Environmental Exchanges: Rohan Lloyd

Environmental Exchanges: Rohan Lloyd

‘Not a true coral island’: Understanding the presence, absence, decline and regrowth of corals on Yunbenun (Magnetic Island) since Townsville’s settlement

Dr Rohan Lloyd 

This presentation by Dr Rohan Lloyd is part of Environmental Exchanges, a seminar series organised by the Centre for Environmental History to showcase innovative new research that engages with key themes in environmental history. Throughout 2022, the Centre will be hosting seminars that engage with this year's theme of Oceans in original and compelling ways. Please note that this seminar will be held in hybrid format, both in-person in RSSS Room 2.56 at the ANU and online via Zoom. You can register to attend either online or in-person here.


Yunbenun (Magnetic Island), a continental island which sits roughly 8km off the coast from Townsville, is well regarded for its natural attractions and beauty. Visitors have flocked to its calm bays, scaled its rolling and rocky hills, hoped for the chance to see koalas, posed on huge granite boulders framed by hoop-pines, or fed allied rock-wallabies. While Yunbenun has established fringing reefs off many of its bays, its reefs have not been discussed or framed in the same vein as those attached to other major Reef tourist islands such as Dabuukji (Green Island) to the north. The island’s coral reefs have, since Townsville’s settlement, been acknowledged as a resource for lime, ignored as a genuine natural asset, and a point of environmental concern. Since the establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Area, its reefs have been reinserted into the broader tourism campaigns surrounding the island. Most recently, Yunbenun’s reefs have become sites of the broader program to restore or regrow corals along the Barrier Reef. This paper will seek to explore these dynamics and interrogate how the natural assets of Yunbenun, particularly its coral reefs, have been commodified and address the broader question of how we perceive or value of Reef islands.


About the Speaker:

Dr Rohan Lloyd is an adjunct lecturer at James Cook University and a full-time high school teacher at Ignatius Park College in Townsville. His research is primarily concerned with the environmental and political histories of the Great Barrier Reef and North Queensland. His first book, Saving the Reef: the human story behind one of Australia's greatest environmental treasuresis being published by University of Queensland Press and will be released in October 2022.



Image by Chad Taylor via Unsplash. 

Date & time

Fri 23 Sep 2022, 10–11.30am


RSSS Room 2.56 and online via Zoom


Dr Rohan Lloyd


Dr Rohan Howitt


Updated:  26 September 2022/Responsible Officer:  RSSS Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications