Captain Billy’s Landing is some 200 km south of Cape York or “Pajinka” (its Aboriginal name). Both are found on the large Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland. This is a remote area connected by corrugated dirt roads whose condition can vary day to day, and increasing sections of tarmac, especially on the Peninsula Development Road. The actual camp site used by the volunteers is on the eastern extremity of the the Heathlands Resources Reserve directly on the coast.
This is a beautiful location for camping, but also very remote. The only communication available is via satellite phone. It is this remoteness which helps protect the fauna and flora from too much human damage. There is an exception, and that is marine debris. Remote areas like these cannot be protected from marine debris, and sadly a lot washes up here.
Leaving from Port Douglas on 6th June 2018, the Tangaroa Blue Foundation volunteers travelled via Split Rock and and an overnight camp at Musgrave Roadhouse before finally arriving 2 days later at Captain Billy’s Landing. This is where marine debris would be collected off the beach, sorted, counted, and finally added to the Australian Marine Debris Database.
As the tides affect when you can actually get to the beach, this time most of the debris collection happened after lunch, with the sorting, counting and data updates done in the morning. This made for a mental workout for the start of the day, before facing the midday sun to collect debris. Despite working mostly in the afternoon, volunteers had a nice breeze and some shady areas to rest during the day. It’s normally really windy at Captain Billy’s Landing, but this year it was mostly a gentle breeze.
Over the course of 5 days, 19 volunteers, with help from the NPARC Apudthama Indigenous Rangers covered 11.2 km of beach and collected 1.4 tonnes of debris. A total of 36,078 items were collected, the largest single category was plastic bits & pieces hard & solid at 63%, plastic lids also featured high on the list at 13%, with every other category in single figure percentages
Once the working day was over, the volunteers had breathtaking sunsets, chats around the dinner table, Kendama (traditional Japanese skill toy) and also a welcome to country from the Traditional Owners.
Once the clean-up was complete, the volunteers were treated to a swim at Fruitbat Falls. This is truly an amazing place to go for a swim. The volunteers arrived back in Port Douglas on 14th June 2018, after a truly rewarding experience.
Thanks to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and the NPARC Apudthama Rangers and the Queensland Government’s Community Sustainability Action Grant for supporting this event, and to all the volunteers for their efforts on the beach!
Report by Tangaroa Blue volunteer Craig Turner