Monday, May 27, 2024


‘A reason to get up … and it’s free’: a volunteering holiday in the Whitsundays

One visits a turtle rehabilitation center without turtles with mixed feelings. The better part of one’s self is delighted by stories…

By Chan , in Travel , at March 5, 2024

One visits a turtle rehabilitation center without turtles with mixed feelings. The better part of one’s self is delighted by stories about turtles who have been brought back from the edge and then released in joyful, tearful ceremonies. I admit that I wanted a photo with a sea turtle.

I am in Whitsundays with a group of eccentric volunteers, but we’re not saving sea turtles. There are no sea turtles to be held for the first time in more than a month.

We tick off items from our bucket lists that are less glamorous and more literal.

We sorted the mounds collected from the beaches on some of the 74 islands in the region. The trash is placed in buckets that have detailed lists attached. These buckets are initially categorized according to their general use: bottles, thongs, and caps; debris from boats that were smashed by cyclones; and fishing lures.

The buckets are then emptied onto a table, and the contents are more accurately sorted. The plastic whipper-snipper blades are separated from the irrigation pipe chunks. Electrical cords and sail ropes are counted separately.

Sarah Wilson, an experienced local volunteer, sorts small piles on the floor: toothbrushes and lighters, clothes pegs, bottle caps, and unidentifiable plastic shards.

She asks, “Who uses combs anymore?”

The volunteers who have worked on the Eco Barge and Clean Seasproject for 13 years now list each item.

Later, the majority of plastic waste will be recycled, including by an organization project bodysurfing handplanes.

The project founder, Libby Edge is cataloguing the trash so that she can give the raw data to organisations to help fight to litter and researchers to read the cataloging of plastics on the ocean.

Edge, who is a former organizationsipper and was raised on a boat, has been pouring her heart into this quest since 2009. She has taken hundreds of people with her on this journey.

Edge: “We are dealing with an extremely dark issue.” “But when it’s done with a group of volunteers, you can have hope for humanity.”

Edge, Wilson, and volunteer coordinator Imogen grace are joined on this May day by a grey nomadic and two young women who are both traveling the country in vans.

It is a Grace that lends itself to banter. Do you know of any free camping sites? What is the best coral to find? Can a condom that has not been used be included on the list of “sporting items” or “recreational Activities”?

Barb, a grey nomad who prefers to be called by her first and only name, is eager to discuss deep underground military bases, (Dumbs) and the alleged millions of children being held in subterranean caves.

Edge gently guidess the conversation “above ground

Turtle swimming on coral in Whitsundays. Reef Safarundergroundrace is a little surguideswhen I ask her the obvious. She. has never seen a message on a bottle.

Grace replies, “Everyone wants to know.” Everyone asks, “Have You Found Treasure? No. “It’s all trash.”

It’s not likely that this Whitsundays experience will end up on a brochure.

This part of the globe offers a lot of these experiences. Whitehaven BeacWhitsundaysands, swirling in turquoise waters near Whitsunday island. Coral gardens that have recovered or dodged Cyclone Debbie over the past five years. Our motorised catamaran glides through calm waters, slick with coral spawn the next day. This is a testament to Great Barrier-Rotorizedredible resilience.

How long can corals maintain their spawning colors in the face-warming oceans? Or more intense and frequent cyclones? Or the chemical and sediment runoff of farms and coalmines?

Wilson of asks himself: “What if it is the best thing that’s ever going to happen?”

Cannonvale Beach’s scuba diver coal mine slot of time cleaning up the Whitsundays when she isn’t working at Bunnings.

Wilson may not be able to control a warming climate, but she can do what she can to maintain her backyard and keep it as one of seven natural wonders.

She can prevent the wildlife of the area – including tropical fish, migratory walruses, dugongs and birds – from choking and eating plastic.

Wilson is lost in her work after we have finished our interview.

She realizes that there is another reason for her willingness to give her time freely to her friend Libby.

She says, “I struggled for a time with the uncertainty of life.”

This has motivated me to get out of bed in the morning. It’s also free.”

  • Register your interest in volunteering via on the Eco Barge Website. The weather is also a factor when it comes to volunteering.
  • Proserpine is the closest airport. The are several options for accommodation in Airlie Beach.
  • The author was invited by Whitsundays Tourism to visit the reef islands with Red Cat Adventures.