Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Australia Day local hero

Early morning on Australia Day I was chatting to my 82 year old friend Doug Mickle as he collected rubbish on Cottesloe beach. I thought more about his long-term commitment to keeping our beautiful beach clean so I caught up with him today for a chat.
In 2003 Doug accepted an award from the Town of Cottesloe on behalf of all the people who regularly collect rubbish from our beach. Doug, however, must be the most consistent and dedicated coast-carer of all! The bags of rubbish in the photo are the result of about 6 days work. He sometimes stockpiles his bags for younger beach goers to carry up the steep ramps to the bin.

Q: So how long have you been collecting rubbish here Doug?
It's been about 10 years now in Cottesloe. I started in Kwinana when we lived there, we always took a bag to the beach when the family went for a swim and we picked up rubbish on the way home. I started swimming at Cottesloe once I moved to East Fremantle so I brought my habit with me!

Q: You grew up in Meekatharra I remember.
I was born in Meekatharra in (19)25, Dad had the hairdressers and the tobacconists. When I was 4 years old he bought the Meekatharra Hotel, which was actually burnt down about six weeks ago. I joined the RAAF and was in a construction squadron in Borneo in '45 when the war ended. Then I worked as a roustabout in woolsheds and all over the place.
I bought a block in 1952 at Mt Claremont for 43 pounds 10 shillings and built a house on it. Later I bought a milk-round in Kwinana and then a newsagency, it was all hard work but you get used to it. I was one of the people who started the golf club in Kwinana, I'm a life member now but someone stole my clubs and I don't play any more, I prefer to swim at Cottesloe now. I swim with the 'Cottesloe Crabs' in winter but I don't swim so hard these days. I had to have a heart stent put in a couple of years back, so now I have much more puff again to pick up all this rubbish!
Twenty five years ago I moved to East Fremantle and agreed to a few days work from 4am to 8am at the Browns Dairy depot. I stayed there working those hours for 10 years, then I retired at 65.

Q: Do you think the education messages about rubbish pollution have improved things on the beach.
There are more people and there is more rubbish. The type of rubbish changes, now about half of what I pick up is water bottles - many still full! Broken bottles are really bad, I guess I've saved the Life Savers lots of work over the years because I've picked up so much broken glass. I believe that there used to be more bottles smashed on purpose. There are fines for dumping rubbish but they never seem to enforce this. I think they should fine people.

Q: Cottesloe Coastcare volunteers speak to lots of community members and school groups, do you have a message for us to share.
This beautiful beach and water is here for us all to enjoy, let's look after it for everyone and for all the creatures on the dunes and in the water.

On that note Doug was keen to get the rubbish in the bin and then enjoy a swim


Boxing Day, December 26th 2009:

I met up with Doug on the beach at about 8am today. He was carrying two big plastic bags full of broken glass, plastic water bottles, drink cans and other rubbish, a "normal morning's load" he told me. He was "warming up"before the Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving club Veterans swim ( 300m), later in the morning. Doug told me that there are three "over 80's "who swim at these meets! He says that he gets a "bit more puffed these days" but he will continue to clean our beach, as long as he can. An amazing bloke! 


Blogger Sue said...

Having just walked along the beach after another hot weekend I can only say a big "Thank You" to Doug for all his work picking up rubbish. It really is sad to see the mess that is left after the weekend.

10:24 am  

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