Aussie Trax Head Mechanic Len Smith, who agrees with business owner Michael Dwyer about the crippling impact of the Fraser Island bushfire on the rental business. Photo: Stuart Fast
Aussie Trax Head Mechanic Len Smith, who agrees with business owner Michael Dwyer about the crippling impact of the Fraser Island bushfire on the rental business. Photo: Stuart Fast

“Death by a thousand cuts,” 4WD boss hit by disaster trilogy

A CRIPPLING bushfire rounds out a devastating year for one of Fraser Island's veteran tourism operators.

Aussie Trax 4x4 rental business owner Michael Dwyer told the Chronicle he had lost more than 50% of his income amid a volatile COVID-19 tourism market and now, a six-week long wildfire.

He's angered by the management of both disasters and of the island in general- the result of which he described as "death by a thousand cuts".

In the 28 years of running his business, he has seen many fires take hold on the island but the latest is "just extraordinary."

He's fed up with the lack of Queensland Parks and Wildlife led preparation for fires on the island and maintenance on bush tracks which he said both impacted four-wheel driving for tourists and contributed to the long-burning bushfire.

"There just doesn't seem to be the resources to tackle it … it's never been well managed," he said

The timing of both the fire and COVID-19 restrictions has left Mr Dwyer, who is also receiving treatment for a serious health condition, drawing from his superannuation to keep the business afloat.

He explained the closing and opening of borders meant constant bookings and cancellations with no assurity of business.

"It's triple the admin staff and a third of the actual work … no consistency what so ever," he said

Without overseas tourists renting vehicles, Mr Dwyer couldn't see normal business return for several years to come.

The Fraser Island fire as seen from River Heads. Photo: Stuart Fast
The Fraser Island fire as seen from River Heads. Photo: Stuart Fast

The Department of Environment and science has been contacted for comment.

It released this response about the management of the fire today.


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