Culburra’s Frances Bray wins major environment award​

Frances Bray keeping an eye out for birds at her beloved Lake Wollumboola at Culburra Beach.
Frances Bray keeping an eye out for birds at her beloved Lake Wollumboola at Culburra Beach.

South Coast conservationist Frances Bray has won the prestigious Alan Strom Hall of Fame Award for untiring dedication to conservation and environmental education.

Ms Bray has dedicated years to the preservation of Lake Wollumboola at Culburra Beach and contributed to coastal protection across the state.

In 1993, she established the Lake Wollumboola Protection Association to lobby for the protection of the lake’s natural values, and for many years volunteered to protect shorebirds, documenting more than 100 species that visit the lake.

Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said the environment movement in NSW would be nothing without people like Frances Bray and the thousands of volunteers who work tirelessly to protect the places and the wildlife we love.

“These awards recognise the work of some of the community’s most outstanding individuals and organisations. They also celebrate the achievements of the movement as a whole,” she said.

The 2017 awards were presented by environmentalist and Hunter Valley farmer Wendy Bowman who won this year’s international Goldman Environmental Prize, NCC Chairman Professor Don White and Ms Smolski.

Culburra Beach’s Frances Bray (centre) is presented with the prestigious Alan Strom Hall of Fame Award  by Wendy Bowman and Professor Don White.

Culburra Beach’s Frances Bray (centre) is presented with the prestigious Alan Strom Hall of Fame Award by Wendy Bowman and Professor Don White.

Frances Bray citation

Frances Bray has dedicated years to the preservation of Lake Wollumboola on the South Coast, and our incredible coastal zone more broadly. In 1993, Frances established the Lake Wollumboola Protection Association to lobby for the protection of the lake’s natural values.

For many years Frances has volunteered to protect shorebirds, including the little tern and pied oystercatcher, and has documented more than 100 bird species that visit the lake. Frances feels a special responsibility for the little tern. With ongoing threats from predators and human pressures, Frances and her colleagues give their time to educate beachgoers about the bird’s nesting behaviour and threats to its survival.

Since the early 1990s, she has monitored the lake’s population of endangered green and golden bell frogs that breed in the wetlands on the northern shore. With their distinctive markings, Frances has been able to recognise individuals each year. The species disappeared from Lake Wollumboola for several years but to her delight, they were recorded again in 2015.

For Frances, the environmental volunteer experience continues to be an enriching journey of discovery in understanding the lake’s environment and the fascinating species it supports. She hopes to inspire others to join her in the challenge.