Turning the tide on plastic in paradise
It is a world heritage treasure feted by royals but to Hana Robinson of Drop Bear Adventures who make a living off showing K'gari (Fraser Island), pristine is in real danger of being ruined by plastic.
At the Noosaville tourist operator's K'Gari clean up in October more than 100 willing volunteers collected 25,292 pieces of micro plastics.
"I'm very passionate about living by Butchulla law, our local Indigenous people here on K'gari," Ms Robinson said.
"And the first law is 'what's good for the land must come first'.
"It's devastating to us when we see the island being rubbished."
Ms Robinson said there was previously a misconception that rubbish was mainly left by campers.
"We now know from our beach clean ups that about 30 per cent of the rubbish we collect is purposefully being left by lazy campers, but 70 per cent is washing up off our shores because we act as that longshore drift," she said.
Ms Robinson said K'gari had some of the purest water on the planet, but if plastic pollution continued to be buried in the sand, then it would find its way eventually into the water table.
Ms Robinson said there was plenty of interest in this year's clean-up event, but due to the COVID Safe plan, some will be disappointed.
"Everyone felt so relaxed and rejuvenated after the weekend, it was hard work but there's a real sense of an achievement … that you're doing something to be part of a solution rather than just being part of the problem," she said.
Now Drop Bear is joining forces with other adventure tour teams to start regularly cleaning up their own back yard in preparation for the lucrative international tourist market to return.
Their goal is to align themselves with Tourism Noosa's green initiative, the Plastic Free Noosa program.
The program is made up of 60 tour and accommodation providers, hospitality venues, breweries, adrenaline junkies and tourism promoters on a mission to help make Noosa Biosphere rubbish and plastic free.
Every six to eight weeks members of the group will meet to discuss ideas to boost tourism and entice youth travellers to the Noosa Region, followed by a Plastic Free Noosa clean-up in various Noosa villages plus a weekend K'gari excursion in October.
The first clean-up will be in Noosaville on August 19 with others at Noosa Main Beach, Sunshine Beach, Noosa Junction and K'gari, with members of the community invited to participate in the clean-ups.
Plastic Free Noosa manager Anita Butler is delighted to harness the energy and passion of the local ecowarriors.
"For many of these operators, the majority of their business comes from our international visitors," Ms Butler said.
"The clean-ups are a great way for the group to connect and now more than ever, these small businesses need our support and we urge the community to get behind them wherever possible."
By uniting as a team Ms Butler said the group has taken out the Best Youth/Adventure Marketed Destination Award two years running at the Adventure Tourism Awards Australia and New Zealand in 2018 and 2019.
The public is welcome to join in on the clean-ups which are sponsored by Heads of Noosa Brewery.
Noosa Clean-up Dates:
• Wednesday August 19 - Noosa River - near Noosa Boathouse, 3.30pm-5pm
• Thursday September 24 - Sunshine Beach - near the SLSC, 3.30pm-5pm
• Friday 16 - Monday October 19 - K'gari Community Beach Clean-up (organised by Noosaville island tour operator Drop Bear Adventures)
• Thursday November 5 - Noosa Main beach - near the SLSC, 3.30pm-5pm
• Thursday December 17 - Noosa Junction - Nomads, 3.30pm-5pm
RSVP to the clean-up by emailing Anita at Plastic Free Noosa, email@example.com
For information about the Plastic Free Noosa program which is supported by Noosa Council and Tourism Noosa visit https://www.plasticfreenoosa.org