Ship-loads of Rubbish!

I was lucky enough to travel from Port Douglas to Cedar Bay on vessel “No Swell” and that’s exactly what we got – no swell and no wind! Such a gorgeous start of what will be an amazing weekend. The journey is approximately 40 nautical miles and took only 2 hours with such calm sea conditions. Cedar Bay (or Mangkal-Mangkalba) National Park is 40 km south of Cooktown in Far North QLD, accessible only by boat or foot.

The Eastern Kuku Yalanji Traditional Owners from Wujal Wujal were there to greet us upon arrival, as they had set up camp the day prior. Before setting off for a morning of cleaning, we were officially welcomed with a smoking ceremony to protect us while on country as we were there with permission.

The beach is about 3.5kms long, so with a 12 strong team we split into two groups, one starting at the southern end by the rocks, the other using the support boat to start at the northern end. The idea being, we will meet in the middle. After 3hrs, we don’t meet, but mark where we got to and stop for a late lunch. Catering was fully provided by the Wujal community and can’t complain when you’re in a remote beach location, being spoilt with a fresh fish burger and wedges cooked on the campfire! Delicious! Then the afternoon was spent sorting through a sample of rubbish collected (220m sampled on the north side and 130m on the south) before loading all the bags of rubbish on to another support vessel sent specifically to collect the rubbish for a dump run at nearby Ayton, via the Bloomfield River.

Notable items included the abundant plastic bottle caps and lids (397 in fact!), pieces of weather balloon foam and the most unusual item was a long line fishing beacon, which was launched in April 2010 and still working (red lights still flashing)! On the second day, another full boat load of rubbish was collected from the middle section of the beach leftover from the day before, which meant the entire length of the beach was given a complete once over.

In total, 77.5 bags and 462.5kgs was collected from Cedar Bay beach, and from the small sample set, 1346 items were categorised according to the survey methodology. Blessed with good weather and good people it was an easy clean in an otherwise difficult remote location.

Many thanks to the Traditional Owners from Wujal Wujal for welcoming us onto their country and sharing their local knowledge and stories with us. Big thank you also to our support vessels and skippers, Peter Wright (Port Douglas) and John Duncan (Ayton). And finally, thanks to Joh Anthonis from Wujal’s Healthy Communities program for organising catering and transport of traditional owners from Wujal Wujal.

Report by Karlina See Kee

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