Thursday, 30 September 2010

Island life (Sept 2010)

Flying north. . . welcome swallows take a break on a rocky headland.

Early morning . . . an Eastern Reef Egret waits for breakfast on Frenchman’s Beach.
Camouflage... a mopoke owl at Point Lookout.

Premier Anna Bligh's views on North Stradbroke Island

It was great to read of Premier Anna Bligh’s concern for North Stradbroke Island in her recent article published in the Brisbane Times, see Saving my island 'oasis' from sand mining.

Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Quandamooka elder Aunty Joan Hendriks at the announcement of the national park zoning on North Stradbroke Island in June.
Photo: Courtney Trenwith

However, despite the heartfelt claim she makes, the Bligh Government has created confusion by stating in various ways that the island’s mineral sand resources could support a thriving island economy for 100 or 200 more years, when this is simply not the case (her Brisbane Times article mentions 100 years, while her 20 June media release said 200 years).

This backs the miners’ emotional, and false, claims that the island will be an economic black hole without them.

The facts:
The truth is that commercial deposits of mineral sands (zircon, rutile and ilmenite), which have been mined for fifty years, will run out by 2027 at the latest.

In May 2009, CRL told the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) that its workforce on the Island would halve once Yarraman closed in 2013. (See extract from letter at left).

If expired leases are renewed to allow Enterprise to be mined out and if the Yarraman dredge were to be moved to Enterprise, the minerals will run out by 2023. No doubt, if permitted, Unimin could speed up the whole process and end it sooner.

What then?:
Local businesses and residents alike need to face up to the facts: mining is coming to an end anyway.

The only other resource legally presently able to be mined is silica sand. The Vance Silica Mine however employs only about 15 people. No-one could legitimately argue that this mine is capable of propping up the economy of the Island.

The future of the Island:
One thing is clear. Mining is not the future for the Island. What are the alternatives? There are a number of alternatives but nature tourism and related service industries are certainly the most obvious.

Check out what’s new:

Then and now: what CRL said about jobs before SaveStraddie

Here’s something to think about when considering the mining companies' claimed commitment to Straddie and economic contribution to the island.

In a letter to the ASX in May ’09 (prior to the Unimin takeover), CRL stated:
“the company will move from the current two mine operation on NSI to a single mine operation when mining at Yarraman is completed in late 2013. . . No immediate job losses result from the strategy but with only one mine operating on NSI, employee numbers are expected to approximately halve by 2014.”

Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival Success

There can be no doubting the dedication and enthusiasm of the musicians from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra (QSO). Rachel Smith, Principal first violin with the QSO, has directed the Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival since its inauguration in 2007. This year, together with 12 or so of her fellow players plus other musicians, she again gave up her QSO 'break' to spend a week working hard on North Stradbroke Island (to say nothing of the many hours of organisation!).

Sparkling... The 2010 festival was a treat!
While most visitors to Straddie are there for a holiday, these musicians rehearsed, presented four demanding concerts and held classes for local musicians. There certainly wasn’t much time for sightseeing! 

I have to confess to being a committed SCMF 'groupie'. I look forward to travelling 'overseas' for a week or so of R&R and taking in the sea air, the relaxed lifestyle and hospitality of the island and soaking up the beautiful music. The variety was amazing. We had gems such as the sparkling Mendelssohn string quartet Op.44, the impassioned Mozart String Quintet K.174, the uplifting Brahms Clarinet Quintet Op.115 and Schubert’s heavenly, but at times troubled, String Quintet D956. The perky wind quintet 'Summer Music' by Samuel Barber provided the pallet-cleansing sorbet between courses in the first concert on the Friday night. Then followed the dark and brooding String Sextet, 'Transfigured Night', by Schoenberg.

Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival Success
Concert 3 was aimed at the youngsters who came in great numbers (and in great voice!!) to the Dunwich Community Hall. Col Cunnington narrated the story of Peter and the Wolf , music by Prokofiev, which was well received. Cellist Louise King successfully ‘stopped the show’ for a while with a clearly audible ‘wow’ after the timpani ‘rifle shots’. Australian composers Stanhope, Sculthorpe and Hopkins provided the remainder of the program with several beautiful cello solos by Louise (wow) King and a string quartet with didgeridoo.

Concert 4 on Sunday morning featured the highly-regarded Freshwater (Piano) Trio from Melbourne. The program was delightful with piano trios by Beethoven and Brahms and a little ‘sorbet’ in between by Australian composer Gordon Kerry. The tangy dessert items were amazing arrangements of piano solos by Chopin and Schumann for the trio by Jazz musician and composer Joe Chindamo.

The final concert was a special dedication to the memory of Stradbroke identity and Festival inspiration Jani Haenke. The Schubert String Quintet brought the Festival to a most satisfying conclusion.

I can’t wait to see what Festival No. 4 brings. But I know I’ll be there!!

By Peter Crane

Court of Appeal win on construction sand

A July decision by the Court of Appeal has scuttled North Stradbroke Island miner Unimin’s attempts to resuscitate its bid to quarry millions of tonnes of low- value construction sand from the island.

The Court upheld Redland City Council’s 2008 unanimous decision to refuse a Unimin subsidiary the permits needed to remove sand from the island and truck it to the barge load-out at Dunwich for sale to the construction industry.

At the time, Unimin’s proposal caused outrage because of the disruption to the Dunwich community and environmental devastation that would be caused by the quarrying.

Many were concerned about the noise, pollution and safety issues associated with trucking.

They were also alarmed by the prospect of huge tracts of the island being dug up and exported to the mainland from long-life operations.

The Court of Appeal held that the miner’s application to the Council was defective in a number of respects and it dismissed the miner’s appeal against the Council’s unanimous decision.

FOSI and the other successful co- respondents have since called upon the Queensland Government to promise that it will not consent to a fresh application for Council approval - Government consent is a necessary pre-condition. No response has yet been received, although the Premier has been reminded of her March 2009 pre-election letter to voters which stated that her Government supported the Council's decision to reject the proposal. In view of that, it would be surprising if the Government were to allow one of its officers to provide the required consent. A further indication that the Government will not consent to a fresh application to the Council is that QCM (the Unimin subsidiary) has recently filed an application for special leave to appeal to the High Court against the Court of Appeal's dismissal of its appeal.

Busy season for whale researchers

Whale watching on Straddie is eagerly awaited each year by residents and visitors alike. From April to November the majestic humpback whales pass close to the island on their annual migration from Antarctica to their calving grounds in the warmer northern waters close to the Barrier Reef, and back again.

There goes another one!... UQ whale researchers count migrating humpback whales from a platform above Frechman’s Beach.
The whaling industry almost wiped out the humpback whale by 1960. An annual survey of their numbers began 1980. In more recent times Dr Michael Noad from the UQ Vet School at Gatton has been observing, counting and collecting data as part of The East Coast Australian Humpback Whale Survey.

The humpback whale (megoptera novaeangliae) is the fifth largest of the great whales. Adult females can grow 15 to 17 metres long and weigh 30 to 40 tonnes. According to Dr Noad, there has been a very strong and consistent recovery of numbers of between 10-11% per year. He said the survey showed that this increase might be slowing down this year, which was a good sign and may be halfway to the number when it will finally taper off. Researchers reported many interesting sightings this year including a large pod of killer whales that were seen chasing the humpbacks southward.

Big breach!... a whale breaching off the east coast. 
Between April and September the total migratory population of whales passing Point Lookout is approx. 15,000, and the daily number between 70 and 100. Before leaving Antarctica the whales feed all summer, eating 1⁄2 tonne of krill per day. This puts on a huge layer of blubber, sometimes a metre thick, which sustains them on their eight month journey. As they pass by we see spectacular breaches and fin slapping.

Males and females breach for a number of reasons but when it comes to mating rituals, breaches can occur to impress one another or to intimidate competition.

Gestation takes 11 months and calves are born 3-5m long and weigh two tonnes. The mother feeds the baby for almost a year and produces 240 litres of milk per day. Whale milk is the constituency of chewing gum and between 40-60% milk fat so the baby develops well, by which time it will have doubled its length. In the meantime the mother will have lost 4,000kg by winter’s end.

Sound is of tremendous importance to humpback communications, and they are thought to produce 640 different vocalisations; males sing complex songs comprised of verses and sets, lasting 20 minutes and repeated continuously for hours at a time. Songs are unique to different regions in the world.

The survey site for the UQ count was a platform overlooking Frenchman’s Beach. This was generously erected by the Redland City Council under the direction of Dan Carter. Dr Noad and his team are extremely grateful for this assistance in their research.

By Angela McLeod

Straddie top of list for new Greens Senator

Successful Greens Queensland Senate candidate Larissa Waters has made Saving Straddie one of her top three priorities after her success in the recent Federal election. 

On the campaign trail... Greens Senate candidate arrives on Straddie during the election campaign after inspecting damage done by mining from the air. 
During the campaign FOSI organised for Larissa to inspect the damage being done by Unimin’s sand mines from the air. Visit to read the Greens’ statement.

Spreading the word... Successful Greens Senate candidate Larissa Waters speaks to the media about Saving Straddie.

National Park for Straddie: 17 years is too long to wait

This map shows the Queensland Government’s plan for North Stradbroke Island. You can make a submission on the Vision For Stradbroke Island by mailing: North Stradbroke Island Team, PO Box 2454 Brisbane QLD 4001, Email: until 30 September.

For some ideas for your submission visit

Queensland Government North Stradbroke Island Future Vision Map End of 2027

Still campaigning!... 1997 revisited

Blast from the past!. . . This photo below is from the 1997 anti-sand mining campaign on Straddie. Now, 13 years on, people who care about the island and the quality of life of future generations of south-east Queenslanders are again fighting to protect this precious island. 

So let’s keep up the good work! Tell everyone you know – It’s time to save Straddie! The mining leases should not be renewed and National Park should be declared NOW! Not in 17 years time!

1997 anti-sand mining campaign on Straddie

How can we save Straddie? Why the current proposal is fatally flawed

The areas of North Stradbroke Island being mined now and those under threat of mining are all within the boundaries of the proposed new national park to be declared on the island.

On 20 June this year Premier Anna Bligh announced, with spin and fanfare, that her Government intended to legislate to end mining and declare 80% of North Stradbroke Island National Park – by 2027.

She did not reveal that mineral sands would run out by 2027 anyway, as the miner admitted to the Australian Securities Exchange only last year, nor that her Government could act now to end mining by 2013, using existing legislation.

On 20 June the Premier also concealed that her Government intends to renew expired mining leases at the giant Enterprise mine. Instead she implied that no expired leases would be renewed, leading to initial praise from some environmental groups.
No reprieve from mining ... under the Queensland Government’s plan for Straddie, much of the island will not be declared National Park until after it has been mined. 
The key mining lease, 1117, expired on 31 October, 2007. The Bligh Government has allowed mining to continue on it for almost three years beyond its expiry date.

Enterprise is the deepest and most destructive mine that has existed on the Island – a hundred metres deep and hundreds of metres wide. It operates 24/7, slowly moving north, destroying complex original vegetation and ancient sand dunes in its path. It is the mine that has featured in numerous newspaper photographs and in television news footage.

Unimin has no option or right to an extension of an expired lease. On the contrary, cabinet has no power to renew unless the Mines Minister, Stephen Robertson, is satisfied of each of 10 factors listed in the Mineral Resources Act. If he is not satisfied of even one, there is no legal power to renew.

What about the grandkids? ... Unimin’s Yarraman Mine (pictured) will be rehabilitated, but our grandchildren will never get to experience the wonder of the natural eco-systems that were there before. 
There are several of these which should fail the satisfaction test. But one stands out. Before there is legal power to renew, he has to be satisfied that mining of land earmarked for National Park would be an appropriate land use. How could any responsible minister genuinely be satisfied of that ?

Belgian miner Unimin continues to destroy old growth forests and ancient sand dunes on a daily basis through a legal loophole. The Act allows mining to continue until a decision is made. But parliament clearly never intended a massive three year delay. It makes a mockery of the law and of parliament. This is why the Save Straddie alliance of six leading environmental groups recently called on Mr Robertson to apply the law and reject the renewal application without further delay.

Nature-based tourism is vital for the future of the economy
The Island is known for its wonderful and diverse array of flora and fauna. It has a number of unique and endangered species. There are magnificent freshwater lakes and its wetlands are internationally listed . The Island’s koala is genetically distinct from the mainland koala, having been separated for up to 8,000 years, and it is the only naturally occurring Island population. At least 244 bird species inhabit the Island, including rare migrating sea birds.

Stradbroke with its winter whale watching and summer beach life is already an easily accessible player in Queensland’s tourism market. But the public has been locked out of much of the Island due to mining. The Bligh Government recognises that eco-tourism is the future in these areas – yet mining continues to destroy this very future and the jobs that go with it. Nature tourists are attracted to intact landscapes. The threatened sand dune systems, which consist of complex layers which mining destroys, are up to 300,000 years old . The complex and varied vegetation, which took thousands of years to develop and which is destroyed to allow mining is unlikely to be replicated. The sand miner’s 'rehabiliation' is a poor substitute for the complex ecosystems destroyed by mining. No one with a critical eye genuinely disputes this.

If it is not prepared to end it sooner, the Government can phase out mining by 2013 under existing legislation by:
  • refusing to renew the expired leases at 
Enterprise; and 
  • cancelling the Vance silica sand mine 
lease for serious breaches, involving the decade long unlawful removal of non-mineral sand and its sale to the construction and landscape industries. 
The Vance silica mine employs less than 20 people.

Last year, CRL, then a public company bound by Australian laws requiring reporting to shareholders, told the Australian Securities Exchange that the only other mine, Yarraman, will run out of minerals in 2013 and that it will shed half of its Island employees anyway, leaving about 100 jobs on the assumption that Enterprise continued. Recent denials of these job losses by Unimin, a private Belgian company with no obligations to Australian shareholders, should be treated with utmost scepticism. The Court of Appeal recently held that Unimin’s decade long removal and sale of Island sand was unlawful. The company is now facing criminal charges. It also misled the Supreme Court last year when attempting to justify its unlawful activities at Vance.

When mining finishes, there is a huge amount of work filling in the 100m deep hole at Enterprise and in re- vegetating all three mines – five years work for the employees. This is a reasonable transition period, particularly in a transitory industry. Most miners realise that mining jobs involve moving on from time to time. Fifty years of mining on Stradbroke is already too long. Unsurprisingly, according to respected scientific opinion, any more will threaten the ability of the damaged areas to recover to a reasonable state. Rehabilitation is a fundamental condition of mining leases. The Government is holding bonds of over $40 million to help ensure this.
There will also be many business and job opportunities in Island tourism and related services industries on the Island. For career miners, Unimin itself has nine other mines in Queensland and 40 around Australia and there are many alternatives in a growing industry.

Despite the serious flaws in its plans to end mining, the Bligh Government should be congratulated for its recognition of native title rights on Stradbroke Island and its planned joint management of National Park with the traditional owners, the Quandamooka people.

We hope that the Government will soon recognise that it would be grossly irresponsible to extend expired mining leases to allow land to be trashed by mining before it is declared National Park and that it will move quickly to phase out mining on fragile NSI. The additional benefit will be the protection of future, long-term employment opportunities in nature tourism and related service industries.

For more information visit

Friday, 30 April 2010

National park - not mining!

In 1990, the Goss Labor Government considered it appropriate that at least 50 per cent of North Stradbroke Island be declared national park. It did not happen. Less than 2% of the Island around Blue Lake - national park since the 1960’s- is protected. Over half of the Island is under mining lease, with the public excluded under threat of prosecution and mining destroying a valuable natural asset.

Let’s stop mining before more of our island is gouged out. . . North Stradbroke Island mining operations from the air. (Photo courtesy of Peter W. Glynn. Photographer Terry Magee). 
The needs of Greater Brisbane
Given greater Brisbane's need for more public green space and the fact that about 20 of the mining leases have expired or are due to expire soon, it makes sense to bring mining to an end and declare most of the Island national park without delay.

Since 1990 the population of greater Brisbane has doubled. Government policy appears to support population growth at unprecedented rates, despite infrastructure struggling to cope.

Premier Anna Bligh’s website recognizes the acute need for more national park and public green space – it records that greater Sydney has 49% public green space, while our area is only 19%. Even Melbourne far exceeds this with 33%.

Declaring the Island national park will help redress this imbalance.

The expired mining leases – a unique opportunity exists
An unprecedented opportunity exists – with mining leases that have expired, and more expiring soon. Renewal of the expired leases is being considered by the Government, which under the Mineral Resources Act can refuse to renew with no compensation payable to the mining company- Unimin Australia Limited, which is owned by a Belgian family through a US holding company.

Two of the expired leases are very large - ML’s 1117 & 1121. Together they comprise 6,019 hectares. 1117 is the key lease. If it is renewed, ancient dunes and pristine old growth forests in the proposed path of the mine will be destroyed.

By not renewing these leases the Government can also bring to an end costly litigation resulting from an appeal by the mining company against the unanimous decision of the Redland City Council in August 2008. The Council refused to permit the company to remove and sell to the construction industry an additional 500,000 tonnes of sand per year from these two leases. The Government has stated that it supports the Council’s decision.

North Stradbroke Island is a standout option for national park because not only is it accessible to the largest concentration of Queensland’s population but, importantly, the Government already owns the land so there is no cost in buying it for national park.

There is also an opportunity to give the Island’s indigenous population, many of whom have a 15-year-old unresolved native title claim, an opportunity to be employed and otherwise engaged in preserving and co-managing their traditional lands, as has occurred with national parks in the Northern Territory and north Queensland.
Off limits ... mining leases restrict public access to places like this. 
Nature‐based tourism is the future for North Stradbroke Island
It is almost universally recognized that nature based tourism is the future – yet mining continues to destroy this.

Tourists are attracted to intact landscapes formed over many thousands of years. Some of the sand dune systems that mining completely destroys are 150,000 years old. Similarly, the complex vegetation and other ecosystems that took thousands of years to develop and which mining destroys are unlikely to ever be replicated.

The Island has magnificent freshwater lakes and its wetlands are internationally listed. It is known for its wonderful and diverse array of flora and fauna. For example, the Island’s koala population is genetically distinct from the mainland koala and it is the only naturally-occurring Island population, making it unique. At least 244 bird species are known to either inhabit or visit the Island.

In a pre-election letter to Island residents, Premier Anna Bligh indicated her Government believed that North Stradbroke Island..."should be protected and preserved for future generations".

Employment issues
The mining company employs about 250 workers. Fewer than half live on the Island. By 2013, when one of the three mines is scheduled to close,about half of these jobs will go. The Island’s mines cannot be compared to the mines of central Queensland. Those mines employ many thousands and contribute vast sums to the State’s economy. Retaining mining on the Island makes little economic sense and the profits go overseas. The future value of North Stradbroke Island in terms of tourism and quality of lifestyle for Queenslanders - particularly those in the southeast- lies in protecting and preserving, not destruction.

Mining usually provides transitory employment. But, acknowledging the employment issue, the Queensland Conservation Council and Tangalooma Resort management issued a joint media release last year supporting the establishment of an eco-resort adjoining national park on the Island.

The Tangalooma resort employs between 300 and 400 people, depending on season. A state-of-the -art eco-resort on the bay side of the Island, with guests brought by boat (as occurs at Tangalooma) could be expected to triple the employment lost by ending mining with minimal impact on the Island's infrastructure. Declaration of the Island as national park would ensure its success. As national park, greater Brisbane’s very own ‘great walk’, running the 33 km length of the Island, is a real possibility.

The government must 'think globally, act locally' by protecting the Island from further destruction and thus make a valuable contribution to the world's environmental challenges.

Its time for national park - not mining- on North Stradbroke Island!

The campaign for national park, not mining is supported by nine leading environmental groups. The Australian Marine Conservation Society and the Australian Conservation Foundation have recently joined with Friends of Stradbroke Island, Queensland Conservation Council, Community Alliance for Responsible Planning (CARP) Redlands, Fraser Island Defenders Organisation, Moreton Island Protection Committee, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland.

An edited version of this article appeared in the Courier‐Mail recently.

By FOSI President Sue Ellen Carew and Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland president Simon Baltais 

For more information go to

The new flyer.
Bumped off...
The Save Straddie bumper sticker caused a bit of talk on the island during the Christmas holidays when it was handed out with fliers to holiday-makers. Get one for your car at the AGM, by asking a committee member or by requesting one via the website

Next time you are online check out
You can download information and newsletters, request a bumper sticker and read the latest media clippings. From the site, you can also send an ‘eblast’ to the Premier calling for the refusal of Unimin’s applications to renew around 20 expired mining leases – the first essential step in ending sand mining on the Island. In your email you could make particular mention of expired ML 1117. It expired on 31 October, 2007! Yet mining is continuing to destroy pristine old growth forests in the mine’s path.

This is a key part of the campaign to Save Straddie and a great way to get information about Straddie out to the public.

Newspaper ad keeps pressure on State Government... newspaper ad.
The advertisement above has appeared in the Courier-Mail a number of times this year to help spread the word about the urgent need to stop mining and save Straddie.

Straddie on the web...
Check out the new website:

FOSI report on Logan basin water resource plan draft amendment

In July 2007, the Minister for Natural Resources and Water (now Department of Environment and Resource Management, DERM) started the planning process to amend the Logan Basin water resource plan (WRP). The purpose of the amendment is to incorporate North and South Stradbroke Islands and the southern Moreton Bay into the existing Logan Basin WRP.

A water resource plan deals with the allocation and sustainable management of water resources to meet future water requirements, and includes provision for the protection of water-dependant ecosystems and security for existing water users.

Part of the amendment process included community involvement through the Community Reference Panel (CRP). Also a Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) was established to provide technical guidance and advice. (See December 2007 Newsletter).

The main technical issue that the plan has to answer is how much water could be extracted from the NSI aquifer in a sustainable way. That is, without putting groundwater dependant ecosystems at risk.

The first stage of the process involved TAP reviewing existing work and information, and developing the methodology for the project: the two TAP members were Associate Professor Malcolm Cox (School of Natural Resource Science and Institute of Sustainable Resources, QUT) and Associate Professor Alison Specht (Centre for Coastal Management and School of Environmental Science and Management, SCU). At the same time DERM carried out field investigations and installed additional monitoring. The Stage 1 TAP draft report was released around October 2008.

The following stage of the process involved computer modelling of the NSI aquifer and its interaction with all of the groundwater dependent ecosystems. This work was undertaken within DERM, with the TAP withdrawing from the process. The Stage 2 report draft was released to the CRP for comment in early 2010, but unfortunately, details of the report have been designated “confidential”. However, the work done is a significant contribution to the beginning of an understanding of the NSI aquifer and groundwater dependent ecosystems.

For those interested in more detail, newsletters outlining each stage of the process are available from

By Paul Vekselstein

In brief (April 2010)

Donations please!
Our recent activities to help save Straddie from mining have siphoned away money from our bank account.

Despite some very generous donations and provision of some services free-of-charge from our supportive members, we still need some more money for the campaign.

So if you can donate a little bit of money (or a big bit!!) please make out a cheque to FOSI or make an EFT transfer to the FOSI account.

Gorge walk update
Congratulations to Redlands City Council on its recent upgrade of the North Gorge Walk – a big improvement!
  Date saver – AGM
FOSI’s Annual General Meeting will be held on Saturday 3 April at 2.00 pm at the home of Edith and Duncan McPhee, 14 Booran Street, Point Lookout.

Members are urged to attend and to consider offering themselves for election to the Executive and the Committee. Meeting notices and nomination forms have been mailed to members..

Turtle TV stars
Straddie turtles featured on a television current affairs program last month.

Researchers and NSI resident Jenny Truman say more turtles are nesting on the island as climate change makes their traditional nesting sites further north too hot for eggs to survive.

Report koala sitings
Island resident Jan Aldenhoven is collecting information on historical koala sitings on NSI.

Jan wants details of any past sitings, even 50 years ago! This will help researchers better understand the island koala population, its habitat and how it might be changing.

Send information to: PO Box 255, Point Lookout; or e-mail

Island life (April 2010)

Beach breakfast... silver gulls fight for a morsel on Frenchman's Beach.
Into the storm... A crested tern on Deadman's Beach.
Silver terns on Frenchman's Beach during the recent wet weather.

Island koalas in the limelight

Protecting south-east Queensland’s dwindling koala population is becoming a hot topic. The issue has featured heavily in the media recently. FOSI has made a submission to the State Government calling for urgent action to protect the unique island koalas before it is too late.

North Stradbroke Island (NSI) is the home of a vigorous and healthy population of koalas. There is a low incidence of common koala diseases and research that has been carried out to date shows that they have been genetically isolated for about 8,000 years.

Stradbroke's koalas constitute the only naturally- occurring Island population in Australia. These koalas are unique and deserving of special consideration.Further research may reveal that these koalas hold the key to curing the mainland populations of various common diseases, as NSI’s koalas currently appear to be more robust.

North Stradbroke Island has a small (300-1000 individuals) but significant population of koalas that require the highest possible protection by state and local government. The population on Straddie faces significant threats from dog attack, vehicle strike, fire, habitat clearing and fragmentation, water reduction to food trees through water extraction from the aquifer and salt water inundation to habitat from sea level rise.

The first island-wide census was only conducted in 2008 so little is known about population size and locations prior to that date. Further, it’s not known if the numbers are increasing, decreasing or stable. However given the small population and the threats it faces, its survival chances must be maximized in every way possible.

Mining has caused substantial destruction of koala habitat on the Island. Unfortuately this destruction is continuing. The Government has a unique opportunity to protect and preserve the Island (as the Premier has indicated she wishes to do – in a pre-election letter to Island residents in March 09). Around 20 mining leases have expired or will expire soon. Under s.286A of the Mineral Resources Act, the government can refuse to renew these leases without compensation being payable to the Miner. North Stradbroke Island should be made a Priority Koala Management Area because of the significance of the population, the threats it faces and its small population size.

Unimin faces court on illegal mining charges

Investigations have revealed an alleged multi-million dollar sand mining scam orchestrated by Island sand mining company Unimin Australia Ltd. 

Unimin in court... Unimin’s NSI operations were under scrutiny when the miner faced court on illegal mining charges.
The company has been charged with criminal offences alleging that it illegally removed and sold sand for construction and landscaping purposes for the last decade. It did not have a permit under the Forestry Act - required for the sale of non-mineral sand.

The company has not yet been charged with ‘stealing’ the sand or with ‘serious environmental harm’ for not using the sand for rehabilitation of legally mined areas. Such charges would allow the Government to recoup the millions of dollars in profits that the company made from its activities, if it is convicted. The existing charges, being non-indictable, do not permit the State to use its confiscation of illegal proceeds legislation.

It was recently revealed by the Government that 50,000 to 100,000 tonnes per year since 1992 has been allegedly removed and sold unlawfully ie. up to 1.8 million tonnes of sand over that period. At a street value of $50 per tonne, a conservative retail price, this means the extent of the alleged illegality is simply staggering – in the vicinity of $80 million dollars.

Unimin claims that it has paid royalties. But as one island resident remarked, “It’s like saying its ok to steal a car, if you pay the rego”.

People gathered at the Cleveland Court House in force to protest against mining on the island. 
Imagine if you or I, with no permit, took an excavator and tip truck to the nearest beach, loaded it up with sand, and then sold it at the local landscaping centre on a Saturday morning. The authorities would shut us down in an instant! It wouldn’t matter if we sent the Government a cheque for 90c per tonne for royalties! Yet Unimin and its predecessor ACI apparently got away with it for two decades before the former EPA finally stepped in and stopped it.

The case against Unimin is continuing.

Fine music festival will be back on the island soon!

After its first successful seasons in 2007 and 2008, the Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival is back this year, bigger and better than ever! 

For three days in June (18th-20th) audiences will be treated to an exciting program of fine music performed by outstanding Australian musicians. And of course there's no better venue for great music than North Stradbroke Island - "Straddie" - with its stunning bushland serenity, beautiful beaches, and "away from it all" atmosphere.

Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival, 18-20 June 2010.
As established in the first seasons, the informality and warmth of these concerts blend perfectly with Straddie's beach-side charm. You can join the performers after the concerts for a chat and a glass of wine, or listen to them prepare at the open rehearsals. And there'll be classes, workshops and special events as well.

The exciting line-up of performers includes talented young musicians from the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and the iconic, intriguing Freshwater Trio from Melbourne.Point Lookout will again be the main venue, but a special feature this year will be a family-focused Saturday afternoon concert at Dunwich Hall where the audience will experience the fun of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf". This concert will also showcase a series of pieces for didjeridu played by virtuoso Harry Wilson.

The Festival's varied music program ranges from rich, much-loved favourites of the classical repertoire to new music at the cutting edge of current composition. In just three days we'll hear the delights of Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms and Chopin, as well as 20th century moderns like Austria's Arnold Schoenberg and Australia's Peter Sculthorpe, right through into the new millennium with Gordon Kerry's piano trio and the tuneful delights of Elena Kats Chernin. And these are only some of the musical treasures on offer! Come for an unforgettable weekend of fine music in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty.
  • See the latest updates on the website 
  • Musical & performer enquiries: Festival Director Rachel Smith, 3892 1575 
  • Sponsorship: Please call Rachel if you can offer financial support.
Tickets: radio station 4MBS Classic FM, 3847 1717 (9am-5pm, 7 days a week), and Point Lookout News. 

Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival 2010 18-20 June!