Fraser Island (K’gari) Clean Up 2021

Four Wheel Drive Queensland (4WD QLD) in collaboration with our partners in this venture, Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES), Queensland Parks & Wildlife Service (QPWS), the Butchulla Aboriginal Corporation (BAC); hosted another very successful beach clean up this year.

Thanks to QPWS for and the DES for the contribution of free camping and vehicle passes. Thanks also to Mantra Ray Fraser Island Barges for their reduced pricing.

I can’t mention all the sponsors, but they know who they are and the list of companies that assisted us is on the FICU website. Fulcrum Suspensions was once again the major sponsor. To all our sponsors, please know that your donations and prizes to support the event are very much appreciated.

Mostly – thanks to the 4WD QLD affiliated club members who have dedicated their time to assist in cleaning the island’s beaches since 2001.

Late in May this year, a total of 22 affiliated clubs made the journey to the island from all over southeast Queensland, for what was the twentieth anniversary Fraser Island Clean Up. This included 369 vehicles (including sponsors and catering), with a total of 649 adults & 99 children volunteers. We were also inundated with requests from sponsors this year for approval to assist clubs with the cleaning.

The clean up has gained much renown amongst the 4WD community, being 4WD QLD’s signature environmental event and due in large to a general awareness of the seriousness of the plight of our oceans & beaches. Many people outside our organisation also petitioned us to join in.

For another year we were not able to weed any areas or clean the inland tracks. However, we were delighted when we got word from the Butchulla this will be met with favourable consideration for future clean ups.

This year we cleaned on both days of the weekend, working north from Indian Head to Sandy Cape on Saturday and Hook Point to Indian Head on Sunday. We plan to move ahead with this same organisational plan for the 2022 event as it provides flexibility to some clubs on which day they clean.

The “Welcome to Country” held on Friday 21st at 11am by representatives from the BAC was very well received by the few 4WD QLD Management Committee, the FICU sub-Committee and the volunteers that were able to attend. Thanks to the Fraser Coast 4X4 Club for their support, videos and photos of this. It was lovely to see Aunty Shantel and Joe perform the ceremony welcoming all the volunteers.

The 2021 beach clean netted just under 6200kg of debris. The breakdown of the rubbish that was collected is attached at the bottom of this document.

Plastic pollution is the most widespread problem affecting the marine environment. It also threatens marine creature health, food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and is contributing significantly to climate change. We are proud to be a small part in the action for environmental cleaning here at this iconic location.

The collected rubbish was deposited in 3 x15m3 bins provided to us under a sponsorship agreement with Fraser Coast Regional Council, plus the QPWS donated another 1 x 30m3 plus 1 x 15m3 and the use of the Orchid Beach waste transfer site for any debris in excess of these bins. All waste data was recorded & collated by our newest partners, the Tangaroa Blue Foundation. This is an Australia-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris. We look forward to a long and happy collaboration with them. Although the weather was again not the best, with strong winds across most of the weekend & rain, which fortunately fell mainly at night. Fraser Island, even though large tracts had suffered during the fierce bushfires of a few months earlier, was again flush with greenery. Overall, her very beautiful and accommodating self was very much appreciated by all who attended.

At the Sunday night “Thank You”, QPWS Community Liaison Officer, Jenna Tappley, outdid herself yet again, bringing along another excellent display of artefacts, skeletons & even an injured sea bird. We were also supported by the local on duty Qld Police Service constable and the Qld Ambulance Service across the weekend.

Even with the huge hiatus, which was delivered us thanks to the Corona virus, our little team of twelve like- minded volunteers, which included eight brand new members, managed to pull the threads together of the large-scale planning which had been laid in place by the previous committee. All committee members contributed in a variety of individual but significant ways. I could mention each individually but none of us do any of this for personal accolades; it must be said that the new CEO Michael Elliott, who made himself available and assisted all of us at a moment’s notice was indispensable. His experience gleaned in the corporate world has certainly been to the organisation’s advantage.

Michael and Shane Rose communicated with QPWS and the BAC, discussing many exciting prospects for the future.

Each year, post event, the committee make a revised plan to implement further changes for an improved event for the following year. Having achieved previous planned improvements, which included having our event plastic free, developing a comprehensive event guide to be issued to all participants, mandatory PPE requirements, supply of sharps kits & information sheet provided to all trip leaders, and the re-use of purpose bought waste collection bags bought for the 2019 event. These were used again this year and are now cleaned & stored for use again in 2022.

We are in the process of making significant changes to our website, implement a more time efficient raffle ticket system, organising a different method of feeding the large numbers of volunteers who attend in a more efficient manner, plus several other improvements. All things considered I feel our small band of volunteer committee did an amazing job bringing this year’s Fraser Island Clean Up to fruition. Nearly all our number have expressed their desire to continue within a similar framework as a committee and we all hope for an even better event in 2022.

Detailed waste collected data

Item Count Extrapolated  Item
129425Plastic bits & pieces hard & solid
  7165Lids & tops, pump spray, flow restrictor & similar
  4700Plastic film remnants (bits of plastic bag, wrap etc)
  2700Foam insulation & packaging (whole and remnants)
  2615Plastic drink bottles (water, juice, milk, soft drink)
1400Rope & net scraps less than 1 metre
1005Rope (estimated length in metres)
830Glass or ceramic broken
780Plastic containers non food (oil, sealant, chemical)
760Bleach & cleaner bottles
750Personal care & pharmaceutical packaging
  710Plastic sheeting (tarpaulin, woven bags, pallet wrap)
  590Plastic packaging food (wrap, packets, containers)
  510Sanitary (tissues, nappies, condoms, cotton buds)
495Aluminium cans
490Bleach bottle KKK type
420Rubber footwear & thongs
365Fishing line in metres (Recreation)
360Paper & cardboard packaging
325Strapping band scraps


The most visible and disturbing impacts of marine plastics are the ingestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. Marine wildlife such as seabirds, whales, fishes and turtles, mistake plastic waste for prey, and most die of starvation as their stomachs are filled with plastic debris. They also suffer from lacerations, infections, reduced ability to swim, and internal injuries. Floating plastics also contribute to the spread of invasive marine organisms and bacteria, which disrupt ecosystems.

Toxic contaminants also accumulate on the surface of plastic materials as a result of prolonged exposure to seawater. When marine organisms ingest plastic debris, these contaminants enter their digestive systems, and overtime accumulate in the food web.