So many great legends have left us in these past few weeks. John Sinclair, genuine hero of Fraser Island, died at the relatively young age of 79. One of the last things he did, obviously exultant, was promote the 2018 Cooloola Coast bioblitz on ABC TV here. Barbara York Main was a giant in pioneer arachnology in Western Australia. Densey Clyne, working furiously and methodically, with great skills and compassion, died this week at 96. She was one of our greatest science communicators. Always bubbly and cheerful, yet with steely scientific rigour. Also on the Cooloola Coast, Maree Prior was the pint-sized conservation powerhouse of the Cooloola region.
John Sinclair was the pioneering conservationist who spent decades lobbying to stop sand mining and logging on Fraser Island, before it was World Heritage-listed in 1992, has died. John Sinclair protested against sand mining on Fraser Island, leading to a ban on export sales of mineral sands from the island and its eventual recognition as a World Heritage Listed-site. His son Keith after they won the battle to stop mining, remembered his father said “Now we have to stop Fraser Island from being loved to death. As long as you look after the place, you can repeat tourism, you can keep taking people back there.” Mr Sinclair’s family requested that John Sinclair be remembered by donations to further the wisest possible use of Fraser Island.
The Lady of the Spiders, Barbara Main (nee York), left a consummate scientific and literary legacy that was generated by her passion for the natural environment, dedicating her working life to documenting the spiders and other invertebrate inhabitants of Australia. Barbara became the first female PhD in the Department of Zoology at the University of Western Australia. Her strong connection to natural landscapes was shown in Twice Trodden Ground, where she declared that she longed “to return to a wild, lonely, forgotten piece of unwanted ‘useless’ land no good for farming … the sort of place where one finds a kind of earthly anointment”.
Pint-sized Cooloola Coast conservation powerhouse Maree Prior, past Cooloola Coastcare Coordinator and Life Member, passed away on Sunday March 17. In 2017 she took a position as Projects Officer for Biodiversity with Burnett-Mary Regional Group where she continued her tireless work for the environment she loved so dearly. Maree devoted herself to projects related to better understanding and management of coastal systems, including ocean beaches, estuaries and wetlands, through community engagement activities and on-ground work.
Densey Clyne’s environmental work with cinematographer Jim Frazier and lifelong study of insects, plants and the delicate relationship between all living things was ground-breaking.
Her lifetime was dedicated to exploring, understanding and sharing knowledge about the natural world. She was a writer, photographer, speaker, TV presenter and producer and has scripted documentaries and worked with the legendary Sir David Attenborough.
These great legends held up the sky.