JUST beyond Newcastle’s pristine beaches and humming harbour, the shoreline of Throsby Creek has become a disgraceful dump site that authorities are scrambling to disown.
A stroll along the mangroves that line the Carrington boardwalk is now like walking through an inner-city rubbish tip full of discarded plastic bottles, wrappers, building materials and other assorted junk.
Locals say the pollution is the worst they’ve seen.
Author and blogger Mark MacLean said the problem was caused by the volume of rubbish being washed into our drains and waterways.
‘‘Mangroves and reed beds are the kidneys of the estuary,’’ Mr MacLean said.
‘‘They do a brilliant job filtering the rubbish out, but what you’re looking at is a diseased kidney.’’
The Newcastle Herald found an old door, fence posts, a bucket, a tyre, a tennis ball, two non-matching shoes and clothing among the mangroves.
The Throsby catchment area includes a network of drains and creeks flowing into the harbour from Newcastle suburbs including Kotara, Lambton, Waratah, Broadmeadow and Islington.
Hunter Water said it operated two large booms at the Islington end of Throsby Creek which are designed to catch rubbish and are emptied weekly.
‘‘While the booms are designed to open in case of exceptional heavy rain and to avoid flooding, this hasn’t been required at all this year,’’ a Hunter Water spokesman said.
Mr MacLean, who wrote the best seller A Year Down the Drain about Newcastle’s waterways, said the fact that such a large amount of rubbish continued to find its way beyond the booms and into the mangroves reflected the extent of the problem.
‘‘The amount of personal rubbish that people drop is huge,’’ he said.
Newcastle City Council and NSW Maritime have both helped to clean the rubbish from the mangroves.
The council’s waste education officer, Alicia Martin, said the area was one of several in the city that would be targeted on March3 for Clean Up Australia Day.
Volunteers will pull about four cubic metres of rubbish from the banks of Throsby Creek.
Buck passed on garbage
WHO is responsible for the rubbish in Throsby Creek?
That question took several hours to answer yesterday, as authorities pointed the finger at one another for the mess.
Ultimately, the management of the litter-filled mangroves falls to a government body that admits it ‘‘does not provide clean-up services’’.
Newcastle City Council said it managed the land area above the high-water mark and initially said the mangroves were Hunter Water’s responsibility.
Hunter Water said it looked after Throsby Creek upstream of the Hannell Street Bridge and suggested Newcastle Port Corporation managed the other side.
The port corporation directed the Newcastle Herald to NSW Roads and Maritime Services, who eventually claimed responsibility.
‘‘Roads and Maritime Services owns and manages the seabed of Newcastle Harbour including Throsby Creek up to the Hannell Street Bridge,’’ a spokeswoman said.
‘‘Newcastle City Council owns the boardwalk through the mangroves.’’
The spokeswoman said the department worked with the council and port corporation to clean Throsby Creek and had previously participated in Clean Up Australia Day.
‘‘[Roads and Maritime Services] does not provide clean-up services as such but at times engages a contractor to remove rubbish from the mangroves and participates in local clean-up events,’’ she said.
‘‘Recent rainfall has contributed to the flow of rubbish through the stormwater system.’’
A Hunter Water spokesman said protecting Throsby Creek ‘‘is a shared responsibility among multiple stakeholders including Hunter Water, Newcastle Council and the catchment management authority’’.