Community members clean the Goulburn River

By Laura Briggs

Shepparton Canoe Club’s kayaks were put to the ultimate weight capacity test as they were loaded up with rubbish straight from the Goulburn River.

The club along with RiverConnect and Veolia teamed up to continue on from their first river clean up last month.

Having covered the stretch from Mooroopna to Dainton’s Bridge in Shepparton the first time around, on Saturday a group of nearly 15 people returned to Dainton’s Bridge to start from where they last finished.

Paddling from Dainton’s Bridge to Jordan’s Bend on the Boulevard, participants arrived at the boat ramp with hundreds of items piled up on the front of their kayaks.

Shepparton Canoe Club president Barry Bell pulled up to the bank unloading a shopping trolley that he had filled with various items.

‘‘We’ve collected all sorts of things today — the remains of three shopping trolleys, heaps and heaps of bottles and cans, a wheelie bin, an inflatable raft we hauled in, bait containers, jumpers, golf balls,’’ he said.

Mr Bell said the amount of rubbish found along the 6km stretch was alarming.

‘‘It’s a real shame,’’ he said.

He said not only was the rubbish changing the appearance of the river, it was affecting the fish and wildlife who inhabit it.

‘‘A lot of the things in the river are things that cod are likely to eat — anything that looks like food, they’ll swallow it,’’ he said.

‘‘Then things can swell in their belly.’’

Mr Bell urged people to be aware of their rubbish and the effect it had.

‘‘People think ‘oh one bottle, it’s innocent’, but you know 100 people on the river and that’s 100 bottles,’’ he said.

‘‘If it fits in your boat going out, it’ll fit in your boat going home — take it home and put it in your own rubbish bin.’’

Mr Bell estimated there was more than 800kg of rubbish that was removed from the river.