Don’t be hooked

Jabiru Island Clean Up results In the beginning of the year I organised a coastal clean up on Jabiru Island where over 520kg of trash was removed from the mangroves and parkland, including 171 bait bags – we counted a third of what we collected so I can only imagine that figure would have been well over 200. Download the report here!

A few months ago an organisation (or more so a coalition of organisations) I am involved in released some pretty stinky results about finding 48 dog poo bags with dog poo in the bags within 45minutes on Palm Beach, a southern Gold Coast beach. The Gold Coast Bulletin ran a good media campaign naming the beach Gold Coast’s stinkiest beach – reaching the Daily Mail in the UK! Despite 6months of no action from the City of Gold Coast (which is why we went to the media) the story caused quite a stir and with no time to spare council officers were down on the beach steam cleaning the beach back to it’s award winning clean beach standard. But after the media that week I found twice as many dog poo bags on Gold Coast’s beaches, even three dirty nappies. (Please note: we are yet to do a follow up monitoring audit to see if dog owners have changed their behaviour in picking up their dog’s poo and putting it in the bin or still leaving the poop in bags on the beach or hung up in the trees).


Gold Coast Seaway Clean Up – held in July

Then a month ago a coalition of organisations led the biggest coastal clean up The Spit has ever seen pulling up 180km of fishing line from under the Gold Coast Seaway and collected 41kg of fishing debris from along the rock wall. Another clean up is planned for 30th August – save the date and keep an eye out for the flyer to be released this week. 

Today, I had a cuppa with Rowley from Wild Bird Rescue Gold Coast who shared many stories about his efforts in single-handedly rescuing over 1500 local birds in the last three years. The majority of the bird rescues are related to fishing debris where fishing line becomes entangled around their feet or hooks hooked through their wings.

Now I am sure you are getting a bleak picture of what my coastal background looks like… but the truth is putting the what’s out of sight is out of mind issue aside it looks relatively clean and healthy. Beautiful clean waterways, clear ocean waters and we even have a pool room of clean beach awards – many thanks to the beach sweepers every morning, the canal maintenance teams and the many community volunteers who consistently pick up litter and other debris or even rescue wildlife from entanglements. But yet again, we wouldn’t need any of the above if people just did the right thing. Imagine if the council diverted funding from city-wide beach cleaning to more festivals or community volunteers actually enjoying the Gold Coast coastal lifestyle?

The sad reality is that we do have an out of sight out of mind issue! We have a major marine and fishing debris and beach litter epidemic! Now I know this cause I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing for almost 10 years and the issue isn’t going away and if anything it is getting worse. Cigarette butts flicked outside car windows, plastic bags floating across roads and trash blanketing the edges of highways.

Then this afternoon this sad reality got a little too close to me. After enjoying a walk along The Spit with my dog I sat down on my towel to enjoy the beautiful sunset. As my dog loves to dig, she started digging a hole next to me. Then all of sudden she started yelping… I looked down at her front leg and she got hooked by two fishing hooks. I couldn’t believe it! There I was enjoying my beach experience and having already picked up a small bag of fishing debris from along the beach there was more, under the sand. I really couldn’t believe it! There was a whole beach to choose where to sit and me of all people chose to sit there!

I sent a message to Rowley almost immediately and he inspired me to write this blog, cause this information needs to get to out there to inspire real action. Cause if we don’t address the symptom we’ll be forever cleaning up the coast and wasting our time and money on a never ending issue, and my poor dog might get hooked again.


The fishing hooks that hooked into my dog’s leg


My dog, Elle digging for fun – not to be hooked!







I have a few solutions I want to see happen. What we need is baseline funding to support the development of such solutions, including:

– a city-wide marine debris monitoring program, approx. $30,000

– on-going scientific underwater monitoring of the Gold Coast Seaway to measure accumulation rates of fishing debris along the rock wall, approx. $30,000

– support Wild Bird Rescue Gold Coast, $10,000

– pilot a bait bag deposit scheme, $5,000

– a short film competition where finalists have their films run as TV ads to raise the issue in every lounge room

– appropriate signage to remind people that IT’S NOT OK to drop litter…

– substantially increase fines for littering to raise some revenue for the above

What’s the next step? Send an email to Council? Wait 6 more months for a response? Media? Talk with Mayor Tom Tate? 

I think all the above! Watch this space!

It's time we protect every part of our coastline

It’s time we protect every part of our coastline



Staying excited

Hanging with my dad and sister. Laughing and loving life.

Hanging with my dad and sister. Laughing and loving life.

I woke up this morning to the excitement of a 3-year-old excited to play and explore. He was playing talking cars and jumping on and off the couch excited to start the day yet to be filled with new experiences. Remember Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah’s couch excited about sharing his love for Katie Holmes. Well, it was 200% more genuine than that. It was delightful and special as it took me back to my childhood where exploring the backyard and playing cars with my brother was the best thing ever. Climbing trees, talking to imaginary people and animals, picking fruit and making and destroying things was what life was about. Constantly creating the world.

Fast forward and the drag of life has seemed to dim the lights and change the mood of life. Ask yourself, where did that jumping on and off the couch with excitement for everything in life go? Unless you still jump on and off the couch excited about each day?

[Now don’t get me wrong, if you know me or have been flowing me, I am a pretty excited person – but I could be more excited. I do spring out of bed in the morning and I love the challenge of studying, exams and even vacuuming! But I am not your average person, I am unique and embrace my quirkiness. And I know how to maintain excitement – why I am ‘tangenting’ about it].

The point is…

You see as we grow up our outlook on life becomes augmented by expectations, perspectives and attitudes. Sleeping in becomes the desirable way to spend a Sunday morning and then society tells us Monday is already here – again, what a drag – and then we have to experience hump day and then it’s Friday and then the weekend is here – again – filled with chores and what your not 100% keen to do. Mmm… sounds exciting right? Life? Excitement? Can the two really be an every day, every moment experience?

Yes it can!

In fact, we know there are ebbs and flows to life. What goes up must come down, but the secret about the flowing act of excitement is about maintaining gratitude, purpose and passion. It starts with being thankful for being where you are in life cause whatever is going on, it could be worse, right? Be thankful in context to your life and each day be more thankful. Start with thanking your parents, love ones, neighbour, barristar, boss, children etc. Write a list and start ticking those people off. Positive affirmation is the best medicine for the mind. Those who you thank will be thankful.

The next affirmation is about living your obligation, your pledge to the world – your purpose. For me, it’s about doing my upmost best to create opportunities central to improving the environment and connecting communities. I still have some things in life that do drag! But really, when I think about it everything in my life is central to my purpose. What is your purpose?

Having passion for everything in life is the next underlining truth to living a life filled and overflowing with excitement. Find passion in everything you do. From walking the dog, putting the bins out, commuting to work, finishing an assignment or even vacuuming. If you are struggling, think how doing such things is helping out someone or a situation. For instance, I am so happy when I take my dog to the beach or park where she can run and have fun. Cause it’s when you loss passion for something that you start to do things with less excitement and it becomes a chore, which in turn usually ends up sloppy or not complete or not complete to the standard wanted it to be or simply, you become unhappy, frustrated and disengaged.

Life is meant to be celebrated not dragged. So, the trick to stay excited is having gratitude, purpose and passion. I am going to expand my excitement by thanking you for taking the time to read this and from now thank those in your life and live a life full of excitement.

Live a life filled with excitement – have fun playing and exploring.

Next please

Naomi Edwards_selfie_on the beach

I was catching up with my friend Tom Fitzgerald the other day, who is a senior coastal planner at the Office for Environment and Heritage for the NSW Government, PhD student, coffee and coast lover, and a real top guy among other things. We were sitting under an outdoor heater in a café in the heart of Sydney. The coffee was good and the croissants were amazing!

Anyway, the point of this tangent is what I was left thinking about after our conversation. Cause if you know me I do a million things and have my fingers in many pies. That means my energy is sprawled across a million things and in many pies. Is that a good idea? Is that sustainable? Is that leading somewhere? Or am I just kidding myself?

At the moment I am in a pretty good position. I am free. I am happy. I am discovering who I am. I am living my passion. I am walking on the same path as my vision. I am single, have an amazing family and group of friends, have the cutest dog in the world, drive my dream car and when I think of an idea I know how to package it up and share it with the world. I am comfortable with the fact that I may not be able to act on all of my ideas and staring into a world where anything is possible at 3am is a regular thing for me. It’s just a while ago that void of spontaneous energy would have be exerted with sex. But I am OK with keeping that energy to myself – for the meantime at least.

I am at the stage of knowing something new is going to happen. I have just completed my Honours degree and so with three degrees under my belt and on the PhD pathway and an ideas factory as a brain what is next for me is to buckle down to turn my ideas into business ideas. Thanks to Tom and a couple of my dear friends who have been listening to my new way of communicating – with no walls, no resistance, no holding back – it’s time to get on with it.

My next phase is to register Happy Beaches as a company – with a social purpose. I have been wondering how to package my passion for beaches, coastal community engagement, and coastal management and not letting go of innovative ideas just because they don’t fit in the lines of bureaucracy (will have to learn how to spell that word without spell check one day). I love taking risks; being innovative and most importantly, I love to push to boundaries.

Bridging my studies and recent experiences with the Foundation of Young Australians Young Social Pioneer program and my Landmark self discovery courses I feel empowered and inspired to turn my inner capacity up a notch.

My vision has always been to provide innovative solutions to environmental problems with communities at the heart.

So, my Happy Beaches vision is to develop a boutique coastal consultancy group with a collective of innovative and passionate thinkers and probers who want to drive fast-paced change for beaches. I know exactly who I want on the team, so the next step is to approach them to see how they can come on board. I have no capital but I have a vision – a world with healthy beaches and happy communities.

In the meantime I know I will have to keep all my other projects afloat. But now I know and feel comfortable with my vision I will have to play the social entrepreneur card to make change happen.

Watch this happy beach space!