Showing posts from 2010

Island life (Sept 2010)


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.
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 l…

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!).

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 sparklin…

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 unani…

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.

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 numb…

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. 

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.

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

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!

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.
The key mining lease, 1117, expired on 31 October, 2007. The Bligh Government has allowed mining to continue on it for almost three years be…

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.

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…

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 S…

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 dependa…

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 …

Island life (April 2010)


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 pr…

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. 
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 millio…

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.

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.Po…