By Rob Williams, Machans Beach
I do a lot of breathing, so my love goes to my local oxygen factory, the mangrove forest of Ellie Point. Situated over the Barron River to the southeast, the weird and wild marine wetland generates tons of oxygen during photosynthesis which the southeasterly breeze kindly delivers to my home at Machans Beach.
My lifestyle and history have bonded me to the tidal wetlands. My family didn’t have a lot of cash when I was a kid but when we rowed our little homemade wooden boat into the mangrove forest it gave us fish, crabs, oysters, prawns and an incredible family outing. When we cooked up our catch after a big day out we were rich. The coastal waters even had a public transport system; we could follow the rising tide up into the tiny creeks and then catch the last of the falling tide back. The oars had an easy day; they were just for emergency and steering.
My modern lifestyle however, with toys and technology, generates too much carbon and I am grateful that again the place that I love helps me out with its capacity as a carbon sink to store the unwanted by-product. The place that I love is not outside of me, it is part of me; my food, the air I breathe, the view I like, the place I hang out at, the buffer zone to calm cyclones and tsunamis, a place for me to relax and recharge. And it’s a nice place for orchids to grow and birds to sit.
And of course as a kid I thought the vast marine nursery was endless and sustainable. But the place that I loved without fear has, due to coastal development pressures, become a place that I fear not to love.
The place that I love calls me to protect it from the pressures that would see it consumed. The Cairns Airport which sits to the west of Ellie Point has its sights set on a hundred hectares of mangrove forest, earmarked as a “movement expansion precinct”. I realize we all have different values, but given the choice I’d nominate the place I love as a movement precinct for crabs and crocs.
I am involved in a campaign to save the place that I love. While I was offering people a petition to sign, supporting protecting the mangroves of Ellie Point, one person assured me I have nothing to worry about, that the airport expansion probably won’t happen in my lifetime, and the place I love could be there until I die. But it’s not about me; it’s about the mangroves that I love. I want them to be there until they decide to move on. Another person told me he doesn’t live in this area so it doesn’t really concern him. I said, well, I don’t know where you are from but I live on Planet Earth, so it definitely concerns me. He signed the petition to help save the place that I love – the mangrove wetlands of Ellie Point.