Hinchinbrook Island beach clean-up

Hinchinbrook Island lies just off the coast between Ingham and Cardwell. It’s a National Park, with strict limits on camping and (usually) a waiting list of walkers wanting to hike the Thorsborne Trail. Its inner (western) coast is a shallow mangrove-fringed channel, while its outer (eastern) coast is spectacularly beautiful, with rugged mountains rising behind a series of sandy beaches. Those beaches, sadly, accumulate as much marine debris as our mainland beaches.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is a relatively new environmental NGO, an “Australia-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris,” as their website says. They keep themselves busy: their events page lists, for example, 19 days of beach clean-ups in October alone.

Four of those days were dedicated to Ramsay Bay on the outer northern coast of Hinchinbrook Island. A dozen of their volunteers camped on nearby Goold Island and worked all four days, Thursday-Sunday. The rest of us (I was lucky enough to join them for the Sunday) were day-trippers, meeting the boat at the Cardwell jetty at 7 a.m. and returning there in the middle of the afternoon, on Saturday, Sunday, or both. We were a mixed bunch (which I think is a Good Thing) with a lot of people in their 20s, a few teenagers, and the rest ranging up to their 70s for a total of about 25 friendly, positive people on the Sunday.

The boat took us through the mangroves to the pontoon and walkway and we carried our gear over the narrow isthmus (see map) to Ramsay Bay. The weather was gorgeous and so was the scenery.

ramsay bay beach
Planning meeting, Ramsay Bay. The dot at centre right is indeed a person.
Beachcombers in action, each with a rubbish bag; Mt Bowen in the background


We worked on the long middle section of the bay and, as you can see, there wasn’t much debris on the beach itself. There was much more trapped behind the first low dune front. Quite a variety, too: glass and plastic bottles, of course; styrofoam boxes, a gas bottle, scraps of plastic rope, thongs, poly pipe; and far more tiny scraps of sun-rotted plastic than we would have liked.

bottle with barnacles
Bottle with barnacles, newly washed up on the beach

Our bags were tallied and weighed at the end of our collecting: about 130 kg. We felt good about that but the Saturday team, working at the northern end of the bay, had collected ten times as much. That wasn’t because we were lazy but because most of the rubbish drifting up or down the bay gets trapped in the hook at the end. (I helped on a similar clean-up, with Reef HQ Aquarium volunteers, 15 years ago and we found the same thing.)

ramsay bay beach
Lunch on the beach

Saturday’s rubbish was taken off the beach by boat by National Parks staff but they couldn’t help on the Sunday so we had to carry ours back to the pontoon.

This sort of clean-up operation is core business for Tangaroa Blue and they are very good at the logistics. Everyone went very smoothly – sign-ons, briefings, supplies of bags and gloves, boats in the right place at the right times, packed lunches, etc – and that made the whole day so much easier and more enjoyable for the volunteers. As I said when promoting the event on the Green Drinks Townsville facebook page, we were “doing good in Paradise” and that’s hard to beat.

Opportunities like this one do come up quite regularly now (although Hinchinbrook will always be a bit special) so look out for one you can join.

mangrove channel
Heading home through the mangroves

Many Peaks trail and Mount Marlow

Town Common from the Many Peaks track
Town Common from the Many Peaks track: Freshwater bird hide at centre left, Mt Stuart on the horizon and Bald Rock at far right

I hiked up Mount Marlow via the Many Peaks Trail on the Common (see map) four years ago and noted in my post about it that I was glad I had chosen not to rush it. Last Tuesday I started an hour later, at about 9.20, but finished at the same time, and wished I had allowed more time for it.

Pallarenda to the top of the hill, 4.5 km according to the sign, took a little over two hours of fairly steady walking on the very rough track so I stopped for a snack and the views on top of Mt Marlow. Continue reading “Many Peaks trail and Mount Marlow”

Sheds and why they matter

Click on the image, as usual, to read the small text

The meme at left turned up on my social media some time ago and I’ve been planning to share it here ever since.


Firstly because it is (a little) amusing and we all need a joke in stressful times like these.

Secondly because I have been cleaning up my own shed in the free time gifted to us by lockdown. It never quite made it to the top of my “To Do” list before that because other things were more fun – and then I suddenly couldn’t do the other things. In the end it was a satisfying job to do, so that’s a win.

Thirdly, and most importantly, because the shed is so central to the Three (or more) Green R’s – Reduce, Re-use, Recycle and the rest.

Continue reading “Sheds and why they matter”

Ethical investing – using our money for good

Ethical investing is currently in our news because of a court case brought against a large superannuation fund, REST Super, by one of its members for failing to adequately consider financial risks arising from climate change.

Also, as it happens, a member of one of the more civilised online forums asked very recently about ethical investing and received some good answers. That synchronicity encouraged me to turn the forum posts into something more readable for Green Path by combining and rewriting the replies of several members; that means it is not all my own work although it appears under my name as usual.

We will begin with the online Q & A, and then return to the court case. Continue reading “Ethical investing – using our money for good”