Tony McEnally dedicates much of his week to keeping Belmont Wetlands State Park beautiful

Tony McEnallyBelmont Wetlands State Park treasurer and volunteerWHEN Tony McEnally retired, the Redhead localfound himself hitting the beach to fish, surf or walk his dogs most days.


He was also doing some Landcare work in the neighbourhood when the Belmont Wetlands State Park advertised for a new board.

“I thought, well, this is my back yard and I use it every day, so Imay as well get involved and be part of running the place,” he said.

“It was nice to be able to have a say in what happens, and help it improve and recover from all the bad things that have happened to it over the years, like the sand mining, and thesand extraction –there is a whole lot of our sand that now makes up Waikiki beach in Hawaii.”

He has since helped plant about 50,000 trees in the 549 hectare state park.

Mr McEnally’sretirement hobby has becomemore like a full time job, but it gave him immense satisfaction.

“It is such abeautiful, untouched space –afantastic areathat needs helpbecauseit has been brutalised with the sand mining and the sand extraction,” he said.

“But with a little bit of help, it actually cleans itself up really well. You get the chance to see something that has gone from being covered in bitou and various other nasty weedsand turns out at the end of the day to be a beautiful area with eucalyptus trees and banksias and various coastal plants.”

The Belmont Wetlands State Park Trust introduced a permit system and employed a ranger to help controlfour-wheel drives on Nine Mile Beach, between Redhead and Belmont in November.

“It’s changing the face of the place,” he said.

“I work with the ranger as a volunteer and I cover the days he’s not there. I run aroundthebeach and just make sure we don’t have too many people doing the wrong thing,because we want the place to be there for families, not for people who just want to go nuts.”

The damage caused byrecentwild weather had kept them busy.

“We lost a lot of maturetrees in the April storms,and we spent a fair amountof time cleaning that up. But we are blessed with somereally good volunteers,” he said.

“Wealways welcome more volunteers. We’re down there every Tuesday from February throughto December clearing and putting in new treesand mulching.”

Mr McEnally also helpsa Work For The Dole participant, and the Green Army –a federal government initiative thatsupportslocal environment as well asheritage conservation projects.

“They are a fantastic team ofkids, I’ve been working with them doing dune restoration,” Mr McEnally said. “They will also beplanting 3,300 plants for usin March.”

Chipping in: Redhead’s Tony McEnally and the Green Army are doing their bit to bring the Belmont Wetlands State Park back to its former glory. Picture: Marina Neil.