SIMO – caring for North Stradbroke Island

Stradbroke Island Management Organisation (SIMO) is an incorporated community organisation founded in March 1978. SIMO formed in response to the proposal by the Bjelke Petersen Government to build a bridge from the mainland to North Stradbroke Island  via Russell Island.

Founding members included Ellie Durbidge and Kath Walker (Oodgeroo Noonuccal).

SIMO advocated successfully against the bridge proposal and developed into an island-based community organisation championing environmental, social and educational causes.

What does SIMO do?SIMO

SIMO’s interests and objectives include:-

  • Recognise and respect the rights of the Quandamooka people.
  • Ensure the protection of the island’s unique character and environment through sound planning and management strategies.
  • Oppose bridge construction to North Stradbroke Island.
  • Press for protection of the island’s significant natural, cultural and historical assets.
  • Monitor activities and industries, which may pose a threat to the island’s natural attributes.
  • Strive for the establishment of a low-key, nature-based, family-oriented tourist industry for North Stradbroke Island.
  • Support the careful use of North Stradbroke Island as an educational and research venue.
  • Be an active participant on behalf of members in public policy and decision-making affecting the Island and advocating that these are open and transparent and include the fullest possible dialogue and participation with the community.

SIMO’s campaigns

Recent campaigns include:

  • Focussing on Indigenous island cultural sites and advocating for their acknowledgement and protection
  • Highlighting (in order to safeguard) significant island ecological areas such as Canalpin Creek, Myora Springs, the Boronia wildflower refuge, 18-Mile Swamp, Wallum Creek and the unique properties of each lake and lagoon on the island.

SIMO’s Development and planning role

Planning, management and development on and of North Stradbroke Island is pivotal to SIMO.  Some of the broad ranging issues confronted include:

  • Ensured that there was a development control plan for Point Lookout. SIMO advocated for building height limitations and for higher buildings at Point Lookout to be sited on the flat under the toe of the Tramican Street Hill (so as to be inconspicuous from the ocean and beach).
  • Protested against inappropriate land sub-divisions and closing of public access corridors to the beaches at Point Lookout.
  • Joined the lobby to remove powered watercraft use on Brown Lake (a place sacred to the Indigenous community)
  • Liaison with many other like-minded organisations is ongoing.
  • Organised walks and expeditions with scientific experts through island terrain where mining was projected in order to highlight biodiversity values and to safeguard each high value area.
  • Undertook the role of watchdog with regard to mining, worked cooperatively with the mining company to safeguard areas and on occasion, when this approach failed, we undertook sterner advocacy measures to ensure the conservation of contested areas e.g., the draining of Lake Kounpie, the damming of Wallum Creek, the diesel spill at Amity Mine, the spectre of salt water intrusion into the 18-Mile Swamp. We kept the pressure on to ensure that off-lease spills and damage were rectified and that they maintained a high level of rehabilitation practices.
  • The North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum grew out of SIMO’s activities and SIMO was a forerunner to Point Lookout Bushcare, undertaking planting, weeding and litter removal activities.
  • Opposing then monitoring water being piped to the mainland.
  • Opposing proposed island hospital/clinic closure and lobbying for maintenance of the ambulance service.
  • Continues to oppose bridge construction proposals when raised.
  • Contributed to numerous government studies from an Island perspective.

 SIMO’s Education campaigns    

Simo Newsletter June 2015 (click to enlarge)
Simo Newsletter June 2015

(click  to download a copy)

Increased community awareness and education is pivotal to the existence of SIMO.  Some of the educational campaigns by SIMO include:

  • Co-hosted two symposiums with the Royal Geographical Society on and about the Island which resulted two significant scientific publications.
  • Self-published “North Stradbroke Island”, the go-to resource guide (colloquially known as The Jellyfish Book) authored by Ellie Durbidge and Jeanette Covacevich.
  • Undertook various environmental conservation activities with the Dunwich State School and Secondary department students. Also accepted invitations to talk about island issues with mainland primary, secondary, tertiary and international students on a regular basis. Also accepted requests to talk to numerous special interest groups when visiting the island.
  • Publishing regular newsletters to inform the community and generate discussion on matters of concern to the Straddie community. The June 2015 Simo Newsletter looks at the Toondah Harbour development, wildlife issues and the Dunwich causeway.

 SIMO’s Current projects

SIMO is currently working on plans to transition the island to a viable post-mining economy whilst ensuring that mining employees are looked after into the future. It recently jointly hosted a forum with Redlands 2030 and The Amity Point Progress Association regarding the Island’s future post-mining.

SIMO is at the forefront of the ongoing battle to ensure the viability of our island flora and fauna populations. It maintains a high profile in the combined Island Wildlife Forum.

SIMO members are committed to provision of best practice planning into the future and for sensible and sensitive infrastructure and signage.

Members play a valuable role regarding fire management and shoreline erosion control planning on the island and are committed to sustainable and carbon neutral practices.

SIMO welcomes new members

New members are welcome and, whilst there are some wise, grey heads on the Management Committee, there is a transitioning to a younger hierarchy….. to carry the good work on into SIMO’s fourth decade.

You can find SIMO on Facebook.

All enquiries welcomed by SIMO at:


SIMO – 3 July 2015






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4 thoughts on “SIMO – caring for North Stradbroke Island

  1. Longevity in “the game” of community activism is a real challenge …well done SIMO and congratulations to all your members. But the trend is that the ask, in terms of effort being asked or demanded of you, has only just begun (again) !!!!

    Governments (and Councils) seem to think nothing of trashing the social capital of the community…perhaps that is one are of waste reduction “they” should take seriously.

    Of course then we move on to “red tape” and “green tape” reduction and so often another swag of the work by the community i.e. social capital goes out the window aka the Redlands2030 Community Plan and the SEQ Regional Plan.

  2. SIMO has had a long history on the island, there have been some real challenges and this group has been amazing in its research and commitment to protect this precious land.
    Whilst they have upset some there will be a time when many generations in the future will apprexciate the work they have done. I cant be so confident about many others parts of SEQ after Councils have just had no value for the place they were to represent or protect

  3. Alas, the trouble is (and no, I am not crying crocodile tears over the closing of the sandmine…) that once the mine wraps up, the single water transport company operating your transport connection to the mainland is set to lose 25% of its business (of which there is great care not to mention a single word in the above article). Anyone who thinks that rising ferry/barge fares to cover this loss will foster tourism on Stradbroke Island rather than choke it must be gravely naive or delusional.

    • I agree that rising barge prices will not help North Stradbroke Island’s tourism economy. The recent increase in fares is slugging locals and also would-be visitors. For example, $130 for an island resident day return fare is a big whack, and it is sending one mother I met on the water taxi this week, pushing a pram – who had to be back on the island to collect kids from school mid afternoon – onto public transport.
      Rising barge fares isn’t the answer. Perhaps, when mining is no longer in the frame, the barge service might be adapted to meet locals’ needs and holiday fluctuations? Do we need an hourly barge on a daily basis throughout the year?
      Meantime, as part of its prudent business plan, the barge company will have fully factored in the 25 per cent decline in sand mining-related barge traffic when mining ceases in 2019.
      Stradbroke Ferries has known with certainty since 2011 the date when mining on NSI would end: 2019. It was probably happy in 2013 to see Sibelco’s changes to the NSI Protection and Sustainability Act 2011 extend mining until 2035. But the Quandamooka People, who have a signed agreement with the state government, were not consulted in this significant matter. This breach of the Indigenous Land Use Agreement would qualify as a matter for the High Court.
      Practically everyone accepts that mining is not Stradbroke’s future. After 70 years, minerals are running out. That is why Yarraman mine is to close at the end of this year, inevitably with job losses. The small Vance silica mine has contracted because of a market downturn. But that’s the reality of the vagaries of mining, and Stradbroke Ferries is cognisant of this and all the factors that shape the island’s economy.

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