoints, the
Beattie Government has been very slow in taking any real decisions which
will get the management of Fraser Island back on track. It should start
by correcting the places where the Borbidge Government changed the Management
Decision Making Paralysis
* The Orchid Beach airstrip remains open. For another
2 years it was funded from the Beattie Government. FIDO understands that
the QPWS was prepared to contribute $5,000 for airstrip showing that it
has not got its priorities on the public interest or the environment straight.
QPWS has been far too enthusiastic about facilitating access and visitation.
* The roads and beaches reopened by the Borbidge Government
remain open. (It would require less than $200 to close them to traffic).
There appears to be no will to ever make the two kilometres of beach south
of Waddy Point vehicle free as prescribed in the Plan.
* The Fishing Expo continues at Orchid Beach despite the
extremely critical report of the 1999 event. More than five months after
the 2000 Fishing Expo QPWS Officers were still busy sanitizing a report
to justify allowing this environmentally undesirable and unsustainable
event to continue at the site where it has the greatest impact.
* Subsidiary management plans for walking tracks, visitation,
camping and fire management which should contribute to the improvement
of the management to Fraser Island continue to languish almost two and
a half years after the Beattie Government assumed power.
* The Visitor Management Strategy has stalled in the face
of opposition from vested Commercial Tour Operators.
* The Camping Management Plan has yet to see the light
of day more than 15 months after time to respond to the very bad Draft
* There were promises that the CAC would see the Draft
Walking Track Management Plan, which has used up the entire financial allocation
for it in 1996 before the July meeting. The CAC has still to see a draft
and nobody seems to be held accountable for producing no results after
spending tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money. A good Walking
Track Management Plan could be worth millions for the regional economy,
yet the bureaucrats seem to be accountable to no one as they continue to
* The Dingo Management Strategy is still being drafted
more than two and a half years after it began.
* There appears to be no intention to give any priority
to assessing the contributing factors for Island roads being a major cause
of environmental degradation.
* Thus there is no support for evaluating feasibility
of a Fraser Island light rail system as an alternative form of access.
It has been relegated to the lowest priority.
Electoral Commitments seem to have been shelved when it comes to Fraser
Implement World Heritage Area Management Plans so that core areas are protected
from vehicle impact; restrict vehicle access to the periphery areas and
reject proposals for development which are inconsistent with World Heritage
objectives and values.
Ensure that any future .... road access in the Great Sandy Region is consistent
with the Management Plan and subject to sustainability.
The paralysis in making positive decisions to address the real issues on Fraser
Island continues irrespective of which political party is in power.
FIDO was advised in September how the RAM Board decided
how user pays funds would be spent on Fraser Island. This is the proposed
distribution of RAM funds.
|Visitor Management ||(47.11%)|
|$176,660.00||visitor info, brochures & publications|
|$63,350.00||general ops, admin, and commercial|
|$16,800.00||interpretation and holiday programs|
|$703,513.00||park interpretation etc.|
|$194,307.00||infrastructure (incl. Eli Creek boardwalk)|
|$490,076.00||recreation infrastructure maintenance|
|$265,411.00||maintain of management infrastructure|
|$1,734,457.00||Total for visitor management|
|Natural Resource Management ||(6.06%)|
|$222,976.00||fire management, weeds, habitat work etc.|
|Cultural Resource Management ||(0.5%)|
|$8,909.00||cultural site protection|
|$18,909.00||Total cultural resource management|
|$132,500.00||RAM administration (including the planned Transport & Access study)|
|$1,437,073.00||general park operations & management|
|$34,500.00||Fraser Island Committees|
|$1,569,573.00||Total administration etc.|
|Capital Funds ||(2.74%)|
|$101,000.00||Sandy Cape Renewable Energy System|
|$3,681,415.00||TOTAL QUEENSLAND EXPENDITURE|
NOTE: Queensland's whole contribution from user pays visitor
fees collected by the Recreation Areas Management Board. Queensland
Government's contribution from consolidated revenue $0.00.
MINISTERIAL Council Finally Meets
The joint Queensland - Federal Ministerial Council for Fraser Island met in
Canberra on 7 November (Melbourne Cup day). It was the first time it had
met in over three years. There has been an incredible logjam of some very
basic decisions such as filling vacancies on the Scientific Advisory Committee,
which have failed to be filled for four years. Thus only three members
out of a full strength committee of eight remain after five years. The
failure to fill positions on the Scientific Advisory Committee is mainly
blamed on Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill's refusal to accept
the nominations forwarded by the Queensland Government. Until the influential
politicians accept that Fraser Island deserves a much higher political
priority then it will remain Australia's most neglected World Heritage
Federal Funding Not Much Better
The Howard Government has not given Fraser Island a fair
share of Federal funding. This year the Commonwealth Government provided
funding in two parts. $34,500.00 for the operation of the Fraser Island
Committees (CAC, SAC, Management Committee) which has to be matched by
the state. In addition this year it has provided $662,500 from the National
Heritage Fund (which is due to run out in 2001) for specific projects
The following are the projects approved by the Commonwealth
for 1999-2000 announced in May doesn’t coincide with the advisory committee
priorities. Senator Hill refused to fund a very high committee priority
a Transport and Access Study:
$300,000.00 Central Station campground
$106,500.00 new toilets at the start of the Wabby Lakes walking track, (not where FIDO wanted them)
$80,000.00 management of vehicle use (roadworks)
$50,000.00 Lake Allom foreshore works
$45,000.00 design for redeveloping the Lake McKenzie site in the future (to remove camping)
$45,000.00 replacement of Ungowa toilet. The committee saw (this as a very low priority).
$662,500 may seem like a generous contribution until it
is compared with what the Commonwealth Government contributed to other
Australian World Heritage sites. With its $662,500 in 1999-2000, Fraser
Island received a mere 1.28% of the Commonwealth Government handouts for
World Heritage sites. The full list Commonwealth allocations are as follows.
Sites managed wholly by the Commonwealth
Great Barrier Reef — $24,200,000 (46.76% of the total Commonwealth World Heritage spending)
Uluru - Kata Juta — $3.980,000 (7.69%)
Kakadu— $10,590,000 (20.46%).
It is interesting to compare Kakadu with Fraser Island.
Both were identified as potential World Heritage sites by Commonwealth
Environmental Inquiries in 1975-76. Kakadu Stage 1 became a National Park
in 1978. It was inscriber on the World Heritage List in 1983 — 9 years
before Fraser Island. As a result it started receiving funding for resource
management more than a decade earlier than Fraser Island. Kakadu has a
much more robust environment and is larger than Fraser Island but with
slightly lower level of visitation. However with 20.46% of the Commonwealth
World Heritage funding, Kakadu receives 16 times more than Fraser Island.
It has more than twice the overall budget of Fraser Island.
Sites managed by Joint Agreement between State and Commonwealth Governments
Tasmanian Wilderness — $5,730,000 (10.34%)
Wet Tropics — $3,852,500 (7.44%)
State managed sites with some Commonwealth Government financial contribution
Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia (CERRA) — $785,000 (1.51%) involves both New South Wales and Queensland.
Fraser Island — $662,500 (1.28%)
Lord Howe Island — $453,000 (0.87)
Australia Fossil Mammal Sites (Naracoorte SA) — $417,720 (0.81%)
Australia Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversliegh Queensland) $395,193 (0.76%)
Shark Bay — $450,250 (0.87%)
Willandra Lakes — $340,000 (0.66%)
It is clear that World Heritage sites which have been
nominated without a political brawl between the Commonwealth and respective
State Governments have been short changed in subsequent Commonwealth allocations
to assist the management of those sites. By whatever standard you adopt,
Fraser Island has missed out.
The Federal Budget foreshadows a reduction in funding
for World Heritage areas from $15.7 million (which doesn't include the
Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and Uluru) to $10 million by 2002.
One positive benefit from the Commonwealth Government
is its newly proclaimed Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is discussed on p9 of this MOONBI.
Contributions by Other States
It appears that Fraser Island is the only site, which
does not receive any contribution from general state revenue for management
of the World Heritage sites. As MOONBI 98 was going to press, FIDO has
not been able to obtain an analysis of each State's separate contribution
to the particular World Heritage sites. FIDO is attempting to obtain this
obscure data from New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Western
FIDO will be represented at the meeting of the World
Heritage Committee which will be meeting in Cairns, Queensland from 23
November to 2 December, 2000.
The Economic Value of Fraser Island
The whale-watching industry is now estimated to be worth
at least $8 million to the Fraser Coast economy. It attracts 80,000 visitors
a year, most of whom spend just an extra day or half day in Hervey Bay
to see the whales.
Ten years ago Noosa National Park was estimated to generate
an additional $24 million annually for the regional economy and again it
is adding only marginally to the mean length of the visitor stays in Noosa.
In addition to time spent on the island itself, Fraser
Island adds over a million visitor days to the time visitors stay in the
Fraser Coast Region. Based on the estimated economic values of other major
natural areas such as the Wet Tropics, Kakadu, Noosa and Cooloola, FIDO
conservatively estimates that Fraser Island contributes more than $250
million to the state economy annually.
All three levels of government abuse Fraser Island financially.
FIDO cannot get any response from either the Maryborough or Hervey Bay
City Councils over their pocketing of revenue collected on Fraser Island.
Nothing seems to have happened since we published the
following statement in MOONBI 94:
The 1996 Local Government Boundaries Review said (p16)
"Hervey Bay City
has a net excess revenue of $122,000" for its portion of Fraser Island.
This is "after allowing a pro-rata contribution to general administration'
of 10%. In addition the portion of Fraser Island under Hervey Bay "attracts
Financial Assistance Grants and Road Entitlement estimated to be some $160,000
FIDO is very concerned particularly at the incredibly
poor management of that part of Fraser Island in the Hervey Bay City Council
jurisdiction. Three issues particularly concern us.
1. The Council has refused to implement the Development
Control Plan, which was drafted at great public expense to be compatible
with the Great Sandy Region Management Plan. The Council’s “go-it-alone”
policy has effectively thumbed its nose at its responsibilities under the
2. Hervey Bay Council has deliberately turned a blind
eye to quite obvious breaches of its own zoning laws and building codes
to sanction huge mansions on Fraser Island being built and then sub-let
as multi-unit dwellings. This practice has allowed Orchid Beach to become
a model of appalling planning.
3. Having neglected its responsibilities to control weeds
and oversee proper planing for the northern half of the island, the Hervey
Bay Council has now decided to draw up its own Coastal Management Plan.
To date the drafts and Discussion Papers have effectively ignored the fact
that more than three-quarters of the coastline of the City of Hervey Bay
is located on Fraser Island. A huge amount of government money has already
been granted to facilitate this planning process but it looks like Fraser
Island is again going to be the Cinderella as Hervey Bay City moves to
develop its own Coastal Management Plan. We suspect that this is to avoid
adhering to the regional plan which takes in the coast from Noosa to Miriam
Fire Management Under Way
MOONBI readers will be well aware of FIDO’s growing agitation
over the failure to develop and implement a Fire management Plan for Fraser
Island. This was resulting in alarming ecological changes on the island
which were threatening many of the island’s World Heritage values.
On 21-23 August the QPWS hosted a very comprehensive Fire
Management Workshop at Hervey Bay involving more than 30 community, scientific
and ranger staff representatives who, with the guidance and input of a
number of experts, explored and discussed the options for the best fire
management regime on Fraser Island.
It was encouraging to appreciate the strong consensus
that more management burning was required particularly from the island
ranger staff. The workshop identified all of the special island ecotypes
and their special fire requirements. For example coastal casuarinas are
very fire sensitive and may take years to recover on foredunes after severe
fires so they need to be protected. On the other hand there is an invasion
of casuarinas on Indian Head which is threatening a very specialized and
rare grassland headland ecotype. It was agreed that there needs to be a
management burn on Indian Head to reduce the casuarina invasion of that
special ecotype. Appropriate fire regimes have similarly been identified
for the whole island.
We now await the final outcome which should appear in
the form of a draft plan. However, at the speed that several plans on Fraser
Island are progressing at it may be years before that occurs.
In the meantime the Rangers have already been busy conducting
management burns within the constraints of their very limited resources.
In so doing (and they have made more progress this year than they have
done for several years) they are building up a better understanding of
the science and ecology of fire for Fraser Island.
One Got Away: One management burn at Sandy Cape
escaped this year but because this area had been burnt two years ago with
by a very benign wildfire, this fire was much more benign than it may have
otherwise been. FIDO thinks it is inevitable that there will be some mistakes
as the skills to better understand and manage fire in this environment
are developed. One can learn from mistakes, but if nothing is done, nothing
World Class Interpretation on Fraser
MOONBI would like to give the QPWS another bouquet to
for the excellence of the interpretive signage. This now causing more visitors
to be better informed about the issues and to appreciate the island more.
John Sinclair, who explored National Park management in Utah in July, and
who annually visits most leading National Parks in Australia says the interpretive
signs are exceptionally good and could be judged world class. FIDO would
like to express particular appreciation to Sue Olsen for her work in producing
the excellent signs and brochures. The establishment of tour operators
workshops (such as are conducted at Kakadu) and more Ranger guided activities
of the quality offered in American National Parks would provide Fraser
Island the very top quality interpretation.
Overseas Events Impact on Fraser
Goldman Reunion: During the Goldman Environmental
Prizewinners' Reunion held last July, 2000 in San Francisco, FIDO's John
Sinclair (Snr) met other laureates from 35 countries and learnt a lot more
about the projects which had helped them to earn this most prestigious
prize for voluntary conservation. John Sinclair also used his sponsored
visit to San Francisco to explore more of the United States particularly
the management of the National Park system. He added to the experience
he recorded in 1998 when he visited the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde World
Heritage sites by visiting four National Parks three National Monuments,
two National Recreation Areas and other protected lands in Southern Utah.
Full reports of his observations can be found on his web site: www.sinclair.org.au.
However there are a number of observations which MOONBI readers need to
appreciate and which impact directly on Fraser Island. What was of most
concern was the number of issues which these amazing people were addressing
and how many had some impact, albeit sometimes remote on Fraser Island.
Fraser Island’s Migratory Waders
The most significant and potentially alarming was to learn
from the Korean Prize winner, Choi Yul, that a Korean project to destroy
and fill in the Saemangum Mud flats, tidal wetlands in Korea will certainly
impact on the populations of trans-equatorial waders in Great Sandy Strait.
The Saemangum Mud flats are Ramsar listed wetlands
The Korean Government proposes to build a 37 kilometre
long sea wall and then convert about 40,000 hectares of what is now rich
tidal mudflats into agricultural land to feed the growing Korean population.
However, the mudflats are used annually by a vast population of migratory
waders who nest and breed in the tundra areas of Siberia during the northern
summer and then make epic flights to Australia. While some follow a route
through China and others through Japan, the area proposed to be transformed
is a significant stopover point for these waders who gorge themselves in
a feeding frenzy for just a few days to build up reserves for the long
If this project proceeds then many birds will be weakened
as a consequence and may not survive the long flight. Thus it will inevitably
impact on the populations of migratory species using Great Sandy Strait.
The species and the impact are not yet known but Choi Yul's Korea Federation
for Environmental Movement (KFEM) which is spearheading strenuous opposition
to this scheme are planning to gather more data during forthcoming migrations
both to and from Australia. More details can be found on KFEM's web site
While there is a Japanese Australian Migratory Bird Agreement
(JAMBA) and Australia has a similar agreement with China (CAMBA) to mutually
protect the birds and their habitats, there appears to be no international
treaty between Australia and Korea which would protect equivalent habitats
in Korea. FIDO is now urging both the Australian Government and the Korean
Government to begin the development of such a dialogue and to abandon this
project which will have such an adverse impact on the numbers of waders
frequenting Great Sandy Strait and other Australian wetlands.
The so-called "Battle of Seattle" forced a rethink
of the policies and impact of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a result
of the strong protests by non-government organizations. Australian media
presented images of chaos and anarchy allegedly created by a loose coalition
of environmentalists, unionists, supporters of the third world and others.
Innocent government delegations going about their lawful business were
portrayed as the "victims" because citizen actions paralyzed the meeting.
There was little analysis of who would benefit most and who would be disadvantaged
as a result of the business of the meeting.
Since the Seattle WTO debacle where protest had to be
suppressed by American armed, there has been a more considered revaluation
of the WTO. Many agencies are now assessing the impacts of "globalization"
and particularly how it is affecting the environment, poorer countries
and the bulk of the world's population.
It appears that there are fewer and fewer beneficiaries
and the impact on the global environment is more catastrophic than most
had imagined. For example, Australia now can't effectively enforce quarantine
laws which had been trying to affect what Brisbane writer, Tim Low, describes
in "Feral Futures". This is likely to add to the number and impact of feral
pests and weeds on Fraser Island, an isolated island that has escaped much
of these injurious agencies.
Another major global issue is climate change. Politicians
euphemistically use soft, warm terms such as "Global Warming" or "Greenhouse
Effect" to describe the accumulation of gases in the atmosphere which are
changing our climate. Both of these terms deny the reality. "Climate
Destabilization" is a much more accurate term. It defines the outcome
rather than the symptoms. Conservationists should be use Climate
Destabilization instead of the political “weasel words”.
Rising sea levels: Although the effect of sea level
changes on the Pacific Island nations has been widely publicized there
has been little focus on howsuch changes will affect Fraser Island. . If
the sea rises over the next few centuries it will erode away over about
15% of the island's total area or about 24,000 hectares.
A rising sea will also take with it many of the more interesting
ecosystems such as the fens which scientists have just come to appreciate.
A large area near Moon Point on the western side of the island and the
swamps creeks from Eurong south are vulnerable if the sea level rises as
little as a metre. They were created about 5,500 years ago when the sea
levels fell just one metre. Climate change is expected to cause the sea
level to rise just one metre from their present level.
Just these two issues show that global activities have
a very significant impact on Fraser Island. While FIDO continues to fight
to achieve better management of Fraser Island in Queensland, we can't ignore
what is happening on the world stage. Some of the impacts may not immediately
affect Fraser Island but the long-term implications are very profound.
will continue to use its many networks with other voluntary conservation
groups both within Australia and overseas to address these very important
Vale Judith Wright 1915 -2000
Wright was best known as one of the most eloquent Australian writer and
poet. However it was as one of this nation's foremost pioneer conservationist
that will be her most enduring legacy Australian society. She co-founded
the Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld (WPSQ) in 1963, was an original
Councillor of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Patron of Australians
for an Ecologically Sustainable Population Inc (AESP). She was a guiding
light for FIDO and one of John Sinclair's foremost mentors and inspirations.
In 1975 she helped coordinate other voluntary conservation groups to support
FIDO's submission to the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry which led
to the cessation of sandmining.
her Foreword to "Reef Rainforest Mangroves Man - A Focus on Cape York Peninsula"
however, the core of the problem in Far North Queensland as everywhere
in the world, is the nature of man himself and the question whether we
are capable of overcoming our past priorities and re-directing ourselves
and our societies in wiser ways. The present exponential rise in world
population and in consequent resource use, in a world of dwindling options,
affects Australia in many ways. We are one of the world's quarries, and
one of its only remaining grain suppliers; and at Weipa on Cape York much
of this quarrying is done. North Queensland is not exempt from any of the
problems we make for ourselves.
may not realise that 'exponentiality' is built into our biology, as into
that of other species. Only predation keeps the natural balance among species,
and we have done away with most of our predators and greatly increased
our consumption wants. .... ....
Workshop's scope was widened to a biological world-view ... which starkly
scans the biological. Yet there are 'quantum jumps' in man's developmental
history. The emergence of human language everywhere in the world was one
such jump. We are the only species which has produced a mechanism of information-storage
and of inter-individual and inter-social communication on a conscious level
through symbolisation in speech, writing, and mathematics. Indeed, it was
this very achievement which has brought us to our present dominance, and
to the problems which arise from it. We now have another great gap to jump
- one which would make us capable of overcoming a genetic programming now
no longer appropriate to our survival. Maybe it can be done."
and Australia mourn her passing.
also mourn the passing of Kathleen MacArthur of Caloundra. She was
also co-founder of the WPSQ and was one of the prime movers in the initial
Cooloola and helped promote public appreciation of the Wallum and the Noosa
River. She had also been a strong FIDO supporter. Kathleen died not long
Coastal acid sulfate soils
Both the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments are now
starting to spend a lot of money to address the environmental impacts of
acid sulfate soils. Such soils occur naturally along most of Australia's
coastline. Once drained or disturbed these soils react with oxygen in the
air to produce sulfuric acid. This dissolves heavy metals into a highly
toxic cocktail of chemicals that are carried in run-off water into creeks
and estuaries. Acid sulfate soils can cause massive fish kills, corrode
cement and steel structures and strip land of vegetation. Most marine life
is particularly sensitive to any changes in pH and thus disturbance of
acid sulphate soils is one of the major contributors to the decline of
the marine productivity in our coastal areas.
Until now the impacts of acid sulphate soils have largely
been overlooked. The evidence is now compelling that the chain reactions
set off by disturbing such soils by canal estates, drainage, marinas, boat
ramps, etc. are too serious to allow to continue unchecked. We are already
paying a very heavy a price for past mistakes in dealing with these soils.
Acid sulfate soil affects the entire coastal community and there is an
urgent need to discover and adopt effective techniques to manage this vast
The protection of Australia's coast is vital as it provides
habitat essential for Australia's unique biodiversity, nurseries for commercial
fish species and resting habitat for migratory birds.
Acid Soils and Fireweed? There is a strong suspicion
also that the disturbance of acid sulphate soils is the major contributor
to the escalation in the occurrence of "fireweed"
off Fraser Island and elsewhere in Southern Queensland. Queensland has
announced plans to spend $370,000 on research to develop a Lyngbya Management
Strategy by early next year to limit the impact of these algal outbreaks.
This blue-green algae settles on the surface of sea-grasses
and reduces the capacity of sea grass to photosynthesize and be as productive.
It is suspected of being responsible for the alarming loss of sea grass
after the floods of 1994, which decimated the Hervey Bay dugong population.
It is now acknowledged to be slowing the recovery of some areas of Hervey
Bay and Moreton Bay catchments.
Lyngbya (Fireweed) is a voracious and highly toxic algae
which can spread at a rate of up to 100 square metres a minute. It causes
blistering, rashes and second degree burns in humans. It tends to appear
at the height of South Queensland’s tourist season around Christmas. It
also has the potential to devastate sea-grasses and dugong and turtle populations.
A seasonal closure of part of Hervey Bay to trawler fishing
has drawn the ire of professional fishers. Seafood Industry Association
spokesperson, Ted Loveday, wants the area and the time of closure reduced.
Some Hervey Bay City Councillors were opposed to a proposal
to extend the Hervey Bay Marine Park.
While some other parts of Australia fared better, rainfall
on Fraser Island for the 12 months to the end of October was only 60% of
the average. The unseasonal drier weather highlighted the fire risk and
it has also enabled more management burns to be undertaken.
QPWS’s official report on the conduct of Toyota’s 2000
Fishing Expo from 20 to 26 May was finally received in mid October. It
accords with reports which came out during the Fishing Expo itself that
the behaviour of the 1289 competitors and 400 associates/friends was much
improved on that of 1999. In summary it concluded that there was a decline
in yobbo behaviour. This was attributed to three key factors:
The weather allowed the launching of boats and this reduced
the amount of vehicular traffic and impacts.
Although organizers and government officials want FIDO to
accept this improvement in the conduct of the Fishing Expo we continue
to demand the end of the event. FIDO has long believed that a Fishing Expo
has no place in a World Heritage site. We had been prepared to accept an
event though if it was held at Eurong or further south. However, under
the agreement signed by Premier Borbidge on 1 May, 1998 the event will
continue up to and including 2005 unless Toyota accepts its corporate responsibility
and discontinues its support for this event. This should be stopped because:
Organizers responded to the justified criticism of the
previous event and improved their behaviour.
Fewer people competed than in 1999 and there were many
fewer campers (251 camps and 878 people in 2000 compared with 326 camps
and 1307 people in 1999 — a 33% reduction).
The impact of holding the event at Orchid Beach means
that participants travel a much greater distance extending the impact to
reach the site. This particularly applies to Orchid beach because the majority
of the contestants now use large boats which they launch into the surf.
The impact of dragging heavy trailers once they leave the beach is extremely
severe. The event has seriously impacted on the tracks from Middle Rocks
to Orchid Beach and the Wathumba Track.
It has established and entrenches an unsustainable pattern
of recreation which is placing heavier pressure on the northern sector
of the island which had been previously the least visited part of Fraser
The impact on the wilderness values on the northern end
of Fraser Island has been serious, as the event has established an infrastructure
demand which reduces the sense of remoteness essential for wilderness values.
The impact on the marine environment has not been assessed.
Professional fishers have estimated that more than 300 tonnes of fish are
taken each Expo. The World Heritage area extends 500 metres out to sea
so this is being impacted by such an intense fishing effort. The QPWS report
concluded, “Impacts on the fish stocks remains a separate issue and
the subject of continued monitoring by the and the Queensland Boating and
QPWS, which is responsible for managing this World Heritage site cannot
do a Pontius Pilate and absolve itself of responsibility for the fish stocks.
FIDO understands that the Primary Industries Dept received almost $13,000
this year ($10 per entrant) but it has not produced any sort of report
on the event or its impacts.
is not good enough. The Fishing Expo shouldn’t continue at Orchid Beach.
long awaited draft Walking Track Management Plan for Fraser Island continues
to be stalled despite promises to deliver a draft to the CAC in July. However
some positive progress is being made on walking tracks.
Opening of Fire Management Trails: The island “Road
Gang” has been split in two and half is now working on opening up former
fire breaks which are needed both for fire management and for natural resource
assessment as well as being available for walking trails. Many of these
routes have been closed for decades and the process of opening them up
has resulted in QPWS staff discovering aspects of the island that they
had previously been unaware of. This will assist future management and
also offer more options for bush walking on the island.
Track Team: The
two man track team operates with a meagre budget under difficult conditions
but the cumulative impact of their continuing work is becoming more obvious
as walking tracks continue to be upgraded and stabilized. Another bouquet
from FIDO for the besieged and under-resourced workers on the island.
Road and Rail Plans Languish
So far there hasn’t been any tangible progress towards
either understanding what is causing or contributing to the main impacts
of the existing use of the island roads. These are currently seriously
threatening a number of Fraser Island’s World Heritage values.
Money has been allocated for a transport and access study
out of the RAM expenditure. Plans for a project are being developed but
there has been a dispute between the QPWS and FIDO on how to proceed. FIDO
wants to see a serial project so that the extent of the degradation of
the roads and adjacent environments are identified as a pre-requisite to
any further studies on how to ameliorate the problems. The QPWS has been
pressing for several issues to be studied and addressed concurrently. This
presupposes that the environmental studies will support only minor changes
to the existing patterns of recreation. FIDO believes that if the study
shows that there is an urgent need to develop alternative patterns of recreation
such as placing axle loading limits on roads or developing a light rail
people-mover, then work which may be done on road classifications would
be a waste of time and resources.
The causes of the road problems must be known before
starting to address them.
Dilli Village Open to Tender Again
Nine years after inheriting Dilli Village from the former
Forestry Service the QPWS is again about to call tenders for the operation
of Dilli Village. This will be the third time that tenders or Expressions
of Interest have been invited. FIDO is hopeful that this time a tenderer
will be secured who will develop Dilli Village within the scope of the
Management Plan. That called for maintaining this camp for budget and family
New Law Protects World Heritage
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation
Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which came into force on 16 July 2000, enhances the
management and protection of Australia's world heritage properties.
FIDO welcomes the new EPBC Act. It should help
ensure that Fraser Island is better protected. It seems that one consequence
is that the Queensland Government may finally be forced to legislate specifically
to protect Fraser Island. This was recommended by the Management Plan and
strongly supported by FIDO but it has been strenuously resisted by the
QPWS which would lose its flexibility to depart from the statuary plan.
Environment Australia has provided this summary of
the EPBC Act and its implications. Fuller details can be found on its web
Some of the key improvements introduced by the EPBC Act
up-front protection for world heritage properties, rather than the last
resort protection offered under previous legislation;
a stronger and more efficient assessment and approvals process; and
improved management for all world heritage properties through the application
of consistent world heritage management principles and more robust Commonwealth/State
Actions which require approval: The EPBC Act regulates
actions that will, or are likely to, have a significant impact on the world
heritage values of a declared world heritage property. This includes relevant
actions that occur outside the boundaries of a world heritage property.
An action that will, or is likely to, have a significant
impact on the world heritage values of a declared world heritage property
is subject to a rigorous environmental assessment and approval regime under
the EPBC Act. Actions which are taken in contravention of the EPBC Act
may attract a civil penalty of up to $5.5 million, or a criminal penalty
of up to $46,200 or, in extreme cases, up to 7 years imprisonment. (An
'action' includes a project, development, undertaking or any activity or
series of activities).
All Australian properties that are on the World Heritage
List are automatically "declared World Heritage properties" and therefore
are protected by the EPBC Act. The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment
and Heritage (the Environment Minister) also has the power to declare other
properties to be World Heritage properties where:
the property has been nominated for, but not yet inscribed on, the World
Heritage list; or
the property has not been nominated for World Heritage listing but the
Minister believes that the property contains world heritage values that
are under threat.
The assessment and approval process: A person proposing
to take an action that is likely to have a significant impact on the world
heritage values of a declared World Heritage property, should refer the
action to the Environment Minister. The Minister will decide whether the
action requires approval under the EPBC Act. Administrative guidelines
are available to assist proponents in determining if their actions are
likely to have a significant impact on world heritage values, and so need
to be referred to the Environment Minister.
If the Minister decides that the action requires approval
under the EPBC Act, then an environmental assessment of the action will
be carried out. For the purposes of assessing actions, the EPBC Act enables
the Commonwealth to accredit State or Territory environmental impact assessment
processes which meet appropriate criteria. If an accredited State or Territory
assessment is not used then there must be a Commonwealth assessment.
After assessment, the Environment Minister decides whether
to approve the action and, if so, what conditions to impose to ensure the
protection of world heritage values.
In limited circumstances, approval may be given on the
Commonwealth's behalf by State or Territory governments. This can occur
when the Commonwealth Environment Minister has accredited a World Heritage
management plan and the action is approved by a State or Territory in accordance
with that plan. To be accredited for this purpose, a management plan must
meet certain conditions set out in the EPBC Act. For example, a plan can
be accredited only if the Commonwealth Environment Minister is satisfied
that the plan:
meets Australia's responsibilities under the World Heritage Convention;
will not allow the approval of actions that may have unacceptable or unsustainable
impacts on the World Heritage values of the property.
A State or Territory management plan may not be accredited
if the proposed accreditation is disallowed by either House of the Commonwealth
If a proposed action is to be taken in accordance with
an accredited management plan, then approval is not required under the
EPBC Act and the action need not be referred to the Commonwealth Environment
Management of World Heritage Properties: Many of
Australia's World Heritage properties are managed and protected cooperatively
between the Commonwealth Government and State governments, with relevant
State agencies taking responsibility for on-ground management. Each property
usually has State legislation protecting it, in addition to Commonwealth
laws. This will continue under the EPBC Act.
For a World Heritage property in a State or Territory,
the Commonwealth must use its best endeavours to ensure that a management
plan is prepared and implemented for the property in cooperation with the
relevant State or Territory. The management plan must be consistent with
the World Heritage Convention and Australia's World Heritage management
principles. World Heritage Management principles are set out in regulations
and cover matters relevant to the preparation of management plans, the
environmental assessment of actions which may affect the property, and
community consultation processes.
Anyone want to fly to Orchid Beach?
Another Aircraft Crash: On 15 September a Brisbane
pilot crashed a Grunman AA5 aircraft attempting to land at the controversial
Orchid Beach airstrip. After making a number of attempts to land, the plane
finally ended up 20 metres off the strip in light timber with fuel leaking
from its ruptured tanks. . Luckily the pilot and two passengers escaped
injury. The aircraft, registered to the Brisbane Flying Group, was a write-off.
Borbidge Responsible: The sorry saga of the Orchid
Beach airstrip continues. Readers of MOONBI 91 (April, 1997) will recall
the detailed history of the Orchid Beach airstrip before the shameful decision
of the Borbidge Government to reopen it in defiance of the Management Plan
for Fraser Island.
$250 subsidy per landing: At the time $190,000
establishment cost and $65,000 for annual maintenance was granted to the
Orchid Beach ALA. The total subsidy from the public purse to date amounts
to $450,000. However the crash revealed that only 1800 landings had been
made since the strip had re-opened. That amounts to a subsidy from the
public purse of about $250 per landing. It also means that the airstrip
is used on average for only about 12 landings per week (less than
2 per day). This is not surprising considering the risks involved in landing
on this short runway with unpredictable winds but it highlights the incredible
perk from the public purse for the favoured few who can afford to fly to
Funding now stopped: The Beattie Government has
now stopped any further consolidated revenue contributions to upkeep this
very expensive white elephant airstrip. FIDO had predicted that Borbidge
was subsidizeing a very privileged few.
Close this Disaster Area: FIDO has many misgivings
about the continued operation of the Orchid Beach airstrip on public safety,
environmental and public financial grounds. We want it closed and re-incorporated
into the Great Sandy National Park as was scheduled in the Management Plan
just as soon as possible.
Dingo Plan on the way
There has been a long and difficult process to try to
establish some consensus for an acceptable Dingo Management Strategy.
Recent dingo shootings: While the strategy was
being developed there has been effectively a two year reprieve when the
number of incidents involving dingos attacking or harassing humans on Fraser
Island. Unfortunately that has now ceased and the number of dingo incidents
has started to increase alarmingly. Two dingos were killed by Rangers
in October, 2000 for harassing tourists at Kingfisher Resort and Happy
Valley respectively at the request of the resorts.
Very small gene pool: FIDO remains very concerned
about the size of the gene pool which is estimated at about 100 animals
and the impact of this culling program on the long-term viability of the
purest strain of dingos in eastern Australia. FIDO wants to see the situation
revert to what it was only 20 years ago when dingos were timid and afraid
of humans. Until that situation is re-established, dingos will continue
to periodically attack humans, particularly women and children on Fraser
Olympic Non-impact: Despite dire predictions of
a huge influx of overseas visitors to Fraser Island as a result of the
Olympics in Sydney, this didn’t materialize. In fact the indications are
that there will be no significant change in the level of visitation between
the September-October figures for 2000 and figures for recent years.
Camper Nights: While the number of camper nights
has generally plateaued, the number of campers has increased. This continues
the trend of recent years. This is due to a number of factors. Increasingly
Fraser Island visitors staying for a week or more are opting for resort
and house accommodation in preference to camping. However, the increasing
number of foreign backpacker campers offsets this even though they camp
fewer nights per visitor. Backpackers normally visit Fraser Island for
three days and camp for two nights.
Backpacker Numbers: While there has been no formal
differentiation of Fraser Island visitors, it is clear that there has been
a significant increase in the number of “backpackers” who travel in groups
of 8 to 11 in 4WD “troop-carriers”. A fleet of over 100 such vehicles operates
mainly from the backpacker accommodation centres in Hervey Bay alone. About
7000 backpackers (700 vehicles) visit Central Station each month. The continuing
growth of the number of backpackers, their lack of 4WD experience, and
their environmentally insensitive patterns of recreation create one of
the most difficult issues for visitor management on Fraser Island.
Increasing Overseas Recognition
A report published in the “Courier Mail” on 10
November advised that Fraser Island was on the “hot list” for travellers.
It was ranked one of the world's top three tropical islands by the prestigious
international travel magazine “Conde Nast Traveler”. It rated Fraser
Island third behind the Hawaiian hideaways of Maui and Kauai in its rankings
of the world's best tropical islands.
The latest Conde Nast score for Fraser Island represents
an improvement on last year's rating of fifth. Fraser received this
top score in the category for activities and was on par with the Hawaiian
islands for scenery.
Tourism Council of Australia Queensland president Gary
Smith, who is also managing director of the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser,
said the recognition by Conde Nast was a huge boost for Queensland and
Australia in the American market. He said that this the recognition plus
the Olympic Games would attract more American tourists to Queensland.
News In Brief
Welcome to the ranks: Sid Melksham, the man who
forced John Sinclair into personal bankruptcy in 1994 for his advocacy
for Fraser Island, has now joined the ranks of conservationists. Apart
from owning all barges operating to Fraser Island and the Eurong Resort
with his partner, Angela Burger, he also owns the two largest vessels in
Hervey Bay’s whale watching fleet. Both Sid and Angela have vowed attend
the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission in London to protest
at the continued whaling by the Japanese. It is a welcome change as is
the support of the Fraser Coast Chronicle for this conservation cause.
It is rare that this parochial regional paper supports any conservation
No Escape from the Law: Slowly the strong arm of
the law is strengthening its grip on Fraser Island. During the spring school
vacations two police 4WDs were based on the island, checking permits, conducting
random breath tests and stopping speeding. This regular holiday police
presence though is about to be significantly strengthened with a permanent
New Police Station: The 2000-01 Queensland Budget
included an allocation of $150,000 for a new Police Station on the island.
The funds will enable the selection of a site and developing a design.
Construction is expected to start later in the current financial year.
Some Escape Though: In the last 12 months there
have been 274 prosecutions for infringements of Queensland’s Nature Conservation
Act and the Recreation Areas Management Act by QPWS officers. Unfortunately
though some professional fishers seem to have continuing immunity from
these acts. Although the Queensland Government had no hesitation in using
the RAM act to prevent anti-logging protesters camping on the same site
for more than 3 weeks, they continue to turn a blind eye to the permanent
camps of professional fishers on the foreshores at Waddy Point. Some camps
have not been moved in more than 10 years. This is clearly an act of double
standards. FIDO wants to know if they have paid the requisite camping fees
for that period.
Sandy Cape: The historic Sandy Cape lighthouse
reserve has now been incorporated into a new Sandy Cape Conservation Park
and added to the state's protected estate. Sandy Cape was only the second
lighthouse to be built by Queensland authorities. The lighthouse tower
was built in 1870. At the time, construction was a major achievement with
bolted prefabricated segments of cast iron being imported from England
and put together on site. The Sandy Cape Conservation Park is a 3.34ha
addition to Great Sandy National Park and includes the lighthouse, residential
cottages, sheds and graveyard.
Double Island Point: Another addition is the Double
Island Point lighthouse at Rainbow Beach, built in 1884. The Double Island
Point Conservation Park is a 4ha addition to Great Sandy National Park
and includes the lighthouse, and cottage area.
The QPWS is currently reviewing expressions of interest
for a commercial operator at the Double Island Point lighthouse which was
recently called for. FIDO's sister organization, the Noosa Parks Association
has tendered for the management of this critical site for the management
The Fraser Island Defender's Organization (FIDO) was formed nearly 30 years
ago to protect Fraser Island's unique values from human exploitation. We
have had incredible public support and success in our campaigns to end
sand mining and logging, for World Heritage Listing, and the declaration
of National Park over most of Fraser Island. This support has enabled major
achievements, and remains fundamental to our future success, despite being
an entirely voluntary organisation operating out of the spare rooms and
sheds of countless volunteers.
Regrettably, nearly thirty years on, the will of Governments to protect Fraser still
fails to match both the desires of the community, and the need of Fraser
Island's fragile environment. The degradation of Fraser Island continues
at an escalating rate. Neither the Commonwealth nor the Queensland Government
give adequate funds to manage Fraser Island. Local Governments continue
to take revenue off the island and spend it on the mainland.
FIDO continues to expend a great amount of voluntary time, resources and energy
in monitoring the situation, publicizing the concerns, lobbying various
levels of Government, and taking direct action on the ground to reverse
It used to astound me that a voluntary conservation group could do more to
protect a fragile place like Fraser Island than Government with all its'
resources. However, it appears Government rely on groups like FIDO to do
the hard work and argue the case for funding, to raise public awareness,
and drive the arguments for conservation. This process is absurd, and it
does require enormous effort from those committed to environmental protection.
However it is the way the game is played. FIDO believes Fraser Island is
too important to argue about the rules. Fraser Island is begging for protectors,
and FIDO remains committed to championing the cause.
John Sinclair remains central to the effectiveness of FIDO. He manages to find
time out of his business and family lives to regularly visit Fraser Island,
attend Fraser Island Community Advisory Committee meetings, prepare submissions,
lobby politicians, contact the media and produce MOONBI. Fraser Island
remains indebted to him.
Billie Watts continues to do an excellent job in the never-ending job of Secretary.
John and FIDO rely on her energy and commitment to Fraser Island.
Terry Hampson deserves our gratitude for continuing with the thankless job of
Treasurer, made even more onerous by the GST.
John Sinclair Jnr, Judy Tambling, John Davey and Brian Mellifont complete the
dedicated band that formed the Executive for the last few years, and continues
to ensure Fraser Island's unique values are protected.
Help FIDO by talking with family and friends: FIDO
has a large group of loyal members, many joining over 20 years ago and
supporting us through all the heated battles of the past. Most of you will
have stories of Fraser Island that you will have past on to your family
and friends, and some of them will share your love of the place. Please
encourage them to join us in the campaign to protect one of Australia's
special places by joining FIDO. Or pass on to us the names of people you
think may share your love of Fraser Island by returning the form included
in this issue of MOONBI. They will receive a letter from John Sinclair,
a free copy of MOONBI, an educational supplement, and an application form
to join FIDO.
The issues facing Fraser Island are not being addressed
by Government. We need a strong group like FIDO to advance the issues and
drive the protection. We need to add new members to our keen band of supporters
for FIDO to remain strong in the 21st century. Your continued support for
Fraser Island is appreciated. Please help us be stronger longer by strengthening
FIDO continues to champion the "wisest use" of Fraser
Island. We continue a positive program of policy and action, while lobbying
Governments and raising concerns with the community and the media.
The Fraser Island Light Rail Proposal: The Light
Rail Proposal is an important FIDO initiative. Our proposal will help Fraser
Island cope with the ever expanding number of people who want to visit
Fraser Island, with less environmental impact than currently. An enormous
part of the expenditure on Fraser Island is on road maintenance. Despite
this, or possibly because of this, roads deteriorate even faster requiring
more expense. Runoff from the roads is filling waterways and lakes. Lake
McKenzie, probably the most popular lake on the island, is filling with
sand and woodchips from the adjacent road. Current tourism practices are
not sustainable and alternatives need to be encouraged. FIDO is working
hard to ensure Governments understand the economic as well as environmental
viability of light rail. It has been an issue we have pursued for nearly
20 years. We recently conducted another study, with a grant from the Queensland
Government, which confirmed the viability of the proposal. We are encouraging
the Commonwealth and State Governments to now proceed with a more detailed
study with the aim of calling for expressions of interest for private enterprise
to construct a light rail system on the island.
Weed management: FIDO has been concerned about
the invasion of weeds on the island, particularly around the townships.
Introduced domestic plants, as well as groundsel and lantana, are obliterating
the native flora. The Maryborough and Hervey Bay Councils refused to act
to clean up the land under their control, despite collecting rate money
from Fraser Island (and spending it on the mainland). FIDO organised a
weekend action group by volunteers and removed 13 large trucks of weeds
from the front of Eurong township. The local Councils are now showing some
interest in weed management, and hopefully will start investing the money
they collect from the island on the island.
Cooloola: FIDO has been working closely with the
Noosa Parks Association regarding the World Heritage Listing of Cooloola.
The entire Great Sandy Region should be on the World Heritage List, but
only Fraser Island has made it so far. Most of the obstacles for Cooloola
have been resolved. John Sinclair has been attending workshops to help
prepare the nomination. There are some delays due to conflict between the
Federal and State Governments, but nomination will hopefully occur within
the next 2 years.
Great Sandy Regional Conservation Council: The
formation of the Great Sandy Regional Conservation Council 2 years ago
has helped communication between FIDO, the Noosa Parks Association, Noosa
Landcare and other conservation groups in the Great Sandy Region. The organization
has also received Government Grants, which has helped the organizations
meet their goals. John Sinclair and I attended a GSRCC meeting in July
at Noosa, where much useful information was exchanged. As well as World
Heritage Listing for Cooloola, the future of the lighthouses at Sandy Cape
and Double Island Point were discussed. Noosa Parks has a proposal to manage
the lighthouse buildings which is currently being considered by the State
Government. Sandy Cape is currently being used as ranger accommodation,
although the long-term use of the site is not clear. The future of Dilli
Village remains unclear. Tourism and road management problems are common
to both Fraser Island and Cooloola, and it is great to get together to
discuss similar issues and hear of other groups' strategies.
Educational Leaflets and Expanded Internet Information:
FIDO has actually received some Government Grants this year. Our plan is
to prepare some educational information which will be distributed to members,
schools, libraries and the community generally. Fraser Island is of great
interest to the community, and especially to school students. FIDO receives
many queries from students doing assignments on the environment, sand mining,
logging, tourism, conservation battles and other issues. Answering these
takes much of the time of John Sinclair (Project Officer) and Billie Watts
(Secretary). The development of the FIDO web site on the Internet (thanks
to the combined efforts of the Sinclair family) has helped, and we hope
to incorporate the educational information on the site to ensure the information
is accessible as widely as possible.
MOONBI 100: The next year should see John Sinclair
produce his 100th MOONBI. This is a great feat for both John and FIDO.
Fraser Island has faced many crises over the years from human exploitation.
The issues continue to change, but the need to recognise and address the
problems, and develop strategies to protect the environment remain. FIDO
continues to have work to do, and we appreciate your support in our joint
Ian Matthews (FIDO President) August 2000