This is a common sight for Cape Woolamai’s Mark Davis when cleaning up Phillip Island’s beaches, with everything from needles to lollypop sticks to rope and plastic.

This is a common sight for Cape Woolamai’s Mark Davis when cleaning up Phillip Island’s beaches, with everything from needles to lollypop sticks to rope and plastic.

By Mitch Guy

CAPE Woolamai’s Mark Davis is outraged with the levels of rubbish strewn across Phillip Island beaches.
Having lived at Phillip Island for most of his life, the keen surfer and local business owner has collected rubbish from beaches for 20 years and is dismayed by the state of the environment.
He regularly visits beaches at Cape Woolamai and Forrest Caves in his spare time, collecting rubbish that has washed up ashore or blown onto the beaches.
Last year, he even managed to fill a 3m skip bin after five to six hours of collecting rubbish across Phillip Island.
Mark has collected a number of hypodermic needles from beaches in a worrying sign.
He has also found many Chupa Chup lollypop sticks, suggesting that young children are not being guided to dispose of their rubbish.
He said the rubbish problem has got to the point where it’s beyond a joke.
“We’re getting infiltrated by huge amounts of plastic that comes down the storm water drains and we live on two bays so they’re flushing out crap constantly and it keeps pushing up the beach,” he said.
“The drain near the bus stop at Cape Woolamai is constantly full of rubbish. There’s a wetlands near the Churchill Island bridge and that drain runs straight into it.
“It’s just absolutely stupid. Where do you think it’s going to end up? If it ends up in the ocean, it doesn’t go away. It comes back and it keeps coming back.”
Mark has blamed the unsustainable development on Phillip Island, highlighted by hideous subdivisions and poor stormwater drain systems.
He said he doesn’t want Phillip Island to be like Disneyland.
“People have been coming here for the past 100 years for the environment. It’s to get away from Melbourne, it’s to get away from all the hustle and all the plastic,” he said.
“People seem keener to develop than to look after what we’ve got already – we can’t sustain what we’ve got. The attention is directed towards the tourists, not towards the locals.
“The jobs here have improved, the education has improved, everything’s improved but the environment has suffered hugely.”
The neglect of the coastal environment was evident to Mark when he pulled a drowning albatross out of the water one day.
The detergent in the water was so strong that the bird had been stripped of its natural oils and was flopping around helplessly at the shoreline.
Mark said he doesn’t know what the solution is, but concentrating on fixing the problems would be a great start.
“They keep trying to ram it down our throats – we need to be progressive, we need to be developing, we need to create more jobs, but at what cost?” he said.
“At the cost of the one thing that brings people here – a good environment. We need a good environment for the penguins, we need a good environment for the shearwaters and that’s the thing they’re destroying.
“What do we do, keep developing? We’ll have penguins in little wading pools out at the Penguin Parade.
“I just think we need to concentrate on fixing the problems that we’ve got and then move on to sustainable development, before we go into pushing these stupid developments ahead that are just going to destroy the joint. Everything that we love, they’re trying to destroy.”