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, PO Box 70, BALD HILLS, QLD, 4036
FIDO, "The Watchdog of Fraser Island", aims to ensure the wisest use of Fraser Island’s natural resources.
FIDO's Registered Office: c/- Stephen Comino and Cominos, Equity House, Lang Parade, Milton, 4065 (ACN 009-969-135)
FIDO's Postal Address: PO Box 70, BALD HILLS QLD 4036 John Sinclair, PO Box 71, GLADESVILLE, NSW, 1675
ISSN 0311 - 032X Registered by Australia Post - Publication QBH2293 17 November, 2000

In This Issue

Fraser Island Run Down; Political Impotency 2

Decision making Paralysis; Financial Starvation 3

Federal Funding Not much better; Budget Anomalies 4

Fraser’s Economic Value; Local Government 5

Fire management, World class interpretation 5

Overseas Impacts on Fraser; Waders; Climate 6

Vale Judith Wright; Coastal acid sulphate; Snippets 7

Fishing Expo; Walking Tracks; Roads & Rail 8

New Law Protects World Heritage 9

Flying to Orchid Beach? Dingos, Visitor Numbers 10

New in Brief; Lighthouses Protected 11

FIDO 's 2000 President’s Annual Report 11-12

Two Key Documents

MOONBI 98 carries two extremely important Educational Supplements. These are relevant to the most urgent of the Fraser Island management issues which FIDO is busy addressing. Continue to use these basic documents as references. Feel free to copy them.

“Summary of Reviewed Fraser Island World Heritage Values” is the unedited version prepared by the Fraser Island Scientific Advisory Committee after a long process of consultation and research. It identifies those values which Australia as a party to the World Heritage Convention is sworn to protect and which have now been adopted as the basis for Fraser Island management priority.

“Values of Fraser Island Tourism” outlines both the positive and negative benefits of tourism on Fraser Island. Fraser Island tourism is now worth over $250 million to the Queensland economy. However it produces many negative impacts. Neutralizing and containing these negative impacts to ensure that they don’t detract from the World Heritage values described above is the greatest challenge to the management of the island. The key point to note is how easily the patterns of recreation form and become entrenched. Everybody concerned with the future of Fraser Island needs to address issues to ensure that the patterns of recreation having negative impacts are not allowed to continue to be self exacerbating.

Fraser Island Is Running Down

Beattie Government short-changes Fraser Island again: For the second successive year funds allocated by the Beattie Government for National Park management have failed to reach Fraser Island. At the time of going to press the QPWS Southern region had not advised if any funds would be allocated to Fraser Island. With more than a third of the financial year expired, this is disgraceful. The Beattie Government had indicated that it planned to match the Federal Government contribution to the Fraser Island World Heritage site in its 2000-01 budget.

Financial Deprivation: Fraser Island is the most financially deprived all of Australia's 14 World Heritage sites when visitor impact is taken into account. It needs an annual budget of at least $10 million to sustain the current rate of visitation. Currently the whole cost of managing the island, (including salaries for 34 ranger staff, all maintenance and some capital expenditure) is coming out of the $3.7 million visitor access fees collected by the Recreation Areas Management (RAM) Board and the $628,000 contribution by the Federal Government.

The Commonwealth is also short changing Fraser Island. The budget for Fraser Island needs to be at least comparable with Kakadu and other heavily visited World Heritage sites. (See Rundown)

Since MOONBI 97

While there have been a number of positive signs that better management for Fraser Island may be on the way, nothing much has yet occurred on the ground. A promising start has been made towards better the fire management on the island. A workshop has been held which reached strong consensus on the action needed; many of the old fire trails have been reopened; and Rangers have achieved more effective burns this year than they have for a decade. The interpretive signs on the island are having a positive impact.

On the negative side has been the failure to implement some key elements of the Management Plan including road and beach closures. The snail pace progress towards resolving some of the most intractable issues such as the impact of the existing patterns of recreation (roads, camping impacts, etc.) and moving towards establishing more sustainable patterns of recreation can’t all be blamed on lack of resources. Misplaced priorities and poor management have played a part. The Fishing Expo (see p8) consumes a huge QPWS effort while nothing is done about a Walking Plan. On the larger scene one page of this MOONBI is devoted to global issues and their direct impact on Fraser Island (p6). Another is devoted to the implications of the new Commonwealth EPBC Act (p9).

Fraser Island Run Down

There is little dispute amongst experts that Fraser Island is in serious trouble. It is now by almost any standard the most neglected World Heritage area in Australia. It now has the most dubious distinction of being Queensland's most poorly supported National Park. Everybody in a position to objectively judge and compare the condition of Fraser Island a decade ago with its condition at present to supports that assessment.

The Run Down

The Fraser Island run down is both literal and metaphorical. Literally the run down is due to surface sediments filling the lakes and lower areas as a result of accelerated erosion. This is mainly due to the failure to address the impact of vehicle based recreation. Sand is literally running down hill and pouring into many of the lakes every time the island receives heavy rain. In one downpour in the last two years about 2 metres of sand was deposited at the Pile Valley turn-off from the Central Station –Eurong Road.

Metaphorically it is due to the hopeless delays and virtual paralysis in decision making and because that Fraser Island is now the most poorly funded World Heritage area in Australia.

There are many aspects to the Fraser Island run down. These include:

1. Political impotency: This includes both a paralysis in decision making and a failure to provide adequate funds, particularly in the light of the enormous financial significance of Fraser Island to the state and national economy

2. Failure to assess environmental impacts: There has been a reluctance to evaluate of the impacts of roads and access as a basis for decision making.

3. Poor Visitor Management: Two years ago a visitor management plan was developed but implementation of this languishes due more to the lack of will to implement it than to the lack of resources. The continuation of the Fishing Expo despite its much greater impact at the Orchid Beach site has been apparently sanctioned. The camping management plan has been stalled for 15 months. But the Walking Track Management Plan has been hidden from the public for five years.

The only one glimmer of light on the horizon has been some progress towards a Fire Management Plan. But that has been a poor consolation when it is realized that there are inadequate resources available to implement any Fire Management Plan, which is, developed. About $4 million allocated to recreation management on Fraser Island this financial year, more than 90% of the total budget, but with only $223,000 allocated to natural resource management and $19,000 for cultural management, the resources which attract the visitors as being degraded and invaded at an accelerating rate.

Political Impotency

The degradation, which is now, alarming FIDO has continued irrespective of which political party is in power. During the last decade we have seen both Labor and National-Liberal Party Governments in Queensland. It doesn't seem to matter which party is in power because neither government is willing to honour its promises or obligations when it comes to Fraser Island and there seems to be positive discrimination against it.

Goss Government: After more than two decades of political hostility to FIDO and a determination to exploit the natural resources of Fraser Island to a maximum, the election of the Goss Government was a welcome change. They saw Fraser Island placed on the World Heritage List but then when presented with the Management Plan failed to provide neither the statutory basis nor the funds to implement the Management Plan. They splashed money around to buy out the former Orchid Beach resort and then allowed Orchid Beach to become a planning shambles. Most of the $38 million Growth and Development Package it developed with the Hawke Government to compensate for the loss of the timber industry was spent on paying out industry and employees. Some was squandered on such poorly devised plans such as Orchid Beach. Virtually no money went into natural resource management on Fraser Island.

Borbidge Government: The brief history of the Borbidge Government proved to be a nightmare for Fraser Island. Borbidge promised to invest $10 million in developing Fraser Island infrastructure. Instead it cut out spending any consolidated revenue at all to Fraser Island for one year. It ignored the Management Plan and revoked part of the National Park to reopen the Orchid Beach airstrip. They splashed around ten times more money developing the Mary River Heads car park to facilitate access to the island and reopening Orchid Beach airstrip than they spent on natural resource management. They installed a political crony, Lin Powell, as CAC chair to try to silence criticism. It was a big step backwards.

The Borbidge Government made other decisions contrary to the Management Plan. At the behest of Toyota they relocated the Fishing Expo back to Orchid Beach where it has had extreme environmental impacts. They slowed and reversed implementing parts of the Management Plan.

Beattie Government: When the Beattie Government came to power in mid 1998, FIDO was optimistic that there would be a real improvement. In Opposition, Labor has shown so much concern for the state of Fraser Island and with commendable political commitment. They have yet to deliver on any of their policy in relation to Fraser Island. So far this year the Beattie Government has failed to allocate any consolidated revenue to manage Fraser Island. Fraser Island now receives the least amount of money from consolidated revenue of any National Park in Queensland. A separate source of revenue from the visitor access fees can only be used for recreation management. It can’t be used for natural resource management.

It is not just failure to provide adequate funding which disappoints, the Beattie Government has been very slow in taking any real decisions which will get the management of Fraser Island back on track. It should start by correcting the places where the Borbidge Government changed the Management Plan.

Decision Making Paralysis

* The Orchid Beach airstrip remains open. For another 2 years it was funded from the Beattie Government. FIDO understands that the QPWS was prepared to contribute $5,000 for airstrip showing that it has not got its priorities on the public interest or the environment straight. QPWS has been far too enthusiastic about facilitating access and visitation.

* The roads and beaches reopened by the Borbidge Government remain open. (It would require less than $200 to close them to traffic). There appears to be no will to ever make the two kilometres of beach south of Waddy Point vehicle free as prescribed in the Plan.

* The Fishing Expo continues at Orchid Beach despite the extremely critical report of the 1999 event. More than five months after the 2000 Fishing Expo QPWS Officers were still busy sanitizing a report to justify allowing this environmentally undesirable and unsustainable event to continue at the site where it has the greatest impact.

* Subsidiary management plans for walking tracks, visitation, camping and fire management which should contribute to the improvement of the management to Fraser Island continue to languish almost two and a half years after the Beattie Government assumed power.

* The Visitor Management Strategy has stalled in the face of opposition from vested Commercial Tour Operators.

* The Camping Management Plan has yet to see the light of day more than 15 months after time to respond to the very bad Draft Plan.

* There were promises that the CAC would see the Draft Walking Track Management Plan, which has used up the entire financial allocation for it in 1996 before the July meeting. The CAC has still to see a draft and nobody seems to be held accountable for producing no results after spending tens of thousands of dollars of taxpayers money. A good Walking Track Management Plan could be worth millions for the regional economy, yet the bureaucrats seem to be accountable to no one as they continue to inexplicably stall.

* The Dingo Management Strategy is still being drafted more than two and a half years after it began.

* There appears to be no intention to give any priority to assessing the contributing factors for Island roads being a major cause of environmental degradation.

* Thus there is no support for evaluating feasibility of a Fraser Island light rail system as an alternative form of access. It has been relegated to the lowest priority.

Labor's Electoral Commitments seem to have been shelved when it comes to Fraser Island:

#230 Implement World Heritage Area Management Plans so that core areas are protected from vehicle impact; restrict vehicle access to the periphery areas and reject proposals for development which are inconsistent with World Heritage objectives and values.

#231 Ensure that any future .... road access in the Great Sandy Region is consistent with the Management Plan and subject to sustainability.

The paralysis in making positive decisions to address the real issues on Fraser Island continues irrespective of which political party is in power.

Financial Starvation:

FIDO was advised in September how the RAM Board decided how user pays funds would be spent on Fraser Island. This is the proposed distribution of RAM funds.

Visitor Management (47.11%)
$176,660.00visitor info, brochures & publications
$63,350.00general ops, admin, and commercial
$1,000.00business development
$16,800.00interpretation and holiday programs
$703,513.00park interpretation etc.
$194,307.00infrastructure (incl. Eli Creek boardwalk)
$490,076.00recreation infrastructure maintenance
$265,411.00maintain of management infrastructure
$1,734,457.00Total for visitor management
Natural Resource Management (6.06%)
$222,976.00fire management, weeds, habitat work etc.
Cultural Resource Management (0.5%)
$10,000.00indigenous liaison
$8,909.00cultural site protection
$18,909.00Total cultural resource management
Administration (42.64%)
$132,500.00RAM administration (including the planned Transport & Access study)
$1,437,073.00general park operations & management
$34,500.00Fraser Island Committees
$1,569,573.00Total administration etc.
Capital Funds (2.74%)
$101,000.00Sandy Cape Renewable Energy System

NOTE: Queensland's whole contribution from user pays visitor fees collected by the Recreation Areas Management Board. Queensland Government's contribution from consolidated revenue $0.00.

MINISTERIAL Council Finally Meets

The joint Queensland - Federal Ministerial Council for Fraser Island met in Canberra on 7 November (Melbourne Cup day). It was the first time it had met in over three years. There has been an incredible logjam of some very basic decisions such as filling vacancies on the Scientific Advisory Committee, which have failed to be filled for four years. Thus only three members out of a full strength committee of eight remain after five years. The failure to fill positions on the Scientific Advisory Committee is mainly blamed on Environment Minister Senator Robert Hill's refusal to accept the nominations forwarded by the Queensland Government. Until the influential politicians accept that Fraser Island deserves a much higher political priority then it will remain Australia's most neglected World Heritage area.

Federal Funding Not Much Better

The Howard Government has not given Fraser Island a fair share of Federal funding. This year the Commonwealth Government provided funding in two parts. $34,500.00 for the operation of the Fraser Island Committees (CAC, SAC, Management Committee) which has to be matched by the state. In addition this year it has provided $662,500 from the National Heritage Fund (which is due to run out in 2001) for specific projects

The following are the projects approved by the Commonwealth for 1999-2000 announced in May doesn’t coincide with the advisory committee priorities. Senator Hill refused to fund a very high committee priority a Transport and Access Study:

$300,000.00 Central Station campground

$106,500.00 new toilets at the start of the Wabby Lakes walking track, (not where FIDO wanted them)

$80,000.00 management of vehicle use (roadworks)

$50,000.00 Lake Allom foreshore works

$45,000.00 design for redeveloping the Lake McKenzie site in the future (to remove camping)

$45,000.00 replacement of Ungowa toilet. The committee saw (this as a very low priority).

$662,500 may seem like a generous contribution until it is compared with what the Commonwealth Government contributed to other Australian World Heritage sites. With its $662,500 in 1999-2000, Fraser Island received a mere 1.28% of the Commonwealth Government handouts for World Heritage sites. The full list Commonwealth allocations are as follows.

Sites managed wholly by the Commonwealth

Great Barrier Reef — $24,200,000 (46.76% of the total Commonwealth World Heritage spending)

Uluru - Kata Juta — $3.980,000 (7.69%)

Kakadu— $10,590,000 (20.46%).

It is interesting to compare Kakadu with Fraser Island. Both were identified as potential World Heritage sites by Commonwealth Environmental Inquiries in 1975-76. Kakadu Stage 1 became a National Park in 1978. It was inscriber on the World Heritage List in 1983 — 9 years before Fraser Island. As a result it started receiving funding for resource management more than a decade earlier than Fraser Island. Kakadu has a much more robust environment and is larger than Fraser Island but with slightly lower level of visitation. However with 20.46% of the Commonwealth World Heritage funding, Kakadu receives 16 times more than Fraser Island. It has more than twice the overall budget of Fraser Island.

Sites managed by Joint Agreement between State and Commonwealth Governments

Tasmanian Wilderness — $5,730,000 (10.34%)

Wet Tropics — $3,852,500 (7.44%)

State managed sites with some Commonwealth Government financial contribution

Central Eastern Rainforest Reserves of Australia (CERRA) — $785,000 (1.51%) involves both New South Wales and Queensland.

Fraser Island — $662,500 (1.28%)

Lord Howe Island — $453,000 (0.87)

Australia Fossil Mammal Sites (Naracoorte SA) — $417,720 (0.81%)

Australia Fossil Mammal Sites (Riversliegh Queensland) $395,193 (0.76%)

Shark Bay — $450,250 (0.87%)

Willandra Lakes — $340,000 (0.66%)

It is clear that World Heritage sites which have been nominated without a political brawl between the Commonwealth and respective State Governments have been short changed in subsequent Commonwealth allocations to assist the management of those sites. By whatever standard you adopt, Fraser Island has missed out.

The Federal Budget foreshadows a reduction in funding for World Heritage areas from $15.7 million (which doesn't include the Great Barrier Reef, Kakadu and Uluru) to $10 million by 2002.

One positive benefit from the Commonwealth Government is its newly proclaimed Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is discussed on p9 of this MOONBI.

Contributions by Other States

It appears that Fraser Island is the only site, which does not receive any contribution from general state revenue for management of the World Heritage sites. As MOONBI 98 was going to press, FIDO has not been able to obtain an analysis of each State's separate contribution to the particular World Heritage sites. FIDO is attempting to obtain this obscure data from New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia

FIDO will be represented at the meeting of the World Heritage Committee which will be meeting in Cairns, Queensland from 23 November to 2 December, 2000.

The Economic Value of Fraser Island

The whale-watching industry is now estimated to be worth at least $8 million to the Fraser Coast economy. It attracts 80,000 visitors a year, most of whom spend just an extra day or half day in Hervey Bay to see the whales.

Ten years ago Noosa National Park was estimated to generate an additional $24 million annually for the regional economy and again it is adding only marginally to the mean length of the visitor stays in Noosa.

In addition to time spent on the island itself, Fraser Island adds over a million visitor days to the time visitors stay in the Fraser Coast Region. Based on the estimated economic values of other major natural areas such as the Wet Tropics, Kakadu, Noosa and Cooloola, FIDO conservatively estimates that Fraser Island contributes more than $250 million to the state economy annually.

Local Government

All three levels of government abuse Fraser Island financially. FIDO cannot get any response from either the Maryborough or Hervey Bay City Councils over their pocketing of revenue collected on Fraser Island.

Nothing seems to have happened since we published the following statement in MOONBI 94:

The 1996 Local Government Boundaries Review said (p16) "Hervey Bay City has a net excess revenue of $122,000" for its portion of Fraser Island. This is "after allowing a pro-rata contribution to general administration' of 10%. In addition the portion of Fraser Island under Hervey Bay "attracts Financial Assistance Grants and Road Entitlement estimated to be some $160,000 per annum."

FIDO is very concerned particularly at the incredibly poor management of that part of Fraser Island in the Hervey Bay City Council jurisdiction. Three issues particularly concern us.

1. The Council has refused to implement the Development Control Plan, which was drafted at great public expense to be compatible with the Great Sandy Region Management Plan. The Council’s “go-it-alone” policy has effectively thumbed its nose at its responsibilities under the Management Plan.

2. Hervey Bay Council has deliberately turned a blind eye to quite obvious breaches of its own zoning laws and building codes to sanction huge mansions on Fraser Island being built and then sub-let as multi-unit dwellings. This practice has allowed Orchid Beach to become a model of appalling planning.

3. Having neglected its responsibilities to control weeds and oversee proper planing for the northern half of the island, the Hervey Bay Council has now decided to draw up its own Coastal Management Plan. To date the drafts and Discussion Papers have effectively ignored the fact that more than three-quarters of the coastline of the City of Hervey Bay is located on Fraser Island. A huge amount of government money has already been granted to facilitate this planning process but it looks like Fraser Island is again going to be the Cinderella as Hervey Bay City moves to develop its own Coastal Management Plan. We suspect that this is to avoid adhering to the regional plan which takes in the coast from Noosa to Miriam Vale

Fire Management Under Way

MOONBI readers will be well aware of FIDO’s growing agitation over the failure to develop and implement a Fire management Plan for Fraser Island. This was resulting in alarming ecological changes on the island which were threatening many of the island’s World Heritage values.

On 21-23 August the QPWS hosted a very comprehensive Fire Management Workshop at Hervey Bay involving more than 30 community, scientific and ranger staff representatives who, with the guidance and input of a number of experts, explored and discussed the options for the best fire management regime on Fraser Island.

It was encouraging to appreciate the strong consensus that more management burning was required particularly from the island ranger staff. The workshop identified all of the special island ecotypes and their special fire requirements. For example coastal casuarinas are very fire sensitive and may take years to recover on foredunes after severe fires so they need to be protected. On the other hand there is an invasion of casuarinas on Indian Head which is threatening a very specialized and rare grassland headland ecotype. It was agreed that there needs to be a management burn on Indian Head to reduce the casuarina invasion of that special ecotype. Appropriate fire regimes have similarly been identified for the whole island.

We now await the final outcome which should appear in the form of a draft plan. However, at the speed that several plans on Fraser Island are progressing at it may be years before that occurs.

In the meantime the Rangers have already been busy conducting management burns within the constraints of their very limited resources. In so doing (and they have made more progress this year than they have done for several years) they are building up a better understanding of the science and ecology of fire for Fraser Island.

One Got Away: One management burn at Sandy Cape escaped this year but because this area had been burnt two years ago with by a very benign wildfire, this fire was much more benign than it may have otherwise been. FIDO thinks it is inevitable that there will be some mistakes as the skills to better understand and manage fire in this environment are developed. One can learn from mistakes, but if nothing is done, nothing is learnt.

World Class Interpretation on Fraser

MOONBI would like to give the QPWS another bouquet to for the excellence of the interpretive signage. This now causing more visitors to be better informed about the issues and to appreciate the island more. John Sinclair, who explored National Park management in Utah in July, and who annually visits most leading National Parks in Australia says the interpretive signs are exceptionally good and could be judged world class. FIDO would like to express particular appreciation to Sue Olsen for her work in producing the excellent signs and brochures. The establishment of tour operators workshops (such as are conducted at Kakadu) and more Ranger guided activities of the quality offered in American National Parks would provide Fraser Island the very top quality interpretation.

Overseas Events Impact on Fraser

Goldman Reunion: During the Goldman Environmental Prizewinners' Reunion held last July, 2000 in San Francisco, FIDO's John Sinclair (Snr) met other laureates from 35 countries and learnt a lot more about the projects which had helped them to earn this most prestigious prize for voluntary conservation. John Sinclair also used his sponsored visit to San Francisco to explore more of the United States particularly the management of the National Park system. He added to the experience he recorded in 1998 when he visited the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde World Heritage sites by visiting four National Parks three National Monuments, two National Recreation Areas and other protected lands in Southern Utah. Full reports of his observations can be found on his web site: However there are a number of observations which MOONBI readers need to appreciate and which impact directly on Fraser Island. What was of most concern was the number of issues which these amazing people were addressing and how many had some impact, albeit sometimes remote on Fraser Island.

Fraser Island’s Migratory Waders

The most significant and potentially alarming was to learn from the Korean Prize winner, Choi Yul, that a Korean project to destroy and fill in the Saemangum Mud flats, tidal wetlands in Korea will certainly impact on the populations of trans-equatorial waders in Great Sandy Strait. The Saemangum Mud flats are Ramsar listed wetlands

The Korean Government proposes to build a 37 kilometre long sea wall and then convert about 40,000 hectares of what is now rich tidal mudflats into agricultural land to feed the growing Korean population. However, the mudflats are used annually by a vast population of migratory waders who nest and breed in the tundra areas of Siberia during the northern summer and then make epic flights to Australia. While some follow a route through China and others through Japan, the area proposed to be transformed is a significant stopover point for these waders who gorge themselves in a feeding frenzy for just a few days to build up reserves for the long flight.

If this project proceeds then many birds will be weakened as a consequence and may not survive the long flight. Thus it will inevitably impact on the populations of migratory species using Great Sandy Strait. The species and the impact are not yet known but Choi Yul's Korea Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM) which is spearheading strenuous opposition to this scheme are planning to gather more data during forthcoming migrations both to and from Australia. More details can be found on KFEM's web site at

While there is a Japanese Australian Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA) and Australia has a similar agreement with China (CAMBA) to mutually protect the birds and their habitats, there appears to be no international treaty between Australia and Korea which would protect equivalent habitats in Korea. FIDO is now urging both the Australian Government and the Korean Government to begin the development of such a dialogue and to abandon this project which will have such an adverse impact on the numbers of waders frequenting Great Sandy Strait and other Australian wetlands.


The so-called "Battle of Seattle" forced a rethink of the policies and impact of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a result of the strong protests by non-government organizations. Australian media presented images of chaos and anarchy allegedly created by a loose coalition of environmentalists, unionists, supporters of the third world and others. Innocent government delegations going about their lawful business were portrayed as the "victims" because citizen actions paralyzed the meeting. There was little analysis of who would benefit most and who would be disadvantaged as a result of the business of the meeting.

Since the Seattle WTO debacle where protest had to be suppressed by American armed, there has been a more considered revaluation of the WTO. Many agencies are now assessing the impacts of "globalization" and particularly how it is affecting the environment, poorer countries and the bulk of the world's population.

It appears that there are fewer and fewer beneficiaries and the impact on the global environment is more catastrophic than most had imagined. For example, Australia now can't effectively enforce quarantine laws which had been trying to affect what Brisbane writer, Tim Low, describes in "Feral Futures". This is likely to add to the number and impact of feral pests and weeds on Fraser Island, an isolated island that has escaped much of these injurious agencies.

Climate Change

Another major global issue is climate change. Politicians euphemistically use soft, warm terms such as "Global Warming" or "Greenhouse Effect" to describe the accumulation of gases in the atmosphere which are changing our climate. Both of these terms deny the reality. "Climate Destabilization" is a much more accurate term. It defines the outcome rather than the symptoms. Conservationists should be use Climate Destabilization instead of the political “weasel words”.

Rising sea levels: Although the effect of sea level changes on the Pacific Island nations has been widely publicized there has been little focus on howsuch changes will affect Fraser Island. . If the sea rises over the next few centuries it will erode away over about 15% of the island's total area or about 24,000 hectares.

A rising sea will also take with it many of the more interesting ecosystems such as the fens which scientists have just come to appreciate. A large area near Moon Point on the western side of the island and the swamps creeks from Eurong south are vulnerable if the sea level rises as little as a metre. They were created about 5,500 years ago when the sea levels fell just one metre. Climate change is expected to cause the sea level to rise just one metre from their present level.

Just these two issues show that global activities have a very significant impact on Fraser Island. While FIDO continues to fight to achieve better management of Fraser Island in Queensland, we can't ignore what is happening on the world stage. Some of the impacts may not immediately affect Fraser Island but the long-term implications are very profound.

FIDO will continue to use its many networks with other voluntary conservation groups both within Australia and overseas to address these very important issues.

Vale Judith Wright 1915 -2000

Judith Wright was best known as one of the most eloquent Australian writer and poet. However it was as one of this nation's foremost pioneer conservationist that will be her most enduring legacy Australian society. She co-founded the Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld (WPSQ) in 1963, was an original Councillor of the Australian Conservation Foundation, Patron of Australians for an Ecologically Sustainable Population Inc (AESP). She was a guiding light for FIDO and one of John Sinclair's foremost mentors and inspirations. In 1975 she helped coordinate other voluntary conservation groups to support FIDO's submission to the Fraser Island Environmental Inquiry which led to the cessation of sandmining.

In her Foreword to "Reef Rainforest Mangroves Man - A Focus on Cape York Peninsula" she wrote:

"Finally, however, the core of the problem in Far North Queensland as everywhere in the world, is the nature of man himself and the question whether we are capable of overcoming our past priorities and re-directing ourselves and our societies in wiser ways. The present exponential rise in world population and in consequent resource use, in a world of dwindling options, affects Australia in many ways. We are one of the world's quarries, and one of its only remaining grain suppliers; and at Weipa on Cape York much of this quarrying is done. North Queensland is not exempt from any of the problems we make for ourselves.

We may not realise that 'exponentiality' is built into our biology, as into that of other species. Only predation keeps the natural balance among species, and we have done away with most of our predators and greatly increased our consumption wants. .... ....

The Workshop's scope was widened to a biological world-view ... which starkly scans the biological. Yet there are 'quantum jumps' in man's developmental history. The emergence of human language everywhere in the world was one such jump. We are the only species which has produced a mechanism of information-storage and of inter-individual and inter-social communication on a conscious level through symbolisation in speech, writing, and mathematics. Indeed, it was this very achievement which has brought us to our present dominance, and to the problems which arise from it. We now have another great gap to jump - one which would make us capable of overcoming a genetic programming now no longer appropriate to our survival. Maybe it can be done."

FIDO and Australia mourn her passing.

We also mourn the passing of Kathleen MacArthur of Caloundra. She was also co-founder of the WPSQ and was one of the prime movers in the initial Cooloola and helped promote public appreciation of the Wallum and the Noosa River. She had also been a strong FIDO supporter. Kathleen died not long after Judith.

Coastal acid sulfate soils

Both the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments are now starting to spend a lot of money to address the environmental impacts of acid sulfate soils. Such soils occur naturally along most of Australia's coastline. Once drained or disturbed these soils react with oxygen in the air to produce sulfuric acid. This dissolves heavy metals into a highly toxic cocktail of chemicals that are carried in run-off water into creeks and estuaries. Acid sulfate soils can cause massive fish kills, corrode cement and steel structures and strip land of vegetation. Most marine life is particularly sensitive to any changes in pH and thus disturbance of acid sulphate soils is one of the major contributors to the decline of the marine productivity in our coastal areas.

Until now the impacts of acid sulphate soils have largely been overlooked. The evidence is now compelling that the chain reactions set off by disturbing such soils by canal estates, drainage, marinas, boat ramps, etc. are too serious to allow to continue unchecked. We are already paying a very heavy a price for past mistakes in dealing with these soils. Acid sulfate soil affects the entire coastal community and there is an urgent need to discover and adopt effective techniques to manage this vast problem.

The protection of Australia's coast is vital as it provides habitat essential for Australia's unique biodiversity, nurseries for commercial fish species and resting habitat for migratory birds.

Acid Soils and Fireweed? There is a strong suspicion also that the disturbance of acid sulphate soils is the major contributor to the escalation in the occurrence of "fireweed" (Lyngbya majuscula) off Fraser Island and elsewhere in Southern Queensland. Queensland has announced plans to spend $370,000 on research to develop a Lyngbya Management Strategy by early next year to limit the impact of these algal outbreaks.

This blue-green algae settles on the surface of sea-grasses and reduces the capacity of sea grass to photosynthesize and be as productive. It is suspected of being responsible for the alarming loss of sea grass after the floods of 1994, which decimated the Hervey Bay dugong population. It is now acknowledged to be slowing the recovery of some areas of Hervey Bay and Moreton Bay catchments.


Lyngbya (Fireweed) is a voracious and highly toxic algae which can spread at a rate of up to 100 square metres a minute. It causes blistering, rashes and second degree burns in humans. It tends to appear at the height of South Queensland’s tourist season around Christmas. It also has the potential to devastate sea-grasses and dugong and turtle populations.

A seasonal closure of part of Hervey Bay to trawler fishing has drawn the ire of professional fishers. Seafood Industry Association spokesperson, Ted Loveday, wants the area and the time of closure reduced.

Some Hervey Bay City Councillors were opposed to a proposal to extend the Hervey Bay Marine Park.

While some other parts of Australia fared better, rainfall on Fraser Island for the 12 months to the end of October was only 60% of the average. The unseasonal drier weather highlighted the fire risk and it has also enabled more management burns to be undertaken.

Fishing Expo

QPWS’s official report on the conduct of Toyota’s 2000 Fishing Expo from 20 to 26 May was finally received in mid October. It accords with reports which came out during the Fishing Expo itself that the behaviour of the 1289 competitors and 400 associates/friends was much improved on that of 1999. In summary it concluded that there was a decline in yobbo behaviour. This was attributed to three key factors:

    The weather allowed the launching of boats and this reduced the amount of vehicular traffic and impacts.

    Organizers responded to the justified criticism of the previous event and improved their behaviour.

    Fewer people competed than in 1999 and there were many fewer campers (251 camps and 878 people in 2000 compared with 326 camps and 1307 people in 1999 — a 33% reduction).

Although organizers and government officials want FIDO to accept this improvement in the conduct of the Fishing Expo we continue to demand the end of the event. FIDO has long believed that a Fishing Expo has no place in a World Heritage site. We had been prepared to accept an event though if it was held at Eurong or further south. However, under the agreement signed by Premier Borbidge on 1 May, 1998 the event will continue up to and including 2005 unless Toyota accepts its corporate responsibility and discontinues its support for this event. This should be stopped because: —

    The impact of holding the event at Orchid Beach means that participants travel a much greater distance extending the impact to reach the site. This particularly applies to Orchid beach because the majority of the contestants now use large boats which they launch into the surf. The impact of dragging heavy trailers once they leave the beach is extremely severe. The event has seriously impacted on the tracks from Middle Rocks to Orchid Beach and the Wathumba Track.

    It has established and entrenches an unsustainable pattern of recreation which is placing heavier pressure on the northern sector of the island which had been previously the least visited part of Fraser Island.

    The impact on the wilderness values on the northern end of Fraser Island has been serious, as the event has established an infrastructure demand which reduces the sense of remoteness essential for wilderness values.

    The impact on the marine environment has not been assessed. Professional fishers have estimated that more than 300 tonnes of fish are taken each Expo. The World Heritage area extends 500 metres out to sea so this is being impacted by such an intense fishing effort. The QPWS report concluded, “Impacts on the fish stocks remains a separate issue and the subject of continued monitoring by the and the Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol.”

The QPWS, which is responsible for managing this World Heritage site cannot do a Pontius Pilate and absolve itself of responsibility for the fish stocks. FIDO understands that the Primary Industries Dept received almost $13,000 this year ($10 per entrant) but it has not produced any sort of report on the event or its impacts.

This is not good enough. The Fishing Expo shouldn’t continue at Orchid Beach.

Forward Steps on Walking Tracks

The long awaited draft Walking Track Management Plan for Fraser Island continues to be stalled despite promises to deliver a draft to the CAC in July. However some positive progress is being made on walking tracks.

Opening of Fire Management Trails: The island “Road Gang” has been split in two and half is now working on opening up former fire breaks which are needed both for fire management and for natural resource assessment as well as being available for walking trails. Many of these routes have been closed for decades and the process of opening them up has resulted in QPWS staff discovering aspects of the island that they had previously been unaware of. This will assist future management and also offer more options for bush walking on the island.

Track Team: The two man track team operates with a meagre budget under difficult conditions but the cumulative impact of their continuing work is becoming more obvious as walking tracks continue to be upgraded and stabilized. Another bouquet from FIDO for the besieged and under-resourced workers on the island.

Road and Rail Plans Languish

So far there hasn’t been any tangible progress towards either understanding what is causing or contributing to the main impacts of the existing use of the island roads. These are currently seriously threatening a number of Fraser Island’s World Heritage values.

Money has been allocated for a transport and access study out of the RAM expenditure. Plans for a project are being developed but there has been a dispute between the QPWS and FIDO on how to proceed. FIDO wants to see a serial project so that the extent of the degradation of the roads and adjacent environments are identified as a pre-requisite to any further studies on how to ameliorate the problems. The QPWS has been pressing for several issues to be studied and addressed concurrently. This presupposes that the environmental studies will support only minor changes to the existing patterns of recreation. FIDO believes that if the study shows that there is an urgent need to develop alternative patterns of recreation such as placing axle loading limits on roads or developing a light rail people-mover, then work which may be done on road classifications would be a waste of time and resources.

The causes of the road problems must be known before starting to address them.

Dilli Village Open to Tender Again

Nine years after inheriting Dilli Village from the former Forestry Service the QPWS is again about to call tenders for the operation of Dilli Village. This will be the third time that tenders or Expressions of Interest have been invited. FIDO is hopeful that this time a tenderer will be secured who will develop Dilli Village within the scope of the Management Plan. That called for maintaining this camp for budget and family style accommodation.

New Law Protects World Heritage

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which came into force on 16 July 2000, enhances the management and protection of Australia's world heritage properties.

FIDO welcomes the new EPBC Act. It should help ensure that Fraser Island is better protected. It seems that one consequence is that the Queensland Government may finally be forced to legislate specifically to protect Fraser Island. This was recommended by the Management Plan and strongly supported by FIDO but it has been strenuously resisted by the QPWS which would lose its flexibility to depart from the statuary plan.

Environment Australia has provided this summary of the EPBC Act and its implications. Fuller details can be found on its web site:

Some of the key improvements introduced by the EPBC Act include:

* up-front protection for world heritage properties, rather than the last resort protection offered under previous legislation;

* a stronger and more efficient assessment and approvals process; and

* improved management for all world heritage properties through the application of consistent world heritage management principles and more robust Commonwealth/State arrangements.

Actions which require approval: The EPBC Act regulates actions that will, or are likely to, have a significant impact on the world heritage values of a declared world heritage property. This includes relevant actions that occur outside the boundaries of a world heritage property.

An action that will, or is likely to, have a significant impact on the world heritage values of a declared world heritage property is subject to a rigorous environmental assessment and approval regime under the EPBC Act. Actions which are taken in contravention of the EPBC Act may attract a civil penalty of up to $5.5 million, or a criminal penalty of up to $46,200 or, in extreme cases, up to 7 years imprisonment. (An 'action' includes a project, development, undertaking or any activity or series of activities).

All Australian properties that are on the World Heritage List are automatically "declared World Heritage properties" and therefore are protected by the EPBC Act. The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage (the Environment Minister) also has the power to declare other properties to be World Heritage properties where:

* the property has been nominated for, but not yet inscribed on, the World Heritage list; or

* the property has not been nominated for World Heritage listing but the Minister believes that the property contains world heritage values that are under threat.

The assessment and approval process: A person proposing to take an action that is likely to have a significant impact on the world heritage values of a declared World Heritage property, should refer the action to the Environment Minister. The Minister will decide whether the action requires approval under the EPBC Act. Administrative guidelines are available to assist proponents in determining if their actions are likely to have a significant impact on world heritage values, and so need to be referred to the Environment Minister.

If the Minister decides that the action requires approval under the EPBC Act, then an environmental assessment of the action will be carried out. For the purposes of assessing actions, the EPBC Act enables the Commonwealth to accredit State or Territory environmental impact assessment processes which meet appropriate criteria. If an accredited State or Territory assessment is not used then there must be a Commonwealth assessment.

After assessment, the Environment Minister decides whether to approve the action and, if so, what conditions to impose to ensure the protection of world heritage values.

In limited circumstances, approval may be given on the Commonwealth's behalf by State or Territory governments. This can occur when the Commonwealth Environment Minister has accredited a World Heritage management plan and the action is approved by a State or Territory in accordance with that plan. To be accredited for this purpose, a management plan must meet certain conditions set out in the EPBC Act. For example, a plan can be accredited only if the Commonwealth Environment Minister is satisfied that the plan:

* meets Australia's responsibilities under the World Heritage Convention; and

* will not allow the approval of actions that may have unacceptable or unsustainable impacts on the World Heritage values of the property.

A State or Territory management plan may not be accredited if the proposed accreditation is disallowed by either House of the Commonwealth Parliament.

If a proposed action is to be taken in accordance with an accredited management plan, then approval is not required under the EPBC Act and the action need not be referred to the Commonwealth Environment Minister.

Management of World Heritage Properties: Many of Australia's World Heritage properties are managed and protected cooperatively between the Commonwealth Government and State governments, with relevant State agencies taking responsibility for on-ground management. Each property usually has State legislation protecting it, in addition to Commonwealth laws. This will continue under the EPBC Act.

For a World Heritage property in a State or Territory, the Commonwealth must use its best endeavours to ensure that a management plan is prepared and implemented for the property in cooperation with the relevant State or Territory. The management plan must be consistent with the World Heritage Convention and Australia's World Heritage management principles. World Heritage Management principles are set out in regulations and cover matters relevant to the preparation of management plans, the environmental assessment of actions which may affect the property, and community consultation processes.

Anyone want to fly to Orchid Beach?

Another Aircraft Crash: On 15 September a Brisbane pilot crashed a Grunman AA5 aircraft attempting to land at the controversial Orchid Beach airstrip. After making a number of attempts to land, the plane finally ended up 20 metres off the strip in light timber with fuel leaking from its ruptured tanks. . Luckily the pilot and two passengers escaped injury. The aircraft, registered to the Brisbane Flying Group, was a write-off.

Borbidge Responsible: The sorry saga of the Orchid Beach airstrip continues. Readers of MOONBI 91 (April, 1997) will recall the detailed history of the Orchid Beach airstrip before the shameful decision of the Borbidge Government to reopen it in defiance of the Management Plan for Fraser Island.

$250 subsidy per landing: At the time $190,000 establishment cost and $65,000 for annual maintenance was granted to the Orchid Beach ALA. The total subsidy from the public purse to date amounts to $450,000. However the crash revealed that only 1800 landings had been made since the strip had re-opened. That amounts to a subsidy from the public purse of about $250 per landing. It also means that the airstrip is used on average for only about 12 landings per week (less than 2 per day). This is not surprising considering the risks involved in landing on this short runway with unpredictable winds but it highlights the incredible perk from the public purse for the favoured few who can afford to fly to Orchid Beach.

Funding now stopped: The Beattie Government has now stopped any further consolidated revenue contributions to upkeep this very expensive white elephant airstrip. FIDO had predicted that Borbidge was subsidizeing a very privileged few.

Close this Disaster Area: FIDO has many misgivings about the continued operation of the Orchid Beach airstrip on public safety, environmental and public financial grounds. We want it closed and re-incorporated into the Great Sandy National Park as was scheduled in the Management Plan just as soon as possible.

Dingo Plan on the way

There has been a long and difficult process to try to establish some consensus for an acceptable Dingo Management Strategy.

Recent dingo shootings: While the strategy was being developed there has been effectively a two year reprieve when the number of incidents involving dingos attacking or harassing humans on Fraser Island. Unfortunately that has now ceased and the number of dingo incidents has started to increase alarmingly. Two dingos were killed by Rangers in October, 2000 for harassing tourists at Kingfisher Resort and Happy Valley respectively at the request of the resorts.

Very small gene pool: FIDO remains very concerned about the size of the gene pool which is estimated at about 100 animals and the impact of this culling program on the long-term viability of the purest strain of dingos in eastern Australia. FIDO wants to see the situation revert to what it was only 20 years ago when dingos were timid and afraid of humans. Until that situation is re-established, dingos will continue to periodically attack humans, particularly women and children on Fraser Island.

Visitor Numbers

Olympic Non-impact: Despite dire predictions of a huge influx of overseas visitors to Fraser Island as a result of the Olympics in Sydney, this didn’t materialize. In fact the indications are that there will be no significant change in the level of visitation between the September-October figures for 2000 and figures for recent years.

Camper Nights: While the number of camper nights has generally plateaued, the number of campers has increased. This continues the trend of recent years. This is due to a number of factors. Increasingly Fraser Island visitors staying for a week or more are opting for resort and house accommodation in preference to camping. However, the increasing number of foreign backpacker campers offsets this even though they camp fewer nights per visitor. Backpackers normally visit Fraser Island for three days and camp for two nights.

Backpacker Numbers: While there has been no formal differentiation of Fraser Island visitors, it is clear that there has been a significant increase in the number of “backpackers” who travel in groups of 8 to 11 in 4WD “troop-carriers”. A fleet of over 100 such vehicles operates mainly from the backpacker accommodation centres in Hervey Bay alone. About 7000 backpackers (700 vehicles) visit Central Station each month. The continuing growth of the number of backpackers, their lack of 4WD experience, and their environmentally insensitive patterns of recreation create one of the most difficult issues for visitor management on Fraser Island.

Increasing Overseas Recognition

A report published in the “Courier Mail” on 10 November advised that Fraser Island was on the “hot list” for travellers. It was ranked one of the world's top three tropical islands by the prestigious international travel magazine “Conde Nast Traveler”. It rated Fraser Island third behind the Hawaiian hideaways of Maui and Kauai in its rankings of the world's best tropical islands.

The latest Conde Nast score for Fraser Island represents an improvement on last year's rating of fifth. Fraser received this year's top score in the category for activities and was on par with the Hawaiian islands for scenery.

Tourism Council of Australia Queensland president Gary Smith, who is also managing director of the Kingfisher Bay Resort on Fraser, said the recognition by Conde Nast was a huge boost for Queensland and Australia in the American market. He said that this the recognition plus the Olympic Games would attract more American tourists to Queensland.

News In Brief

Welcome to the ranks: Sid Melksham, the man who forced John Sinclair into personal bankruptcy in 1994 for his advocacy for Fraser Island, has now joined the ranks of conservationists. Apart from owning all barges operating to Fraser Island and the Eurong Resort with his partner, Angela Burger, he also owns the two largest vessels in Hervey Bay’s whale watching fleet. Both Sid and Angela have vowed attend the next meeting of the International Whaling Commission in London to protest at the continued whaling by the Japanese. It is a welcome change as is the support of the Fraser Coast Chronicle for this conservation cause. It is rare that this parochial regional paper supports any conservation cause.

No Escape from the Law: Slowly the strong arm of the law is strengthening its grip on Fraser Island. During the spring school vacations two police 4WDs were based on the island, checking permits, conducting random breath tests and stopping speeding. This regular holiday police presence though is about to be significantly strengthened with a permanent Police presence.

New Police Station: The 2000-01 Queensland Budget included an allocation of $150,000 for a new Police Station on the island. The funds will enable the selection of a site and developing a design. Construction is expected to start later in the current financial year.

Some Escape Though: In the last 12 months there have been 274 prosecutions for infringements of Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act and the Recreation Areas Management Act by QPWS officers. Unfortunately though some professional fishers seem to have continuing immunity from these acts. Although the Queensland Government had no hesitation in using the RAM act to prevent anti-logging protesters camping on the same site for more than 3 weeks, they continue to turn a blind eye to the permanent camps of professional fishers on the foreshores at Waddy Point. Some camps have not been moved in more than 10 years. This is clearly an act of double standards. FIDO wants to know if they have paid the requisite camping fees for that period.

Lighthouses Protected

Sandy Cape: The historic Sandy Cape lighthouse reserve has now been incorporated into a new Sandy Cape Conservation Park and added to the state's protected estate. Sandy Cape was only the second lighthouse to be built by Queensland authorities. The lighthouse tower was built in 1870. At the time, construction was a major achievement with bolted prefabricated segments of cast iron being imported from England and put together on site. The Sandy Cape Conservation Park is a 3.34ha addition to Great Sandy National Park and includes the lighthouse, residential cottages, sheds and graveyard.

Double Island Point: Another addition is the Double Island Point lighthouse at Rainbow Beach, built in 1884. The Double Island Point Conservation Park is a 4ha addition to Great Sandy National Park and includes the lighthouse, and cottage area.

The QPWS is currently reviewing expressions of interest for a commercial operator at the Double Island Point lighthouse which was recently called for. FIDO's sister organization, the Noosa Parks Association has tendered for the management of this critical site for the management of Cooloola.

President's Annual Report

The Fraser Island Defender's Organization (FIDO) was formed nearly 30 years ago to protect Fraser Island's unique values from human exploitation. We have had incredible public support and success in our campaigns to end sand mining and logging, for World Heritage Listing, and the declaration of National Park over most of Fraser Island. This support has enabled major achievements, and remains fundamental to our future success, despite being an entirely voluntary organisation operating out of the spare rooms and sheds of countless volunteers.

Regrettably, nearly thirty years on, the will of Governments to protect Fraser still fails to match both the desires of the community, and the need of Fraser Island's fragile environment. The degradation of Fraser Island continues at an escalating rate. Neither the Commonwealth nor the Queensland Government give adequate funds to manage Fraser Island. Local Governments continue to take revenue off the island and spend it on the mainland.

FIDO continues to expend a great amount of voluntary time, resources and energy in monitoring the situation, publicizing the concerns, lobbying various levels of Government, and taking direct action on the ground to reverse the degradation.

It used to astound me that a voluntary conservation group could do more to protect a fragile place like Fraser Island than Government with all its' resources. However, it appears Government rely on groups like FIDO to do the hard work and argue the case for funding, to raise public awareness, and drive the arguments for conservation. This process is absurd, and it does require enormous effort from those committed to environmental protection. However it is the way the game is played. FIDO believes Fraser Island is too important to argue about the rules. Fraser Island is begging for protectors, and FIDO remains committed to championing the cause.

John Sinclair remains central to the effectiveness of FIDO. He manages to find time out of his business and family lives to regularly visit Fraser Island, attend Fraser Island Community Advisory Committee meetings, prepare submissions, lobby politicians, contact the media and produce MOONBI. Fraser Island remains indebted to him.

Billie Watts continues to do an excellent job in the never-ending job of Secretary. John and FIDO rely on her energy and commitment to Fraser Island.

Terry Hampson deserves our gratitude for continuing with the thankless job of Treasurer, made even more onerous by the GST.

John Sinclair Jnr, Judy Tambling, John Davey and Brian Mellifont complete the dedicated band that formed the Executive for the last few years, and continues to ensure Fraser Island's unique values are protected.

Help FIDO by talking with family and friends: FIDO has a large group of loyal members, many joining over 20 years ago and supporting us through all the heated battles of the past. Most of you will have stories of Fraser Island that you will have past on to your family and friends, and some of them will share your love of the place. Please encourage them to join us in the campaign to protect one of Australia's special places by joining FIDO. Or pass on to us the names of people you think may share your love of Fraser Island by returning the form included in this issue of MOONBI. They will receive a letter from John Sinclair, a free copy of MOONBI, an educational supplement, and an application form to join FIDO.

The issues facing Fraser Island are not being addressed by Government. We need a strong group like FIDO to advance the issues and drive the protection. We need to add new members to our keen band of supporters for FIDO to remain strong in the 21st century. Your continued support for Fraser Island is appreciated. Please help us be stronger longer by strengthening our Organization.

FIDO continues to champion the "wisest use" of Fraser Island. We continue a positive program of policy and action, while lobbying Governments and raising concerns with the community and the media.

The Fraser Island Light Rail Proposal: The Light Rail Proposal is an important FIDO initiative. Our proposal will help Fraser Island cope with the ever expanding number of people who want to visit Fraser Island, with less environmental impact than currently. An enormous part of the expenditure on Fraser Island is on road maintenance. Despite this, or possibly because of this, roads deteriorate even faster requiring more expense. Runoff from the roads is filling waterways and lakes. Lake McKenzie, probably the most popular lake on the island, is filling with sand and woodchips from the adjacent road. Current tourism practices are not sustainable and alternatives need to be encouraged. FIDO is working hard to ensure Governments understand the economic as well as environmental viability of light rail. It has been an issue we have pursued for nearly 20 years. We recently conducted another study, with a grant from the Queensland Government, which confirmed the viability of the proposal. We are encouraging the Commonwealth and State Governments to now proceed with a more detailed study with the aim of calling for expressions of interest for private enterprise to construct a light rail system on the island.

Weed management: FIDO has been concerned about the invasion of weeds on the island, particularly around the townships. Introduced domestic plants, as well as groundsel and lantana, are obliterating the native flora. The Maryborough and Hervey Bay Councils refused to act to clean up the land under their control, despite collecting rate money from Fraser Island (and spending it on the mainland). FIDO organised a weekend action group by volunteers and removed 13 large trucks of weeds from the front of Eurong township. The local Councils are now showing some interest in weed management, and hopefully will start investing the money they collect from the island on the island.

Cooloola: FIDO has been working closely with the Noosa Parks Association regarding the World Heritage Listing of Cooloola. The entire Great Sandy Region should be on the World Heritage List, but only Fraser Island has made it so far. Most of the obstacles for Cooloola have been resolved. John Sinclair has been attending workshops to help prepare the nomination. There are some delays due to conflict between the Federal and State Governments, but nomination will hopefully occur within the next 2 years.

Great Sandy Regional Conservation Council: The formation of the Great Sandy Regional Conservation Council 2 years ago has helped communication between FIDO, the Noosa Parks Association, Noosa Landcare and other conservation groups in the Great Sandy Region. The organization has also received Government Grants, which has helped the organizations meet their goals. John Sinclair and I attended a GSRCC meeting in July at Noosa, where much useful information was exchanged. As well as World Heritage Listing for Cooloola, the future of the lighthouses at Sandy Cape and Double Island Point were discussed. Noosa Parks has a proposal to manage the lighthouse buildings which is currently being considered by the State Government. Sandy Cape is currently being used as ranger accommodation, although the long-term use of the site is not clear. The future of Dilli Village remains unclear. Tourism and road management problems are common to both Fraser Island and Cooloola, and it is great to get together to discuss similar issues and hear of other groups' strategies.

Educational Leaflets and Expanded Internet Information: FIDO has actually received some Government Grants this year. Our plan is to prepare some educational information which will be distributed to members, schools, libraries and the community generally. Fraser Island is of great interest to the community, and especially to school students. FIDO receives many queries from students doing assignments on the environment, sand mining, logging, tourism, conservation battles and other issues. Answering these takes much of the time of John Sinclair (Project Officer) and Billie Watts (Secretary). The development of the FIDO web site on the Internet (thanks to the combined efforts of the Sinclair family) has helped, and we hope to incorporate the educational information on the site to ensure the information is accessible as widely as possible.

MOONBI 100: The next year should see John Sinclair produce his 100th MOONBI. This is a great feat for both John and FIDO. Fraser Island has faced many crises over the years from human exploitation. The issues continue to change, but the need to recognise and address the problems, and develop strategies to protect the environment remain. FIDO continues to have work to do, and we appreciate your support in our joint endeavours.

Ian Matthews (FIDO President) August 2000