SHE’S walked more than 600 kilometres over some of the state’s best beaches, but for charity walker Rachel Klyve Stockton beach stood out for all the wrong reasons.
The 38-year-old, from Kyogle, has spent the past two months walking to Sydney from Cape Byron to raise awareness of chronic fatigue syndrome from which she once suffered.
The syndrome left her bed-ridden for five years.
She has stuck almost entirely to the coastline but it was the rubbish and pollution along Stockton Bight that most surprised her when she arrived in Newcastle yesterday.
‘‘My experience of Stockton beach is that it is the most polluted beach on the north coast of NSW, it is the most polluted beach that I have walked on,’’ she said.
In addition to camping remains, Miss Klyve also noted the minute pieces of plastic that littered the shoreline across the high-tide mark.
The issue of rubbish and pollution on Stockton beach and in the dunes has grown in recent years as the area grows in popularity among 4WD enthusiasts, campers and anglers.
National Parks and Wildlife Service area manager Mick Murphy puts the issue down to the high numbers of people who access Stockton beach.
‘‘Because it is easily accessible to people and 4WD enthusiasts there is a lot of traffic and this perhaps explains why it is more polluted than other areas,’’ he said.
Mr Murphy estimated that on a busy day up to 4000 people could pass across Stockton beach.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service organises a clean-up of the beach every October and typically clears about 10 tonnes of rubbish.
The service has also recently spent $80,000 on a beach cleaner which is estimated to have cleared another 20 tonnes of rubbish.
In August and September of this year a plan of management is being introduced to target Stockton beach.
It aims to continue to work on the rubbish and pollution problems.
Rachel Klyve’s walk will end on June 3 and can be followed on her ‘‘Life’s a Beach Walk’’ blog.