January 23-29, 2022: Issue 523


Careel Creek Cleaners inspire a way forward for world wetlands day 2022 on february 2nd

One of the great stories coming out of local community members this year actually commenced when Lionel Kools, a local Avalon Beach gentleman, spotted a long necked turtle in Careel Creek in November 2021. 

Having walked this track every day taking his dog for a run the sight not only delighted him it drew his attention more and more to the rubbish he could also see in the creek.

‘’Everyone has a view on Careel Creek, and before committing to its cleaning, my mind had its opinion. I walked my dog along the creek every day at lunchtime, and the more I was doing the walk, the more my focus was on the rubbish. Yes, the long neck turtle was the turning point. She was the valid reason to buy a wader and jump into the water.’’ Lionel explained.

Lionel’s photo of the turtle he saw in Careel Creek

Since then Lionel has been joined by other volunteers, Ken – his neighbour, Michael and Vicki Crosby, Kirsten Higgins, Tom Borg McGee and Maya Louella.

They have removed around 600 kilograms of rubbish from the mangroves behind the Careel Bay playing fields all the way to the wends behind the high school. 

Choosing the time to do this, low tide, has been part of how they have done this work.

Everything from dumped furniture to bikes, signs and plastics has been removed.

They have also been fortunate to spot some of the wildlife that call this creek home. Lionel tells Pittwater Online the dusky moorhen chicks are now out and about. On another occasion they spotted a freshwater eel and water dragons – they’re everywhere along the creek at present.

freshwater eel in Careel creek, January 11, 2022

The Dusky Moorhen mum and her chicks, photograph taken Sunday January 23, 2022 by Lionel Kools

Commencing in the first week of January this hardy group of volunteers chose one section after another along the creek. When the rest of us were cooling of in seabreezes they were toiling in humid weather amid cobwebs and tick-infested foliage, cleaning up the creek.

Lionel contacted Council to request the removal of what they pulled out with a great response from the team there and support in removing the rubbish from the points they collected it to. 

To inspire younger residents he even contacted legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk who provided a message for those using the skate park and adjacent areas:

Although Lionel emphasises what they have done does not make them heroes and did not want any focus on himself and his fellow volunteers, this group of Careel Creek Cleaners have instantly become just that to the community, with masses of thanks and offers to join in made.

To this praise Lionel has said; ''I thank you for your praise, but nature is the true hero here, and the turtle has touched the soft spot in my heart just like you do as a loving community.''

Lionel states they seem to have retrieved the bulk of the rubbish from the creek now and he and his friends are happy the wildlife will now have a cleaner home to live in. 

He will keep us updated when the next call out to do a clean occurs. These are also posted on community social media Facebook pages Avalon What’s On.

THANK YOU Lionel, Ken, Michael and Vicki, Tom, Kirsten and Maya. You are what community care for our other residents, our wildlife, is all about.

World Wetlands Day occurs on February 2nd, 2022. February 2022 is the first year that World Wetlands Day will be observed as a United Nations international day, following its adoption by the General Assembly on 30th August 2021.

The theme for the 2022 edition is Wetlands Action for People and Nature, and it highlights the importance of actions that ensure that wetlands are conserved and sustainably used. It’s an appeal to invest financial, human and political capital to save the world’s wetlands from disappearing and to restore those we have degraded.

This group from Avalon Beach, and Careel Creek specifically, have given us all the inspiration we may need to get out near out own wetlands on Wednesday February 2nd and clean up the homes of all else that lives here. After all, it was love for our wildlife that motivated this band of Careel Creek Cleaners.

Below runs a list of what was collected where and when and some of their photos taken on each occasion, proving that for this hardy group of people January has been Clean Up Careel Creek month. These come via social media posts by Lionel and one courtesy of Vicki Crosby - many thanks for sharing these records.

January 5, 2022: 

Low tides bounty. By now, we can all realise that Careel creek does not have a digestive system. There are more bikes, tires, bottles and all sorts of plastic to come out of the creek. Without counting the heavy items, 100 kilos of waste are already out of the creek. For safety reasons, this job can only be done at low tides and clear sky. Sometimes, half of my body disappear into the mud and I must fight hard to get it back. It can be physically challenging but I get a good free legs workout out of it. 

Not everyone is pleased with the growing pile of rubbish next to the public bin in North Avalon. I do not want any disruption for the local businesses. At the end of December 2021, I emailed the Northern beaches council to organise collection. Due to the holiday period, I did not receive an answer yet. 

January 6, 2022:

Another low tide, another bounty. 2 more bikes to the collection and 40 kilos of rubbish including 2 full bottles of Corona and a $5 dollar note. I dropped the load in North Avalon (public bin) for the Northern Beaches Council to collect. I will email them tonight. They have been fantastic.

Is anyone in the group a drone videographer? If yes, will you be able to film the creek tomorrow very early between North Avalon and the Skate Park? Careel creek looks pretty and near "zero" visual rubbish. 

The next low tides are Friday 06:06 AM, Saturday 06:56 AM and Sunday 07:54 AM but the weather forecast is not great (rain and thunderstorms). If you want to join me for 2 hours of cleaning, let me know - everyone is welcome! I have another 2 bikes to retrieve. The cleaning area will be from the North Avalon bridge to the soccer fields.

January 7, 2022:

Say hello to my neighbour Ken. He joined me for the morning low tide. He spotted 3 bikes and one Franklin's trolley. We fought hard to get it out and we won!

Northern Beaches Council has assigned my request to remove our bounty to the Environmental Compliance-Rangers team.

January 9, 2022:

The last bounty for the holidays. We are going back to work tomorrow. The next cleaning round is scheduled for Saturday lunchtime, and we are looking for it. Today's bounty comes from the tennis court toilet block to the creek line running between the soccer fields. We have reached the mangrove. We have grown 600% in a week. Big Thank Kenny, my neighbour, Michael and Vicki Crosby, Tom Borg McGee and Maya Louella.

January 11, 2022:  

Yes, I am back at work, but I was working from home today, and at lunchtime, I took the dog for a walk along the creek. I saw a few bottles and plastic bags floating around, and it was enough to jump into my wader and collect this low tide bounty. The water was see-through. Fantastic to see! I collected only one wheelbarrow between North Avalon Bridge and Avalon Woolworth. The collected items are a lot smaller except for a mini scooter and a BBQ grill. As the size of the rubbish shrinks, we have now entered the microgame! Tiny plastic waste and mini residues are now the targets. This is very exciting but harder to control. Yes, oversized items such as bikes and shopping trolleys boost our ego and make our bounty look impressive, but winning the pollution game will always be in the control of the macro waste. 

A big thank you to all anonymous creek cleaners - There are a few around. When I walked the dog, there were dozens of bottles and cups around the skate park area, and when I reached this section two hours later, everything was pristine. Someone did it, and a big collective thank you for your contribution! You are awesome!

Thank you also for the beautiful conversations and your words of wisdom. You are great people! I did not find any money today but a second stolen driver licence.

January 15, 2022:  

Careel Creek – Unity is our currency.

Another day cleaning Careel Creek from the soccer field to the dog park. It was a very hot day in the mangroves this afternoon. Awesome effort to remove 2 lounges, 2 beds, chairs, lots of bottles, balls and bongs! We will meet again next Saturday just have to check the tide for a time.

January 20, 2022:

Careel creek late afternoon bounty. All collected between North Avalon wooden bridge and Woolworths. Another scooter out of the water. I think we have entered the maintenance stage of the creek now as the majority of the bounty are small items.

The skate park was spotless. A big thank you for your cleaning contribution.

January 22, 2022: 

Careel Creek bounty of the day. It is well packed for Northern Beaches Council to pick up. Lots of milk crates, banners, broken chairs, tables, beer bottles, tyres from the 60's and the list goes on but nothing will beat the number of golf balls retrieved from the mangroves.

Joy, laughter and dad's jokes keep us entertain under the sun. It was hot and sticky.  Big thank you to Michael and Vicki Crosby and the super nature lover Tom Borg McGee.

  Physignathus lesueurii lesueurii, the Eastern Water Dragon. Photographed in Careel Creek 31.10.2013. Picture by A J Guesdon.