FIDO Fraser Island Defenders Organization
FIDO, “The Watchdog of Fraser Island”, aims to ensure the wisest use of Fraser Island's natural resources.


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.
FIDO's Home Page: E-Mail:
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 (ABN 59 009 969 135)
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 4 April, 2002

In This Issue

Tourism - The Goose that lays Golden Eggs

Study Highlights Fraser Island Overuse

Fraser Island Debated in Queensland Parliament

Management Plan & RAM Act being reviewed

4WD-ers Whistling in the Wind

Dingo Survival Seriously Threatened

Walking Track Plan, Non-Motorized Exploring

Environmental and Economic Impacts of Fishing

Fishing Expo Report, Professional fishers stay put

Report on Reports

Visitor Statistics, Loss of Small Birds

News in Brief - 4WD Licences, Barge Battles etc

Talking About Fraser Island (Ecolinguistics)

FIDO's War on Weeds

Environmental impacts of recreation on lakes

January Inspection Report (Logging, Dingo Fencing)

A Continuing Burning Issue, Banksia Serial Killing


What you can do to HELP

MOONBI is about to become more frequent. For several years now MOONBI has only been a twice-annual production. However, the FIDO Executive has decided that by publishing three (3) issues annually in April, July and November members will be kept more abreast of the current issues and the news will be therefore more topical. We also hope that each issue will be slightly thinner making the information contained therein easier to digest.

Since MOONBI 100

The Goose that laid the Golden Egg: Suddenly there has been a spate of activity all aimed at assessing how much of a "Golden Egg" Fraser Island represents. The goose that laid this egg is suffering significantly.

The value of the egg: The activity includes, the study sponsored by the Goldman Environmental Foundation and being conducted by the Cairns based corporate consultants, Kleinhardt FGI Pty. Ltd. This $27,500 study has been commissioned by the Australian Tropical Research Foundation to establish the economic value of two Queensland World Heritage icons, Fraser Island and the Daintree are worth to the economy. Fraser Island is worth $275 million and creates over 2880 jobs. Fraser Island is now worth more to the economy each year than sandmining would have been over the whole of its projected 20 year life span.

Sustaining the Goose: FIDO believes that the government should be putting back 5% of this economic value (turnover) into "asset maintenance" (management). Our case is well justified. The previously grossly under-rated economic value of this nature-based tourism can't be sustained without better management and maintenance.

Much Action: In the last 6 months after what seems like years of decision making paralysis there has been some significant movement to start to address the myriad problems besetting Fraser Island. FIDO, which has as its goal "To ensure the wisest use of the natural resources of Fraser Island", has been even busier than usual. We have responded to the EDAW site capacity study, the GH&D study on transport and access, the review of the RAM Act, a proposal to start to make fishing more sustainable, and the release of a Draft Fire Management Plan. Topping all of that is now a review of the overall Great Sandy Region Management Plan. This is in addition to problems associated with implementing the Dingo Management Plan. In addition, FIDO has been heavily involved in helping assemble the data for the Kleinhardt study and trying to get the most appropriate legislation for Fraser Island. It is a very demanding time but many issues continue to languish.

Some planning still severely stalled: There continues to be very significant paralysis on some of the more intractable issues. We have yet to see the outcome of the Draft Camping Management Strategy. Submissions on the Draft closed in July 1999. This is taking longer than the Dingo Management Plan to develop and may even overtake the long stalled Walking Track Management Plan. However, the Plan on which the most urgent action is required, "Managing visitors and commercial tour operators for ecological sustainability - Final report of the review of tourism activities in the Great Sandy Region" (released in May 1999) continues to lie in limbo. This indicates that the EPA and Queensland politicians haven't faced up to the hard decisions in this report. It is easier to massacre 30 dingoes than to make decisions on sustainability.

Countering the Reactionaries: In addition to the above, FIDO is heavily involved in countering the misinformation and lies being propagated by reactionary forces who are intent on trying to unravel the Fraser Island Management Plan for their own selfish reasons.

FIDO also is pursuing physical action with plans for a Working Bee in our renewed War on Weeds.

In addition we continue to monitor new information about Fraser Island, as it becomes available. This has resulted in two contributed articles in this issue: one on eco-linguistics and one on the environmental impacts of recreation in the lakes.

There is much more happening on Fraser Island as this packed MOONBI describes.

Nature Based Tourism - A Goose Laying Golden Eggs

On 19 March the Australian Tropical Research Foundation released an independent study by Cairns based corporate advisers, Kleinhardt FGI Pty. Ltd, into Tourism & Recreation Values of the Daintree and Fraser Island showing that an estimated 796,000 visitors and 1.7 million visitor days are spent in the two regions in total. They are generating $675 million for the economy annually and create over 6000 jobs between them.

The Kleinhardt study was facilitated by a $US15,000 grant applied for by FIDO's Honorary Project Officer, John Sinclair and which was passed on to the Australian Tropical Research Foundation by the San Francisco based Sierra Club Foundation. The grant translated to more than $27,500.

This report provides an estimate of the Total Economic Value of both the Daintree and Fraser Island. The full details of this 58 page report are published in full on FIDO's web site

The Daintree (the coastal strip from the ferry to Cape Tribulation) receives approximately 306,000 day-visitors per annum, representing 70% of all visitors. The remaining 130,000 visitors (30%) are overnight visitors staying approximately 497,000 visitor days or 3.8 days on average. Total Direct and Indirect Financial Value from tourism and recreation within the Daintree of $395.6 million. This generates more than 3,489 jobs in the Far North Queensland region

Fraser Island

From the Executive Summary

The majority of visitors to Fraser Island are overnight visitors, with approximately 223,000 visitors (62%) staying 736,000 visitor days or 3.3 days on average. An additional 137,000 visitors are day visitors. In total visitors spend an estimated 873,000 visitor days on the Island.

Visitors to Fraser Island are split evenly between FIT's (49%) and visitors of CTO's (51%). Slightly more overnight visitors to the Island are campers (53%) spending 390,000 visitor days compared to those visitors spending 346,000 visitor days in commercial rooms.

It is estimate that some 40% of visitors to Fraser Island are international visitors with the majority of the remainder being intrastate visitors from elsewhere in south-east Queensland.

The Direct Financial Value of tourism and recreation on Fraser Island was found to be $116.7 million. Additional Financial Value generated within the Fraser and Sunshine Coast regions in the process of visiting the Island is estimated to be $39.3 million.

Regional multiplier effects have been calculated in the order of $109.22 million, creating a Total Direct and Indirect Financial Value from tourism and recreation on Fraser Island of $265.25 million

Up to 2,880 jobs are generated in the Fraser Coast and Sunshine Coast regions from tourism and recreation on Fraser Island.

The consumers' surplus associated with visiting Fraser Island was calculated to be between $15.70 to $32.63 per visit in 1990. Indicative Economic Value associated with the Islands use as a tourism and recreation destination, at current visitation levels is between $5.6 and $11.7 million.

The Total Economic Value of Fraser Island, incorporating its Economic Value and Direct and Indirect Financial Value from tourism and recreation, is therefore estimated to be in the order of $277 million.

Natural resources also require maintenance;

Maintaining assets requires adequate funding.

FIDO's Response

For too long the worth of Fraser Island's tourism has been grossly undervalued. This has resulted in the Queensland Government failing to provide sufficient resources For too long the worth of Fraser Island's tourism has been grossly undervalued. This has resulted in the Queensland Government failing to provide sufficient resources to sustainably manage this goose which lays golden eggs.

FIDO wants the Queensland and Commonwealth Governments to work towards a formula to spend 5% of the economic worth on management (or more appropriately "asset maintenance". This would mean raising the annual expenditure on Fraser Island to between $13 and $14 million instead of the paltry and woefully inadequate budget which has yet to exceed $5million in any year (including about$3.5 million from RAM "user-pays" fees).

FIDO's formula has been established on four simple principles and precedents:

Study highlights areas of Fraser Island overuse

In late 2001, the Queensland EPA commissioned Brisbane landscape consultants, EDAW, to study 40 Fraser Island sites to assess their site capacity. It also assessed current usage for each site at different periods of the day. The findings suggest maximum sustainable capacities by 2010.

The Report highlights the fact that many sites are being used well beyond their sustainable capacity. The areas most significantly impacted are Central Station, Lake McKenzie, Eli Creek and Indian Head. It reinforces an earlier EDAW study which showed overuse of routes.

The following is FIDO's interpretation of EDAW's data

Site Assessed

Current Approx

by 2010

Awinya Creek



Basin Lake



Boomerang Lake



Bowarrady Creek



Cathedral Beach Resort



Central Station



Coomboo-Hidden Lakes



Deep Creek



Dilli Village






Eli Creek



Eurong Township



Garry's Anchorage



Happy Valley



Hook Point



Indian Head



Kingfisher Resort



Knifeblade Lookout



Lake Allom



Lake Birrabeen



Lake Benaroon



Lake Boomanjin



Lake Garawongera



Lake Jennings



Lake McKenzie



Lake Wabby



Lake Wabby Lookout






Middle Rocks etc



Moon Point



Ocean Lake



Orchid Beach Township



Pile Valley



Rainbow Gorge



Red Canyon



Stonetool Lookout



The Pinnacles









Waddy Point



Wanggoolba Creek






Yidney Rocks



Yidney Scrub



EDAW's Proposed Remedies

Changing visitor times: The report proposed that the site capacity can be improved by shifting the demand from the peak to what are currently off-peak periods. It suggests that it is possible to shift some of the demand to visit sites such as Eli Creek, Central Station and Lake McKenzie from the peak in the middle of the day to early morning and late afternoon when there is a much greater site capacity.

Increasing capacity to handle current use: Where the visitor capacity is proposed to be increased there are very specific suggestions for each site. For example at Eli Creek where "current usage is exceeding site capacity by at least 25%" resulting in crowding and a diminished experience, it is suggested that the visitor numbers can be handled better by upgrading the width of the boardwalk to at least 2 metres. Another option being canvassed is to move the parking area back at least 20 metres from the creek edge.

There is also a hint that currently underutilized sites should be used more by shifting some demand to them.

FIDO's Proposed Remedies

FIDO accepts most of EDAW's proposals to better manage visitor numbers. However, we believe that they don't address some of the root causes of the problems.

  1. Changing patterns of recreation: Existing patterns of recreation are self-reinforcing. Once features such as Central Station and Lake McKenzie become icons, everyone wants to go there as part of their Fraser Island experience. Other places manage to have visitation without impacting on their icons. For example, people can enjoy the Great Barrier Reef without seeing coral spawning. People can enjoy the Australian Alps without going to Mt. Koszciusko, etc. We need to develop patterns of recreation without making visits to iconic sites mandatory.

  2. Shifting demand: Currently Commercial Tour Operators bring about 30% of the day trip visitors from Noosa and to Rainbow Beach by-passing Cooloola which has features comparable to Fraser Island. This is because thy are cashing in on the renown of features such as Lake McKenzie and basing all their marketing on that to sell their trips rather than promoting experiences in Cooloola which can offer not the same experiences but something equally as enriching.

  3. Enforcing site limits by controlling parking: It is possible to control visitor numbers at particular sites just by restricting the number of parking spaces and making it an offence to park anywhere but in the designated areas. This is the easiest way to ensure site capacity is not exceeded. This is used extensively in overseas parks. We should not keep expanding car parks to accommodate more visitors.

  4. Limiting Visitors to the Island: Fraser Island is in a good position to have a cap on visitor numbers. The simple rule should be that if a visitor comes without being able to establish that they have a pre-booked place to stay overnight they must leave the island. Thus while the number of day-trippers may not be controlled (except by 3 above) it would limit visitor numbers to the number of camping sites or formal accommodation beds which are available. These can be controlled.

Fraser Island Debated in Queensland Parliament

On 28 November 2001, the Queensland Parliament debated an urgency motion on Fraser Island brought on by the Opposition. It is strange that although the debate was inspired by the 4WD lobby.

The Opposition Leader moved: That this parliament recognizes that the World Heritage Convention imposes on it a responsibility to 'protect, conserve and present the World Heritage values' of Fraser Island and condemns the present government in its failure to meet all of these obligations. This parliament calls on the government to provide a real increase of funding for infrastructure of at least $2 million specifically for Fraser Island and ensure access to this island is not unreasonably restricted.

FIDO has been pursuing some of these issues for years, especially ensuring adequate funds are provided to manage the island. His attitude on road closures, however, together with the statements by the Opposition Environment spokesperson Vince Lester, suggest the Opposition still has some way to go to understand the importance of Nature Conservation and Wilderness on Fraser Island.

The Opposition Leader said, "The World Heritage listing recognised Fraser Island's combination of environments as having outstanding universal value and its protection for future generations as a global responsibility". He went on to say, "It should be able to be enjoyed by as many people as possible so that we can maintain the value and the environment of the island." He unfortunately did not mention the words "wilderness" nor aesthetic values once nor argue that visitation to Fraser Island must be sustainable. He did argue that an extra $2million should be allocated to improve infrastructure.

Shadow Environment Spokesperson Vince Lester (who in his last four years in this responsibility has never made any contact with FIDO) said: The government has closed some of the most popular beaches to four-wheel drive access. An example of this stupidity is the decision to close the beach between Hook Point and Dilli Village.

Environment Minister Dean Wells then changed the focus of the debate by moving an amendment: Omit all words after 'and' and insert- 'congratulates the Government on addressing these obligations and notes the additional funding of $1.85m provided for the management of Fraser Island to ensure that it remains an area of international conservation significance and an icon destination for visitors from around the world.'

Dean Wells added: This infrastructure expenditure is additional to the expenditure which would otherwise have been incurred on Fraser Island, and it takes the total expenditure on Fraser Island this year to $8.8 million.

The Role of the Friends of Fraser Island: Dean Wells then quoted from the newspaper provided by the Friends of Fraser Island which happened to be included as a supplement to the "Fraser Coast Chronicle". This initiative which would have cost thousands of dollars shows just how closely coordinated the Opposition case was with this 4WD lobby group. Dean Wells quoted an excerpt:

Queensland Environment Minister Dean Wells has doggedly persevered with the closure of tracts of Fraser Island to vehicular access regardless of a strong public outcry and a long history of objections. The only public explanation he gave for his unswerving stance on recent closures were that they: Were recommended by the Great Sandy Region Management Plan (GSRMP); Fulfilled zoning requirements of the GSRMP; Would help conserve the island's World Heritage-listed natural attractions; Would have little impact on visitors' enjoyment of Fraser Island-

Premier Peter Beattie spent most of his speech defending his government's role in the dingo massacre: He concluded: Since the fatality earlier this year, four people have been fined specifically for feeding dingoes, 72 have been fined for offering food to wildlife and 30 have been fined for littering, which includes scraps. The rangers are, in fact, enforcing the fine regime. Those figures are an effective indication of their determination and the government's determination since the culling. How many dingoes have been shot since the fatality? Thirty-two! The government received a significant amount of criticism for ordering the cull.

Member for Maryborough, John Kingston drew parallels with the management and a Shakespearean tragedy. Like FIDO he is upset by the dead kookaburras. He also said: The minister claims correctly that the island is suffering damage from overuse. . Fraser Island is subject to the World Heritage Convention; thus we have an international legal duty to protect, conserve and present to future generations the culture and natural values of the island.

Member for Hervey Bay Andrew McNamara pointed out the positive initiatives undertaken: EDAW Australia is currently studying the visitor site capacity at 47 sites on the island. . The beach closures, announced in August, are part of a long-term plan that has had 10 years of study and public consultation, starting with Tony Fitzgerald's public commission of inquiry in 1991.

Howard Hobbs (National, Warrrego) criticized fire management but he showed his ignorance of the island's ecology and the almost total absence of grass on Fraser Island by asking: What is going to happen one day when there is a big build-up of grass? That island will burn from shore to shore.

Cate Molloy (Labor Noosa) said: I will not be intimidated by those who think only in the 'me, here and now' mindset. I drive a four-wheel drive vehicle, I enjoy Fraser Island and I am more than prepared to support the closure of these roads because it is the only responsible thing to do. To continue to protest against this is laughable.

It was only a one hour debate and almost everything raised had been reported in MOONBI 100 but it is useful to know that the Queensland Parliament is prepared to take a more active interest in Fraser Island thus forcing the Government to be more accountable for its stewardship. Many of the criticisms of the government were echoing issues to which FIDO and MOONBI have been constantly referring.

1994 Great Sandy Region Management Plan Being Reviewed

A review of the Great Sandy Region Management Plan is overdue and the task has begun. Toowoomba based EPA planner, John Ledlin, is charged with this onerous task. This review is being seized upon by opportunists intent on undoing protection now afforded to World Heritage values.

Even before the Review of the Great Sandy Region Management Plan has begun many people have set about trying to unravel the existing Plan and some of the protection it affords to World Heritage values. They seem to overlook the fact that the Plan has as its objective

The 1994 Great Sandy Region Management Plan had the following stated purposes:

New Information: The plan was due to be reviewed in 1999. Since then however there has been considerable new information come to light including: Draft Management Plan s/Strategies for Camping, Walking Tracks, Dingoes and Fire; Tourism Impacts Assessments Great Sandy Region, Great Sandy Straits Wader Surveys, Draft Noosa River Catchment Strategy, plus the Scientific Advisory Committee's Review of Outstanding Universal for both Fraser Island and Cooloola. Other new data is covered elsewhere in this MOONBI.

Legislative Status: With a Beattie Government electoral commitment to give the Great Sandy Region Management Plan the force of law, the review of this plan which is now underway assumes new and greater significance. As well the RAM Act which has is also up for review and is due to be presented to Parliament before September when the current Act is due to lapse.

Transport and Access Study

Engineering and environmental consultants, Gutteridge Haskins and Davey now under way are doing another study on a Transport and Access which is trying to develop options for making the access more sustainable. Since the initial study more than 5 years ago identified the impact of visitation and the fact that many route were exceeding their capacity, visitation has increased from 273,000 to 331,000.

Because Environment Minister Dean Wells said that any consideration to reopening closed beaches and roads would be considered in the review of the Management Plan and by the Transport and Access this has been taken as a signal by self interests particularly some 4WDers as a chance to change the direction of the Management Plan.

A questionnaire is being distributed on the barges and in Fraser Island shops asking loaded questions such as "Would you like to be able to circumnavigate the Top End by 4WD?" which is like asking "Would you like a million dollars?"

RAM Act Being Reviewed

Coincidental with the other Management Plans being revised the legislation which has had the most profound impact on Fraser Island management since it was first introduced in 1985, the Recreation Areas Management (RAM) Act is also being reviewed.

For the last 15 years most of the revenue for Fraser Island has been collected under the authority of the RAM Act. Fraser Island is one of only three Queensland National Parks where there are access fees are charged. Although the Act also covers, Moreton and Green islands and Inskip Peninsula, Fraser Island represents the major area covered Act in terms both of physical size and in the overall proportion of the Recreation Areas Management Board budget. As such Fraser Island is the RAM site which has the greatest significance to the Board.

The 1988 RAM Act and its associated Regulation and By-law are due to expire in September this year. One of the RAM Act's most significant functions of the legislation is to provide for a consistent permit regime and other visitor management requirements across recreation areas, regardless of variations in land tenure.

FIDO made a submission on the proposed RAM changes even though FIDO wants Fraser Island removed from the provisions of the RAM Act for the following reasons:

Fraser Island generated $277 million for the economy translating into 2880 jobs based on 2000-01. It deserves to be managed more sustainably than has occurred under the RAM Act.

FIDO has made a submission to the proposed Act review. Future MOONBIs will inform readers on developments. In the meantime our Web site will keep readers up to date with major submissions.

4WD-ers Whistling in the Wind

Four wheel drivers opposing minor road and beach closures for motor vehicles on Fraser Island continue to swim against the flow of public opinion. They are under the mistaken belief that Fraser Island should be managed for THEIR recreation rather than protecting its World Heritage values.

An increasing number of Australians wanting to use National Parks and World Heritage areas such as Fraser Island in other ways than driving through them. Every other National Park and World Heritage site in Australia has restrictions on where vehicles can go and can't go and where people can camp and can't camp and there is no good reason why Fraser Island should be any different. More and more Australians cherish an image of Fraser Island as a pristine wild and natural place and an increasing number are appalled by the presence of the ever growing number of motor vehicles they see there and are demanding that numbers and access to some sites be restricted.

Responsible Government: Closing of only one kilometre of the 120 of the eastern surfing beach and only 11 km North Wathumba Road and 17 kms beach in the northern part of Fraser Island to all motor vehicles was the very minimum that the Beattie Government could have done.

What the Queensland Government has done is in line with what all other World Heritage managers around the world have had to do to manage a growing demand for access to wonderful places. The four-wheel drive lobby is swimming against the tide in trying to reverse this necessary trend.

Australia has fourteen World Heritage sites and while motor vehicles are permitted in all but the sub-Antarctic islands (Macquarie, Heard and McDonald Islands) access in all is strictly controlled with the distance which any motor vehicles can travel in each be regularly reduced.

Public wants more traffic restrictions: There is a widespread public groundswell demanding even more beaches be closed to traffic. Last year in response to the question, "Should four wheel drives be banned from Fraser Island?" a surprising 47% of Sunshine Coast respondents to a phone in poll said they wanted 4WDs banned from the island. One said, "They're responsible while the individual drivers can be downright dangerous". Another said that restrictions should apply rather than a total ban. "Perhaps they could be allowed up there once a year." Another supported a total ban for safety reasons.

Fraser Island is one of the natural wonders of the world. There are many other ways to appreciate it without driving over every inch of it. The majority of people treasure Fraser Island as they treasure Antarctica as a wild natural place. They want to expunge the image of it being over-run by four-wheel drives.

A Little Knowledge is Dangerous

The Friends of Fraser Island have obviously suffered from having just too little knowledge. MOONBI 99 carried an article by FIDO member, Judith Tambling recalling the safaris that she and some other members of FIDO had enjoyed with the Environment Minister, Dean Wells back in the early 1980s. This has spawned all sorts of fallacious speculation which has been published and distributed by the Friends of Fraser Island which did even less to check their facts than Senator Heffernan did before erroneously libeling Justice Michael Kirby.

There are many erroneous conclusions drawn by a mischievous organization trying to discredit Sinclair and FIDO to reverse provisions of the Great Sandy Region Management Plan especially as it affects road and beach closures. They want open slather to use every track and beach possible.

1. Dean Wells has never been a FIDO member nor attended any FIDO function. John Sinclair was a guide to a number of fundraising trips to Fraser Island for another organization which happened to include some FIDO members as well as Dean Wells prior to 1986.

2. There was no contact nor any personal correspondence between Dean Wells and John Sinclair since 1990 until he became the Environment Minister.

3. Any influence by FIDO or Sinclair is based on sound logical and well-reasoned arguments. It is not based on "mateship".

4. John Sinclair is not a "major tour operator". He conducts just one 8 day GO BUSH safari to Fraser Island each year for 20 clients. This is one of just ten GO BUSH safaris to various Australian World Heritage sites each year taking fewer than 200 people annually.

5. John Sinclair hasn't driven on any Fraser Island roads or beaches closed to the public.

Monitoring the Lakes

The redneck brigade has trotted out many furphies to justify being able to drive anywhere they want on Fraser Island. The latest myth being propagated has been the claim that they have to take their "tots" to Platypus Bay (specifically by the now closed North Wathumba Road rather than the still open South Wathumba Road). This is because it is not safe to swim on the eastern side of the island and the 4WD brigade deem it too unhealthy to swim in Ocean Lake.

When advised by FIDO that the water quality of all of Fraser Island's most heavily used lakes was closely monitored this was not believed. Therefore MOONBI is publishing here the summary of the report presented to all Fraser Island management committees last April.

Fraser Dingo Survival Seriously Threatened

More Dingoes

Another Killed by Rangers: At 1.30 am on 24 January a dingo bit a 26 year old English doctor. She was playing in the darkness on the beach at One Tree Rocks with four friends just North of Eurong. She said the dingo came from nowhere after she fell. It bit her on the left ankle and right buttocks leaving two puncture marks on each. She reported the attack to the rangers the following morning within 24 hours there was a fatal response for the dingo.

Acting Senior Ranger, Eric Glassop said a "well developed" dingo matching her description had been caught in a dingo trap that night. He said a dingo in the area had been showing "undesirable" behaviour for two-to-three weeks and that the rangers had no option but to destroy the dingo if it was being aggressive. The report showed "Probable cause of death" as "Dingo attack".

Two other dead dingoes were cited under "Probable cause of death" as "Dingo attack". Both had stomach contents analyzed in March. Due to the cryptic nature of the reports coming through we could be forgiven for thinking both were also shot. However inquires show that the Lake McKenzie dingo was engaged in a fatal dog fight. It is not known what caused the death of the Waddy Point animal.

Accident or Assassination?

Two other dingoes were run down and killed by 4WDs - one at Sandy Cape and one at Orchid Beach. Although the cryptic reports said "no details known" FIDO believes that these animals were deliberately run down by rednecks as was foreshadowed to us in an E-mail published in MOONBI 100.

This is a most disturbing trend. To lose at least 3 dingoes in just over a month as a result of unnatural causes is not sustainable for a population already seriously depleted after the May 2001 Massacre.

It is not good enough for the EPA to accept the death of dingoes and to seek no details. Our inquiries suggest that running down dingoes is a red-neck reaction in the same way that red-necks introduced foxes into Tasmania in a deliberate response the introduction of the new gun laws.

Photo by Ian Morris - August 2001

While FIDO is also considering what actions we can pursue under the EPBC Act, we are also urging people who share our concern about dingoes to collect as many signatures as possible on petitions. The petitions will make all state and federal politicians aware of the precariously low state of the gene pool on Fraser Island and its very great significance.

Dingo Policy needs much more fine-tuning: FIDO remains concerned that so little is known about the dingo population dynamics on Fraser Island. FIDO believes that this will only be resolved when every dingo on the island has been trapped and marked. Then lay-people can ensure they can give a positive identification such as, "It had a nick on the left side of its left ear" or perhaps, "It had a green marker on its right front leg". It is possible to develop a humane and permanent not disfiguring method to identify wild animals and such methods have been employed by zoologists and animal behaviourists for years.

Marking every individual dingo would produce some much more positive outcomes:

1. It would establish the exact number of dingoes on the island. The best estimate was contained in an earlier dingo report which said that there are only 100 dingoes on the island each mating season (May- June). This population estimate has subsequently been queried because some animals may have been counted more than once by different rangers because their territory is much larger than previously assumed. Since then 33 animals have been shot. By marking every animal we would know the initial population by the number caught and marked.

2. Clear markings would enable positive identification of rogue animals and avoid any doubts that the wrong animal may have been dealt with.

3. If every animal is marked we can begin to know a lot more about the pack dynamics and genetics, the life spans, the behaviour patterns, the size of the territory of each animal, and much more data that would help us understand much more about this animal.

Dingoes are recognized as being one of Fraser Island's World Heritage values. They are also proving to be one of the most expensive and difficult management issues on Fraser Island when one considers what has transpired in the last 12 months since the death of Clinton Gage.

FIDO has some serious reservations about the fencing placed around some camping areas. The fence erected around the Lake Boomanjin camping area looked more like the style applied to the Woomera Detention Centre than for a natural area.

There also needs to be some rethinking of the hazing strategy. At present only Rangers can engage in hazing (i.e. chasing the dingoes away and making them more wary of people). Anyone else engaging in "hazing" could be deemed to be "harassing" and be fined $1200. The problem of restricting hazing only to Rangers has run into problems because the dingoes are only associating the deterrents with Ranger and people driving ranger vehicles.

"Save The Dingo" Petitions

In response to what we believe is a serious threat to the dingo gene pool, FIDO has now developed three separate petitions:

  1. The Queensland Parliament (yellow)
  2. House of Representatives (green)
  3. Senate (pink)

These petitions though can be photo-copied and more signatures collected.

We are seeking signatures from eligible members of the public who share our concern for the viability of Fraser Island's dingoes now believed to be the purest remaining gene pool in Australia and one of Fraser Island's acknowledged World Heritage values.

Waiting for Walking Tracks

The Commonwealth Government funded the development of a Fraser Island Walking Tracks Management Plan back in 1996 but this has so far failed to materialize.

MOONBI 99 reported that progress was being made on the Walking Track Management Plan for Fraser Island. We understood that we could soon look forward finally after a wait of many years to the release of the Draft Walking Track Management Plan. Regretably this Plan seems to have hit a brick wall and stalled in a similar manner to so many of the island's other proposed great plans of the past.

The CAC hasn't heard a word since we commented on the preliminary "Draft Fraser Island Walking Track Management Plan - On Shifting Sand" in April 2001. There still hasn't been a formal DRAFT PLAN released inviting wider comment from the public. We had expected that about a year ago. The management's December Report there was a note that the QPWS had selected an officer, Anthony Thomas, to work on the Plan. He took up duties in early 2002 and is based at Maroochydore.

In December 2000 the Hervey Bay City Council submitted a proposal to the Beattie Government to initiate work on Stage 1 of the Kgari Walking Trail on Fraser Island which FIDO had initiated. FIDO was alarmed to discover that the Beattie and Commonwealth Governments had committed over $5 million to a walking trail network in the Wet Tropics World Heritage area but had omitted Fraser Island entirely from consideration in this program. We were able to discover though that there was a small residual in State Coffers from this Federation Heritage Trails funds which could allocate up to $100,000.

FIDO had proposed to define the Kgari Trail through 70 kilometres from Lake Garrawongera to Wathumba Creek in the North. However the Beattie Government rejected that very modest application. They then held out hopes that Fraser Island would be the beneficiary of a $10 million program which was part of the Beattie Government's 2001 Election promises.

What is most disturbing is that having rejected FIDO's earlier submission for walking trails, now everything seems to be stalled on Fraser Island.

While work is actively proceeding spending the $5 million in the Wet Tropics, we haven't even got any commitment for any actual money being spent on Fraser Island. We can't even have a DRAFT Fraser Island Walking Plan released for public discussion let alone initiate planning to get the walking trails proceeding. Fraser Island management seems to be perpetually in WAIT mode.

Non-Motorized Exploring of Fraser

One FIDO member, Frank Earley of Toowoomba recently wrote to us to congratulate us on MOONBI 100. In doing so he recalled how he was able to circumnavigate Fraser Island in 1978. He wrote:

"My adventure with my 2 daughters in 1978 from Rainbow Beach to Indian Head on my "long distance, cruising type" land yacht was absolutely fantastic and as far as I know, we were the first to use a land yacht there.

"Exactly one year later another guy and I circumnavigated Fraser by sail.

"We started by my land yacht at Hook Point and swapped over to his catamaran at Rooney and finally reached the starting point.

"I said 'finally' because we had to break the journey at Ungowa for a couple of days to fly him out from orchid beach to attend a pharmaceutical meeting back here in Toowoomba. While he was gone I had some fun up and down Eurong beach in some pretty wild weather and have that on film. We raised $1000 for the Junior Choir of the Toowoomba Choral Society for their NZ concert tour.

"Apart from helping you a couple of years later at the Eli Creek boardwalk working bee, I haven't been back to that beloved Island."

It is therefore wrong to say that the most of Fraser Island is "locked up". The Great Sandy Region Management Plan has zoned most of the northern part of Fraser Island as Remote. There is an area of 53,000 hectares. The plan has four approximately equal areas, Remote (53,000 ha.) Semi-remote non-motorized (47,000 ha) Semi-remote Motorized (48,000 ha.) and Natural (48,000 ha.). Another 23,500 ha. are designated "Intensive and Urban"

The Plan specifically says:

"Areas of remote non-motorized recreation with no facilities or formed access and a requirement for total self reliance. Limited evidence of previous human activity and very little 'on-site' management".

Thus the innovative transport Frank Earley used back in 1978 could still be used as he used it then. It is a challenge.

It is interesting that some people now see the only way of circumnavigating the Top end is by 4WDs.

Brumbies On the Way Out?

Although the QPWS has long stalled on removing the remaining handful of brumbies which is part of the Management Plan there is now widespread support for the removal of the remaining animals mainly located in the Orchid Beach - Waddy Point area. The Waler Horse Society of Australia believes that these animals have heritage value and want to remove them. Before they can be removed though they must first comply with EPA rules on issues of the ownership of the horses, disease risk to domestic stock, animal cruelty issues and the method of removal. This seems to be stalling the settlement of the brumby issue but the CAC which was strongly unanimous in its resolution that the brumbies should go sooner rather than later (they had put a deadline of before Christmas).

FIDO and CAC members had hoped that the last brumby would be removed early in 2002 but in April a mob of brumbies were still grazing around Orchid Beach and Indian Head. There has been no word on how long the EPA will allow them to continue to remain.

Environmental and Economic Impacts of Fishing

Tailor In Trouble

There is now belated an acknowledgment by Queensland Fisheries that the stock of Tailor are seriously declining in Eastern Australia. As a result they recently released a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) on a proposed new regulation to reduce the take of tailor and to help conserve Tailor fishing stocks.

In brief it proposed a bag limit for Recreational Fisherman of 20 but for extended trips to Fraser Island it proposes that fishers can take up to 30 tailor per day.

FIDO is unhappy with this differentiation on Fraser Island. It doesn't overcome the general complaint that "amateurs" are filling freezers over a week on Fraser island and then becoming defacto professionals and selling the fish on their return to Brisbane and other centres to recover the costs of their holiday.

FIDO would prefer to keep Fraser Island on the same standard as elsewhere because of difficulty of enforcement and determining what is an "extended" trip.

One other factor affecting Fraser Island is a proposal to extend the closed season Fraser Island in the area from Waddy Point to Indian Head from all of September now to 1st August to 30th September. While FIDO welcomes this move as a chance to give the stocks a chance to replenish, we are unhappy that there has been no extension of the area closed to include Breaksea Spit. The RIS says that the Waddy Point to Indian Head area encompasses the largest known spawning aggregation of tailor. However Breaksea Spit is now believed to also be a very significant spawning ground and FIDO believes that this area also needs the protection of a closed season.

The limit for the total commercial catch has been set at 120 tonnes for Queensland (which is effectively only as far north as Sandy Cape because even globally tailor is mainly found only at latitudes above 24 degrees and below 40. The move to restrict professional catches is at least a positive but with the catch continually declining from a 176.2 average since 1988, this may not be such a decline in the potential take and may not have been set low enough.

The Fraser Island World Heritage area extends 500 metres to sea all around Fraser Island. It includes the fish stock as well as the terrestrial flora and fauna. FIDO is as concerned to see that the natural marine resources are protected as well as the terrestrial natural resources. That is why FIDO is arguing that more strenuous efforts are made to conserve the fisheries resources off Fraser Island.

MOONBI will keep members and the conservation movement informed on developments. Unfortunately the Queensland Department of Primary Industries have failed to act on a Discussion Paper to prepare a Fisheries Management Plan for Fraser Island back in 1996 and have let the tailor stocks run down as they stalled on taking any action. FIDO will be more active in ensuring that more urgent action is taken over Fraser Island's most famous fishery tailor. After all it was the Butchalla who gave the name of the fish "Tailor" to the world. Tailor is a corruption of the Butchalla name for the fish, "dhailli".

Recreational Fishing Values

A survey into the spending habits of fishers was conducted for Sunfish Inc. and published in "Recreational Fishermen and Their Contribution to the Economy for Hervey Bay and Great Sandy Strait region June 2000 - January 2001".

It found that Hervey Bay and the Great Sandy Strait region is the host of about 300,000 visitations a year by recreational fishermen. In the region there are 7906 registered boats, valued at $89,992,590, 77% that are less than 5 years old. Regional boat registrations raise $514,282 per year, with boat owners spending $1,117,339 on insurance and $2,624,792 on maintenance per year.

7.5% of fishermen use hire boats spending $601,544 on boat hire per year and 27.9% of fishermen use charter boats spending $4,512,950 per year.

Fishermen in the region own $10,008,900 worth of fishing gear, $3,073,440 worth of specialized clothing to go fishing and $7,488,563 worth of electronic equipment. They spend $1,419,047 on safety gear, $3,708,900 on bait, $2,970,000 on terminal tackle and $2,676,150 on fishing lures per year. They also spend $7,217,100 on boat fuel and $5,910,720 on car fuel per year in order to go fishing.

Survey results also show that;

* 56.4% of respondents that fish in the region go crabbing as part of their fishing activities. They own a total of $564,062 worth of crab pots and dillies and spend $273,876 on crab bait per year.

* 49% of respondents own cast nets valued at $792,624 to catch prawns and bait.

* 60.3% of respondents buy take away food and drink when they go fishing, spending $3,154,896 per year.

* Fishermen in the region on holidays spend $102,817,400 on accommodation.

Fishermen who choose to live in the region for the fishing access also generate significant economic activity in other areas such as the automotive and real estate markets because of their specialized needs.

Recreational fishermen in the region own a total of $101,911,279 of capital equipment and spend a total of $38,345,904 per year to go fishing in the Hervey Bay/Great Sandy Strait region. Visiting recreational fishermen spend $102,817,400 on accommodation.

FIDO thanks Sunfish for its permission to reprint this summary.

Great Sandy Strait

Great Sandy Strait stretches from about Urangan in the north to the southern end of Tin Can Bay, and across to the western coast of Fraser Island from Moon Point southwards. It covers 93,160 hectares.

From an ornithological viewpoint, Great Sandy Strait regularly supports 20,000 waterfowl, and regularly supports 1% of the individuals in a population of one species or subspecies of waterfowl. In fact, it is considered the third most important site in Australia for migratory shorebirds.

Correction: MOONBI 100 stated that rangers are picking palm leaves out of Wanggoolba Creek. Whilst this once happened at the request of tour operators, this is has not been true for at least the past four years. Rangers though are responsible for removing trees from the beaches.

July 2001 Toyota Fishing Expo Report Arrives in January 2002

On 17 January John Sinclair finally received the "official" "Monitoring Report for the Toyota Fraser Island Fishing Expo" which was dated "July, 2001". It is pointless to ask where this report has been gathering mould since because the QPWS is very touchy on this issue and continues to stall on its reporting of this event which FIDO firmly believes has no place in a World Heritage area.

There is a lack of transparency in the dealings between QPWS and Toyota.

The following aspects of the report need to be noted.

About 1413 competitors and 300 associates attended the 2001 event. Of these about 660 camped in the national park; the remainder were accommodated at Orchid Beach township. This concentration of campers in the area required more intensive patrolling and management to mitigate the impact on the environment.

Highest concentrations of campers in the national park "A large proportion of people attending the event stayed in the Orchid Beach township. This has implications for the impact of the event on the township itself. As the township is under the jurisdiction of the Hervey Bay City Council it may be desirable to negotiate for a City 'Commons' ranger ... for future events"

The highest concentration of campers in the National Park were at the Waddy Point beachfront camping area. The number of people camping in the National Park this year was similar to 2000.

Camping density north of Indian Head during Fishing Expos

Source : 2001 QPWS Report


It will be noted that there is a significant discrepancy between the figure "660 camped in the national park" (above) and the table.

"Twenty-nine (29) vehicle permits and seventy-two (72) camping permits were issued to competitors from the Waddy Point Ranger Station during May 2001. "

Fish Frames: One of the ongoing problems of waste management on Fraser Island is to find an acceptable means of dealing with fish waste. This is certainly a major problem during the Fishing Expo. Rangers continue to find fish frames, offal and bait inappropriately discarded by contestants even after Toyota has conducted cleanup efforts.

Gulls: "The influence of the concentration of fish comp fishers on Silver Gull population has not been monitored previously. There is no baseline data of the population levels throughout the year and particularly during the tailor-fishing season. Anecdotal reports suggest that there may be an increasing number of Silver Gulls annually which persist after the Fishing Expo at least for the tailor season."

A table provided showed the median number of Silver Gulls between Middle Rocks and South Ngkala Rocks rose from about 28 to 42 in the week during the event. What worries FIDO most is that when FIDO began monitoring Fraser Island in 1971 it was remarkable even to see ONE (1) Silver Gull anywhere on a Fraser Island beach.

Professional Fishers Camps Stay Put

At the June meeting of the CAC in Hervey Bay there was unanimous support for removing the professional fishers camps which have been in place at Waddy Point for more than a decade in clear contravention both of the Recreation Areas Management Act and the Nature Conservation Act. The former Act has been used very discriminately in 1990 against conservationists protesting about logging on Fraser Island and they were forced to move their camps every three weeks. At the same time a blind eye was turned to the professional fishers Waddy Point. A decade later even after the unanimous support of the CAC the fishers still remain in contravention of Queensland's RAM Act.

Now it is not only FIDO who wants to know why. The fact that the implementation of the Management Plan is stalled more frequently in the Waddy Point- Orchid Beach area more than anywhere else on Fraser Island is of particular concern to FIDO. The QPWS always seem to have some reason to stall on implementation in this area.

The QPWS provided us with the following background information that includes the latest stalling reasons:

* Camping permits on Fraser Island are issued under the Recreation Areas Management Act and are generally limited to 28 days under a policy that has been in place for many years. This policy is consistent with permits to camp issued for National Parks under the Nature Conservation Act, which are issued for a maximum of 22 days.

* Some commercial fishers have established semi-permanent camps at Waddy Point beachfront. Some of these camps have been in place for many years with references to them going back to 1986 at least. The camps and associated equipment including boats are quite substantial. Other users of the Fraser Island Recreation Area are not permitted to establish semipermanent camps.

* The commercial fishers pay camping fees for their camps.

* The need to remove these semi-permanent camps was highlighted back as far as 1986 and was foreshadowed in the Recreation Management Plan for the Fraser Island Recreation Area released by the Fraser Island Recreation Board in November 1988 (p60). The Great Sandy Region Management Plan recommended that consideration be given to establishing a commercial fishers camp at Orchid Beach (p184). The Draft Fraser Island World Heritage Area Camping Management Plan released in April 1999 recommended that the semi-permanent camps be closed and the sites rehabilitated.

* Negotiations for the establishment of an alternative camping area and subsequent relocation of the commercial fishers from Waddy Point beachfront camping area have been deferred pending the finalisation of the camping management plan.

* Waddy Point is probably the safest launch place on Fraser Island's east coast with virtually no alternative launch sites on that side of the island. QPWS does not propose to limit launching activity, only camping.

It is interesting to note that the Camping Management Plan seems to be progressing even more slowly than the plethora of other plans for Fraser Island and may outrank the Dingo Plan for the time it takes for the final plan to see the light of day.

Report on Reports

For many years FIDO has complained about the lack of flow of information from the bureaucrats to the stakeholders. That dearth has just been demonstrated by contrasting the information distributed to stakeholders of Fraser Island with what is distributed to stakeholders of Kakadu National Park.

Why the contrast is so significant is that both Kakadu and Fraser Island have the same sized bureaucracy. It just seems that the organization of the Kakadu staff results in better productivity and a more informative outcome.

The Kakadu Model: The Kakadu information is not only mailed to stakeholders, such as tour operators who are not directly involved in management. These reports are contained in a wonderful newsletter, "Gun-wok" which is placed on the Internet.

"Gun-wok" is the Gundjeihmi word for news or information and the newsletter aims to provide valuable information on park management, activities and planning issues to tour companies and tour guides operating in the Park. However, any other parties interested in the newsletter are encouraged to have a read.

Each edition provides details on the management of the Park from various perspectives. All districts and project areas submit a brief summary of material from their section that is relevant to members of the tourism industry. Included is information on seasonal conditions, visitor statistics, road works, fauna and flora features, notices of closures and openings and other general issues of interest or concern.

Kakadu National Park commenced distributing the Gun-wok newsletter in December 1995 and produces 3 - 4 editions per year. Each edition includes reports from the various districts on their activities and from some sections with overall responsibilities. There is a full page on the impact of cane toads and a full page including photos on some problem weeds where public assistance is being sought to eliminate them. A sample of Gun-wok can be seen at

The effect of this broadly inclusive approach by Kakadu improves the goodwill towards the park managers and staff and develops a more proprietorial attitude by Park users to protecting its unique resources.

The Fraser Island Model: The QPWS produces a monthly cryptic report that is circulated only to members of the three management committees. It is a four page single column A4 newsletter with no elaboration of the significance of any single point. There are no illustrations.

This is an extract from the November Report on Fraser Island. The style doesn't vary from month to month.

Natural Resource Management






Dingo Management

Visitor Statistics

Fraser Island Camping Statistics

Year Camp Permits People camped Camper Nights

Table 1

Source: EPA (Queensland) November Report

  1. The number of camping permits issued for Fraser Island has plateaued and has remained relatively static over a five year period.

  2. The number of people per permit is increasing while the number of camper nights remains relatively static. This is an indication that the average camping stay is of shorter duration.

  3. One explanation based on observation is that increasingly Australian visitors are opting for house and unit accommodation in preference for camping. These are from groups that usually stayed on Fraser Island for a week or more.

  4. The use of accommodation continues to grow. The number of beds in accommodation continues to grow with the expansion of Eurong and Kingfisher Resorts and other accommodation at Eurong, Happy Valley and Orchid Beach. Apparently the occupancy rate of available has been maintained except for some aberrations due to external factors such as the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 11th September, 2001.

  5. Increasingly international travellers (backpackers) who visit Fraser Island for 3 day - 2 night ventures are progressively replacing the Australians who are taking accommodated holidays. Because they are the international tourists in larger groups (usually 8 people to a "troop carrier") than traditional Australian camping groups, the aggregate number of camper nights remains relatively constant.

Fraser Island Visitor Statistics

Year Vehicle Permits Number FITs Number CTOs

Table 2

Source: EPA (Queensland) November Report

  1. 1 FITs are "Free and Independent Travellers" who visit as families or small groups. Commercial tour operators are people carried by Commercial Tour Operators. Almost all of the FITs stay on Fraser Island for more than one day. It appears that about a quarter of visitors on commercial tours do more than just day tours. These usually patronise 2 or 3-day tours, staying in a resort.

  2. While there was some aberration due to the Sydney Olympics there has been a steady and consistent upward trend in the number of FIT visitors. Because the number of camper nights (See Table 1) remains relatively constant, it indicates a greater use of accommodation by FITs. There are now about 17,000 fewer camper permits issued annually than vehicle permits. This may be construed to imply that there are now almost as many FITs staying in accommodation on Fraser Island as staying in camps.

The Loss of Small Birds

John Sinclair

During the Christmas holiday periods in the late 1960s and early 1970s I took my family to Girraween National Park just south of Stanthorpe. One of my most vivid memories while thee was just how common the Yellow-tufted Honeyeaters were. These very attractive birds were not common anywhere else but at Girraween they were the most common birds seen. I just revisited Girraween before Christmas 2001 and was astonished that I did not observe one Yellow-tufted Honeyeater while walking in the same parts and in the same season. Then I discovered that the National Park Visitor Centre had up a notice that the loss of small birds in Girraween was due to park visitors feeding larger predator birds such as kookaburras, currawongs, butcher birds and magpies. This has led to an explosion of these birds with the subsequent demise of the populations of the smaller birds such as the Yellow-tufted Honeyeater.

There are lessons in this for Fraser Island and elsewhere. While there is a continuing demand by some bleeding hearts to feed dingoes because they are starving or other animals because we think that they are hungry, we have to think much more what the consequences of humans playing God to some species are having on other species.

Liability Costs Millions

It has been revealed in the latest Queensland EPA Annual Report that nearly $10 million has been paid out to park users in the last five years as a result of accidents including out-of court settlements of claims. Four cases were then still outstanding in the Queensland Supreme Court and four in the District Court. Legal action can arise from "falling over natural obstacles, standing under trees that drop branches or being the hand bitten by the animal being fed" (even though it is illegal to feed the animals.

FIDO believes that the price of compensation is now ridiculously high and is being pushed too hard by predatory lawyer urging people to sue the socks off the Queensland Government so that they can profit by a share of the proceeds from any litigation. Other countries and states have been forced to introduce legislation to limit the extent of their public liability and we urge the Queensland Government to move quickly to put a limit on this incredible drain on the public purse.

FIDO believes that the public interest will be better served if the limited public resources are directed more to improving management of National Parks than it is by making overly generous pay-outs for accident victims. If a similar accident occurred in their own homes or back-yards the victims would receiver nothing. The State shouldn't pay windfalls to victims who elected to enter National Parks.

News in Brief

Permanent Police Presence on Island

In January the Queensland Police confirmed that they are to spend $1.5 million to enhance the presence of law and order on Fraser Island. A police station to house two (2) officers will be established in the EPA reserve, close to the QPWS Eurong Visitor Centre, about 500 metres north of Eurong Township. The new station is to include a residence. It is expected to be operating by the end of the year.

At present there is a permanent police presence on the island during holiday periods and police from Hervey Bay, Maryborough or Gympie, respond to incidents by sea or air, depending on the gravity of the situation.

Just prior to Easter thieves raided many camps on Fraser Island stealing thousands of dollars from campers wallets (but leaving behind the wallets, credit cards and personal papers). It took two days for police to arrive to investigate.

4WD Licences Needed for Fraser Island

The increasing incidence of motor vehicle accidents on Fraser Island including head on collisions on the Ocean Beach have highlighted the need for the Queensland Government to introduce a requirement that drivers of 4WDs need to have a special endorsement on their drivers licence. Treating casualties of these accidents (including expensive helicopter evacuations) and other consequences are posing a heavy drain on the public purse. The obvious inexperience particularly from overseas backpackers who are probably driving 4WDs for the first time in their lives is also heavily impacting on the environment and reducing the amenity of other Fraser Island users. While the Queensland Government has until now shunned this option there is now compelling evidence that it is time to act now not only for Fraser Island but in the interest of public safety everywhere.

What is Fraser's Permanent population?

For some time FIDO has assumed that the population of permanent residents on Fraser Island exceeded 100 and may be as many as 2 people. We had based this assessment on the expansion of the Orchid Beach community but without knowing just how many people were permanently living there. The recent statement by the Police Service that their new Eurong Station will cater for the "80 permanent residents and 350,000 yearly visitors" has FIDO asking questions of the ABS on what can the Census reveal about on the Fraser Island demographics. It is hard to

New Ways to Widen Fraser's Roads

The February management report referred to "roadside vegetation trimmer" when it reported that the "Ranger in Charge Roads inspected a new type of vertical mower which may be an alternative to a flail mower for roadside vegetation trimming." The pruning away of Fraser Island extends from roadside banksias and vegetation that may scratch the paintwork of wide tourist buses to now removing large blackbutts to help "manage recreation".

The Battle of the Barges

An issue at stake for the future management of Fraser Island is to have determined just how much predatory pricing is involved to re-establish a monopoly on the Fraser Island barge services.

One of the figures revealed in the Kleinschmidt Study is that the ferries running to Fraser Island are on Permit vehicles alone worth $4,377,408 annually. With the value of commercial, residents, exempt and QPWS vehicles plus the value of carrying people on Commercial tours the gross revue of all ferries is now estimated to be worth over $8 million per annum - a very substantial market. From 1971 until the late 1980s two barge operators competed on the Inskip Point to Hook Point run which is only a large part but not all of the ferry traffic. Then following some predatory pricing Gordon Elmer was forced out of the market and almost immediately prices began to escalate. This continued until the advent of a new competitor, Ian Dean, into the lucrative Inskip Point to Hook Point run. Again predatory pricing forced the withdrawal of Ian Dean's ferry service and again the prices almost immediately returned to their pre competition days and then began to escalate again.

In 2001 some local entrepreneurs put a new barge, the "Manta Ray" into service on the Inskip Point to Hook Point run charging$55.00 per return trip without charging for any passengers. Immediately the price of the opposition barges were lowered to $35.00 per vehicle and then to $20.00 per vehicle (less than the estimated cost of operation). The "Manta Ray" was forced to lower prices to $40.00 They appealed to the ACCC which seems to be quite disinterested in such aggressive and consistent predatory pricing policy on route. A 25 year history shows that the Inskip Point - Hook Point route can support two rival ferry services provided that no predatory pricing is permitted.

FIDO and a legion of regular Fraser Island users are at a loss to explain why there has been no intervention to ensure that there is fair competition for patronage on the Fraser Island ferry runs.


The Great Sandy Region is a more significant breeding ground for turtles that we had previously suspected. This is made clear in the latest management reports on the turtle monitoring at Sandy Cape where Loggerhead turtles (possibly more endangered that other species found in the region) are turning up in significant numbers. A total of 23 Loggerhead turtles have nested at Sandy Cape this season. Just under 5000 Loggerhead turtle eggs have been relocated to a secure compound to prevent dingo predation.

Great Sandy Strait Fatalities: There has been an unacceptable number of turtles dying in Great Sandy Strait recently. In November a Poona resident reported counting 8 dead turtles within a month most of which had suffered serious injury, believed to have been inflicted boats. Great Sandy Strait is a Ramsar site and as such has the marine equivalent of World Heritage listing yet it is not getting the management it deserves. Turtle deaths are being attributed to an increasing number of powerboats traversing the shallow waters of the turtles habitat and not keeping to the deep water channels.

Talking About Fraser Island

Adrian Peace and Peter Mühlhäusler

This issue of MOONBI features 2 contributed articles - one from Griffith University researcher, Wade Hadwen, on the status of the lakes and this article by Adrian Peace and Peter Mühlhäusler, two University of Adelaide academics on eco-linguistics. This article follows up an article detailing some their research on the application of language specifically as it applies to Fraser Island. It takes up one of John Sinclair's themes, "The Language of Exploitation."

It is FIDO's intention to use MOONBI increasingly to feature articles relevant to Fraser Island from outside sources

Any genuine commitment to the protection of the environment requires us to be simultaneously attentive to the language which is used to describe it. This is not some rarefied academic claim. It is rather to highlight the fact that human beings are unique among animal species in making sense of the environment by discoursing about it at great length, and, most importantly, being able to change the ways in which we do both when we consciously decide that is appropriate. Other animals do not have that capacity to reflect quickly, urgently, deliberately on the ways they relate to their respective environments. We not only spin the webs of meaning which allow us to relate to the environment: we also make adjustments to those webs of meaning all the time. This fact alone means that talking about the environment and having the power to transform it - for good or ill - are simply two sides of the same coin.

This perspective is important when we are engaged in debate over the developmental future of a location like Fraser Island, not least because the very term 'development' is culturally loaded in the extreme. In general terms though, the striking point about islands is our Western tendency to idealise them, and in this respect Fraser Island is a front runner. Our field notebooks are full of such terms as 'pristine', 'natural', and 'primordial', as well as such phrases as 'natural wilderness', 'as Nature made it', and so forth. Any piece of advertising which tries to sell Fraser Island is replete with this kind of language.

Yet as anyone who is remotely familiar with the history of the island well knows, it is most unlikely that any part of it remains - as yet another sales pitch puts it - 'untouched by human presence.' Quite to the contrary; in certain respects the island can be taken as a microcosm of all the major phases of capitalist development which have swept across the Australian continent. Farming, forestry, mining, fishing and tourism - what else does this history add up to but a condensed narrative of 'development' in rural Australia as a whole?

The obvious question to pose is why does such idealization matter? Isn't this something which we do as a matter of course where the environment is concerned? Basically the answer is that whilst we can easily live with the fact that terms like 'pristine,' 'untouched', 'primordial', and the like are somewhat misleading, it would be far more appropriate, and probably profitable too, to turn the diverse historical experience of the island into a resource with which to reflect more knowledgeably and deliberately on the many ways in which this island environment has been actively constituted by human beings - and, therefore, where we choose to go next.

To do this would certainly be difficult in the first instance. It might be somewhat confronting for, let us say, a prosperous German tourist to be told by a bus tour operator that s/he is not looking at 'pristine forest' but a rural space that loggers tore the heart out of 30 years ago, so that what is currently being viewed is forest growth since then - and no more! On the other hand, it remains entirely possible to claim that what can be seen is strikingly impressive and remarkable, a testament to the reproductive capacity of Fraser Island's environment, and - here most important - a potential object lesson in how we should intelligently approach the prospects which face us right now.

So thinking about the limitations of the language we already use sets up the possibility of talking about Fraser not as an environment which preceded us - 'untouched', 'primordial' - but one which our Aboriginal predecessors (over a very lengthy period of time) and those of us of European origin (over a much shorter one) have ourselves made. This is to underscore the point that now, in the new millennium, we have the opportunity to talk about doing things in an extensively informed way.

There is another, more specific, justification for examining how we talk about Fraser Island in a reflexive fashion: it relates directly to the pressing issue of human-animal interaction. If we talk about the island as if it remains in some primordial state, it is inevitable that we will use the same language to describe its animals. Indeed, we already use the presence of particular animals and their relationship to one another in order to underscore the island's supposed primordiality. Like the island, the animals long preceded us, and they remain - or so it is claimed - much the same as in the past.

This mind set is constantly exhibited when tour guides talk about 'the animal population' or 'the animal kingdom' of Fraser Island in essentially Darwinian terms - 'the survival of the fittest, and all that,' as some tour guides incline put it when explaining changes in the number of species. But once again this is to be historically blinkered: intra-species and inter-species animal relations throughout the island cannot fail to have been transformed by the presence of human populations, whether indigenous or otherwise.

More problematic still, the terminology of 'the war of all against all' entails a level of anthropomorphism which is not only unwarranted by scientific standards but can also prove profoundly threatening to the well-being of the animals themselves. Once again, we refer to the content of our field notes where Nature is consistently described as a continuous 'war zone', a ceaseless 'battle field', in which swallows have the capacity to 'bomb', friar birds have the ability to 'terrorize', crabs function as an 'army unit', and dingoes constantly 'stalk their prey' and 'cunningly outwit' their varied food sources.

The implication of this kind of anthropomorphic terminology is that these animals not only 'act like us' but that they 'think like us' as well. Again it is by no means mere academic word play to underline the implications of this, because whilst it may come easily to us to conceptualize animal behaviour as if it is always some variant on human conduct, the real danger lies in attributing to Fraser Island animals an ability to reason and a sense of rationality which simply isn't warranted.

The result is that we hold animals responsible for their actions on roughly the same plane as we hold one another responsible for ours. However commonsensically we might do that, it is not an appropriate strategy to adopt if we are genuinely concerned to preserve the environment. To describe a dingo as 'terrorizing' tourists is to simultaneously establish some justification for killing it; that is the direct implication of the linguistic label. But treating human terrorists with the force that they deserve, as we put it, rests on the clear assumption that terrorists know precisely what they do and why they do it. But no one knows what is going on in a dingo's mind, even less are we able to establish the significance of the animal's conduct. Similarly, when it is claimed that a kookaburra 'attacks' local residents and tourists, the language infers a sense and a degree of intentionality - specifically here, a malevolent intent - which in truth cannot be justified. Once again, however, the specific terminology adopted provides the seeds of legitimacy for the bird being killed.

To this extent, the reason for asserting that anyone who takes their environmental credentials seriously has to be equally concerned about language use is quite straightforward: to do otherwise can facilitate the destruction of Nature rather than work towards the preserving of it.

Cashing in on Cooloola

In a move that may reflect the shape of things to come the cash strapped Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) has sought expressions of interest for the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park for a range of new commercial activities. This follows a report on the future management of the protected area determined the capacities and suitability of nominated sites.

Senior Ranger at Cooloola, Greg Walker, said, "We are looking for ecological sustainable proposals that will complement the management of the area but provide recreational opportunities for the park's visitors."

He said some of the proposed types of activities may include: Canoe based camping trips on the upper Noosa River; Day tours to Teewah Landing, Carlo Sand Blow and Searys Creek; Cultural tours to Poverty Point; Guided walks along the Cooloola Wilderness Trail; Guided safari tours to Freshwater; Mobile food vending on Teewah Beach* (such as bread, milk, ice and firewood); and Tag-along tours through certain sections of the National Park.

This has potential implications. The EPA may be considering more commercialization of Fraser Island.

FIDO's War on Weeds

There are serious weed problems on Fraser Island which are outside the normal jurisdiction of the QPWS. These occur mainly in association with the human settlements but they are not being addressed by either property owners or the two local authorities responsible for the settlement areas of Fraser Island. This is despite the fact that Maryborough and Hervey Bay City Councils are spending most of the rates collected on Fraser Island and on the mainland. Councils are still unwilling to spend any of these pocketed proceeds to eliminate weeds where they are posing serious problems.

In July 1999 FIDO organized a working bee on weeds at Eurong (Maryborough City Council) which saw over ten truckloads of weeds removed from the island. Despite FIDO pleas that the City Council follow up this there is no evidence that any more weeds have been removed from the public lands in Eurong. During FIDO's January Inspection almost a truckload of weeds which had sprung up in the foreshore reserve were pulled out. These included Easter cassia, groundsel, lantana, and sisal.

Weeds Threaten Fraser Island Integrity

One of the requirements of World Heritage Listing for any natural site is that respective State Parties, (in this case the Commonwealth Government) ensure site maintains its "integrity". That means containing any threats to those identified values. In the case of Fraser Island one of the major threats to the ecology, and thus its biodiversity comes from weeds, mainly introduced plants which are alien to the island. So far approximately 35 of the more than 780 species of plants identified from Fraser Island are introductions or weeds. Most of these introductions have occurred in or close to human settlements particularly townships.

If the war on weeds is to be won, the townships which are the major source of weed infestations in the surrounding National Park need to be purged of weeds. Failure to do so will mean that ultimately a significant part of Fraser Island's biodiversity will be lost as unnatural species displace the native vegetation. FIDO, the QPWS the Commonwealth Government can't stand aside and let this happen.

FIDO Working Bee Foreshadowed

FIDO is now planning a major working bee for the weekend 19-20th October to tackle weed problems at Eurong and Happy Valley.

This is only a preliminary notice to invite interested people to set a date for that weekend and to recruit friends who are willing to help FIDO prosecute its war on weeds. MOONBI 102 will have more details.

Anyone wishing to register their interest in joining this working bee should contact FIDO Working Bee Coordinator Judy Tambling (07) 3356 0632, FIDO Honorary Secretary, Ms Billie Watts (07) 3356 2684 or by Email to John Sinclair -

It is anticipated that FIDO will coordinate transport from Brisbane to the island and return and organize accommodation or tents as well as catering. Volunteers will be expected to contribute towards the cost of food ad basic accommodation.

Environmental impacts of recreation on Fraser Island lakes

Wade L. Hadwen

Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism and Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research, Griffith University, Nathan Qld 4111.


As the number of tourists visiting Fraser Island continues to grow, so too does concern over potential environmental impacts on the freshwater lakes where so many visitors like to swim. In addition to physical disturbances (e.g. trampling reeds along the shoreline), tourists can adversely effect water quality - particularly through the addition of nutrients, like phosphorus and nitrogen. Small perched dune lakes on the island (i.e. those that sit perched above the regional water table) are especially vulnerable to enrichment because nutrients will accumulate in their sediments over time. In a worst case scenario, prolonged and unregulated nutrient additions in these nutrient-poor lakes may lead to water quality problems, unsightly blooms of algae along shorelines and impacts on some of the island's unique and unusual lake biota. If this occurs, visitors may have to be excluded from some of the worst affected lakes.

In view of these concerns and the fact that increases in nutrient concentrations are often irreversible, much of my PhD research with the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism has aimed at detecting impacts from tourist activities before they develop into problems.

In order to achieve that aim, my first goal was to establish a baseline dataset documenting the range of nutrient concentrations in these unique lakes, to enable comparisons between a broad range of visited and unvisited systems. In February 1999 I sampled 15 dune lakes (Ocean, White, Allom, Boomerang North, Boomerang South, Coomboo, Garawongera, Wabby, Basin, McKenzie, Jennings, Birrabeen, Barga, Benaroon and Boomanjin) for nutrient and algal concentrations. Using historical nutrient and algal data recorded by Arthington et al. (1990) I was able to compare changes in these variables over the past decade in lakes Wabby, Jennings, McKenzie, Birrabeen and Ocean (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Mean (± s.e.) Total Phosphorus Concentrations and Algal Biomass (ug/L)
in February 1990 and February 1999
in Lake McKenzie, Lake Birrabeen, Lake Jennings, Lake Wabby and Ocean Lake.

In the window lakes (Ocean and Wabby), nutrient concentrations and algal biomass have increased since 1990. In contrast, all of the perched dune lakes (McKenzie, Birrabeen and Jennings) had elevated algal biomass levels but no increases in nutrient concentrations compared to 1990 levels. This result highlights the fact that there is not always a simple relationship between measured values of nutrient concentrations and algal biomass. This is because in nutrient poor systems like the lakes on Fraser Island, nutrients released into the water are taken up very rapidly by algae. The algae then show a growth response, but leave little evidence of the nutrients associated with their increase in biomass.

These early comparisons highlight the fact that monitoring nutrient concentrations in these sensitive lakes may not be the most useful method for detecting impacts from tourist activities, despite the fact that nutrient additions are our main concern. As a consequence, I have turned to the use of biological indicators to detect impacts from tourists. These methods have gained support all over the world as they reflect biological responses to long-term changes in nutrient loading.

To test the utility of biological indicators in the perched dune lakes on Fraser Island, I conducted a more detailed monitoring program over the 1999-2000 summer in five lakes - McKenzie, Basin, Birrabeen, Jennings and Boomanjin. Whilst still monitoring nutrient concentrations I measured the biomass of algae both in the water column (phytoplankton) and growing on reeds (attached algae or periphyton). Samples were taken from designated disturbed (tourist access points) and reference sites (inaccessible points) within each lake, in an effort to examine differences between visited and unvisited areas in each system.

anticipated from my earlier analyses, nutrient concentrations rarely differed between the disturbed and reference sites. Only once were phosphorus concentrations higher in visited sites than in reference sites. On that occasion, samples were collected from Basin Lake shortly after a tour group had left the area and these results indicate that the activities of those tourists may have lead to this increase in nutrient concentrations. Whilst it is impossible to prove unequivocally, it is plausible that a combination of sediment (and nutrient) re-suspension and nutrient additions from tourists may have generated this result.

Tracking algal biomass during the summer proved to be much more illuminating than monitoring nutrient concentrations. Although water column (phytoplankton) algal biomass was highly variable, the biomass of attached algae (periphyton) showed strong differences between disturbed and reference sites, particularly in the clear lakes (McKenzie and Birrabeen). In these systems, the biomass of attached algae increased over the summer in disturbed sites, whilst remaining relatively low in reference sites. Whilst it is impossible to associate these higher algal levels in disturbed sites directly to the effects of nutrient additions from tourists, it is clear that differences did develop between the visited and unvisited sections of both Lake McKenzie and Lake Birrabeen over the summer. On the basis of these findings I developed a conceptual model of nutrient enrichment for perched dune lakes (Figure 2), wherein increases in nutrient levels from both natural and human nutrient sources, progressively lead to the proliferation of unpalatable periphyton.

Figure 2. Conceptual Model of Nutrient Enrichment in Perched Dune Lakes

Part of the problem in trying to detect long-term effects of tourists on lakes is the fact that all lakes tend to become more nutrient rich and more productive as they age. As a consequence, differences cannot be clearly attributed to tourist effects unless changes occur at rates much faster than expected and/or are restricted to the most visited areas of these systems.

The findings of my monitoring suggest that the lakes on Fraser Island are in reasonably good health, as they characteristically continue to be nutrient poor and unproductive systems. However, considerable nutrient and algal increases have occurred in the window lakes, Ocean Lake and Lake Wabby, indicating that these systems are aging at rates faster than expected. Unfortunately, the fact that these lakes remain in contact with the regional water table makes it currently impossible to determine what sources of nutrients are generating this hastened rate of aging. In Ocean Lake in particular, it has been noted that large colonies of cormorants and other roosting birds around the lake may be contributing to the elevated nutrient concentrations measured in the water column. Further monitoring of Ocean Lake should therefore attempt to quantify the contribution of surrounding birdlife to the nutrient load of the system. Notably, if bird colonies are found to be the driving force behind the observed accelerated trend towards a more nutrient rich system, then blame should certainly not be laid on nutrient additions from tourist sources.

Unlike the situation facing the window lakes I have studied, the perched dune lakes all had relatively low and constant nutrient concentrations, indicating that any additions that may be occurring are not yet accumulating to the point at which elevated concentrations are measurable in the water column. However, there are some trends towards higher attached algal biomass in disturbed sites than in reference sites, indicating that tourist activity may play an influential role in regulating algal growth in these systems. If that is the case, then not only should algal bioindicators be adopted in ongoing monitoring programs, but more detailed analyses of the consequences of increased algal biomass should also be conducted.

And that's precisely what the remainder of my PhD has sought to do. In addition to analyses of algal responses to small-scale nutrient additions in lakes, I have been analysing lake food webs to determine whether or not increased algal biomass will be consumed by grazing invertebrates. If grazers can regulate increased algal biomass, then ongoing nutrient additions and subsequent increases in algal biomass may not represent a problem. On the other hand, if grazers cannot cope with this increased algal biomass, then the proliferation of algae may lead to the development of algal blooms, algal mats and/or the production of potentially hazardous algal toxins (refer back to Figure 2). Given that these outcomes are ecologically and sociologically undesirable, it is clearly important to gain a more thorough understanding of these processes before tourist impacts, should they exist, get out of hand. Ultimately, a combination of lake-specific algal responses to nutrient additions and the capacity of food webs to cope with the subsequent increases in algal biomass will determine the long-term ecological consequences of continued tourist use of dune lakes on Fraser Island.


Arthington A. H., Kennard M. & Miller G. J. (1990) Water Quality and the Trophic Status of Fraser Island Lakes. Final Report to the Division of Environment, Department of Environment and Heritage. Griffith University, Brisbane.


This work has formed a substantial component of my PhD Project as funded by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism. Contributions from the Centre for Catchment and In-Stream Research and from my supervisors, Prof Stuart Bunn, Prof. Angela Arthington and Dr Thorsten Mosisch, have added greatly to the quality of this research.

Sunscreens Or Urine Worse

In the light of some comments that urine was heavier in nitrogen but light in phosphate we asked Wade Hadwen, which was worse in the water urine or sunscreens in terms of impacts on freshwater systems. His reply was:

To the best of my knowledge urine is potentially considerable nutrient source to algae in these lakes. I've been searching through medical textbooks and journals looking for the constituents of average adult human urine and have found that in each urinary event, adult humans can excrete about 0.25g of phosphorus and 3g of nitrogen (in various forms). To the best of my knowledge there has been no work on the impacts of sunscreens on freshwater fauna and flora, but given that urine contains vast quantities of nutrients, I doubt that sunscreens would be a greater 'evil' in terms of potential impacts on these naturally nutrient poor freshwater systems.

January Inspection

On 29-31 January FIDO President, Ian Matthews, Treasurer, Terry Hampson, and John Sinclair (Snr) had the opportunity to travel around part of the island with Federal Labor's Environment Spokesperson, Kelvin Thomson, and Senior Policy Adviser Ross MacLeod. This short notice trip enabled FIDO to assess many issues of management in closer detail. As well as visiting those greatly overused icons of Fraser Island, Central Station, Lake McKenzie, Wabby Lakes and Eli Creek, they inspected the little visited south-west corner of the island to assess the impact of two wild fires between Christmas and New Year. These fires resulted from lightning strikes from dry summer storms.

Many of the issues observed are commented on elsewhere in this issue of MOONBI. These include our war on weeds, dingo management and fire management. The inspection again raised several issues that are hoary chestnuts. These include banksia serial killing and sediments continuing to flow into the lakes. However, there were many other disturbing issues observed including the disturbing issue of logging by the QPWS in the National Park

Logging in the National Park: Although the last log taken by the timber industry officially left Fraser Island in January 1992 the logging continues. The only difference is that it is now the QPWS that is doing the logging and very substantial trees indeed are being felled. At Lake Boomanjin three huge Blackbutts, all well over a metre in diameter, were felled in an overzealous response to a perceived threat to public safety.

Tennis court fence around Boomanjin Campground

Having decided to build a tennis court type fence around a small open area, the management decided that one huge blackbutt near the fence that had just previously dropped a large branch and had to be removed. That made an already seriously degraded area even more unattractive. However more than 20 metres away where there was no chance of anything falling from a falling tree into the ugly camping compound or even likely to make a dint on any parked vehicles nearby, two other healthy blackbutts were removed. FIDO doesn't believe that the removal of all of these three trees can be justified.

Ian Matthews describes his revulsion as follows:

"What happened at Boomanjin is disgusting. Not only did they fell trees several decades old, but destroyed the ambience of ones arrival at the Lake by blocking views of the lake with a tennis court fence. The uglification of Central Station, and now Boomanjin, will spread everywhere. Simply building the compound near the toilet block would have been subtler, and may have actually led to people using it for convenience (pun not intended)"

Boomanjin: Blackbutt Stump, the Ranger's vehicle and the tent of a camper who didn't want to be fenced in.

Sediments continuing to flow into the lakes: FIDO is alarmed to note that despite how dry the summer has been sediments continue to flow off the roads and into the lakes with it seems almost greater volume than when we first drew the attention of it. When FIDO first made the issue silt traps were installed at Lakes Boomanjin, McKenzie and Allom. Our most recent inspections show that each of these silt traps is not working and sand and woodchips are now resuming their former flow into the lakes.

Lake Birrabeen: At Lake Birrabeen there are no silt traps and not only woodchips but also firewood blocks are spilling on to the beach and into the water. Despite years of complaints from other Fraser Island users the QPWS continues to allow the buses of only one tour operator to run along the shores of Lake Jennings and to park at the top of the beach. When the buses approach roaring through the loose sand of the gap between the two lakes it sounds like an approaching Panzer Division of tanks. Worse the method of urging the disgorged passengers out of the water is for the drivers to start the motors and let them run. If you want peace and tranquillity, it isn't available at Lake Birrabeen when these tour buses are approaching and until they have left.

Other Lakes in Danger

During a recent visit to Lake Allom, John Sinclair was alarmed to see that an alluvial plume was projecting into the lake more than the infamous plume at Lake McKenzie. This new plume has a very large catchment including the picnic-camping area and the road. Sand and organic debri from this area has washed more than two metres into the lake over a summer of below average rainfall.

This is a most alarming state and the EPA has obviously either not been monitoring the environment or has chosen to ignore that this most obvious World Heritage value is being seriously threatened.

The EPA's misplaced priorities in World Heritage projects is deplorable.

Is this supposed to help Fraser Island?

The Commonwealth Government has announced $3 million funding for the Fraser Coast Interpretive Centre. This is part of an integrated tourism development proposed on a site adjacent to the Great Sandy Straits Marina. Forester Kurts has announced that it will proceed with the $27 million Outrigger Resort also within the Hervey Bay marina precinct.

A Continuing Burning Issue

In 1993 following a long dispute over the Park Service's deliberate policy of going out of their way to eliminate Banksias near any road, we thought the issue was resolved. Peter Stanton, one of the nation's most respected fire ecologists had said that if a fire was so serious that it required a huge firebreak to contain it, then the Parks Service had failed to implement a proper and adequate fire management plan. That led to the development of the Fraser Island Fire Management Plan which unfortunately like so many Plans for Fraser Island then stalled for years. However although it took until 2000 to get the Fire Management Plan back on the agenda again largely as a result of FIDO's constant urging.

FIDO is one of the major advocates for more management burning of Fraser Island to re-establish the type of environment and ecology which had resulted from millennia of Aboriginal fire practices. We are most mindful of the risks that achieving this burning regime poses for QPWS rangers. However FIDO believes that the fire management regime can and must be achieved without making every road and by-way on Fraser Island banksia (and tree) within 10 metres of the carriage-way. This is a very poor presentation of Fraser Island and a denial of its World Heritage values.

Removing banksias and other significant species adjacent to roads and tracks refutes Australia's obligation to present Fraser Island's World Heritage values to all visitors. Th QPWS now has to rethink its practice and ensure that its tractor drivers are cautioned about being species specific and over-zealous in their general work.

Banksia Serial Killing

In the last couple of years we have observed that the killing of banksias which was one of FIDO's major criticism of QPWS practices has resumed. At first it was fairly surreptitious but now it is being practiced with a vengeance. Banksia Serial Killing can be observed along almost every track where a QPWS tractor has been engaged in any work. It is not just the back-roads where such practices are observed. Now it is occurring on major tourist routes.

These indefensible and ecologically unsound practice observed along the Woralie Track was raised in the CAC in October. In February the CAC received a written response which claimed that it "was a general push back of most vegetation, was not species specific". It was also claimed, "Although in this instance the work was done opportunistically, such work is in accord with Fire Protection Plan intentions to similarly widen key firelines to improve fire management capacity".

Unfortunately our FIDO inspection just days before had found that banksias are being specifically singled out. We noted that the tractor had gone out of its way to take out a banksia more than 10 metres from the road. This conforms with observations made elsewhere during the past year on little used routes from Hook Point to Wathumba Creek.

What we observed is that the trees and banksias being deliberately bulldozed down were not all "potentially dangerous ... (those of particularly high flammability overhanging roads)" as described by the QPWS. The a tractor drives in more than 10 metres from a road to push over large banksias which don't exceed 5 metres in height it is a sign of a deliberate intention and is unconscionable.

A banksia 10 metres from the road between Lakes Boomanjin and Benaroon - one of many hundreds as all Fraser Island roads and tracks are progressively being cleared of banksias in an act of paranoia.

Unjustified Paranoia: The paranoia over banksias though has proven to be wholly unjustified. When we inspected an area between Yankee Jack Creek and Garrys Anchorage we found that the QPWS had effected a good back-burn without the necessity to widen that road at all. However we also observed south of Garrys Anchorage where a road had been excessively widened which had been burnt to a cinder on both sides of the road despite this obsessive clearing.

Wild Fires

The two wild fires caused by lightning strikes last December demonstrate that fire is an inevitable part of the Australian environment and that we have to accept that it will occur and be prepared for it.

We observed a fire impact that varied from extremely severe to benign to beneficial. Although nominally a 20,000 hectare block was burnt out, there were extensive patches including an isolated rainforest patch which escaped any flames. The swamps in particular were scorched to a cinder which has caused some concern for the ground parrots and the impact on those birds is now being investigated. The fire was also severe when running before the wind up hills but the recovery has already started there.

The fires have demonstrated the need for more regular burning to avoid the severity of the fire in some of the places most severely burnt. As far as we can recall, this is the first fire to occur in this block since FIDO was formed 31 years ago. This has resulted in a huge accumulated fuel load. There are many other similar places on Fraser Island where huge accumulated fuel loads are a recipe for disaster. Large parts of the area around Lake McKenzie have gone for more than 50 years without a fire.

Our overall assessment of the December fire though is that the outcome has been a desirable mosaic. Although the area burnt is yet to be mapped from the air, we estimate that about 20% of the block may have escaped any burning. This is a good and should allow wildlife to restock the burnt areas as they recover.

The fires have also led the QPWS to accelerate their plans to reopen some former fire control lines that FIDO had been urging for a long time. They are well advanced with this work to "improve access to fight future fires and to provide discrete blocks both for prescribed burning and wildfire suppression activities." While FIDO commends the QPWS on its efforts and the recognition of the need for prescription burns, we remain critical of the overzealous clearing to establish the fire control lines.

Annual General Meeting

Fraser Island Defenders Organization Limited

Notice of Meeting

Notice is hereby given that the Twenty Fifth Annual General Meeting of the Fraser Island Defenders Organization Limited will be held at Cr. Terry Hampson's Office, North Regional Business Centre, 960 Gympie Road, CHERMSIDE, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, 29th August, 2002.


  1. To receive the Profit and Loss Statement, Balance Sheets and Reports of the Directors and Auditors
  2. To elect Directors for the ensuing term in accordance with the Articles of Association.
  3. To Receive Report from Honorary Project Officer, John Sinclair.
  4. General Business.

Billie A Watts
Honorary Secretary
DATED this 2nd day of April, 2002


Twenty 25th Annual General Meeting

I, ................................................................................

    (please print in BLOCK letters)

of ................................................................................

being a financial member of the Fraser Island Defenders Organization do hereby appoint ................................................................................ or failing him/her ................................................................. as my proxy, to vote on my behalf at the Twenty-fifth Annual General Meeting, to be held at 960 Gympie Road, CHERMSIDE, 6.30 p.m., Thursday, 29th August, 2002, and at any adjournment thereof.

Signed this .......................... day of ...................................., 2002


Section 248 of the Companies (Queensland) Code provides that all members be given 21 days notice of any meeting (including A.G.M.s) at which they are entitled to vote. It is important that as many proxies as possible are received. The Proxy Form is also taken as your apology for non-attendance. This form (or a copy) should be completed under Article 31 of the constitution. If you cannot attend the meeting please photocopy this form and return it promptly. posted to reach Secretary, FIDO, PO Box 70, BALD HILLS QLD 4036, on or before 25th August, 2002


Nomination Form for FIDO Office Bearers

To be returned to Secretary FIDO, PO Box 70 BALD HILLS QLD 4034 by Monday, 5 August, 2002

We, ................................................................................ and ................................................................................

being financial members of the Fraser Island Defenders Organization

hereby nominate ................................................................................

for the position of ................................................................................ for the 2002-03 term

Signed ................................................................................ Nominator

................................................................................ Seconder

What you can do to HELP

People who want future generations to enjoy the naturalness of Fraser Island can't rely solely on FIDO to carry the load of advocacy without wider practical support. FIDO seeks assistance from members, supporters and others who care for Fraser Island to assist in the following ways:

  1. Demand of ALL Federal and State politicians an increase in the funding to better manage the natural resources. We ultimately need a budget of $13-14 million annually (i.e. just a mere 5% of the $277 million that Fraser Island is worth to the economy). We don't expect that amount in the next budget but we expect that there should be some positive moves to increase the budget by at least a million over the next year.

  2. Support the strengthening of the Great Sandy Region Management Plan to protect the World Heritage values. There are many people trying to unravel it for their own selfish reasons without a thought for future generations.

  3. Read and help propagate FIDO's educational supplement on the value of wilderness on Fraser Island. This is a concept that the 4WDers seem incapable or unwilling to grasp. It needs to be networked widely.

  4. Dingo Petitions: Unless we alert all Federal and Queensland politicians to the threat to the survival of dingoes on Fraser Island this World Heritage value and Australia's purest dingoes may be wiped out within our lifetime

  5. Weed Working Bee: Make a note in your diaries now of the weed working bee on Fraser Island on 19-20 October. Urge anyone who can help to join us in an attempt to bring the weeds in the townships under control

  6. Write to the Queensland Minister for Primary Industries, Hon Henry Palaschuk urging him to implement a Fishing Management Plan for Fraser Island as a matter of urgency.

  7. Write to Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, urging him

  1. to give more financial support to Fraser Island,
  2. to intervene to ensure the survival of Fraser Island dingoes, and
  3. to ensure that the legislation he promised to ensure that the Management Plan was enacted will include provisions for a separate authority to manage the island.

There is a lot more to be done and FIDO needs all the assistance we can get. Urge anyone you know who is a supporter to become a member.