Chilli Beach 2020: Success!

From the 10th-18th of August a small crew of Tangaroa Blue volunteers and staff drove up to Chilli Beach, in Kutini-Payamu (Iron Range) National Park (CYPAL), for our 9th annual clean-up at this site.

As always, we were joined by QPWS and Kuuku Ya’u Land Trust Rangers, Lockhart River State School students and teachers, members of the Queensland Border Force Weipa division and community members and campers. Every year we are so grateful for the support of the community and have a great time cleaning up the beach together!

Tangaroa Blue volunteers, staff, Land trust and QPWS rangers and the kids from Lockhart River School after a solid day’s work! (Photo: Brett Tait)

Together the hard-working crew removed 2.8 tonnes from around 6km of Chilli Beach, which is pretty amazing considering this was the same amount of debris as most years, but with half of the number of people! Check out this link to read a poem that Renee Flis, one of the volunteers, wrote about her first experience on one of these clean-ups.

Team work makes the dream work! Tangaroa Blue volunteers helping the Land Trust rangers load up the ute (Photo: Erica Hamp)
The kids from Lockhart School watching eagerly as the rangers pull a massive rope out of the sand with their ute (Photograph: Mathilde Gordon)


It was an honour and a privilege to receive a beautiful Welcome to Country from Kuuku Ya’u elder Aunty Lucy and Norma, and have the kids from Lockhart River State school join us for a half day of cleaning up, playing games and screen printing. All the kids went home with a ReefClean t-shirt or bag and were pretty tired after a morning of beach cleaning and soccer! Everyone agrees that we’ll need to have a big party at next year’s event to mark the 10 year anniversary of this clean-up!






The sorting station (Photograph: Erica Hamp)


All in all, we collected a kilometre of fishing line, 541 bleach bottles, over a km of rope, 1,551 pieces of soft plastic, nearly 10,000 bottle tops, 695 drink bottles, 398 tooth brushes, 136 lighters, nearly 20,000 small hard plastic remnants, and countless other pieces of fascinating paraphernalia, all entered into the Australian Marine Debris Initiative (AMDI) database. Everything that could be recycled was brought down from Cape York.





Interestingly, we also found a number of BoM weather balloons with their parts (see below) as well as some Coles tags (the closest Coles is > 700km away!) and a Great Barrier Reef Marine Park current drift cards which could have been released in the 80’s.

5 x weather balloon bases, 5 x weather balloon radio sondes (electronic bits that collect the weather data, 12 x pieces of polystyrene weather balloon targets (help it float into the air) and 3 x plastic bases (connecting everything together)… all found at Chilli Beach! (Photograph: Heidi Tait)
Coles Logistics tag on the left was found in a stormwater drain in Melbourne, and the one on the right was found at Chilli Beach (Photographs: Heidi Tait)
The drift card looks like it could be the type that were released for the 1980s studies (Walker and Collins 1980) on surface currents in the GBR by JCU and QLD Govt (Photo: Heidi Tait)

Over 9 years the Tangaroa Blue team and volunteers and AMDI partners have removed over 35 tonnes of marine debris from this 6.5km stretch of beach – such a milestone and commitment of Caring for Country.

Thank you Chilli Beach, for your beautiful sunrises and fascinating wildlife, and once again thank you to the Lockhart community for welcoming us and joining us in cleaning up this beautiful part of the world.

Sunrise at Chilli Beach (Photograph: Isabell von Oertzen)

ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and delivered by Tangaroa Blue Foundation in partnership with AUSMAP, Capricornia Catchments, Eco Barge Clean Seas, OceanWatch Australia, Reef Check Australia, and South Cape York Catchments.

Article by Mathilde Gordon, Tangaroa Blue Project Officer

Published by