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30th Birthday and AGM

Last Saturday, Mackay Conservation Group supporters ascended onto the Surf Lifesaving Club to celebrate our thirtieth birthday. Committee members (past and present), members, staff, volunteers and supporters met for a dinner to remember the good old days and celebrate the many campaigns the MCG has under its belt. The first president of the Conservation group attended as well as the current president, Michael Williams, who was awarded a life membership. 

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Vale Rory McCourt

Rory McCourt, in his 70s, died on Sunday 10th May following a dreadful illness. He fought hard for the environment of the Whitsundays. Rory also advocated on wider environmental issues.

He lived at Shute Harbour, having moved from Sydney after a successful creative career around 20 years ago. He was a leading figure amongst those concerned about Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, especially as a key person on the management committee in the local group Save Our Foreshore (SOF) formed in October 2004. 

SOF fought the proposed hotel development on Airlie’s foreshore, with Rory also playing a leading role campaigning against other inappropriate developments including the proposed Shute Harbour Marina development, which is still active.  He established links with Mackay Conservation Group and others beyond the Whitsundays.  

Rory had a calm, warm and gentle nature offering an intelligence and humour. It was always good to listen to his thoughts over dinner, or when talking with others providing a careful, thoughtful but persistent advocacy. He would not be ruffled in a heated discussion.

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Introducing Imogen Clark - Our new reef water quality campaigner!



My name is Imogen and I have just started working at the Mackay Conservation Group as a ‘Reef Campaigner’.  I am from London and upon graduating from University in England last year, I have moved to Australia to pursue a career in marine conservation.

I learnt many things during my time at university, but one thing that completely resonated with me was the importance and beauty of the coral reefs, and how they provide such crucial habitats for a variety of marine organisms, as well as providing us with bioprospecting properties and a large economic input via tourism.  The reef is valued at $56bn, provides 64 000 jobs and over $6 bn directly to the Australian economy.  However, unfortunately the Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed, largely due to climate change and water pollution from excess sediments, nutrients and pesticides entering the waterways.

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After 27 years Michael steps aside 


One of the reasons for the success of Mackay Conservation Group over more than three decades is that we have had talented and stable leadership. For the past 27 years Dr Michael Williams, has been MCG's president while maintaining a busy schedule as a paediatrician. He has led the group though many campaigns, offering rational advice and clarity to our organisation. He will continue playing a part in the group as a member of our management committee and as an advocate for environmental protection.

Michael joined the group back in the 1980s when we offered support to the campaign to prevent a road being bulldozed through the Daintree rainforests in Far North Queensland. At the time the conservative Bjelke-Petersen government was busily ramping up its coastal development agenda with over 30 marina proposals, including one that would have demolished the Slade Point sand dunes and melaleuca forests. MCG worked successfully with a range of other groups to have the Slade Point dunes and wetlands protected.

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Volunteer Positions Available

If you have a few hours to spare on a regular basis then we have some tasks that you may like to help with. If you are interested in any of these projects, please email [email protected]




Hours per week


Catalogue Library Our library of hundreds of books and reports on local and global environmental issues is currently out of action. We need someone to input the book titles into an online database so that people working on campaigns and projects can find materials. 1 to 8 Ongoing
Build storage shelves We have recently had a major clean-up at the Environment Centre and have reduced a lot of clutter but we still don't have enough storage for posters, campaign materials and files. If you have some carpentry skills and would like to help us build a new set of shelving then we'd love to hear from you. Variable  One off
Media Monitoring We have a great volunteer who reads the Daily Mercury each day and selects the environmental stories for us. We need someone to go through all the collected stories and put them in a database so we can easily retrieve them in the future.  1 to 3 Ongoing
Paper Shredding Our old financial records and other out of date files were taking up a lot of room at the Environment Centre. We have a paper shredder but we need someone to feed it. An easy job that could be combined with something else.  10 2
EcoPress Editor If you have a talent for writing and would like to put together our monthly newsletter then this is a very enjoyable and rewarding job. Most of the content is prepared by the staff. Your role would be to ensure that all the content that we want people to read is included and that the newsletter is published on time.  2 Ongoing
Membership manager Over the years we have lost touch with some of our members for one reason or another. We'd like a volunteer to make contact with former members and invite them to rejoin MCG. If you are really keen then you could also assist us to improve our membership flyer and ensure it is distributed widely. 1 20
Artist The front room of the Environment Centre is now our meeting room. It would be great to have a mural painted on at least one wall depicting the marine environment. If you have the skills to undertake a task like this then please let us know. Variable One off
Gardening We need someone to select some suitable species of small plants for the garden at the back of the environment centre then ensure they are planted and maintained until they are self sufficient. We're looking for bird and/or butterfly attractors from the local area. 10 One off
Boomerang Bags Coordinator The current coordinator of Boomerang Bags Mackay has had to take a break so we're looking for someone to take over this very worthwhile community project. 3 Ongoing
Development monitor A key role for Mackay Conservation Group is to respond to development applications. While most applications that come to council are minor, there are some big ones that we should be taking an interest in. We need someone to monitor the council websites for development notifications.  1 Ongoing
Planner If you have planning qualifications then you could assist us to respond to Development Applications by identifying the planning issues that council must consider when assessing a proposal.  Variable Ad hoc

Woohooo! MCG turns 30.

Mackay Conservation Group was established three decades ago by a group of people concerned with the development plans for Linderman Island. Since then the group has become the most significant voice for protecting the region's environment. We have campaigned on many issues from matters of international significance such as protection of the


 Great Barrier Reef and climate change to very local ones like the campaign to open Sandfly Creek floodgates and allow tidal water to flow into that important marine habitat. 

It's time to celebrate all our work over the past few decades and honour the people who have so generously donated their time, money and expertise to ensure that Mackay is great place to live for its human and non-human residents.
We'll be holding a few birthday celebrations in October this year. On Saturday October 10 we're heading up to the Whitsundays for a day of sightseeing with Ocean Rafting Adventures. You'll get to see some great scenery and catch up with friends and colleagues. Cost: $150 per person including lunch, limit 32 people. 
Tony Duckett and Rod Smith are pictured here in the mid 1990s leading a march to campaign for dugong protection zones. The dugong still lives in the MCG office!
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