Less rubbish collected in this year’s Darwin Harbour Clean Up, which according to Larrakia Land and Sea Ranger, and coordinator of the event Gabrial Millar, is a positive thing. A total of 1669 tonnes of rubbish was collected by 38 volunteers on 13 October which is 300kg less than last year.
“I believe it’s because there was less rubbish around. I asked the volunteer groups, and they said it was much cleaner than last year, which is why they didn’t collect as much as other years. This is definitely a good thing and what we want to be seeing”.
Can’t be done without partners and volunteers
The Darwin Clean Up (DHCU) is held every year and for the last two years, has been coordinated by the Larrakia Land and Sea Rangers. Gabrial says it takes a huge effort to run the event which can’t be done without the volunteers and partners.
“I was initially worried about the numbers. When processing the volunteer forms, it felt like there were less than last year. But on the day more people turned up than we expected.
“Sealink, Santos, INPEX, Darwin City Council and Territory Natural Resource Management were the partners again this year, and the value of their support can’t be underestimated. Not only do partners supply money or services, but they also send volunteers to collect rubbish”.
Sorting at Fisherman’s Wharf
Volunteer groups set off early on October 13 to clean their allocated sites, and by 10am began arriving at the Fisherman’s Wharf to hand over their rubbish to the Rangers and contracted rubbish analysts Tangaroa Blue for sorting and data collection.
“We had shade set up and used cones to section off the area of the wharf we hired for the day. We created drop off places for each site and had two big skip bins on the wharf” explained Gabrial.
While the exact data from Tangaroa Blue is yet to be released, it is estimated the amount of rubbish collected was about 300kg less than last year, despite rubbish being collected at 15 sites which is about four more sites than previous years.
Important work for Larrakia Land and Sea Rangers
Gabrial believes it’s important for the Larrakia Land and Sea Rangers to be involved because it protects country.
“As Indigenous people, it’s important we have opportunities to care for country” she says. “A lot of our rangers are young, and for me, as a young Larrakia woman to be able to coordinate such an event is extremely important. A lot of us have kids so it’s important we are taking care of country for future generations. That plays a big role, and all of the rangers feel the same”.
This year Gabrial wanted to create an opportunity for Indigenous kids at the school to be involved. “I contacted staff in Clontarf and STARS programs at Haileybury School and we got a group of them involved. We sent them over to Mica Beach on the Sealink boat to do the clean up there”.
“As rangers we are always doing beach clean ups and doing marine observations, so it a part of our day to day job, just on a much larger scale, so bringing in young Indigenous people to see that gives them a chance to see what being a ranger is like.
Already planning for next year
Gabrial will be coordinating DHCU again next year and says she’s already started discussing ideas. “We believe it’s important to let people choose their own locations, because volunteers who are on the water regularly know the places that need to be cleaned up so it’s important to get their opinion about where to clean”.
Gabrial also believes the clean up should be better advertised so volunteers know about it well in advance and can get involved. “We can source the funding to cater to more volunteers but to make it grow, we need to get more volunteers there on the day. Also, we want to do more mapping so we can send people out maps of their allocated areas. We also want better signage and advertising of the event so more people know about it”.