Beach clean up yields big results in the west

Published on LEUT Gary McHugh (author)

Location(s): Garden Island, WA

Topic(s): HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West, Garden Island, WA

LCDR Dave Reid, POETSM Terry Douglas and WOMTSM Mark Layton with some of the flotsam collected at Beagle Bay, Garden Island, WA.

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LCDR Dave Reid, POETSM Terry Douglas and WOMTSM Mark Layton with some of the flotsam collected at Beagle Bay, Garden Island, WA.

A beach on the west side of Garden Island - an area south of Perth that houses HMAS Stirling and Fleet Base West - has had 200kg of flotsam (floating debris) removed as part of an environmental program organised by the Collins Submarines Program Office (COLSPO).

Lieutenant Commander Dave Reid said a number of members of the COLSPO recently spent a day combing the beach north of Beagle Bay.

“We removed approximately 200kg of flotsam from 500 metres of the beach,” he said.

“This rubbish mainly consisted of old rope and floats that had washed up onto Garden Island on the prevailing tides.

“Once we’ve finished cleaning this area we’ll move onto the next beach and start work there.”

Stirling’s Commanding Officer, Captain Ainsley Morthorpe said despite the increased size of Navy’s footprint since the base commissioned in 1978, Garden Island remains a pristine environment with many unique species of flora and fauna.

“As the custodians of much of the island, Navy and Defence work diligently to ensure our presence does not have an unnecessary environmental impact on this unique island,” he said.

“Navy manages the island carefully to protect its environmental value but flotsam and rubbish from the ocean ends up on our beaches, which can cause life-threatening issues for marine wildlife and shore birds.

“That’s why programs such as this are so valuable and I thank everyone at the COLSPO who participated in the clean up,” Captain Morthorpe said.

Garden Island is located approximately five kilometres off the Western Australian coast and is connected to the mainland by a 4.2km causeway.

Road access to Garden Island is restricted to naval and associated personnel, however northern sections of the island are open to the public to access by private boat during daylight hours.

Garden Island was first used as a naval base in 1829 when Captain James Stirling landed there and established a settlement of around 450 people - the 190th anniversary of the landing will be marked later this month in a commemorative ceremony.