On Sunday 28 August, Southern Beaches Landcare Coastcare held their inaugural festival, ‘A Day on the Marsh’ and it was a roaring success. Around 500 people attended throughout the day, enjoying the science, art, walks and talks, display stalls, kids activities, volleyball, music and food.
The festival was supported by an NRM South Naturally Inspired Grant, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. It also attracted many wonderful donations and in-kind support from the local community as well as assistance from Tasmania’s foremost experts on saltmarshes and shorebirds.
The dedicated volunteers of Southern Beaches Landcare Coastcare (SBLCC) have been working in the area for 25 years, conducting annual working bees in the dunes, around Steeles Island and on the sand flats at the Carlton River mouth. They remove weeds such as boneseed, pine, cape ivy, blackberry and Spanish heath; clean up marine debris and conduct an annual sea spurge survey. The group have worked successfully with land managers and the community to reduce the environmental damage caused by coastal access in the sensitive natural area. Their strategy has been to make it easy for people to do the right thing for the environment and to give them the opportunity to understand the coastal environment and the impact of their behaviour.
‘A Day on the Marsh’ aimed to increase public awareness of the natural values of the saltmarshes and environment near the mouth of the Carlton River. The site has the highest reserve status of any area where the SBLCC volunteers are working and includes saltmarshes, middens, wetlands, sand flats, lagoons and dunes. It is highly sensitive to disturbance and is very accessible so it is enjoyed by many people from the nearby residential development. The group wants to protect this vulnerable estuarine environment through awareness raising to positively influence the behaviour of local community and visitors who use this area.
“This area is a really precious, special environment” explained group secretary Gwen Egg, “We have saltmarsh plants up to 100 years old, shorebirds that fly here all the way from Siberia, and there are Aboriginal middens everywhere”.
The site for ‘A Day on the Marsh’ was Steele’s Island Retreat, built on a sand island originally populated by the Mumirimina, one of the ten bands of the Oyster Bay tribe. The occupation of the Mumirimina people is evidenced by large middens consisting of shells, animal bones, charcoal, cooking stones and some stone implements – a history of hunting and gathering that spans over 40,000 years. A highlight of the program included an Aboriginal led interpretive walk and presentations on the Aboriginal heritage and occupation of the area, highlighting the importance and significance of the Steele’s Island middens.
Congratulations to everyone involved in organising, delivering, supporting and attending this wonderful community event!