At this time of the year in the tropical north Queensland, the weather can be unpredictable and it is no longer a “beautiful one day, perfect the next”. However, the weather predicted for the week was sunny. My plan of attack for the following day was to stay idle at home or go on an outdoor activity with the new adventure of photography. The latter was more enticing. On this particular morning, nothing was gonna make me change my mind. In the early hours of Monday morning, I packed my camera in the backpack and jumped in the car and headed north between Cairns and Port Douglas. There is a secluded beach which I was always promised myself that one day I will take a hike-down there. This beach is unlikely inhabitated by tourists nor other beach-goers as it involves hiking down a steep embankment. It was fairly dark when I left home and I barely could see anything outside with the naked eyes, except the road ahead of me. This early hours of the morning, there was hardly any cars on the road and I switched my car head-lights to high beam and slowly made my way up the coast road.
It was still fairly dark when I arrived and parked my car on a tiny section of the side of the road, just enough space for a little car. I grabbed my hand-held torch with my backpack with camera inside and slowly hiked down. At times, it felt a little spooky as I thought back of the horror movies that I have watched in the past begins to emerge in my head. I keep thinking to myself, If I was to fall down this steep track, no-one is going to find me for hours. With this thought in my mind, I was very careful and made sure that there was no error in where I was going.
Finally, making it safely onto the beach, I found a perfect spot and waited patiently for the moment to capture that scene. Unfortunately, the weather turned out to be not what I have expected. Nevertheless, I decided to take a stroll along the beach with very light showers and it was not heavy enough to unpack a poncho. It was dead slient, just a cool early morning breeze rushing over my face and the early darkness began to disappear slowly. I decided to continue walking further along this white sandy beach. Though the anitcipated perfect sunrise was not on my side but I was thoroughly enjoying the beach walk. Without anyone around, it was in total slient, except the sound of the waves making its way on shores breaking against the sand creating splashes. A little further along this deserted sandy beach, I noticed a lone metal on the beach shore, wondering what it was. As I got closer, I realised that it was part of an old refrigeration that has been dumped there in this beautiful white sandy beach and slowly rusting away. It seems like it has been there for some time and since it is not a biodegradeable product, it will be there for thousands of years. It was disappointing to see when the country is trying its best to keep Australia clean and there are others who are the only cure for litter. Seeing things that have been dumped at places that are not supposed to be have created my desire to write something about it that may change something little by little for such behaviours of littering.
It is not surprising that, according to the statistics, the CSIRO study have found that, it is estimated that 150m pieces of rubbish are strewn upon Australia’s beaches, with many remote locations far less tidy than beaches close to cities. Most rubbish on Australia’s beaches comes from land-based sources, such as plastic drink bottles, with the rest made up of debris from the fishing industry. Sadly, in this case, this careless person who has dumped this on the shores of this beach has a lack of personal connection to beach. This lead to their rubbish has been dumped there or just couldn’t care to take it to a recycling dump area.
My hope of capturing a perfect sunrise photograph was dashed by unpredictable bad weather. My enjoyable walk along the seclude beach unhibitated by beach goers and tourists was filled with disappointment to see part of this refrigeration freezer washed up on an untouched and pristine beach. I gradually dragged the trash further away from the beach. Driving back home, I decided to stop at couple of beaches to have a look which I haven’t set foot on since the starting of the pandemic. Not surprisingly, there were signs of beach littering. These two beaches are considered close and popular among locals and visitors but there was disheartening evidence of rubbish in picturesue spots.
As I got back on the main highway heading home, the heavens flood gate openned. There was a heavy down pour. It was so heavy that the visibility on the road was so poor that I had to stop by the road for 10-15 minutes before I continued driving. I decided to travel between 20-30 km per hour, in such a wet weather condition like this compared to its normal speed of 60 kilometre per hour on a normal day. I began to question myself why do people leave behind rubbish on the beaches as if their mother is going to clean it up after them. At the same time, thinking about other reasons. Though these beaches are popular among locals and visitors but they are not so close to the city like the previous beach visited. As a result of that, people to tend to have lack of connection to the beach which leads to high level of rubbish left behind. Secondly, there is no social obligation that people feel to clean up the areas as it is not close to the city as they feel less of a social responsibility, which is why you find rubbish left behind from campsites on beaches and so on.
The vast majority of the rubbish dumped or left on beaches are from the Australian public, rather than being washed in from overseas. People have an expectation Australian beaches are clean and that we’re all really good at not littering, but the rubbish is coming from us, it’s local. As we all know, plastics, cans and so on forms much of the beach debris, doesn’t break down in the natural world, causing potential injuries and toxicity to marine life. The seabirds swallow the fish and so as we humans eat the fish. Marine creatures do tangled up and drown in rubbish. It is considered to be a global concern but at the community level, we can make a change little by little in such form of scheme or awareness to prevent further littering at the beaches that families, individuals and tourists come to enjoy. When visiting picturesque beaches whether they are popular among locals and visitors or not, lets make our beaches rubbish free. Leave nothing, except your footprints and take nothing, except your rubbish.