In the grey pre-dawn light of 22 June, eight volunteers from near and far gathered at the Mackay Marina, eager to meet Captain Bill and project leader Amanda. After getting our safety instructions we left the calm of the marina for the wild and choppy swell on the way to Avoid Island. Our mission is to follow Wild Mob’s charter, to get wild and do things that matter. We are to do this by helping restore habitat, remove invasive weeds and pick up rubbish from turtle nesting beaches.
Once on the high seas, things got really interesting with waves smashing over the bow and flooding the volunteers riding on the back deck. As we all disembarked and moved up the beach, we were welcomed by prickles that leapt off what we soon learnt was weeds to be removed onto every exposed surface, giving us a sneak preview of the work ahead.
The four days on the island were spent working in the morning and exploring in the afternoon. The work sessions consisted of bush regeneration with three very different types of invasive species. On the turtle nesting beaches there is a problem with Mossman River Grass where all the dunes are taken over by this prolific spreading grass. Around 100kg of Mossman River Grass was removed off Flatback turtle nesting beaches. In the beach scrub there is a small problem with Lantana and if left un checked it is know to quickly take over these areas and destroy the endangered Littoral rainforest.
The Lantana on Avoid is very manageable and this year the Mob performed a check and clean up of the area covered last year. This area of about 3 acres is now fully cleared of Lantana. The third weed on the island is not one many people would think of as a weed. Mangos, there are about 50 very large mango trees and more than 6000 seedlings!
The mangos are taking over a beautiful paper bark swamp in the middle of the island. The large trees were poisoned and the seedlings were cut and pasted but there is still more work to be done. After all the hard work the volunteers enjoyed exploring the island. Be it walks along the turtle nesting beaches or scrambling across the rocks to visit the active Osprey nest on the cliffs under the house
All were very productive during their walks, bringing back roughly 40kg of plastic from the waters edge over the week. A lot of hard work was done and much fun was had relaxing in the afternoon dreaming of being left on this tropical island forever, or at least until then end of winter as it gets to hot after that!