EARLY on Monday, a Bermagui resident walking on their local beach near the town found a bundle of balloons.
With nine broken balloons, the five still inflated were not enough to keep the bundle aloft.
Marks in the sand indicated the balloons had been blown across from the ocean to the sand dunes.
The balloons had logos printed on them which led the person to discover their release location – the town of Albury 286km away as the crow flies.
The concerned Bermagui resident contacted the Albury City Council, who confirmed there had been balloons at a football match in that city only the previous day!
“Albury city said the balloons did come from the football match and ‘That’s quite incredible!’ and that it was an accident: ‘A child let it go’ according to them,” the Bermagui resident said.
They then contacted the Bureau of Meteorology that confirmed it was possible for the balloons to have travelled from Albury to Bermagui overnight.
On the Sunday, there had been very strong nor-westerly winds which would've driven the balloons towards the coast. The very strong southerly change in the evening then sent the balloons northwards towards Bermagui
The Bermagui resident said balloons could have a huge environmental impact and according to the Environment Department's website:
“Any released balloons, at best, become litter. They may also end up in the ocean where they are ingested by marine animals. The balloons, along with any ribbons or plastic disks attached, can harm the animals by blocking their airways or becoming lodged in their intestine.”
The Bermagui beach walker is very concerned about the impact of balloons on the marine environment, and questioned why it is legal to release "up to 20" balloons.
"Just one balloon can cause problems for turtles or birds or other life in the ocean. This incident shows just how far released balloons can travel, from far inland to the ocean,” the walker said.
"Please, do not release any balloons. Do not use 'lighter than air" helium balloons. They will always come back to Earth as litter and possibly harm wildlife.”