Paddlers Clean Up Parramatta River Exclusion Zone

Maritime environmental services boat and paddlers in canoes handing over collected rubbish.

A clean up only accessible by boat, and in an area off-limits to the public, was undertaken by Kayak Share Club of Neutral Bay and the River Canoe Club of NSW. The clean-up was held on Parramatta River on April 18, 2021, with 6 paddlers participating.

Special access was requested from NSW Maritime Transport to clean up the section of waterway from the S bend above Silverwater Bridge, down toward Rydalmere. Their enthusiasm and cooperation helped with the task of putting together a plan covering all eventualities.

Ferries were contacted, and the Maritime Environmental Services team with their boat was recruited for the canoeists and kayakers to continually offload the rubbish as it was collected.

Rubbish collected:

At least 30 Clean Up Australia size bags (570 x 920mm) of rubbish were collected. Quite a lot! A lot of the plastic rubbish appeared to be fairly old (opaque, brittle, disintegrating) suggesting that it had been in the river or on the high tide line for some time. 80% single use plastic (plastic bags, snack & confectionary packaging, takeaway food containers, builders plastic, straws, so many plastic fragments), plastic drink bottles, polystyrene (from large blocks to small beads), 20% glass bottles, cans, disposable masks, shoes, toys, packing tape, fishing line. Unusual items included: one boot, one shoe, mermaid Barbie doll, religious icon, Minnie Mouse cushion, one boxing glove; and hazardous items included 3 syringes (2 with needles). A lot of plastic and several face masks, hanging in the mangroves,  were removed.

Things that worked well:

  • Canoes with 2 paddlers taking it in turn to either paddle or collect rubbish.
  • Kayak towing another kayak as a barge.
  • Off-loading the rubbish to the MES boat saved an enormous amount time that would have otherwise been needed to paddle to one of the exit sites to offload.
  • The slow speed of the ferries as they passed ensured very stable water.

Comments from the paddlers:

“Thanks to the ferry crews for such great consideration”

“Having people on ferries seeing us collecting rubbish on the river bank could have some educational effect.”

“ A highlight was hanging out with the Environmental Services barge & crew!”

“ MES crew were great and offloading to the boat allowed us to collect more than we could have otherwise managed.”

“Next time we need 10x the number of boats and paddlers”


– Joanne Meader (Kayak Share Club and River Canoe Club)

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