Is North Wollongong Beach the cleanest in NSW?
That was the question a Sydney Water beach assessor aimed to help answer yesterday when he rated the beautiful stretch of coastline for the annual Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Clean Beaches awards.
North Wollongong Beach has been nominated for a total of seven awards this year - including the coveted NSW Cleanest Beach Award which will be announced in December.
North Warilla, Port Kembla, Wollongong City, Belmore Basin and Stanwell Park beaches have also been nominated for awards in categories such as friendliest beach and litter and waste management.
It’s been assessor Marcus Scammell’s job this week to evaluate the Illawarra and Sydney beaches in the running, before reporting back to Keep Australia Beautiful’s expert judging panel.
‘‘I’ve been very impressed with all the Illawarra beaches up for awards - they’ve all got extremely good facilities,’’ he said.
‘‘What is most noticeable compared to the beaches in Sydney, where I’m from, is the fact that there is so much community use of the beach.
‘‘There’s a general atmosphere of friendliness about the beaches here - people are happy and smiling, they’re exercising and engaging with each other.’’
Keep Australia Beautiful NSW programs manager Yolande Presland said the awards aimed to encourage communities to look after, and improve, their beaches.
‘‘We’re trying to encourage communities doing good things and give them recognition for that,’’ she said.
‘‘We also want to drive new projects through these awards - just like people carry out projects so they can enter our Tidy Towns awards, we want them to drive projects that may help them win Clean Beaches awards.’’
Beaches are nominated by community members and councils, and trained assessors will visit the nominated beaches across the state this week to evaluate water and landcare initiatives.
The region’s beaches have a proud history in the awards, which started in 2001. North Wollongong beach will go up against 13 others for this year’s overall state award, including Huskisson beach and Newcastle’s Stockton beach.
Minister for the Illawarra Greg Pearce said the region’s beaches were a great asset for residents and visitors.
‘‘We have beautiful, clean fantastic beaches which provide a real opportunity for the community to enjoy the outdoors and they’re also a great drawcard for tourism,’’ he said.
‘‘These awards recognise the community’s commitment to the beaches. They recognise all those members of the community who volunteer, from the surf lifesavers to the people who come along and clean up the beach as they go for their morning walk.’’