July 6, 2018 Uncategorised No Comments
Margaret Thorsborne, 2014. Image by Sarah Scragg Productions

Margaret Thorsborne, 2014. Image by Sarah Scragg Productions

In the 1960s Arthur and Margaret Thorsborne worked tirelessly with Wildlife Queensland’s Gold Coast Branch in campaigns to protect the natural environment. Moving to Cardwell in 1972 they continued to work for the protection of significant local areas, in particular Hinchinbrook Island and adjacent coastal habitats, and threatened species like the Torres Strait pigeon, cassowary and dugong.

The Thorsborne Trust was established in memory of Arthur Thorsborne (1912-1991) to continue the work he and Margaret initiated, and to extend their vision.

The Trust is established under the constitution of Wildlife Queensland and is managed by a board of trustees. Principal trustee, Margaret Thorsborne, who received an AO in recognition of her conservation work, is also the well-respected and much-loved patron of Wildlife Queensland.

Aims of the Trust

The Thorsborne Trust was launched in 1991 by the Queensland Environment Minister. It had the following aims:

  • to support activities for a better understanding of, and conservation of, Australian native species, in particular the Torres Strait pigeon[1] and the cassowary[2].
  • to support activities for a better understanding of, and conservation of, the natural environments in particular of Hinchinbrook Island and environs and the wallum country of South East Queensland
  • to support endeavours for the protection and restoration of significant natural habitats and ecosystems
  • to foster environmental awareness, particularly in the education of young people
  • to raise and disburse funds for all of the above goals

For 27 years, guided by Margaret Thorsborne, the Trust has initiated, supported and promoted a range of projects and activities, in keeping with these aims.

Conservation and environmental research

The Trust gives generous financial support to research efforts benefitting the conservation of native species, notably the Torres Strait pigeon, cassowary and mahogany glider, and their habitats. Other research efforts supported by the Trust have featured the beach stone curlew (Esacus magnirostris), the rare blue banksia (B. plagiocarpa) and the corals of the Brook Islands, east of Hinchinbrook.


Margaret releases a mahogany glider after Cyclone Yasi. Photo © Suzie Smith

Habitat protection and restoration

The Arthur Thorsborne Arboretum has transformed an area of degraded land at the entrance to the Edmund Kennedy National Park into mature life-sustaining woodland featuring native species of importance to the Torres Strait pigeon and the cassowary.

On the shores of Hinchinbrook Channel timely Intervention by the Trust prevented the loss of extremely high conservation value land, significant for both endangered plant and animal species, and enabled its protection as part of the Girramay National Park.

Local wetland and mangrove restoration and other tree-planting projects have all benefited from Trust involvement and generosity.

Wildlife conservation and care

The Trust has consistently supported and participated in the annual monitoring of the Torres Strait pigeon breeding colony on North Brook Island. Margaret Thorsborne herself attended every count until late 2014 and trustee Dr John Winter continues to play a key role, particularly in securing the future of this historically important project. In 2015 the Trust made a major financial commitment to the project by agreeing to fund two survey trips each season.

The Trust has funded measures (road alert signs, predator exclusion fencing, wildlife friendly fencing) to protect wildlife locally and further afield, and has supported local wildlife carers and carer organisations.

Environmental education

Gift subscriptions to Wildlife Australia and numerous donations of books on natural history and conservation topics have been made over the years to libraries and schools in the region. Small gifts of money and materials have supported environmental projects at local primary schools.

The Trust submits articles to community newsletters and to the Society’s magazine, Wildlife Australia.  It also sponsored the North Queensland Conservation Council’s poetry competitions, designed to encourage environmental awareness especially among young people.

In conjunction with the Queensland Department of the Environment, the Trust created the extensive Torres Strait pigeon display for the Cardwell Information Centre and contributed generously to the production of the acclaimed documentary, The Coming of the White Birds (2015). Trust funds have assisted publication of key works on Australian butterflies and Melaleuca woodlands.

Donations to the Thorsborne Trust can be made via Wildlife Queensland’s Donations page *please add a note to direct your donation to the Thorsborne Trust.

More detailed information on the Thorsborne Trust and its activities can be found here.


[1] Currently the approved name is Pied imperial-pigeon. However, as the earlier name is still favoured in the general NQ community, it has been retained in this case.

[2] Confirmation of the re-discovery of the mahogany glider (Petaurus gracilis) came after the Trust was established; otherwise, there is no doubt it would have been included here.

Written by Wildlifeqld