The Great Tyre Clean Up

Article By: Bron Powell – Western Paddlers NSW

Western Sydney Paddlers Photo by Bron Powell

In the first of its kind, Western Paddlers NSW held ‘The Great Tyre Clean Up’ on the Wambuul Macquarie River in Dubbo, and hauled out a massive 70 tyres – weighing nearly 1 ½ tonne.

We paddled down the river, digging and pulling out tyres as we went, and loading them into our canoes and kayaks.

We had three drop off points at private properties along the river, which meant we could collect more tyres – unloading our haul at each pick up point, then paddling on and filling up our boats again.

The oldest tyre dated back to approximately 1934 (a Barnet Glass branded Checkskid tyre), and numerous tyres from the 1950s and 60s were also found – so that’s 90 years of tyre-dumping that we cleaned up.

There was a fair bit of effort involved – some tyres were partly embedded in sand, and most were filled with dirt that we had to scrape out to reduce the weight and be able to move them. The truck tyres took three people to be able to move them when filled with soil! We were a bit sore at the end of the day…

Tyres have numerous toxic substances in them, which can leach into the water for hundreds of years. One such substance – 6PPD-q – has caused fish kills in the USA from road run-off into urban rivers. And yet no government agency is doing anything about it – at least in our river they’re not. So its left to the community – and paddling is the best way to do it!

It was a rewarding and fun day for our members, and good publicity for our club – we were front page on the local newspaper plus had an interview on local radio.

The clean up event was held over 10 kms of river – and we plan to do more sections of the river while water levels are low (exposing more tyres) over winter.

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