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Daly Head surfers committed to restoring Yorke's coastline


A group of passionate surfers and volunteers at Daly Head have worked hard for decades to preserve their beautiful beaches for locals and visitors to enjoy.

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Since the late nineties the community at Daly Head, located a short drive from Corny Point on the Yorke Peninsula, had the foresight to work towards maintaining the great surf beaches and their surroundings for future generations.

From the passion and dedication of ambitious surfers, The Formby Bay Environmental Action Group was born.

They work cooperatively and collaboratively with the council, maintaining their cool community spirit while going through official channels to be sure their voices are heard, and their surf protected.

With the hard work of the group, Daly Head was given National Surfing Reserve status in 2013, which reflects not just the surf itself but the local surfing history and culture.

Since then the group has continued to work toward their goal of making their coast sustainable.

President of the Formby Bay Environmental Action Group and the Daly Head National Surfing Reserve Committee, Geoff Rogers says they do a variety of work towards that vision.

“We check our performance against our vision, and we’ve achieved a hell of a lot against the wording of that vision,” Rogers says.

Planting natives after removing invasive plants is an ongoing battle for the group.

This includes improving access to the shoreline through safe, defined pathways, reducing negative human impact on cliff line vegetation, planting native flora and improving facilities.

At the end of August, Year 12 students from Tatachilla Lutheran College helped remove half a ute load of feral bulbs that have been spreading on the headland at Corny Point.

According to diaries the lighthouse keepers kept in the 1920s, these bulb varieties have come from flowers they planted to brighten their surroundings.

The lighthouse legacy bulbs, along with other invasive plants such as beach daisy and African boxthorn, have been tackled by volunteers to avoid crowding and allow native vegetation to thrive.

“It’s not just about planting shrubs, groundcovers and trees, we also do a lot of work with invasive plants and get rid of a whole lot of weeds that are quite a nuisance on the coastal area,” Rogers says.

“Every year we involve schools in our projects to enthuse young environmental stewards of the future.”

Local schools help restore the dunes.

The community work hard all year round but come summer they deserve to play hard too so they hold their annual Yorkes Surfarama in January.

Formby Bay Environmental Action Group founder and secretary Ed Satanek says all funds raised during the surfing festival – which was called off last year – are put back into better amenities and facilities for Daly Head.

“It’s a shame that Covid has put the skids on our Surfaramas because they are such a unifying morale boosting event,” Satanek says.

“Farmers, surfers, families, musicians and artists get together in an old shearing shed and have a great time.”

It is hoped that Surfarama will go ahead in January 2022, but Geoff says, “it’s in the lap of the COVID gods”.

Throughout the rest of the year, other activities include collecting marine debris from 19 places along the Yorke Peninsula coastline, which they have been doing for about 10 years.

“We were doing that well before it became in vogue,” Rogers says.

“You see a lot of stuff in the media now about people who do that, but we were doing it way back, picking up all sorts of rubbish off our beaches.”

They have also preserved vegetation and improved access by building paths, constructing steps, installing seating and restoring dunes.

“One of the things we’ve always been concerned about is visitors to the coast choose to make their own tracks down the cliffs to beaches and you end up with a lot of erosion and damage to the vegetation,” Rogers says.

“So, one of the things we’ve been doing is building trails and paths to focus people so they’re not trampling on vegetation.”

In the eight years since their vision was established, they’ve well and truly stayed on track, the only notable change being the realisation that climate change is influencing vegetation.

“Therefore, what we grow in the nursery has to be appropriate for that change,” Rogers says.

“We grow resilient, hearty, tough plants that will be able to exist in extremes of weather…there’s a lot more awareness about the impact [of climate change] on coastal vegetation.”

They’ve also built a headland trail that connects with Walk the Yorke, a council initiative to showcase the coastline and diverse communities via various walking trails and town walks.

Yorke Peninsula Council Mayor Darren Braund says the work being done by the group is vital, helping ensure the Yorke Peninsula is a leading coastal destination.

“Passionate locals like Formby Bay Environmental Action Group/Daly Head National Surfing Reserve volunteers are extremely important for conserving and improving Yorke Peninsula’s beautiful natural landscapes,” Braund says.

“On behalf of Council, I commend everyone involved in the worthwhile ongoing mission to make Daly Head National Surfing Reserve accessible, beautiful and sustainable.”

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