Deal with waste responsibly

Incorrect disposal and illegal dumping of rubbish costs our coast both environmentally and economically, but there are simple steps we can all take to reduce the impact.

Disposal of household waste in public bins, general waste contaminating recycling and illegal rubbish dumping are having a major toll on coastal environments and come at a huge financial coast to local authorities, consuming funds that could be spent elsewhere.

GORCC education activity leader Hilary Bouma and conservation officer Georgie Beale demonstrate responsible recycling.
GORCC education activity leader Hilary Bouma and conservation officer Georgie Beale demonstrate responsible recycling.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) Coastal Reserves Manager Rod Goring said the problem was ongoing, despite work undertaken to encourage responsible rubbish disposal and the provision of recycling and general waste bins across campgrounds and coastal reserves.

“A large amount of household waste is often disposed of in public bins provided for beachgoers.

“Not only is this illegal, but it causes overflow and litter on our beaches is not only visually horrible but threatens coastal flora and fauna and the marine environment.

“Additionally, contamination of recycling is a constant issue, and we urge all coastal users to familiarise themselves with what can and can’t be recycled.

Recyclable materials include glass containers, some plastics, cardboards, paper and metal including steel or aluminum cans.

“Many may not realize that plastic bags, plastic wrap and food containers with food scraps, are not recyclable and cause contamination.

“Our contractors face heavy fines for delivery of non-recyclables to the depot and, unfortunately, some heavily contaminated bins have to be emptied into general waste and sent to landfill,” he said.

Equally concerning is the illegal dumping of rubbish directly onto coastal reserves, with large amounts of hard rubbish being discovered on our coast on a regular basis.

“From pianos and televisions through to paint cans and asbestos, it is unbelievable what people will leave on beautiful beaches that are so highly valued by the community,” said Mr. Goring.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Outdoor Works Supervisor, Phil Brown with a piano that was illegally dumped near the Point Impossible nudist beach in Torquay.
Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Outdoor Works Supervisor, Phil Brown with a piano that was illegally dumped near the Point Impossible nudist beach in Torquay.

Waste disposal sites are made available at several coastal locations and allow the drop off of household garbage and a range of recyclable materials.

“All coastal users, including campers, visitors and holiday home owners are encouraged to use these facilities and minimise the amount of rubbish that ends up on the beaches.

“The council also has drop –off collection points for holiday home owners at Torquay, Anglesea and Lorne,” said Mr.Goring

If you notice any illegal rubbish dumping or to report any rubbish or litter contact the GORCC office on 5220 5055, or the Surf Coast Shire on 5261 0600.  Littering from vehicles can be reported to EPA Victoria by calling the Littering Hotline on 1800 372 842 or visiting

This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

Visit GORCC’s website for more information on rubbish dumping and local laws and regulations to protect our coast.

Related blog posts:

  107Rubbish dumping still a threat to our coast

 Top tips to care for the coast

 IMG_0685Illegal rubbish dumping damages sensitive coast
1362014657_KABwhitebackground Keeping beautiful starts with you

Volunteer saves injured Hoodie

A Hooded Plover’s life has been saved thanks to the quick thinking of a dedicated volunteer and the assistance of Birdlife Australia and a local vet.

Hooded Plover KM gets treated for its injuries.
Hooded Plover KM gets treated for its injuries.

The bird, known as ‘KM’, was found with severe injuries near Point Roadknight recently with a yellow fibre cutting of circulation to its leg.

Volunteer Hooded Plover Monitor Geoff Gates noticed the bird was limping between a flock of about six other plovers.

“I knew the bird’s leg was swollen and had something constricting the blood flow to the foot and I thought the most probable cause was fishing line,” he said.

Birdlife Australia Beach-nesting Birds Program Manager Grainne Maguire said she carefully separated the bird from its flock and local vet, Liz Brown, was called in to assist.

“Liz used a pair of fine scissors and carefully removed the fibre which was twisted and embedded around the ankle.

“She applied anti-fungal cream on the wound and gave the bird a shot of antibiotics,” she said.

Local vet, Liz Brown, removes the yellow fibre caught around KM's leg.
Local vet, Liz Brown, removes the yellow fibre caught around KM’s leg.

“Two volunteers have since reported KM is moving about normally and seems to be doing well but we’ll be monitoring the wound closely over the coming month to ensure there’s no infection and that it’s healing properly.”

Litter, including fishing line, poses danger to beach nesting birds and other coastal and marine wildlife and beachgoers are being urged to do their bit and keep our coast clean.

“The main way we can minimize entanglements is to ensure we bin our litter, especially fishing line,” Ms Maguire said.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee Conservation Officer Georgina Beale said some of the dead seals and birds that wash up on the coast have swallowed or been strangled by plastic bags, fishing line, bits of nets and other rubbish.

“Please use the bins located in grassed foreshore areas and adjacent to sand areas to dispose of litter,” she said.

Hooded Plovers are endangered in Victoria and are vulnerable to a wide range of threats including a range of predators.

You can help to ensure their survival by getting hands on and becoming a volunteer monitor.

Volunteer monitors log sightings, track the movements of individual birds and follow their breeding progress over the season, logging information into the My Hoodie Data Portal.

“The portal is being used by several hundred volunteers and we have over 2000 sightings in it so far,” Ms Maguire said.

To learn more about the Hooded Plover monitor, email

This story featured in the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast Column.

KM's banded leg entangled in the unknown yellow fibre.
KM’s banded leg entangled in the unknown yellow fibre.

Find out more about volunteering along the coast on GORCC’s website.

Find out more about protecting our endangered Hooded Plovers on the GORCC website, or read the related blog posts below.

Related blog posts:

p91904411Hoodie monitors go hi-tech
hooded-plover-photo-taken-by-dean-ingwersen2An update on our little ‘Hoodies’
1 Precious babies on our beaches
11492_hooded-plover-chicks-pt-roadnight1Protecting our endangered locals

Clean up to conserve coast

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) is once again supporting Clean Up Australia Day and asking you to join us to help clean up and conserve the Surf Coast environment.

Clean Up Australia Day volunteers Isabella and Tessa.
Clean Up Australia Day 2012 volunteers Isabella and Tessa.

GORCC is asking the community to participate in the 2013 Clean Up Australia Day held on Sunday 3 March at our designated site, Bird Rock car park in Jan Juc, from 10am to 12pm.

You can view a map of the location here.

According to the Clean Up Australia Day website, in 2012 an estimated 591,400 volunteers cleaned up 16,169 tonnes at 7,363 sites right across Australia.

Last year our designated site attracted 11 volunteers and over 20 bags of rubbish were filled! This year we can do better, so come along and help clean up and conserve our precious environment.

GORCC staff members Zac, Trent with Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes with some of the unusual items found at Clean Up Australia Day.
GORCC staff members Zac, Trent with Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes with some of the unusual items found at Clean Up Australia Day.

You can register as a volunteer on the Clean Up Australia Day website to go into the draw to win a $100 Bunnings voucher or a $100 Rip Curl voucher by clicking the button “Join this Site”  on our Clean Up Australia Day page.

What to bring:

  • Just bring yourself as all clean up equipment will be provided on the day.
  • If you have a set of gloves please bring them along otherwise we will provide you with some on the day.
  • Ensure you wear a hat.
  • Enclosed footwear must be worn.
  • Water, sunscreen and light refreshments will be provided as well as a free BBQ at 12pm.
  • All ages are welcome, but children 15 years old and under must be accompanied and supervised by an adult.

Hope to see you there!

If you are interested in other volunteering opportunities along the coast visit our website.

For more information about Clean Up Australia Day download this handy iPhone App!

To learn why it is important to participate, watch the clip below from the organizers of Clean Up Australia Day.

Related blog posts:

31 Help clean up the coast
IMG_0792Cleanup helps conserve the coast

Will you be joining us at Bird Rock? Let us know below…

Young conservationists take action

A group of young environmental protectors are taking conservation action as part of their community connections class at Surf Coast Secondary College and are set to become guardians of the coast into the future.

Surf Coast Secondary College students and young guardians of the coast Pat Binyon and Tim Anderson get to work.

The year 10 students have planted over 400 trees as part of various conservation projects which have included the removal of noxious weeds at Whites Beach, planting within Moonah Woodlands at Spring Creek and litter patrols near Jan Juc.

SCSC community connections teacher Shane Elevato said many of the students were now looking to study biology and outdoor education in 2013.

“The students are demonstrating not only a passion for the environment but an interest in conservation as a potential career path for the future.”

The students have been undertaking the work in partnership with the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) through the organisation’s Coast Guardians program.

“The program tied in with our community connections class, which gives students the opportunity to get out into the environment, demonstrate direct activism and put what they have learnt in the classroom into practice,” Mr Elevato said.

He said the year-long program taught students about the impact rubbish has on bird life and marine life and specifically looked at how removing plastic and bottle tops from the coast can help to save animal life.

“The program makes students more appreciative of how special our local environment really is. When they get out into the community and see the impact littering can have they learn to appreciate the environment and have a greater sense of ownership of the environment.”

GORCC conservation officer Georgie Beale said topics covered with the group over the last term included plant communities and dune ecology.

“Throughout the year the students have covered a range of theory topics including plant communities, dune ecology, sustainable fishing, environmental weeds, and marine debris. Planting and weeding is also an important part of the program and helps to ensure noxious weeds do not invade Indigenous plant species,” she said.

The Coast Guardians program also includes work and partnerships with environmental volunteer groups such as Torquay Coast Action, Friends of Queens Park and ANGAIR who have been working with students on various sites throughout the year.

This story featured in the the Surf Coast Times Green the Coast column.

SCSC students working away as part of GORCC’s Coast Guardian Program.

For further information on the Coast Guardians Program visit our website  or read this media release.

To learn more about the Environmental Education Program visit our website.      

Interested in volunteering? Read more on our volunteer page.

Related Blog Posts:

  Young protectors preserve coast
 Counteracting the Coast Tea-Tree Invasion
 Students take lead on coast care

Rubbish dumping still a threat to our coast

Illegal rubbish dumping continues on our coast with more hard rubbish being found at Point Impossible, Torquay earlier this week.

Image taken by one of GORCC’s outdoor workers of the pile hard rubbish found at Point Impossible

Whilst most of the community are careful when it comes to disposing of their rubbish in the correct places, there are still some that seem to turn a blind eye to the law.

GORCC Coastal Reserves Manager Rod Goring said a trailer must have dumped the rubbish because of the huge amount of material that was found.

“There was a huge amount of hard rubbish: mattresses, tables, chairs, even an old grandfather clock,” he said.

“Point Impossible is the starting point for the Surf Coast Walk and a very popular area, so its not sending a great message to visitors when we have garbage to greet them, but people should consider the consequences of illegal rubbish dumping at any point along the coast,” Mr. Goring said.

Mr. Goring said rubbish was detrimental to our beaches and coastal reserves.  “Waste affects not only the environment and coastal flora and fauna but is also damaging to the aesthetic of the coast,” he said.

The Surf Coast is lucky enough to be home to some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches, with a little more care taken to remove rubbish they can remain this way – and be enjoyed by all.

You can get involved – help to clean up the coast by ensuring you dispose of waste responsibly.  To get even more hands on, you could assist a coastal, enviornmental volunteer group.

If you notice any illegal rubbish dumping or to report any rubbish or litter contact the GORCC office on 5220 5055, or the Surf Coast Shire on 5261 0600.


Top Tips to Care for the Coast

Here are a few simple tips that will help you to protect our beautiful coast and ensure everyone can continue to enjoy it.

4 tips to look after the environment

  1. Understand boating practices (dispose of waste correctly including sewerage).
  2. Minimize the amount of rubbished generated by reusing bags and using recyclable materials.
  3. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products
  4. Become a volunteer. Get in touch with one of these coastal environmental volunteer groups to get involved.
Dogs are only allowed off their leash in certain areas

4 tips to look after wildlife

  1. When boating, whales, dolphins and seals stay at least 100m away – the sea is their home.
  2. Rock pools are homes to plants, so return overturned rocks to their original position and don’t disrupt the habitats of marine life.
  3. Ensure dogs are on leashes on the beach and avoid dog prohibited areas. This will ensure wildlife, such as the Hooded Plover – an endangered little Aussie bird battling to survive, are protected.
  4. If you see an injured animal the best thing you can do is call the right people immediately. If they are alive call DSE on 136 186; they have a customer service center which will direct you to the closest local animal shelter or refuge.
    – for more information on what to do with sick or injured animals click here.
Stay out of the dunes and keep your dog on a leash and you will be helping to protect nesting birds like the endangered Hooded Plover. Source: Dean Ingwersen

3 tips to look after plant-life

  1. Keep on designated pathways when walking to and from the beach to protect the vegetation.
  2. Take care to avoid sand dunes as they are fragile ecosystems which are home to precious native vegetation and many  habitats.
  3. Be sure to look out for noxious weeds – they start off in your garden and from there they invade the coast! For more information on noxious weeds click here.
Signs have been put up around the Surf Coast to ensure visitors stay off the dunes in order to protect plant-life and habitats

Inspiration for this post came from ’50 Ways to Care for our Coast’, a publication by Coast Care.

For more tips on how to protect our coast click here.

Related Blog Posts:

Don’t be a butt with your cigarette!
Who let the cats out:
Beachgoers and dunes at risk: 


Precious babies on our beaches

Don’t be a butt with your cigarette!

How many times have you sat on the beach and found yourself surrounded by cigarette butts?

Cigarette butts continue to be the main source of rubbish found on our Surf Coast – a disappointing result considering the Surf Coast Shire was the first municipality to ban smoking on its beaches.

In 2008, cigarette butts made up 30 per cent of rubbish collected nation-wide by Clean Up Australia and little has changed since.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee conservation officer Georgie Beale said cigarette butts are everywhere on the coast despite the “no butts” ban on Surf Coast beaches.

“We literally pick up hundreds of butts every time we do a beach cleanup,” she said.

Why do cigarette butts continue to be a problem?

President of the Surf Coast branch of the Surfrider Foundation, John Foss said that cigarette litter will remain a prominent issue in our area because of the huge increase in population and visitation.

“In general there has been a reduction in the number of cigarette butts found on Surf Coast beaches throughout the year however the amount of butts found on our beaches during summer remains the same.

“It’s noticable after hot days and big crowds that we will find more butts along the high tide marks in the sand and on the beaches in general,” he said.

Cosy Corner, Torquay and Torquay Surf Beach have the highest visitations on the Surf Coast during the summer months and as a result are the most frequently littered areas.

Torquay local Maddison Eyre pictured 12 years ago at a beach clean up at Pt. Impossible
Maddison, now 19, holding another container full of discarded butts

Why are cigarette butts so bad for the coast?

Mr. Foss said cigarette butts can have significant negative impacts, mostly on birdlife and the marine environment.

‘Cigarette butts find their way into rockpools and the ocean, then leach toxic chemicals into the marine environment,” he said.

In seawater, cigarette butts can take up to five years to breakdown. After the butts lose their colour, birds and other marine life often mistake them for food.

Also, when cigarettes are carelessly flicked out of vehicles they can smoulder for up to three hours and can cause fires.

“I’ve seen cars pull up at Torquay Surf Beach and dump their ashtrays out the car window straight into the gutter which flows to the sea,” said Mr. Foss

For more information on cigarette butts, please  click here to read Clean up Australia’s fact sheet.

What is being done to resolve this issue?

The Great Ocean Road Coast Committee along with other volunteer groups conduct beach clean ups along coast.

Volunteers conducting a beach cleanup at Pt. Impossible

“Students from St. Bernards College Santa Monica have conducted clean ups between Moggs Creek and Grassy Creek  and have collected up to 1010 butts in one session” said, Wally Smith, Technical Director of the Tangaroa Blue Foundation.

Specific local data also compiled by the Tangaroa Blue Foundation shows that cigarette butts make up 22 per cent of all items collected off beaches.

What can I do to help?

Joining a working bee is a rewarding way to give back to community and environment.

The Surfrider Foundation conduct regular working bees along the Surf Coast.

For more information , please email or visit

According to Mr. Foss, stopping beach litter is as much about protecting the habitat as it is about keeping our beaches clean.

“If you see anyone doing the wrong thing, please ask them to stop and take their litter home or back to their car,” he said.

Below is a video created by GORCC which gives you more ideas on how you can care for the coast:

Check out our other blogs on litter:

Finding the source of rubbish

Cleanups help conserve the coast

Saving your health and your environment

Keeping beautiful starts with you

Cleanup helps conserve the coast

Clean Up Australia (CUA ) Day volunteers generously dedicated their Sunday morning to cleaning up the Jan Juc Foreshore area.

CUA Day was held on Sunday 4 March and the Great Ocean Road Coast Commitee (GORCC) registered the Jan Juc forshore area as an official cleanup site.

Clean Up Australia Day volunteers Isabella and Tessa.
Clean Up Australia Day volunteers Isabella and Tessa.

Eleven people volunteered including several members of Jan Juc Coast Action(JJCA) a local volunteer group who joined CUA Day instead of conducting their regular working bee.

Volunteers filled over 20 bags of rubbish.  Some of the more unusual items found during the cleanup included a Western Australian License plate, a kid’s scooter, a golf club and a stack of unopened newspapers.

GORCC staff members Zac and Trent with Jan Juc Coast Action Chairperson Luke Hynes showing some of the unusual items found at Clean Up Australia Day.

Alarmingly some syringes were found in the scrub – a reminder to beachgoers and those enjoying the outdoors to be wary of hidden dangers in the scrub.

The most commonly found items were bottles and cans, cigarette butts and plastic wrappers.

If you’re interested in learning  more about volunteering opportunities on the Surf Coast click here. For more information about CUA Day 2012 click here.

Did you found anything unusual while cleaning up rubbish in your area?  Let us know.

Help clean up the coast

Have you noticed any rubbish on the coast? Here’s an opportunity for you to do something about it!

Clean Up Australia Day is held annually and this year we’ve registered a site in Jan Juc.

We will be cleaning up from 10am to 12pm on Sunday the 4th of March.

Where can you clean?

We’ll be picking up rubbish at the Bird Rock car park and surrounding areas. To view a map of the area click here.

There are other sites on the Surf Coast where you can get involved in Clean Up Australia Day.

– Point Impossible Nude Beach 10.30am-12.30pm click here for more info.

– Bells Beach 10am-12pm click here for more info.

How do I sign up?

We’d greatly appreciate your support, register now and you can go into the draw to win a prize! Register at or phone 1800 CUA DAY.

What does Clean Up Australia Day involve?

It’s simple really, meet us at the Bird Rock car park at 10 am and help us pick up rubbish for a couple of hours.

Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC) site supervisors will helping all morning.

What should you bring?

Just yourself, we will be providing all equipment. If you have a pair of gloves please bring them along, we will be suppling some gloves for people who don’t have a pair. Make sure you bring a hat if it’s sunny, and a coat if the weather is not as favourable.

We will also be providing water and sunscreen.

GORCC conservation officers with volunteers at Clean Up Australia Day 2011.

If you’re busy on Clean Up Australia Day and can’t make it to the site there are plenty of other opportunities for you to get involved in volunteering on the coast. Click here to view some of the volunteer groups, there’s sure to be one in your area.

Have you registed a site for Clean Up Australia Day? Are you interested in helping us clean up the Jan Juc foreshore area? Let us know how you’re helping the Surf Coast environment.

Rare visitors threatened by waste

Rare native birds have been sighted in the Spring Creek Estuary and conservation groups are calling on the community to assist in their protection.

Great Egrets and the Caspian Terns, both on the Victorian Government’s advisory list of threatened vertebrate fauna in Victoria, have recently been sighted feeding in the Spring Creek Estuary.

The Great Egret has been spotted at the Spring Creek Estuary recently
The species are both vulnerable to the hazards of plastic waste, which is estimated to kill up to one million sea birds, one hundred thousand sea mammals and countless fish each year.

Sean Dooley, Editor of Wingspan Magazine said the feeding habits of wetland birds made them especially vulnerable to being caught in discarded fishing line.

“Discarded fishing line is a threat to these species as they feed in estuaries which are popular fishing spots and often fishing line gets caught around their beaks and necks and suffocates them,” he said.

 “Discarded fishing line is a threat to these species as they feed in estuaries which are popular fishing spots and often fishing line gets caught around their beaks and necks and suffocates them.”

Graeme Stockton from local conservation group Surfers Appreciating Natural Environment said species like the Great Egret and Caspian Tern were facing extremely strong competition from people and development pressure.

“These species are unnecessarily stressed by storm water pollution and littering,” he said.

Nevertheless, Mr Stockton is optimistic. He notes how the local community ‘stood up for Spring Creek’. “I think there is an inherent understanding by most people here of nature’s overlapping role in our own wellbeing.”

“The Great Egret and the Caspian Tern areren’t commonly found in the Surf Coast area so it’s important that people understand how lucky we are to have such rare birds come and visit us, it’s a privilege that they choose to   use Spring Creek as part of their home range.

“The Great Egret and the Caspian Tern aren’t commonly found in the Surf Coast area so it’s important that people understand how lucky we are to have such rare birds come and visit us, it’s a privilege that they choose to use Spring Creek as part of their home range,” he said.

Caspian Terns have also been sighted in the Spring Creek area.

ZOO’s Victoria’s new ‘Seal the Loop’ campaign will see  special bins placed at ports and piers around Victoria’s coastline to help facilitate the responsible disposal of fishing waste by recreational anglers.

Ben Sanders, Zoo’s Victoria Community Conservation Officer said the campaign aimed to reduce marine wildlife entanglement rates and raise awareness of the threats that plastics pose to marine wildlife.

“The bins are being offered free of charge to any organisation, council or group who wish to install them, this phase of the program is being funded by the Victorian Government using recreational fishing license fees,” he said.

Coastal users can look out for ‘Seal the Loop’ bins placed at various popular fishing spots along the foreshore by the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee (GORCC).

This article appeared in the Surf Coast Times fortnightly ‘Green the Coast Column’. To visit the Surf Coast Times website click here.

To learn more about the Seal the Loop campaign  click here, for more information about native birds visit the Birds Australia website, click here. If you would like to learn more about coastal conservation and local marine life visit our website,

Have you spotted any endangered native birds in the Surf Coast region lately?

Are you  involved in protecting native wildlife?

We’d love to hear from you!