Cleaning rubbish out of the Brisbane River is a labour of love for Jim Hinds.
Since 1999, Jim has climbed into a Healthy Land and Water boat each day armed with a net, pick-up tool and plenty of garbage bags. His mission is to scour South East Queensland’s waterways and collect the untold amounts of rubbish floating on the surface or pooling near riverbanks. South East Queensland is renowned for its beautiful coastal waterways and inland freshwater creeks, but these precious ecosystems are suffering under the grave threat posed by marine debris.
Not only does floating rubbish ruin the aesthetics of waterways, it severely impacts on marine wildlife which often ingests or gets caught in debris floating in the water. The Healthy Land and Water Clean-Up program was launched in 1999 and in that time tonnes of rubbish have been plucked from the river by Jim and his crew. More recently, Jim – whose late father was also part of the program – has been joined on the water by his sons Patrick and Nick, making their efforts a three-generation commitment to cleaning up the waterways.
“There’s a sense of achievement and I’m glad I’m out here doing it and making a difference,” Jim said.
“There is a lot of goodwill out there for us and people like stopping and watching what we do. When they realise we’re cleaning the river they really get behind it.”
The Clean Up crew share their time between Brisbane River, Logan River, Bremer River and several Gold Coast tributaries and canals. Patrick Hinds said he loved contributing to the protection of the waterways.
“When you get to a place and all you can see is rubbish and then at the end of the day it’s clean, it just feels really good,” he said.
The most common items picked out of the river are plastic bottles, followed by plastic bags, food wrappers, plastic packaging, tennis balls and discarded fishing line. In the 2015/2016 financial year alone, the crew pulled nearly 50,000 items of litter out of the 210 kilometres of waterways in South East Queensland. Healthy Land and Water CEO Julie McLellan said the Clean Up crew were doing fantastic work but they needed help from the South East Queensland community.
“We recognise that to make real progress on the issue we need to stop the rubbish scourge at the source of the problem,” she said.
“The best way to protect our waterways from debris is to ensure our land and riverbanks are clean and free of rubbish.”
Ms McLellan said Healthy Land and Water was working with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, CSIRO and Brisbane City Council to encourage the community to help the clean-up effort. In the coming weeks, awareness campaigns will be launched at Stones Corner, Downey Park and West End to inspire communities to do their bit by picking up rubbish they encounter in the area.“If you see a piece of rubbish on the ground, don’t walk past. Every piece of litter you pick up helps and if we all work together we can stop the problem before it enters the waterways,” Ms McLellan said.
The Healthy Land and Water Clean-Up Program is funded with the support of the Australian Government, Brisbane City Council, Logan City Council, Ipswich City Council, City of Gold Coast and Port of Brisbane.