A dingo lazing about on Fraser Island.
A dingo lazing about on Fraser Island. Brett Hanwright

New fenced camping area to separate dingoes from tourists

THE STATE Government is set to spend up to $750,000 on new fencing for camping areas and other measures to keep tourists safe on Fraser Island.

The announcement was made during Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch's visit to the region this week.

A one-kilometre beach front site north of Eurong could become the first beach camping area to be fenced.

The decision comes after a spate of dingo attacks near Eurong since the start of the year, including an incident in which a 14-month-old boy was dragged from his parents' camper trailer.

Ms Enoch said cultural and ecological assessments would now take place to determine the suitability of the site. 

"Our government is committed to the continued safety of visitors to K'gari, and the government, in partnership with Butchulla traditional owners, are working through an action plan to improve dingo safety on K'gari," she said.

"One of the measures I announced earlier in the year was new fenced camping areas, and the government has allocated up to $750,000 for new camping areas and other visitor infrastructure that supports safe management of dingoes and visitors to the island."

Minister Enoch said improving safety messaging and enhancing awareness of the dingo's cultural value were some of the topics discussed at a dingo stakeholder forum in Hervey Bay today this week.

The forum included traditional owners, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, scientists, representatives from the Fraser Coast Council, community groups, and tourism operators and organisations.

"K'gari is known throughout the world for its pristine environment and for its unique pure population of wongari - the Butchulla word for 'dingo'," Ms Enoch said.

"We want to ensure dingo management remains up-to-date and incorporates the best available science and considers the animal's important cultural and social values.

"We also want to ensure that people are receiving the best educational messaging possible so everyone understands all relevant risks and safety information."

Ms Enoch said the government had also appointed the state's Chief Scientist, Professor Paul Bertsch, to lead a panel of experts, including an environmental scientist from the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation, to review dingo management on K'gari. 

The panel will review the government's management approaches and associated programs, and advise on their effectiveness in supporting a sustainable and healthy wild dingo population, while minimising the risks to human safety and dingo welfare.

"It is our intention to have the panel delivering its report by the end of the year," Ms Enoch said.

Christine Royan, Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation Director, said that as K'gari traditional owners, the corporation had important input on how wongari were managed, not only in terms of safety and conservation, but from a cultural perspective as well.

"We are proud of our long history and association with K'gari and will join with other key stakeholders in ensuring the island's natural resources, wildlife and cultural heritage are protected as well as making sure all our visitors and local residents remain safe.

"As we are custodians and protectors of K'gari, we are obliged to protect the wongari, and we will ensure our work on the island continues to do so," Ms Royan said.