IT IS hot, sticky and exhausting but 10 conservationists are determined to see their task through.
For eight days the volunteers are surveying rugged rainforest, lakes and hills as the first step in extending the Fraser Island Great Walk.
It has been hailed by organisers as the most ambitious walking track project undertaken by volunteers in Qld.
Once finished, the new section will take in at least four of the World Heritage-listed island’s perched dune lakes.
They will include Lake Coomboo, Lake Allom and Lake Bowarrady and will only be accessible by foot.
The 40-kilometre extension will run from Lake Garawongera, on the east side of the island, to Arch Cliffs, on the west.
The extension is being undertaken by the National Parks Association of Qld and the Fraser Island Defenders Organisation.
It has the support of the local Butchulla people and Malcolm Burns, co-chair of the Fraser Island Indigenous Advisory Committee, is involved in the surveying.
The Department of Environment and Resource Management is also supporting the work.
Another conservationist spending his days in the forest this week is project coordinator and FIDO founder John Sinclair.
Mr Sinclair said the work had been challenging but not daunting.
“The temperature’s not all that comfortable,” he told the Chronicle from the island in a rare moment of mobile reception.
“There are 10 people persisting with enthusiasm; they can see the potential.”
The extension is in honour of the late George Haddock, who was the second longest serving member of NPAQ and a member of Fraser Island Community Advisory Committee for 10 years before his death two years ago.
The project, Mr Sinclair said, was also to provide visitors with a “better alternative” to exploring the island by 4WD.
Already Mr Sinclair is receiving a positive response from Australian bushwalkers who, he says, will have a trek that will rival Tasmania’s Overland Track and WA’s Bibbulmun Track.
Once finished, the Great Walk will feature signage, toilets and camping grounds.
This small stage of the project will wrap up tomorrow with volunteers returning for more surveying in April.
After a route is chosen an environmental impact statement will be carried out along with a cultural heritage assessment and then government approval will be sought.
Mr Sinclair said he could not envisage proposal approval until at least the end of the year.
DERM currently advertises the Great Walk as being 90km however that takes in numerous other island walks.
Mr Sinclair said once the extension was complete the Great Walk as a continual track would be more than 80km.