HUNDREDS of tonnes of sand and more than 1500 saplings and native grasses have been returned to Coochiemudlo Island beaches thanks to the efforts of 80 dedicated Coochiemudlo Coast Care volunteers.
Despite their hard work, more than half of Coochiemudlo Island beaches remain closed since ex-tropical cyclone Oswald hit the island during the Australia Day long weekend.
Strong winds and a high storm surge significantly damaged the island, particularly along the south east where the Melalueca Wetlands Reserve stands.
Coochiemudlo Coast Care secretary Vivienne Roberts-Thompson said there was still plenty of work to do after a road and footpaths disappeared into Moreton Bay.
“The island was relatively untouched by Oswald until the Monday. The winds were so strong, but it was the storm surge that really did all of the damage,” she said.
Vivienne said she had lived on the island for more than 11 years and had never seen so much storm damage.
“A lot of the beaches are closed because there are many large trees that are unstable. Tonnes of sand washed away and huge roots remain exposed on the beach,” she said.
“But it’s very hard to keep Aussies away from the beach. People have been jumping the temporary fences anyway.”
Coochiemudlo Coast Care president Carolyn Brammer said it was sad to see so much devastation on the island, especially considering it was a tourist drawcard.
“We only formed our Coast Care group in recent weeks and already have over 80 members because we needed to fix our island,” she said.
“But I think so many have gotten on board because Coochie people are very passionate and know it’s time to give something back to our beautiful island.”
Carolyn said there had been plenty of planning to restore the beaches, but it was difficult to get funding and arrangements moving quickly.
“It was difficult and that’s why work has only really begun now, but thanks to SEQ Catchments, Indigi-Scapes and Redland City Council things are finally getting moving.”
SEQ Catchments community partnership project manager Joel Bolzenius said the storm damage would permanently alter Coochiemudlo’s ecosystem.
“The storm surge did a lot of damage and because of that the Melalueca Wetlands will change,” he said.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, we’re planning to plant around 6000 plants and many of the beaches still need repairing.”
Anyone wishing to join Coochiemudlo Island Coast Care can phone Carolyn Brammer on 3207 9867 or 0488 886 000. Membership is $2 per person.