Three Dungog women have had the trip of a lifetime after they volunteered to do their bit to save The Great Barrier Reef.
Ros Runciman, Marion Stuart and Jann van der Meer recently travelled to Goldsmith and Brampton Islands as volunteers with a not for profit, conservation group.
The group, Wild Mob, has been operating for 10 years doing weed management and clearing of marine debris on islands in the Smith group of the Cumberland Islands in the southern section of the Great Barrier Reef.
Their activities have recently been extended to both Norfolk Island and Hauraki Gulf Islands near Auckland in New Zealand.
The trip for the local trio featured a group of up to 10 volunteers who work for around four hours a day for six days – with the remaining time given to relaxation.
Travel out to Goldsmith Island takes around three hours on the 15 metre catamaran, Wild Cat, with a small tender used for ferrying to the island where each volunteer has their own tent and swag. Food (which the trio rated as excellent) and guiding is also supplied.
“A highlight was a hike across Goldsmith island to the spectacularly beautiful Stingray Bay where marine debris was collected,” said Ros.
“This was a repeat of a clean up just two weeks ago, yet about 16kgs of debris was collected.
“This included 1333 pieces of identifiable and non identifiable litter.
“Lots of plastic and many thongs!”
Weed work concentrated on the garden escapee rhoeo (Tradescantia spatheca) which, along with other garden species, was left behind by a couple who lived there in the 1940s.
“It has now spread to cover a considerable area near Roylin Bay on Goldsmith island,” said Ros.
“Brampton Island also has a huge weed problem and what was once a well known tourism paradise is now in a sad state of neglect.
“Wild Mob is definitely making a difference and their motto of ‘doing things that matter’ is heartening.”
Ros said she would not hesitate to recommend the trip to anyone.
“The work is not difficult and where you visit is just another stunning part of our beautiful country,” she said.
“We can highly recommend the experience.”