Updated: Dec 4, 2021
With breathtaking views from above, a picturesque walking track, and crystal-clear waters, Anson Bay is no doubt one of the loveliest beaches on Norfolk Island, and a favourite with locals. Unfortunately, a combination of wind, tide and swell sometimes deposits large quantities of ocean debris (much of it plastic) into Anson, marring the otherwise stunning beauty of this little bay.
When the Anson Bay volunteer clean-up group first commenced, an astonishing amount of waste was collected every time the group ventured down. A whopping 23kg was the largest amount retrieved in a day, and other collection days usually retrieved a minimum of 10kg of waste. By November 2021, the quantity of debris diminished significantly, with 3kg or less debris per collection being the new norm.
The reduction in beach debris could be attributed to everchanging marine conditions, and perhaps also because less plastic waste has been dumped in the Norfolk Marine Park as new waste management practices are implemented by the Regional Council.
Thankfully the Anson Bay volunteers have been recording statistics and images as part of their commendable work and this valuable data will enable seasonal and annual comparisons to take place. Surprisingly, the most common items found are white or blue plastic seals from inside the lids of wine bottles and Coca-Cola bottles.
To encourage visitors to the beach to participate in the rubbish collection, the volunteer group sought permission from the Norfolk Island Regional Council to place beach clean-up bags beside the Council rubbish bins. A small box was installed which contains a couple of reusable bags (made from shade-cloth) allowing beach visitors to collect debris and place it in the bin. The volunteer group continues to monitor the bins for evidence that others are sharing the task of keeping Anson Bay waste-free.
During the beach clean-up days, the volunteer group have discovered some very unusual and fascinating items. With so much waste being collected, the group tried to think of ways to recycle the numerous varieties of bits and pieces. They realised that the upcoming Art in the Park event was the perfect opportunity to display some of the beach debris in a creative environment to allow the community to witness the types of waste washed up on Anson Bay.
One of the Anson Bay volunteers (who prefers to remain anonymous) spent an incredible number of hours creating ‘Neptune’s Garden’ - made entirely from Anson Bay plastic debris. This amazing creation, on display at Art in the Park 2021, asks the viewer to consider whether these plastic depictions of sea creatures belong alongside their living counterparts. While the artist has brought new life into discarded waste in a wonderfully creative way, ultimately this artwork is a message to all of us on Norfolk Island (and beyond!) to rethink our consumption choices.
With the new year on the horizon, may we all resolve to be creative in our waste reduction!