In the late 1960s the Great Barrier Reef was threatened with limestone mining and oil drilling. A small group of dedicated conservationists in Queensland – John Büsst, Judith Wright, Len Webb and others – battled to save the Ellison Reef from coral-limestone mining and the Swain Reefs from oil exploration.
The group later swelled to encompass scientists, trade unionists and politicians throughout Australia, and led in 1976 to the establishment of a guardian body: the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.
That it still survives is a legacy of activists, artists, poets, ecologists and students. In 1967 they were branded as ‘cranks’; now they should be recognised as ‘visionaries’.