Band-aids, hair ties removed from protected K’gari lake

Issued: 29 Mar 2023

Photo of hundreds of pieces of plastic collected from Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie) by QPWS and Butchulla rangers.Open larger image

QPWS and Butchulla rangers collected hundreds of pieces of plastic from Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie).

Hundreds of pieces of harmful plastics, including used band-aids, hair ties and broken swimming gear, have been removed from Boorangoora (Lake McKenzie) on K’gari (Fraser Island) in the Great Sandy National Park.

Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers and Butchulla Land and Sea rangers recently worked together to undertake a day-long clean-up of the iconic lake’s popular visitor area.

The rangers carried out on-foot and snorkel surveys within about 200 metres of the shore, where they collected various pieces of smaller, harmful rubbish.

This included:

  • 184 band-aids
  • 63 pieces of unidentified plastic
  • 22 hair ties
  • 15 pieces of food packaging
  • 11 snorkelling items
  • 1 GoPro camera

QPWS Ranger Alison Hammond said these results were a strong reminder for visitors and campers to remove potentially harmful wearable items before going swimming in protected areas.

“Used band-aids and hair ties made up two-thirds of the rubbish collected from the visitor area and had accumulated on the lakebed which meant we had to pick each one up by hand,” Ranger Hammond said.

“With more than 7,600 visitors expected to camp on K’gari these school holidays, we’re asking everyone to responsibly dispose of personal items that could become litter before swimming in the island’s famous lakes.”

Ranger Hammond said visitors were prohibited from taking food and drinks other than water, and associated packaging, onto the lake’s foreshore, which helped prevent the spread of larger pieces of litter.

“There is a fenced day use area at Boorangoora where people can eat and drink before heading to the lake, and our recent clean up did show that larger pieces of rubbish are being kept out of the area.

“Unfortunately, the hundreds of smaller pieces of plastic we did find can still cause harm to the environment and are unpleasant for visitors.”

Boorangoora has high cultural significance to the Butchulla people who have accessed and used the site for many thousands of years.

Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation Chairperson Gayle Minniecon said Butchulla community members are closely connected to all parts of K’gari, including Boorangoora.

“This exercise was a co-operative management venture between the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation and QPWS,” Ms Minniecon said.

“Boorangoora is one of many culturally significant lakes on Country.

“Many visitors see the lake as a beach with beautiful blue water and golden sand.

“To Butchulla people, Boorangoora has spiritual significance – its meaning is ‘waters of wisdom’ a meeting place of Ancestor Elders when decision making was required and a source of fresh water for the community.

“K’gari is protected by three lore’s. It is a World Heritage site for all to enjoy but please when on K’gari, leave only footprints.”

The three Butchulla lore’s are:

  1. Minyang galangoor gu, djaa kalim baya-m (What is good for the land must come first)
  2. Minyang waa nyinung, waa bunmalee dhama-n (Do not touch or take anything that does not belong to you)
  3. Wangou nyin gamindu, biralunbar nyin wumga-n (If you have plenty, you must share)

General waste bins and septic disposal units are available on K’gari, and all visitors to the island are reminded that food scraps and litter not only harm the environment but can also attract wongari (dingoes).

Be dingo-safe; keep food secured, never feed dingoes and don’t encourage them to come close.