Our History

In 1969 a small group of people got together to share ideas. They were bushwalkers, divers, nature lovers and geologists who shared a growing concern that the things which made Queensland unique were being lost to mining, tree clearing, pollution and unsustainable development. They formed the Queensland Conservation Council to help protect, conserve and sustain the places and communities they loved.

Fifty-one years on the Queensland Conservation Council remains Queensland's leading voice for environmental protection.

The following history was compiled by friend of QCC, Caroline Gardam, in celebration of our 50th birthday in 2019.

In the beginning

Queensland Conservation Council was formed in 1969 with a vision to advise, liaise with, and represent local conservation groups and campaigns across Queensland.  

Early conservation campaigns reflected the concerns of Australian environmentalists of the time. In particular, sand mining was a major issue during the 1970s, with QCC involved in campaigns addressing sand mining in Cooloola, Eurimbula, Round Head Hill, Deepwater, Moreton Island, Shellbourne Bay in Cape York, and most famously, North Stradbroke Island.  

QCC was instrumental in lobbying to create, or extend, national parks in Queensland including Sandstone NP in Central Queensland, Blackdown Tableland NP (former timber reserve, former Blackdown Stringbark), Mt Archer NP, and the extension of Moreton Island NP.  

Environmental issues QCC met during the 1970s and into the 1980s included facing down the possibility of oil drilling in the Great Barrier Reef, opposing woodchipping and protecting native forests, resisting uranium mining, fighting the construction of the Iwasaki resort north of Yeppoon and opposing the construction of a bridge to North Stradbroke Island. 

In 1981, Mon Repos – Queensland’s largest coastal turtle hatchery – was declared an environmental park; however, for many years QCC and its allies continued to fight campaigns to halt development that impinged upon the rookery. The area is now a key tourism resource and education centre.

The early 1980s also witnessed other campaigns to prevent major developments in fragile habitats, such as a proposal for a resort to be constructed on tiny Wilson Island in the southern Great Barrier Reef, and development impinging on national park on Lindeman Island. QCC was instrumental in supporting the World Heritage listing of Queensland’s Wet Tropics region. 

1990 - 2006

During the early 1990s, QCC was part of the Alliance to Save Hinchinbrook Island, alongside member groups CAFNEC and NQCC.

Towards the end of the century, QCC’s successful Smogbusters campaign began. Former Smogbuster Robyn Davies notes, “We ran the Smoky Vehicle campaign, fought the Inner City Bypass, campaigned for integrated ticketing on public transport in Southeast Qld, fought heavy vehicle pollution, fought for cleaner fuel standards, promoted cycling, made “The Pollution Solution” video with students, took part in a large training forum at Samford, (and) supported the Critical Mass rides on the last Friday of each month.

“We took a central role in battling the crazy tunnel system we have in Brisbane.

“James continues to train activists. Many of those who were part of Smogbusters are using our skills in a wide range of professions – mainly environmentally related. Well done James Whelan and Smoggies!”

Alongside the Brisbane and Ipswich Smogbuster groups, QCC working groups covered sustainable energy, the Moreton Bay environment alliance, sand mining on Stradbroke Island, water and dams, and Hinchinbrook.  

During the beginning of this century, the Moreton Bay Fish Farming campaign not only stopped fish farming in Moreton Bay, but changed Queensland from a pro- fish-farming agenda to non- fish farms, a position that remains today.

QCC contributed to the development of a state policy position on freehold vegetation clearing and regional vegetation management planning. In 2004, the Beattie Government announced the ending of broad scale land clearing in Queensland. 

The Rivers project promoted ecologically sustainable river management, and sought to protect natural and wild rivers and highlight key catchment impacts. QCC’s Rivers project provided representation on consultation panels and submissions on issues of state water reform.

Modern history

In more recent history, climate moves to the fore. 2006 was a key year, involving the Stern Review, IPCC 4th Assessment, and Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. In 2006, QCC’s climate position was tabled in the Queensland Parliament – with the Premier promising to introduce new climate policy into Queensland in 2007. QCC’s annual Walk Against Warming grew to over 10,000 participants by the end of the decade.

In closer times, QCC has continued its role as the state’s peak environmental group, supporting the newly launched Lock the Gate Alliance, directing a conservation focus on Moreton Bay, launching Plastic Bag Free Queensland in 2012, and encouraging the removal of fossil fuel rebates and promoting solar rooftop energy: this represents some of the varied activity of the organisation over the past decade.