Friday, 2 December 2011

December 2011 Newsletter


Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 5:38 PM
The FOSI Committee thanks you for your support in 2011 and looks forward to working with you in 2012 to preserve our beautiful island.
Is your newsletter still arriving by post? If you’d prefer to receive it by email, please send your email address to Edith McPhee at emcphee@westnet.com.au. Thank you.
Check out our new blog! This edition and new stories will be posted to http://  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 5:37 PM
The spring wildflowers depicted below were photographed growing alongside the Blue Lake Track in September 2011 by Gail Quinn and Mary Barram.
Forest boronia
Guinea flower (hibbertia salicifolia)
Phyllota phillicodes
Agiortia pedicellata  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 5:35 PM
There are numerous threats to waders in Australia and in other countries of the flyway. In many parts of South-east Asia the birds are hunted and there is widespread habitat loss through coastal reclamation and industrial development, especially in China and South Korea. In Queensland, there is inadequate protection of roost and feeding sites and threats from pollution.
The elusive Beach  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 5:34 PM
Shorebirds are very easily disturbed by close activity. A disturbance is any action that interrupts the breeding, feeding or resting of shorebirds. For example, causing a shorebird to take flight represents a significant disturbance. When shorebirds take flight they use critical energy that is required for migration and breeding. Repeated disturbances and disturbances that occur before or after  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 5:32 PM
For a good look at shorebirds, sit quietly at a distance and study them through binoculars or a spotting scope. Disturbance from boats, people and dogs is a problem and these sites are best viewed out of the holiday season.
Sooty Oystercatchers on the rocks at Frenchman’s Beach
Amity and Flinders Beach
One of the best places to see Straddie’s migratory shorebirds is on the Amity  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 5:29 PM
It seems that the plight of immigrants and how Australia should welcome - or reject - them has dominated the news for months lately. While all this has been going on North Stradbroke Island has been quietly providing a temporary home to thousands of undocumented and hungry arrivals. Beginning in early September, Amity Point, 18 Mile Swamp and other wetlands across Straddie and throughout Moreton  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 5:28 PM
We were woken early on Saturday 15 October by a storm which eased as we headed for Cleveland and the water-taxi to Dunwich to take part in the 2011 North Stradbroke Island Urban Koala survey, organised by RCC Wildlife.
There were about 30 volunteers this year and we surveyed the streets of each township in small groups, beginning at Dunwich. Here we found 10 koalas; then to Amity Point where  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 5:22 PM
The Healthy Waterways 2011 Ecosystem Report Card was released last month providing an insight into the health of South East Queensland’s waterways and Moreton Bay.
The results show the full force of the flood with water quality deteriorating due to the significant amount of sediment and nutrients that have flowed into the bay from catchments.
Three of the region’s five catchments flowing into  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Dec 2, 2:54 PM
Financial Review 09/09/2011
The Proposed National Park
The government’s vision for North Stradbroke Island includes declaring further national park by the end of 2011.
The area to be added to that declared in March this year will result in approximately 50% of the island becoming national park. While any declaration of any area as national park is obviously something we welcome because it  Read more…

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Happy Holidays and Season’s Greetings to all Friends of Stradbroke Island!

The FOSI Committee thanks you for your support in 2011 and looks forward to working with you in 2012 to preserve our beautiful island.

Is your newsletter still arriving by post? If you’d prefer to receive it by email, please send your email address to Edith McPhee at emcphee@westnet.com.au. Thank you.

Check out our new blog! This edition and new stories will be posted to http://www.fosi.org.au and over time back issues may also become available. Enjoy :)

Spring Wildflowers

The spring wildflowers depicted below were photographed growing alongside the Blue Lake Track in September 2011 by Gail Quinn and Mary Barram.
Forest boronia
Guinea flower (hibbertia salicifolia)

Phyllota phillicodes
Agiortia pedicellata

Big picture protection

There are numerous threats to waders in Australia and in other countries of the flyway. In many parts of South-east Asia the birds are hunted and there is widespread habitat loss through coastal reclamation and industrial development, especially in China and South Korea. In Queensland, there is inadequate protection of roost and feeding sites and threats from pollution.

The elusive Beach Stone Curlew photographed on Frenchman’s Beach 
Australia is a signatory to international treaties aimed at protecting migratory waders including the Ramsar Convention (Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat) which promotes wetland conservation, and the Bonn Convention (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals) which provides a multinational framework for the conservation of migratory species. In the East Asian-Australasian flyway, 15 of the 22 countries in the flyway have signed the Ramsar Convention.  Australia also has special migratory bird agreements with three countries in the flyway - Japan, China and Korea.

Moreton Bay and 18 Mile Swamp, the longest wetland of its type in the world, are listed as Ramsar sites for special protection and sustainable management. A Shorebird Management Strategy for Moreton Bay was  released in 2005 by the Queensland Government. Within Moreton Bay Marine Park, the Marine Parks (Moreton Bay) Zoning Plan 1997 contains provisions for managing shorebirds. The Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) is the agency responsible for the management of the marine park including its shorebirds and their habitat. In addition, state and regional coastal management plans provide a framework for managing shorebirds in coastal areas including the marine park. Outside the marine park, the responsibility for protecting shorebirds is a matter for landholders, local governments and other land managers.

FOSI members are very concerned to ensure that the threats to Stradbroke’s shorebirds are recognised and addressed. While it’s great that 18 Mile Swamp has been included in the new national park, excessive water extraction for mining and water reticulation poses an ongoing major risk to 18 Mile Swamp and Stradbroke’s ground water systems. The integrity of 18 Mile Swamp is at risk from deep dredge mining at Enterprise mine next to the swamp and the impact of the Yarraman mine near the northern Key Holes. Shorebirds, especially our resident birds, also face continual threat from vehicles on beaches particularly when driven at high tide or above the high-water mark. Destruction of birds and nests by dogs, cats and foxes and rough human feet is another ongoing threat while the proposed development and release of extra land at Amity and Flinders Beach in the vicinity of key migratory shorebird habitat must be monitored closely to ensure that adequate buffer zones are put in place to protect the bird’s habitat.

Looking after Straddie’s Shorebirds – we all have a role to play

Shorebirds are very easily disturbed by close activity. A disturbance is any action that interrupts the breeding, feeding or resting of shorebirds. For example, causing a shorebird to take flight represents a significant disturbance. When shorebirds take flight they use critical energy that is required for migration and breeding. Repeated disturbances and disturbances that occur before or after migration are particularly damaging for shorebirds. Without sufficient energy reserves shorebirds may be unable to complete their migration or breed.

Vehicles driven over Home Beach to the detriment of shore birds and their habitat
We can all help prevent shorebird disturbance by following these guidelines:
  • Keep dogs and cats under control and well away from shorebirds. Every time shorebirds are forced to take flight, they burn vital energy.
  • Avoid driving or operating all forms of vehicles, vessels and recreational devices near shorebirds. Use 4 wheel drive vehicles only where permitted and drive close to the water’s edge to avoid crushing nests. Don't drive along the beach at high tide or above the high-water mark - especially between September and March in the summer breeding season.
  • If fishing from a sandbar, choose the opposite end to where the birds are gathered.
  • Feral animals can kill shorebirds —report any sightings of foxes and other feral animals to Redland City Council.
  • Consider how our actions may disturb shorebirds. This can include where we set up camp or whether we stroll through a roost site at high tide. We should keep our distance from shorebirds.
  • At home, try to minimise water wastage and be conscious of what chemicals we empty down the drain. 
Congratulations to Michael Dickinson, Straddie fox catcher, who has trapped 70+ foxes in the past few years. The recent increase in Bush Stone Curlew around Point Lookout island is probably due to his fantastic work as foxes are considered to be the biggest threat to curlews and have caused their near extinction in Southern Australia.

Where to see Shorebirds on Straddie?

For a good look at shorebirds, sit quietly at a distance and study them through binoculars or a spotting scope. Disturbance from boats, people and dogs is a problem and these sites are best viewed out of the holiday season.

Sooty Oystercatchers on the rocks at Frenchman’s Beach 
Amity and Flinders Beach 
One of the best places to see Straddie’s migratory shorebirds is on the Amity sandbanks at the north-western end of the village where the birds roost at high tide and on the exposed mudflats at low tide. Many thousands of waders and terns are sometimes present in summer. Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey-tailed Tattler are usually very abundant, while Whimbrel and Eastern Curlew are common. From February to August, the Double-banded Plover from New Zealand can be sometimes sighted at Amity but more often at Flinders Beach.  Amity is also a great place to see resident shore and water birds such as bush stone-curlew (especially at dusk in the camp grounds), red-capped plover, Crested Tern, lapwings, herons, egrets, ibis, spoonbills and cormorant and, if you are lucky, the beach stone-curlew.

Point Lookout
Shorebirds such as Bar Tailed Godwit are spotted making use of the beach lagoons on Cylinder and Home Beach along with lapwings, flocks of crested tern and other sea and waterbirds.  Bush stone-curlew are now fairly common and can be seen at dusk on roadsides and heard calling all over the township at night. The tracks of the beach stone-curlew have been spotted on Deadman’s and Frenchman’s Beaches with an occasional rare sighting of the bird itself.
Pairs of sooty oystercatchers are sometimes spotted on rocky beach outcrops on Frenchman’s Beach. 

Polka Point 
A small high tide roost and mudflats near the One Mile Ferry jetty is always worth checking out to see which shorebirds are making use of the area. Australian pelicans are also commonly seen.

18 Mile Swamp
Somewhat hard to access, this very significant Ramsar wetland is our new National Park. The area is still under threat from nearby deep dredge mining.

Foreign Feathered Friends

It seems that the plight of immigrants and how Australia should welcome - or reject - them has dominated the news for months lately. While all this has been going on North Stradbroke Island has been quietly providing a temporary home to thousands of undocumented and hungry arrivals. Beginning in early September, Amity Point, 18 Mile Swamp and other wetlands across Straddie and throughout Moreton Bay have been providing a temporary refuge to thousands of migratory shorebirds.

Shorebirds, also known as waders, are a diverse group of birds commonly seen feeding in intertidal areas or on the fringes of freshwater wetlands. They generally have long legs in relation to their body size, no webbing on their feet and they do not swim. But they can certainly fly!

Bar Tailed Godwit on Home Beach.
Most of the migrants spend the months of June and July on their breeding grounds in the northern parts of Siberia, Alaska, China and Mongolia. They breed in areas where melting snow brings masses of insects, providing a vital food source for self-feeding chicks. With the onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the depletion of food sources, the breeding adults, followed a short time after by their offspring, set off for the feeding grounds of Australia and other warm southern parts.  The birds travel remarkable distances of up to 25,000 kilometres each year, flying through extreme weather and avoiding predators. The smallest of these birds have bodies no larger than a hen’s egg, yet they still manage the journey. The birds fly at more than 60 km/hr, for three days and nights and for up to 10,000 km non-stop! Shorebirds make the journey in several weeks, stopping two or three times along the way. In doing this, they use favourable weather patterns when they can, but even so will commonly lose 40 per cent of their bodyweight flying. When they stop, they must 'refuel': they feed and rest to build up energy reserves. At these times they may increase their body weight by more than 70 per cent before undertaking the next marathon stage of their journey. The birds navigate a chain of wetlands from the northern to southern hemispheres along what is known as the East Asian-Australasian Flyway.

Migrating shorebirds need huge amounts of energy to complete their journey. One of the best-studied species, the eastern curlew, dramatically builds up its body weight just prior to migration. During its 13,000 kilometre flight from Siberia to Australia it will burn 40 percent of its body weight. This is equivalent to an 80 kilogram person running 16 million kilometres almost non-stop and losing 32 kilograms, twice a year!

The beaches, mangroves, mudflats, seagrass beds and coastal wetlands of Stradbroke Island, Bribie and many other areas in Moreton Bay are often the first Australian sites used by shorebirds on their southern journey and the last site before they return north. Around 40,000 shorebirds migrate to Moreton Bay each year. 

Once they arrive the shorebirds devote themselves to eating and regaining weight in preparation for their return to the North. During summer at low tide, regardless of day or night, the birds feed constantly – pecking and probing for worms, insects and crustaceans. With their highly variable and specialized bills they feed around intertidal flats, beaches, rocky headlands and along the fringes of freshwater wetlands. As the incoming tide cover these feeding areas, they begin to congregate in large numbers in relatively safe roost sites nearby. These roost sites provide areas where they can interact, preen, digest their food and rest while they wait for the ebbing tide to again expose their feeding grounds. 

Following the birds’ summer ‘holiday’ at Stradbroke and around Moreton Bay, their numbers dramatically decrease during March and April as the adults begin their epic journey back to the Northern hemisphere breeding grounds. Each year, around 15 percent of the migrating shorebirds that visit Moreton Bay in the summer remain for the whole year. This includes most of the first year birds that are too young to breed or adults that are too weak for the northern journey. From February to August these birds are joined by the only shorebird of Moreton Bay that undertakes an east-west migration - the Double-banded Plover from New Zealand which can sometimes be sighted at Flinders Beach and Amity.

These temporary visitors share the beaches and wetlands with Straddie's resident shorebirds and water birds which can be seen all year round. Some of the most recognizable species include the pied oystercatcher, bush stone-curlew, lapwings, terns and red-capped plover and our resident waterbirds – the herons, egrets, ibis and spoonbills. The vulnerable beach stone-curlew can also be found on Stradbroke while another rare shorebird, the sooty oystercatcher, is occasionally spotted on rocky beach outcrops on Frenchman’s Beach.  

Urban Koala Survey 2011

We were woken early on Saturday 15 October by a storm which eased as we headed for Cleveland and the water-taxi to Dunwich to take part in the 2011 North Stradbroke Island Urban Koala survey, organised by RCC Wildlife.

There were about 30 volunteers this year and we surveyed the streets of each township in small groups, beginning at Dunwich. Here we found 10 koalas; then to Amity Point where we found 19 plus 1 at Flinders Beach.

After lunch on the shore at Amity we surveyed Point Lookout but sighted only 1 koala there, a grand total of 31 for this year – 3 higher than last year. Where were the koalas which we know have been seen at Point Lookout? There have been photos and records of them and locals told us they have seen them but they seemed to be hiding away on the survey day!

However, it was a good day; even the weather smiled on us – sunny and warm after the morning storm and then a magnificent storm brewing at the end of the day as we boarded the water-taxi back to Cleveland!! The rain came down as we left One Mile but cleared as we approached Cleveland leaving a double rainbow across the sky and we drove home in fine weather.

Moreton Bay 2011 Water Quality Report Released

The Healthy Waterways 2011 Ecosystem Report Card was released last month providing an insight into the health of South East Queensland’s waterways and Moreton Bay.

The results show the full force of the flood with water quality deteriorating due to the significant amount of sediment and nutrients that have flowed into the bay from catchments.

Three of the region’s five catchments flowing into the bay scored F (which means “Conditions do not meet set ecosystem health values; most key processes are not functional and most critical habitats are severely impacted”) and Central Bay, Deception Bay and Bramble Bay scored D+, D+ and D-.

The good news is, in spite of Southern Moreton Bay scoring F, the water around Stradbroke Island is generally of a superior quality. The Eastern Banks scored A- and Eastern Bay scored B- while Waterloo Bay scored B+.

There have however been reports of increasing mortality rates for dugongs and turtles and oyster farmers have had to remove barnacles that have grown due to increased nutrient levels. The local oysters themselves seem to be doing well.

Overall the Report Card highlights the need to prepare catchments for rainfall events by managing erosion, rehabilitating riverbank areas, stabilising creek channels, investing in good agricultural practices and sustainably managing water.

More info including maps of the regions may be found at www.healthywaterways.org

National Park & Mining - Compatible?


Sourced from the Financial Review 09/09/2011

The Proposed National Park

The government’s vision for North Stradbroke Island includes declaring further national park by the end of 2011. The area to be added to that declared in March this year will result in approximately 50% of the island becoming national park. While any declaration of any area as national park is obviously something we welcome because it enhances protection, how much credit does the government deserve? The new national park will in fact bear a close resemblance to the proposed national park map published in the mining company's own documents for a number of years, including in CRL's draft Enterprise Environmental Studies Report in 2002. The same map has also been regularly published in official company documents since. It is worthwhile comparing that map with the latest DERM national park map. Go to www.savestraddie.com to view both maps, under the 'library' tab. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of the new national park will be degraded land – degraded by decades of sand mining. The undamaged areas included were not destined to be mined or were already protected from mining under the RAMSAR wetlands treaty which includes significant areas (not only 18 Mile Swamp). Large areas of Stradbroke, incredibly, including land being mined now, are also listed as part of the "national estate". Again, the maps of the national estate areas can be viewed at the savestraddie website.

Mining National Park

As island environmentalists, our focus, naturally, has been on the areas under threat – the hundreds of hectares that are destined to be destroyed by sand mining over the next 14 years unless there is a change of government policy. The ultimate insult to the environment of NSI is that this government's 'vision' is to declare these threatened areas 'national park' – after they have been destroyed by mining. This is a disgraceful and irresponsible policy, which sets a dangerous precedent, and the government needs to be told this loud and clear.

The Threat

A number of key mining leases granted for 21 years in the dying days of the Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen era expired in recent years. This government had an unprecedented opportunity to bring mining to an end – all it had to do was apply Queensland’s expired lease laws. Those laws, in the Mineral Resources Act 1989, were intended to be applied to mining leases as they expired. Those laws contain balanced provisions designed to protect the environment of special places, where mining leases should never have been granted in the first place. Sadly, the government chose to protect the billion dollar profits of a foreign mining company and short term destructive jobs (less than 14% of island jobs), using special legislation to extend the key expired leases, by passing the laws which still apply everywhere else in Queensland. In extending mining for another 14 years, the government gave the mining company almost all it really wanted, given that commercial mineral deposits largely would have been exhausted by then anyway. In the process, the government has left the door open for a future government, LNP OR ALP, to give the company absolutely everything – it would just require a simple amendment of the inappropriately named North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act 2011.

At Risk

The island’s complex natural hydrological system may be further damaged by deep dredge mining. Perched and window lakes, coastal fringing swamps, mangroves and wetlands, including 18 Mile Swamp have all suffered impacts. Increased protection is overdue. Moreton Bay relies on the island systems for its health and recovery. Stradbroke’s massive aquifer, supplying Redlands with pure water, is also under threat, like aquifers the world over. More mining will put at risk the ability of intact areas to nurture the recovery of mining rehabilitation. Scientific opinion maintains a tipping point is close and degradation may lead to collapse of the entire island ecosystem. The Queensland Museum recognizes North Stradbroke Island as having the most diverse vegetation and fauna of all the Moreton Bay Islands and lists sand mining as one of the significant threats to the bay, in their newly-released handbook Wild Guide to Moreton Bay. Ecotourism seems to be a lynchpin of the government vision for the island, providing sustainable employment, yet ecosystem collapse will leave us with a version of the Gold Coast which certain development lobbyists would relish. Stradbroke would no longer be the peaceful place to live or escape from big city life it should be.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

In brief (July 2011)

Recent Research
Recent reasearch from Griffith University indicates that the freshwater shrimp Caridina indistincta and a sympatric freshwater fish Rhadinocentrus ornatus, found only on the East coast of North Stradbroke Island, have genetic heritage dating from the Pleistocene era (~ 100-300 thousand years ago). Interestingly, this coincides with most estimates of the age of the dunal landscapes and indicates just how ancient and unique the island is.

Holiday House Letting Code
Continuing complaints from residents at Point Lookout about noisy behaviour from neighboring holiday tenants have caused the Redland Council to consider regulation of letting in residential areas. At the moment the Voluntary Code of Practice applying to agents is mostly effective but partying tenants in some houses, let by one agent, have frequently come to the attention of police. At the last round table discussion called by Mayor Melva Hobson residents, including FOSI representatives, voiced their concerns.

Big Contributor to Straddie
Council figures on the major part tourism plays in the Stradbroke economy reveal that visitors to holiday houses have an expenditure on Stradbroke per year of at least $20 million. With rentals down due to the weather and the economy it’s no wonder island businesses are reporting lower takings.

National Park Declaration Map

North Stradbroke Island National Park Declaration Map

Native Title Determination Areas

North Stradbroke Island Native Title Determination Areas

Criminal charges against Sibelco adjourned again

The company was charged in December 2009 with three summary offences alleging it did not have permits authorising it to remove and sell large quantities of non-mineral sand for landscaping and other purposes. The Court of Appeal has already confirmed that the actions were unlawful. However the company's criminal responsibilty has not been determined. Last month Unimin/ Sibelco was back in the Brisbane Magistrates court for 2 days, this time arguing that the prosecution against it is an abuse of process. The argument continues on November 7, with 3 more days set aside. It will then be almost 3 years since evidence was seized in a raid on Unimin's premises by the defunct EPA and two years since the charges were laid, an unusual delay in the initial hearing of summary charges in the Magistrates Court. Meanwhile, the government still refuses to send all of the evidence to the DPP for assessment of more serious charges, despite senior counsel opinion that there is a prima facie case of stealing and fraud against the miner.

North Stradbroke Island Protection and Sustainability Act 2011

As members are well aware, FOSI (and SIMO) have campaigned for the application of the Mineral Resources Act to the expired mining leases, especially the Enterprise Mining Lease 1117 which expired in 2007. With this new NSI Act, the government has bypassed the existing law to extend expired leases. All other expired mining leases in Queensland remain subject to the Mineral Resources Act. The provisions of the MRA, if applied, would not allow more mining to take place on land earmarked for National Park (i.e. at Enterprise Mine and Vance Mine where expired leases were also extended by the Act). The government claims the NSI Act will bring certainty to the ending of mining but it only extended mining onto land it intends to make National Park after it is environmentally devalued. Our two legal opinions can be read on the save straddie website, again under the library-resources tab. FOSI calls on the Queensland Government to amend the relevant sections (Section 11 and Schedule 1) of the NSI Act so that mining can be phased out much more quickly. There should be a halt to destruction at Enterprise and a phase out of 2-3 years, happening anyway when Yarraman Mine runs out of minerals around 2014. See article published in the latest Straddie Island News (SIN), with FOSI and SIMO’s publically stated position (on sale now in island shops).

January floods and bay health

The January floods have sparked serious concern over the impact of sediment plume on seagrasses, turtles and dugongs in Moreton Bay. With the Port of Brisbane reporting an additional 1 million m3 washed down the river as a result of the flood, there has been a need to check the effect this has had on the bay inhabitants. Green Sea Turtles and Dugongs feed on the seagrasses that thrive in the shallow sand banks and there is a fear that the flood plume may have reduced their food source significantly. Fortunately, according to Healthy Waterways, intial observations have proven positive and the existing dugong and turtle populations appear to be in good condition.

Find more information at www.healthywaterways.com.au

An end to sand mining, why 14 years and not 6 weeks?

Sand mining stopped on Fraser Island in 6 weeks!
Why does this government need 14 years?
In 1976 the Fraser government stopped sand mining in just 6 weeks after banning exports of mineral sand from the island. In contrast, the Bligh Government have enacted laws to extend mining on Stradbroke for 14 more years, sidestepping future use provisions of the Mineral Resources Act, which applies to every other mine in Queensland.

There were cries of gloom and doom and loss of jobs in 1976 just as we are hearing now at Stradbroke. But what happened at Fraser Island? A successful eco-tourism industry was developed, attracting people from all over the world to the World Heritage listed largest sand island in the world. The Fraser Coast has become a thriving residential and tourism area on the back of the island’s fame. No one, I’m sure, has ever looked back wistfully saying ‘if only sand mining had been allowed to continue our lives would have been better’.

Stradbroke Island will prosper once sand mining ends. Once the island is unlocked from the iron grip of the wealthy and politically powerful sand mining company, it will be far more appealing for tourists and potential residents. The notes to the NSI Act state categorically “Creating a mine-free NSI will greatly assist the development and growth of businesses and employment opportunities in ecologically sustainable tourism and other like activities”. Sand mining company Sibelco has run, through its influential Public Relations company, an hysterical and highly exaggerated campaign about the economic impact of stopping mining on the island.

Actually Sibelco planned to wind down and shed jobs anyway, since mineral sands would have been exhausted by 2027 at the latest. The company has a “gradual employment downsizing” policy and can only retain half of the current workforce after the Yarraman mine closes down in about 2014.
Mining advancing into the bushland.
Increasingly, mine employees are commuting to the island from the mainland and thereby contributing very little to the island’s economy.

So change is already happening. North Stradbroke Island is an increasingly diverse economy with more houses being built, more visitors all through the year, more varied business opportunities, more commuting, all due to societal, technological and population changes. (The popularity of internet grocery deliveries from the mainland indicates modern social reorganization - although it doesn’t say much for the commitment of some locals to the island economy!)

If mining continues after Yarraman closes, this local economy will be in limbo for more than 10 years. Things will limp along with some people employed in mining but most looking for other opportunities, which will only be curtailed by mining domination and destruction of the landscape.

Stradbroke does not have the isolation issues of a remote mining town and it is in a far better position to develop a diverse economy than Fraser Island was in 1976.

It is irresponsible for a government to allow minerals to be gouged out of the island’s fragile environment for short term profit, when the future of this place so obviously relies on its beauty. Tourists do not appreciate the ugly industrial landscapes, nor do most people who live here. The sight of encroaching bare sand patches is a depressing vista from the Gorge Walk and for local residents and visitors who are reminded of the destruction whenever they look out their windows or travel over the bay.

The only basis of a long term economy is diversity, anchored to the fact that North Stradbroke Island is a very special natural place with an intact indigenous heritage, just 30 minutes to a conurbated city of 3 or 4 million people. It is this that will keep people in jobs, not a decaying and destructive industrial dinosaur.

The destroyed landscapes will never be equal to the original complex bushland. People travel great distances to see natural wonders. Fraser may be the largest sand island in the world, but Stradbroke is the second largest. Let’s finally have some foresight and demand this government ends mining destruction without any more delay.

Nikki Parker





Erosion at Amity and Point Lookout

Deadman's Beach at its worst.
Early this year, with the wild weather, dramatic erosion occurred once again at Amity and Point Lookout. In January a large chunk of the Amity foreshore fell into the Rainbow Channel, causing a worrying time for residents, while at Point Lookout all beaches were left denuded of sand and with a number of the fringing casuarinas undermined and collapsed. Erosion does seem to be gaining in intensity and needs to be taken seriously by the powers that be.

Amity has a long history of drastic erosion with the settlement now 100 metres or so inland from where it was first established. On this occasion it was halted by the dumping of about 300 tonnes of rock along the shores. But there are varying views on the long–term prospects and possible remedies and concern about Council consideration of a “planned strategic retreat” strategy.

The Redland City Council is currently developing a Shoreline Erosion Management Plan for Amity. 
There is no such plan for the Point but Councillor Craig Ogilvie says:
“Council is doing some updated modelling on sea level rises and how that might impact on the coastline.”

Marine Plastic Kills Seabirds

Sea birds which forage in the Tasman Sea are eating plastic, thinking it is food and are dying in large numbers on Lord Howe Island. Large amounts of plastic are found in the stomachs of shearwaters and one survey found more than 200 pieces in one bird alone and up to 50 in others. The plastics have very sharp edges and tear their internal organs. Toxic substances bind to this plastic, and mercury, toxic to birds at 4 parts per million, was found to be as high as 30,000ppm. 95% of nesting shearwaters on Lord Howe Island were found to have plastic in their stomachs.

It was thought that the huge N Pacific garbage patch or gyre north of Hawaii, which gathers plastics from N America and Asia, was the source of their problem but the migratory birds had none in their stomachs when they arrived in September. From Lord Howe, they forage in the Tasman Sea off the coast of NSW, Vic and Tasmania and a few months later are found to be full of plastic.

The shearwater numbers have halved since 1970 on Lord Howe and very few chicks were found this year. Recently, a giant petrel which roams from the Antarctic to the Tasman Sea, died at Lakes Entrance and it was found to have a piece of plastic lodged in its crop and Styrofoam in its stomach. Marine plastics accumulate and concentrate chemicals such as PCBs and the pesticide DDT.

To help save our seabirds why not take a bag to the beach when you go for your walk and pick up any bits of plastic that you see.

Thanks to Andrew Darby whose original article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald

Turtle dies from 317 Pieces of Plastic
A dead green sea turtle with more than 317 pieces of plastic in its digestive system, was recently found washed up on a Ballina beach. Rochelle Ferris from the Australian Seabird Rescue said it was the most shocking case she had seen in 15 years and there was no doubt that the plastic killed the animal:
“The governments must take charge of stormwater drainage that goes into our rivers and waterways, which is just feeding a constant stream of this garbage into our marine environment”.

The Eighteen Mile Swamp

Swamps fringe the Northern, Eastern and Southern shores of North Stradbroke Island. The Eighteen Mile Swamp, a great trough in the sand lying seaward of the huge dunes of the main sand mass is kept full of fresh water by seepage from the sand mass rather than surface run off. Straddie is the southernmost high dune sand mass in Australia and the second–largest sand island in the world after the World Heritage Listed Fraser Island. This swamp teems with life and interest and is so special that it is included within the Moreton Bay RAMSAR site, recognised as one of the world’s premier wetlands. It is in fact the longest wetland of its type in the world.

Eighteen Mile Swamp
It is only this year that it has finally been given the highest form of regulatory protection available in Queensland by being declared National Park. The park has been named NAREE BUDJONG DJARA  by indigenous people on the island who are engaged in its joint management with the state. This level of protection has been a long time coming - the last National Park was declared on the island in the 1960’s at Blue Lake. The tally of areas on the island under high protection is now 20%. The promised 80% National Park by 2026 is still a promise and is not enshrined in any legislation.

Extending from about 3.5 km south of Point Lookout to Swan Bay this great area of dense vegetation looks inviting from afar. Closer contact, however, reveals an environment challenging for human contact. Since its formation about 6,000 years ago it remains relatively untouched by mining and disturbance to the peat forming process. This occurs below the surface mat of tea-tree, reeds, ghania (a tall razor-sharp grass) and ferns as the sea level in this locality was up to 7 metres below the present level approximately 8,000 years ago and up to 1 to 1.5 metres above 6,000-6,500 years ago.

It has been determined that this back barrier swamp formed during a less than 1 metre fall in the sea level since. This allowed a new beach to form eastwards and thus prevented the westward movement of sea water. The swamp, which receives its water from the island dunes, contains Freshwater Creek which is barely discernible in much of the Northern section. It is surprisingly deep where it enters the sea water conditions of the mangrove and palm swamp adjacent to the shallow sea of Swan Bay. 

Naree Budjong Djara National Park sign.
In the last sixty years there has been a noticeable increase in tea-tree and weeds (groundsel, etc) in lieu of reeds in the southern and mid sections of the swamp. This may be caused by an increase in salt-water ingress from Swan Bay with a slight increase in sea level or the extraction of fresh water for the mainland. The peat in the fresh water area is about 10 metres deep and consists of 4 metres of fibrous peat overlying 6 metres of an older gel-like material of embryonic coal. Hydrogen sulphide gas is evident in the anaerobic decomposition of the peat. This gas is also more noticeable where sea-water enters in the southern area.

Periodic fires have influenced the swamp environment but the indigenous people may have used this as a hunting device. The swamp wallaby, which may have been hunted, is a fine red-golden coloured animal unique to the island. In dry periods fire can reduce the swamp to ash in a matter of days. The recovery of the vegetation, however, indicates that fire adaptation is a characteristic of the present dense vegetation. Fire may also have been used by the original inhabitants to allow easier access to the beach from the inland. There are middens within the swamp on isolated and rare sand-rises which indicate old aboriginal pathways. Mosquitoes are abundant, especially at night in the southern section, in spite of the presence of fish in all areas which feed on their larvae. This, as well as the disease inherent in the anaerobic bacteria, is another deterrent to human ingress.

Sand dunes indicate past severe south–east wind gales. These dunes intrude into the swamp and are only stabilized by the growth of vegetation. The steep sand escarpment west of the swamp was thought by many to be signs of a relatively recent incursion when the sea beat upon the base of these hills. Research recently, however, has determined that this was at a time before the swamp was formed about 6,500 years ago. In fact, the swamp is the historically most recent formation on the island.

The swamp also contains a mystery ship-wreck described by Fred Campbell of Amity in a manuscript handed to Tom Welsby before he died in 1898. He thought that it was the wreck of Pamphlett and Finnegan’s ship, positioned he described as 4 miles north of Swan Bay and a mile in from the sea. This is, of course, well into the swamp. All fire-blackened remains above water- level have disappeared since 1954. Enough descriptions exist to describe this ship as heavily built, oak-framed, sheathed in Muntz metal and containing copper and iron bolts and rivets. It has been described as 30 yards long, aligned as a bee- line north south with the bow facing north. The use of Muntz metal and copper defines a possible time of its construction. Another time bracket is that it was an apparently unknown wreck after Moreton Bay was settled. Fred Campbell gained knowledge of it from the tribal elders of Moongalba and Amity and wrote that the first white men the aborigines had ever seen were Pamphlett and Finnegan, the discoverers of the Brisbane River. Later, it was Welsby himself who researched this and wrote that they, with Parsons, had been wrecked on Moreton Island.

This suggests that the mystery ship was abandoned further south by its crew at sea and may have been a drifting wreck washed ashore onto the beach to await an intense cyclonic storm or a tsunami to carry it into the swamp. Of the over 6,000 known Australian ship-wrecks only one appears to satisfy these conditions.

After the Second World War a timber causeway of two heavy hardwood planks supported by cross- beams on driven hardwood posts provided access to the Blue Lake from the beach. A small rowing boat was also provided at a deep section, presumably Freshwater Creek, too wide to span by the planks. It was thought that the army had constructed this for either recreation or defence. Alas, it is no more.

The sand mining company in the late 1950’s had a dredge working the lease covering the beach sand dunes. To convey the concentrate to the large facilities at Dunwich a high moving aerial ropeway with moving hoppers led directly across the swamp to the present sand-loading facility. Steel towers to support the pulleys feeding the steel cables were erected across the island at intervals including three in the dredged swamp. Remains of these may still exist in the water where they were collapsed when the whole affair became obsolete. The swamp under the ropeway was dredged and cleared as access for a small motorised barge. At the northern end of the swamp the Keyholes are clear freshwater lakes, delightful for canoeing, but are now close to the Yarraman mine and, therefore, not accessible to the public as it is a prohibited mining area.

As with most complex natural systems there is insufficient information on the hydrology (movement, distribution and quality of water) regarding the 18 Mile Swamp and much of Straddie’s groundwater systems. The groundwater is difficult to monitor because of the dynamic character of salt and freshwater interfaces. It has not yet been properly determined how either groundwater extraction or the potential subsequent saltwater intrusion will directly affect the swamp ecosystem and indirectly affect the quality of the water in the surrounding connected ecosystems and the major body of the aquifer. For this reason all groups considering the swamp as a resource (mining and the Redland City Council) have been running the gauntlet over the years. The mining process requires large amounts of water. This water has been obtained from the swamp and its connecting groundwater systems. The miners use spears to monitor water levels around the mines but with the deep dredge mining depths below the water table, draining and flooding have occurred in areas surrounding mines on a number of occasions. The drained Lake Kounpee to the West of the Island is an example. The 18 Mile Swamp could still experience negative effects with deep dredge mining continuing close by at Enterprise. The Redland water supply has also depended on extraction from the swamp for many years. The risks of water extraction are ongoing. The precautionary principle really needs to come into play in the care of this new National Park.
Enterprise mine encroaching on swamp.
Since 1988 the Centre for Coastal Management at the Southern Cross University has been conducting ongoing biological monitoring of 18 Mile Swamp for the RCC. In 2002 this included aquatic invertebrates, frogs and birds. New species of invertebrates and other forms of life were discovered that were not found on the mainland. Some life forms depend entirely on the existence of freshwater for feeding, living or breeding. If changes occur in the swamp the following could be endangered: the Oxleyean Pygmy Perch Nannoperca oxleyana, Water Mouse Xeromys myoides, 5 plant species including the Yellow Swamp Orchid Phaius bernaysii, the Swamp daisy Olearis hygrophila, and the Wallum froglet Crinia signifera, the little acid loving frogs that are dependent upon the reeds for their existence. The wetlands are feeding and resting grounds for many species of local and migratory birds.

The declaration of National Park under joint management is partial recognition of the traditional ownership and continuing spiritual attachment of the local indigenous people to this area. Some traditional owners point to the wiping out of the middens and many cultural places by past mining on the adjacent beaches. But the recognition of the 18 Mile Swamp as National Park at least brings public attention to its natural values and puts the onus on all to tread lightly on the delicate swamp. 

Thanks to Kathy Townsend and Emma Lewis from the UQ Marine Research Station for providing background information

Duncan McPhee & Angela McLeod  

High Court Victory

In the High Court of Australia in Canberra on June 9 the mining company’s final attempt to prolong the mining industry on Stradbroke for another 100 years was rejected. This brings to an end the company's plan to remove and sell large quantities of island sand for construction purposes. The new NSI legislation at least prevents any future application for Council approval.

FOSI, SIMO, native title owners, other conservationists and members of the local community waged a lengthy legal battle and were rewarded with a significant victory.

This proposal involved noisy and polluting trucks roaring through the streets of Dunwich and clogging up the ferry terminal entry point, at a rate of one every three minutes. It also would have meant continued domination of the island by the mining industry long after extractable minerals had run out.

All this impact on safety and peace of islanders and tourists was for the sake of ten jobs! (This figure was contained in the company’s application for planning permission to the Redland City Council).

Sand heaps now need revegetation.
North Stradbroke Island High Court decision means more than meets the eyeThe recent High Court decision (9.6.11) rejecting sand mining company Sibelco’s attempt to cling on to its construction sand business proposal exposes the deception in both the miner’s and the government’s public statements about the potential future of mining on Stradbroke.

Some background is necessary. Sibelco is a privately owned Belgian company which owns all three sand mines on the island. It has owned the smaller Vance silica mine since 2001. In mid- 2009 it bought the two mineral sand mines (extracting zircon, rutile and ilmenite) from Consolidated Rutile Limited, then a public company. This was Sibelco’s first mineral sand mining venture.

Prior to selling out, CRL had duties to report honestly to its shareholders and the Stock Exchange. It revealed (see fact sheets) that mineral sand mining on Stradbroke Island would end by 2027 – perhaps as early as 2020 – assuming expired leases were renewed. CRL announced that, to prolong company profits via mining interests on the Island, it had a proposal to sell non-mineral sand to the construction industry. It commenced stockpiling sand, ignoring rehabilitation obligations. The Government turned a blind eye, and continues to ignore these huge stockpiles which can be seen from the mainland.

In late 2007 CRL lodged an application with the Redland City Council for planning permission to remove and sell 500,000 tonnes of sand per year. Based on the size of its stockpile, CRL could have had a continuing business for another 100 + years. To enhance the company’s value, CRL made no secret of this future plan.

Although the local council rejected the proposal in August 2008, the company appealed, maintaining it was confident the council decision would be overturned in the Courts. CRL nevertheless decided that it was time to sell out to Sibelco – before the appeals were heard.

The High Court decision exposes the Government to ridicule. In April 2011 the Government,led by Anna Bligh and Kate Jones, the then Environment minister, rushed through the North Stradbroke  Island Protection and Sustainability Act. It is a misnomer. It neither protects nor sustains the Island, rather it sidestepped existing laws to renew critical expired leases to enable destructive mineral sand mining to continue until 31 December, 2019. The so-called Enterprise ‘restricted mine path’ within the Act, used to sell the plan to some environmentalists, has recently been doubled in size by the Environment minister, reducing the amount of area ‘saved’ by 62%. Unfortunately this increase was predictable – see the FOSI/SIMO submission to all MP’s prior to the Bill being passed without amendment. The Act also extended other key expired leases to allow the Vance silica mine to continue until 2025, despite the Court of Appeal’s findings relating to unlawful mining and unresolved criminal charges relating to that mine.

View from the ferry.
The government has portrayed itself as protecting Straddie’s environment. Prior to the High Court decision it may have convinced some people that allowing destructive sand mining to continue for another 14 years was reasonable when measured against a 100+ year mining related future, deceptively referred to by the Bligh government in various attempts in the media and parliament to justify its actions. But now that the High Court has finally stripped that future away, the real measuring stick becomes Fraser Island. In 1976, sand mining was stopped on Fraser in just 6 weeks, despite the same scaremongering about economic doom as we have seen from Sibelco. No one regrets ending mining on Fraser Island. It’s Stradbroke’s turn to be protected in fact, rather than fiction.

Island life (July 2011)

Lawn grazing Grey Kangaroo
Sacred Kingfisher
Striated Heron
Shearwater deaths
Tawny Frogmouth babies - too cute for words!
The Green Man at Notre Dame, Paris
The Green Man at Straddie

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

February 2011 Newsletter


Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 9:34 PM
An analysis of the words and actions of successive Governments over the past 20 years unfortunately reveals hypocrisy, political spin and deception. Instead of ‘protecting and preserving the Island for future generations’, there has been an expansion of mining and the destruction which it causes.WordsIn 1990, the then Labor Government led parliament and the public to believe that half of North  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke IslandFeb 9, 9:25 PM
Female Leaden FlycatcherLittle Wattlebirds and Noisy Friarbirds  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 9:22 PM
In December 2010 the court rejected a UNIMIN challenge to the current charges (taking the sand without permits).Last month the charges were adjourned to 14 June 2011. This is an unusually lengthy adjournment,  apparently sought by both UNIMIN and the Government. UNIMIN intend to make another legal challenge to the charges on 14 June 2011.FOSI and others continue to press the Government to charge  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke IslandFeb 9, 9:22 PM
PLEASE SEND DONATIONS TO FOSI FOR THE SAVE STRADDIE, END MINING CAMPAIGN.We can’t afford a multimillion dollar advertising campaign but our efforts have gained us good media and much public support. Courier Mail polls show 80% want mining to end now. Help us get the message out.Email  emcphee@westnet.com.au for the account number or cheque to FOSI PO BOX 167 Point Lookout  Qld  4183  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 9:20 PM
Although Southern Moreton Bay may have experienced less impact from the flood plume there is still a big question mark over the health of the marine life. There is a blanket ban on fishing in Moreton Bay and oysters are not being harvested. This is obviously affecting livelihoods on North Stradbroke Island.CSIRO ocean engineers, Rob Gregor (left) and Lindsay MacDonald, with the glider in Hobart  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 9:17 PM
The Stradbroke Chamber Music Festival returns with the whales August 2011Winter brings whales to island waters and the sparkling Chamber Music Festival to its shores. The program for 2011 promises fine music and zesty performances delivered by a merry band of virtuosi. Mozart’s Gran Partita, Schubert’s Trout Quintet, a Debussy string quartet, Misinterprotato jazz trio, an intimate evening with  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 9:15 PM
Despite rain, wind, rain, storms, and rain for days previously, the NSI Urban Koala Survey 2010 was blessed with a day of sunny skies (and brisk breezes…and a bracing water taxi ride!). Certainly nothing to deter the 50+ volunteers who appeared at Dunwich Cemetery (or Point Lookout) on Saturday, October 16, with hopes of spying some of the local fauna, koalas in particular.We divided into groups  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 9:13 PM
It was disappointing to read in the Baycare News (the newsletter of the Moreton Bay Environmental Alliance, of which FOSI is a member) that a new high speed power boat service around Moreton Bay is commencing. The twelve passenger, rigid inflatable power boat will travel at speeds of up to 106km/hr but will reduce speed in ‘areas with endangered marine life’. High speed power boats, through  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 9:11 PM
Recently this serious and notifiable fungal disease has been detected in Queensland commercial plant nurseries. The rust poses a threat to some of Stradbroke’s dominant plant species, particularly bottlebrush (previously callistemon spp.), tea tree (melaleuca spp.) and eucalyptus spp. The rust is a distinctive egg-yolk yellow colour.Myrtle rust on Melaleuca linarifolia (Angus Carnegie, Department  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 9:09 PM
Concerned Stradbroke Islanders are taking action to try to stop the establishment and spread of the pest Common Myna (also know as the Indian Myna or -by some detractors -as “flying cane toads”) on the Island. Submissions have been written to the Redland Shire Council calling for integrated action and some trapping is taking place. Three main groups of mynas exist on the Island: a large group at  Read more…
Friends of Stradbroke Island
Feb 9, 8:44 PM
Recently many  of us were distressed by the sight of large numbers of dead and dying birds on Main Beach. They were short tailed shearwaters often known as mutton birds. Local naturalist Michael Hines and Dave Stewart from Queensland Parks and Wildlife had been observing this event and noted carcasses every 5m for at least 5km, so there were considerable numbers of dead and dying birds.  Read more…