River Derwent Clean Up 2020

On the 5th of January 2020, Ocean Crusaders organised a River Derwent clean up as part of our Sydney to Hobart Clean Up Campaign.  Seven local Not-for-Profit organisations, local businesses and the community came together to collect a staggering 1.5 tonne of rubbish from various sites around the river. 123 volunteers participated in the clean up and completed approximately two hours of cleaning before transporting the rubbish back to the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. We carried out an audit of the waste to find out what it was we were picking up, the main purpose here being, to find out where the waste is coming from and to develop source reduction schemes.

At Constitution dock, the Tasmanian University Dive Club went under the docks to see what footprint the marine industry makes.

Amongst the debris found were two mobile phones, possibly dropped out of pockets off vessels, way too many plastic cups and bottles and single use consumer items and even chairs from the nearby waterfront facilities.

760 kg was collected from the area including six shopping trolleys and a wheelie bin.  It is believed that the sailors bring their groceries down to the waterfront in trolleys, however, don’t deem it necessary to take them back.  Unfortunately, it seems trolleys like to jump in the water for a swim in the evenings.  4 large tyres were also found that could possibly be used as fendering on commercial vessels.

Our Coast Our Mission cleaned up the Elwick Bay foreshore area, an area they clean on a regular basis.  They informed us they didn’t need to go far to collect 249.5 kg (19 bags) of nearly pure plastic waste and recyclable bottles and cans, most of it coming from our streets and roads.  The area is full of reed grass beds and the river back eddies into the bay bringing tonnes of debris with it each year.

Sea Shepherd Tasmania Hosted their event in Montagu Bay –  Sea Shepherd clean this bay regularly and its manly full with plastic bags, bottles and cans.

A staggering 970 cigarette butts were also collected in this bay which is a time-consuming effort.

Derwent Estuary Program and the Friends of Sandy Bay rivulet cleaned the area in front of the Sailing clubs and the parklands and beaches stretching north to the Rivulet.  The most prominent item was once again cigarette butts which is disturbing considering that people come down to enjoy the beauty that this area offers.  Maybe there is a need for more ashtray based bins, particularly near seats.

Families that are commercial Masters in the area used their own boats and cleaned up the Southern end of Tranmere point along with the northern part of Ralphs Bay. They filled their boats with lots of rubbish and dropped it to the Club, where we did an audit and inputted the information to our database.

Big thank you to the Ross family that organised their own clean-up in Cornelian Bay and collected 5 bags of plastic and the crew from SV Rhona H who collected a bag of small plastics from the waterfront docks, with zip ties being the number one culprit.


Thank you to all the local groups that conducted clean ups and to those that partake all year around. Please listen to the locals as they know the river.  They know where to look and have solutions on how we can tackle the problem of waste:

  • Derwent Estuary Program
  • South West Clean up group
  • Bridgewater Gagebrook Clean up group (we did not include their rubbish on the day due to transport difficulties)
  • Our Coast Our Mission
  • Sea Shepherd Tasmania
  • Tas Uni Dive Club
  • Friends of Sandy Bay rivulet

After collating all the data from the clean-up, we found that the rubbish originated in Australia, some off the streets and roads of Hobart and lots from overflowing public rubbish bins and landfill areas.

The data showed over 900 food packing items such as, chocolate wrappers, chips bags and lolly bags. We are living in a first world country and should be more aware of how to manage our waste – see data below:

510 Plastic Bottles
426 Aluminium Cans
140 Glass Bottles
This is a total of $107.60 in other states where a container deposit scheme is in place.

799 single use takeaway items such as, straws, cutlery, coffee/ Slurpee cups..

For convenience sake our society chose these items, however it is not so convenient anymore when people of your society get up early on a Sunday morning to clean up other people’s mess. It is not a job we want to do; it is a job we have to do. For the sake of our oceans and marine life, can we all work together and think of our habits and what impact our daily habits have on the planet and our surroundings.

Look at this statistic and listen to what it stands for and do something about it today.

We want to sail and dive in clean oceans, not clean it up after others.

Thank you also to:

City of Hobart for helping us with recycling the material from this clean-up and JJ Richards who provided us with the skip bin to collect the rubbish and then take it to the tip

The Royal Yacht club of Tasmania for hosting us and allowing us to host our event on their lawn, boat ramp and facilities. We appreciate your support and warm welcome to the club.

This event was made possible by our sponsors Sunsail Australia, Spinlock, Musto, Predictwind, Timezero navigation, MySailing, Boatnames Australia.  Together these organisations, who rely on the oceans and waterways of the world for their existence, came together to support our entire campaign and make it possible.