Lewis Island working bee brings out best of Narooma | PHOTOS

A working bee to shore up Lewis Island against erosion brought out the best of Narooma with around 50 volunteers showing up on Saturday morning.

Organiser and local resident Chris Young together with Eurobodalla Council's natural resources supervisor, Heidi Thomson were very pleased with the number of volunteers that answered their call for assistance for the working bee.

“This is just a quick thank you to all people involved in the working bee on Lewis Island on Saturday,” Mr Young said.

“There is still more to be put in place and a lot more to be done, but Saturday showed what can happen when the community and the council work together. Thanks council and thanks people, I'll be in touch.”

The council provided the eco-logs made of coir material that were placed in a long line along the inlet-facing bank of the island and wedged in place using wooden pegs.

Volunteers formed a chain gang of wheelbarrows, shifting sand from where it had built up on the bridge end of the island and dumping it behind the logs. Then the first 300 native seedlings were planted behind the logs to provide additional stability.

The community met at Lewis Island in April to formulate a plan to save the island and get the council and other government agencies on board.

Among those at the working bee was parttime Riverview Road resident John Arnold, who together with his wife Gemma came down to Narooma from Canberra just to participate in the working bee.

“Lewis Island is a valuable resource for Narooma and too valuable to be washed away and has historical links to the oyster industry,” Mr Arnold said, adding that a fair bit of the island had washed away since he bought his house in 2001.

Lewis Island was named after one of the town’s original oyster farmers Clarence Lewis, who built a shed on the sand island and farmed his surrounding leases about 80 years ago.

His daughter Rosemary Parsons, now of Moruya, was there for the working bee and recalls playing on the island as a child.

There was a shed on the island that her father built to house his two workers, Jack and George Loader. Now the only evidence that remains is some pitch tar on the ground that was used to protect the original oyster lease structure.

More recently picnic tables, a barbecue and even a swing set have been either washed away or removed from the island.

“I cry a lot when I see the erosion is so bad,” she said. “But it’s uplifting and wonderful to see all the people coming together to save the island.”

Mr Young thanked everyone who attended and said he blown away by the response, as was council’s representatives on the day.

He said works would be ongoing and he would like to see another picnic table built on the island and perhaps the water supply switched back on so the new plants could be watered. 

Kristy Beecham, the daughter of Mr Young, said she would love to see a barbecue and swing installed on the island again.

The council and community will continue to work on the island as needed to plant more native plants and to monitor how the ecologs settle in.

Mr Young said long-term plan is to have more sand dredged onto the island from the main channel that is silting up and to have boat traffic moved away from the shore. 

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