Australia’s dirtiest beaches exposed!

Research conducted by the CSIRO has determined Australia’s dirtiest beaches.

The two year survey, which investigated over 175 beaches, revealed that Border Village, on the coast between Western Australia and South Australia was the dirtiest beach in Australia. Pearse’s Road Beach claimed the title of Victoria’s filthiest beach.

Beach detritus
Beach litter and marine debris are a serious issue. Follow some easy steps and will make a positive impact on the issue.

The CSIRO study revealed that more than 150 million pieces of litter across Australia’s coastline.

Plastics were found to be the most prominent form of litter across Australian beaches, which can have serious repercussions on marine wildlife and coastal environments.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation (GORCC) Supervisor Georgie Beale believes this should be a reminder to keep our own local beaches pristine.

“While our coastal beaches are far better than some in terms of cleanliness, there is always room for improvement,” she said.

There are a numerous ways you can ensure the cleanliness of our beautiful beaches.

  • Dispose of waste correctly in the bins provided around the coast
  • Take your rubbish with you when leaving the beach
  • Dispose of recyclable material correctly
  • Ensure that fishing gear and supplies are not left behind on beaches
  • Report any entangled marine life
  • Join a local volunteer group on a beach clean up

“We all play a part in keeping our beaches pollution free for everyone to enjoy,” Ms Beale said.

Below is full a list of the dirtiest and cleanest beaches of each state in Australia:

  • New South Wales:
    Dirtiest: Shelly Beach, Manly
    Cleanest: Red Rock Beach, NSW North Coast
  • Northern Territory:
    Dirtiest: Cape Arnhem
    Cleanest: Cape Hay
  • Queensland:
    Dirtiest: Barney Point Beach
    Gladstone
    Cleanest: Mackay
  • South Australia:
    Dirtiest: Border Village (SA)
    Cleanest: Nora Creina
  • Tasmania:
    Dirtiest: East Kangaroo Island (West Gulch)
    Cleanest: Cape Grim
  • Victoria:
    Dirtiest: Pearse’s Road Beach
    Cleanest: Gibbs Track Beach, Lakes Entrance
  • Western Australia:
    Dirtiest: Ellensbrook Beach
    Cleanest: 80 Mile Beach

For more information on keeping our coast clean and volunteer opportunities, click here.

Finding the source of rubbish

Have you ever considered where the piece of plastic blowing on the beach came from? A team of dedicated  reasearch scientists have made it their mission to trace  rubbish and debris on our beaches back to it’s source.

This research is being conducted to better understand the impact of debris on marine eco-systems.

The team of marine scientists led by CSIRO Research Scientist Dr Britta Denise Hardesty are stopping every 100km around the Australian coastline to catalogue rubbish and debris.

Dr Hardesty said debris collected during the surveys will be analysed by looking for barcodes and other identifying markers to determine its origin.

This picture was taken at Rye Beach. Photo courtesy of the CSIRO

“This research will allow us to determine the distribution of marine debris and whether the debris comes from land based sources or washes in from the sea.

Information about the sources of this rubbish and debris will help create a national map of areas where marine wildlife is likely to encounter debris and determine which animals are most at risk of harm.

“Information about the sources of this rubbish and debris will help create a national map of areas where marine wildlife is likely to encounter debris and determine which animals are most at risk of harm,” she said.

Studies by CSIRO and other research organisations have revealed more than 270 species of marine animals are affected by marine debris worldwide.

This YouTube clip demonstrates why it’s important to make sure you dispose of rubbish correctly.

How can you contribute to the surveys?

Dr. Hardesty said community and volunteer groups can help protect the environment by providing information about the rubbish they collect from beaches to the TeachWild National Marine Debris Database Project.

So far the surveys have revealed even beaches in remote areas can have debris, whilst it is more common to find debris on beaches within easy access of populations centres or towns.

What’s happening on the Surf Coast to reduce marine debris?

President of local environmental volunteer group, Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment (SANE) Graeme Stockton said there are lots of volunteering opportunities on the coast for those interested in protecting the environment.

“As a community we need to be proactive and join local groups who are campaigning to protect the environment,” he said.

A group of Torquay residents have initiated ‘Plastic Bag Free Torquay’ a campaign to ban single use plastic bags in the Torquay area.

Stacie Bobele from ‘Plastic Bag Free Torquay’ said Australians use 16 million plastic bags each day.

“A ban on plastic shopping bags is the easiest way to reduce the amount of plastic which goes into our oceans and landfill areas.

“By bringing re- usable bags each time we shop, we are taking a significant step toward a healthier ocean and healthier environment,” she said.

Rubbish and debris at Hawaii’s Kamilo Beach, often regarded as the dirtiest beach in the world. Photo: Tim Silverwood.

Are there any areas on the Surf Coast that you think need cleaning up? Can you suggest any other ways we can reduce the amount of rubbish on our beaches?

Follow these links to find out more:

Read the CSIRO fact sheet on tackling marine debris.

Learn more about the National Marine Debris Database.

Find out more or become involved with Plastic Bag Free Torquay.

Learn more about the work of Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment or get involved.

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times fortnightly Green the Coast Column.