VALE: Dr John Sinclair worked tirelessly to protect Fraser Island.
VALE: Dr John Sinclair worked tirelessly to protect Fraser Island. Contributed

Conservationist bankrupted himself to save Fraser Island

PIONEERING Queensland conservationist, and Fraser Island advocate and champion, Dr John Sinclair passed away at age 79 in Brisbane on Sunday.

Dr Sinclair worked tirelessly for 48 years advocating for conservation of the natural environment.

His greatest battle was protecting K'gari (Fraser Island's) pristine lakes and forests from the threats of sandmining and logging.

His legacy is that K'gari is now a World Heritage site, a national park, a major tourism destination and a centre for scientific research.

Dr Sinclair was born in Maryborough on July 13, 1939.

In 1971 he founded the Fraser Island Defenders Organization, FIDO, however the fight for Fraser Island came with many challenges.

He was bankrupted after taking on the then Premier in court.

His many court battles also established important principles relating to protection of the environment and the right to represent the public interest.

In 1976 he was named as the Australian newspaper's Australian of the Year.

In 1990 he was selected by the United Nations Environment Program in the Global 500.

In 1993 he was presented with the Goldman Environmental Prize.

In 2014 he was appointed in the Order of Australia.

He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2017.

His recent work centred on proper management of K'gari; the impact of tourism, fire and projects to stop the spread of invasive weeds.

His last visit to K'gari was as a guest of his friends, the Butchulla people and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex to mark the inclusion of the island as part of the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy.

Dr Sinclair had four sons and nine grandchildren.

They have requested that he be remembered, not by gifts of flowers but by donations to further the wisest possible use of Fraser Island.