Location: Magnetic Island, North Queensland
Article: Written by Jo Hurford; Imagery by Jo Hurford
Clean Up Australia Day began over thirty years ago by an “average Australian bloke” who had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard. The national day, celebrated every year on the first Sunday in March, has now become the nation’s largest community-based environmental event.
As a community group who enjoys exploring the natural areas in our backyard, it is important to Townsville Hike and Explore to inspire and lead stewardship activities, supporting national initiatives such as Clean Up Australia Day.
For the event in 2022, Townsville Hike and Explore headed to Magnetic Island, the island gem a 20-minute ferry ride from Townsville. More than half of the island is preserved national park with fringing sandy beaches, magnificent granite boulders and surrounded by aqua blue water. After rain events, these beautiful beaches can become strewn with debris, as rubbish makes its way via rivers, downstream to the ocean where it floats upon currents, washing ashore upon our island paradise.
Eleven committed hikers joined the event, despite the 36 degrees forecast, to walk 8km from the Forts carpark, via the four bays track to Horseshoe Bay. Leaving on the early-bird Sealink ferry meant the walk begun whilst much of the track was still shaded and the heat was yet to hit it’s peak.
The first bay cleaned was Arthur Bay. The mangroves at the back of the bay are a perfect catchment for debris. The group found hundreds of macroplastics within the sand, chip packets, broken wine glasses and large piping.
The second bay was Florence Bay, our main clean up site. There was not so much debris, as Townsville hasn’t received a lot of rain in the past month. Despite this, everyone was surprised when we emptied all the bags onto a tarp to count what we had collected. When collated like this, we were proud of our effort.
Across the two bays we collected:
- 120+ bottle caps
- 300+ macroplastic pieces
- 26 pieces of rope (there was a lot of minute twine/thread as well)
- 29+ scrunchable soft plastics
- 1 syringe
- 4 pieces of PVC piping, one about 1.5m long
- 2 socks (a pair)
- 1 pair of knickers
- plus assortments of lighters, cigarette butts, single use cutlery, glass, lures, boat floats, and toothbrushes.
Luckily, we didn’t have to carry this with us for the rest of our walk. Thank you to Queensland Parks and Wildlife who collected the rubbish on our behalf.
After leaving Florence Bay, it had started to heat up and we were greeted by a refreshing breeze walking into Radical Bay, where one hiker took advantage of the cooler conditions for a quick nap. We bypassed Balding Bay, heading straight for Horseshoe Bay as we were all craving a swim, beer and ice cream!
Townsville Hike and Explore is committed to keeping the areas we enjoy hiking free from rubbish. We will continue to host clean up events throughout the year, not only on Clean Up Australia Day.
How to get there
Sealink offer regular ferry services return from Townsville to Magnetic Island.