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Monday, June 21, 2021

Lake lovers invited to lend a hand

What started as Tammy Ven Dange’s personal mission has turned into a massive group effort to clean up the waters and shores of Lake Burley Griffin, and anyone can get involved as a volunteer next weekend.

This year, Clean-up Lake Burley Griffin Day will take place on Sunday 15 November, during National Recycling Week, and event coordinator Ms Ven Dange said it will be a chance for the community to help protect one of Canberra’s precious natural resources.

“I’m a paddler myself, that’s why I’m so passionate about it; I’m so sick of seeing rubbish every time I paddle,” she said.

“I come back and my boat is full of it because I can’t ignore it when I’m out paddling.”

Ms Ven Dange started getting her peers in the Burley Griffin Canoe Club involved but they quickly realised they needed more hands on deck.

“The lake is huge and there weren’t enough of us; it really does take a community to do a clean-up of this size.”

Last year, more than 130 volunteers participated on foot, dragon boat, kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle boards, collecting 108 bags of rubbish plus large items like milk crates, tyres and bicycles.

Ms Ven Dange said there was a direct correlation between the number of bags picked up and the number of people who participated, which is why she would love to see as many members of the public as possible join in this year.

“Last year was really dry and we were finding dry rubbish that was previously underwater.

“Some of the bottles were labelled from a decade ago.”

A lot of the rubbish collected by volunteers is too large for a rubbish bag.

This year, volunteers should expect to find rubbish that entered the lake via stormwater drains, due to the significant rainfall of recent weeks.

“A lot of the rubbish will still be floating,” Ms Ven Dange said.

“But a lot of it ends up on the bottom and it quickly sinks after rainfall.”

Ms Ven Dange said cleaning up the lake benefits visitors from the general public, however, it also protects the permanent residents of the lake – wildlife.

This habitat is home to a variety of water birds, eels, fish and insects.

It’s also frequented by platypus and rakali – otherwise known as native water rats – which some say bear a resemblance to a tiny otter.

“It’s not unusual to see a kangaroo or two, I once saw one on an island and wondered how it got there!” Ms Ven Dange said.

“But the majority of what we see is bird life and they often mistake the rubbish for food.”

People of all ages are welcome and Ms Ven Dange said kids loved the fulfilling event, however, children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

“Kids love this event and, in fact, I think it’s easier for them because they’re close to the ground!

“A couple hours of your time and you feel like you’ve done so much – you can actually see what you’ve done.”

Head to the @CleanUpLBG Facebook page to stay updated and read more.

When: Sunday 15 November 9am-12pm

Where: Registration sites will be at the following locations:

• Burley Griffin Canoe Club

• Lotus Bay (near Yacht Club)

• Weston Park (near Playstation)

• Black Mountain Peninsula (near picnic benches on west side)

• Kingston Foreshore (near Local Press)*

• Grevillea Park (at the Capital Lakes Rowing Club)

*Volunteers on watercraft cannot register at this location.

What to bring: BYO watercraft and lifejacket or PFD. Gloves will be available if you don’t have your own. BYO kids’ gloves.

What to wear: Enclosed shoes, comfortable clothing, sunscreen and a hat.

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