Tourists could be banned from parts of ‘wild’ Fraser
Visitor numbers to Fraser Island could be slashed and tourists barred from its fragile sites amid growing calls to keep the World Heritage area dangerous, wild and special.
The 123km island - one of Australia's best-known tourism destinations - attracts about 400,000 domestic and international visitors every year.
Debate about the coexistence of tourists and wildlife has now reignited after Thursday's dingo attack at Orchid Beach in which a child received minor abrasions.
The incident prompted Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour to call for a review into the management of the island.
"We need to care for - and in some cases step back from - the wild places we still have in our midst," he said.
"K'Gari (Fraser Island) is a wild and special place, and that can sometimes mean a dangerous place.
"We need to step back and determine if it is being loved to death through the type of human visitation occurring."
Mr Seymour said it had been 50 years since the northern section of the island was declared a National Park and declared a review of its management was now due.
"I think it is timely that we have some type of reappraisal on what type of visitation is allowed and encouraged - with the overarching aim of keeping this pristine sand island wild and natural," he said.
Fraser Island is often overrun with four-wheel-drive vehicles during peak Easter, Christmas and school holiday periods.
Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said she would assess Mr Seymour's proposal.
Department of Environment regional director Mick Cubis said two island campgrounds would remain closed until February 28 after the dingo incident.
"We're taking this action now to reduce the potential for further negative interactions and ensure the long-term viability of the wongari (dingo) population on K'Gari," he said.
"This will have long-term benefits for our iconic natural ecosystems and tourism."
He said some residents and visitors were feeding or taking selfies with dingoes, increasing the risk "of negative interactions".
Fraser Dingo 4WD Adventures owner Jane Needham said changes needed to occur on the island.
"We're working with a world-heritage location but it's not really being managed like one," she said.
"I don't think visitor numbers need to be capped, but maybe just at peak periods," she said.
"Having 100 vehicles abreast at Eli Creek at a peak time isn't beneficial to anyone."
Ms Needham said the northern part of the island was off limits to commercial operators but said more must be done to educate private drivers about responsible environmental management.
"It's constantly being brought up about how information is getting given to people who are coming across to the island in their own private vehicle," she said.
Originally published as Tourists could be banned from parts of 'wild' Fraser