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Scotland Island - Western Shores - Mackerel Beach

April 1, 2023

Newsletter for the Offshore Residents of Pittwater, Australia - Volume 24, Issue 1192

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians of Pittwater, as well as our Indigenous readers



Cleaning Up Pittwater

Doing our bit for the environment, ourselves & each other

The latest ‘State of the Beaches’ report makes for mixed reading in terms of water quality in Pittwater.

Each year the government measures microbial activity in coastal waters, identifying safe and unsafe places to swim. The tests assess levels of enterococci, bacteria secreted in faeces. Swimming sites are then graded using a five-point scale: ‘Very Good’ through to ‘Very Poor’.

In the case of Pittwater there is definitely room for improvement. Only three out of ten local swimming locations are graded as ‘Very Good’. The water around Scotland Island came out as merely ‘Good’. More worryingly, the water at Bayview Baths, only a short distance away, was downgraded to ‘Poor’.

The report specifically identifies boats as a source of faecal contamination. Pittwater has the second highest number of recreational vessels in New South Wales, yet authorities have identified a critical lack of pump-out facilities. It is illegal to discharge untreated sewage from any vessel into NSW navigable waters, but there is anecdotal evidence that the practice continues.

Fortunately, modern science can help catch the culprits. The human body is home to a thriving ecosystem of microorganisms called the microbiome. Every person’s microbiome is different, to the extent that scientists are able to match stool samples to their owners with 86% accuracy.

More excitingly, the tests are becoming so sensitive that soon the tiniest trace of faecal matter in sea water will suffice for a positive identification.

The opportunity to identify irresponsible boaties will surely be welcomed. But we have a problem. The report also identifies stormwater runoff and untreated sewage discharges as major issues. Recent years have been relatively wet and there has been an overall decline in water quality at estuarine sites such as Pittwater.

The report particularly mentions onsite septic systems as problematic. Given the lack of adequate sewerage on Scotland Island and the western foreshores, many living offshore may feel powerless to help. What's more, if an offshore resident owns a boat then they stand to be wrongly accused of illegally discharging from their vessel, when in fact all they are doing is using a land-based toilet.

Fortunately a group of islanders has a solution: a comprehensive offshore microbiome register that will help the authorities to identify boat owners who live offshore and use septic systems. Unfortunately it can take months or even years for runoff to reach Pittwater. None of us know when we might decide to buy a boat in the future, so the only answer is to test us all.

Setting up the register will require extensive sampling and it would be understandable if many found the process intrusive. But it need not be. A small soil sample, taken from a septic trench, will suffice. Here our offshore firefighters will surely oblige. But we should all lend a hand. So, if you see a fellow resident rummaging around your block with a trowel, don’t get upset. It’s just a thoughtful neighbour trying to protect you, themselves and the environment.  

Obviously it’s vital that we separate out microbiomes. During the testing period there will need to be a moratorium on sharing toilets. Regardless of whether you own a boat, don’t permit another boatie, or even potential boatie, to use your facilities. In fact it’s probably best not to invite home anyone remotely interested in boats. If you are unsure of your guest’s intentions, ask before they head for the bathroom. This needn’t be a source of embarrassment: simply disguise the question as pleasant small talk. But if they express any interest in sailing, it may be time to ask them to leave.

Undoubtedly this process can be handled sensitively. But for the more brazen we could simply set up faecal collection points. That’s where SIRA comes in. It's hoped that the association will support widespread testing and will pass a motion accordingly. 

But if you decide to deliver a sample to, say, the island café, please use a secure and airtight container.

We all need to do what we can to clean up Pittwater. But we also owe it to ourselves and each other to ensure that only the guilty are punished. It isn’t our fault that we don’t have proper sewerage. So let’s all do our bit, and together we’ll make this scheme work.


Island Race: The Results

Will Blackband (right) achieved the best time, followed by Henry Orr and Daniel Anderson

Records were once again broken at the yearly island race, now in its third iteration. The event is held in memory of Graeme Crayford, who made many contributions to offshore life before dying last year. Graeme was also a keen jogger, hence the idea of an annual run and walk around the island.

Eva Seres completes the obstacle course
For the second year in a row the run was won by Will Blackband. Now aged 12, Will completed a lap of the island in 11 mins 37 secs, beating his previous time by 48 seconds.

Second came nine-year-old Henry Orr, who shaved an impressive 2 mins 10 secs off his own time from last year. In third place was Daniel Anderson, who came in just 10 seconds behind Henry. The fastest woman in the run was Eva Seres.

The fastest walker proved to be Georgina Orr, Henry's mother. She completed the island circuit in 21 mins 22 secs, another island record.

Congratulations to everyone who entered: young and old, fast and slow. You helped raise important funds for the Scotland Island Rural Fire Brigade. Thanks also to the café staff and race timers who supported the event, and especially Andy Derijk, who once again donated his time and expertise. Andy, who lives in Elvina Bay, offers fitness training to offshore residents and can be reached on 0418 613890.


Two Catherines: A Twisted Scotland Island Tale

Introducing the talent behind the play

Coming this winter: a play written especially for the Pittwater offshore community.
There will be performances of the play as follows:
Fridays 7.30 pm, 16 & 23 June
  Saturdays 7.30 pm: 17 & 24 June

Information relating to ticket sales will be announced in due course. But first we meet some of the talent behind the production.

The initiator: Robyn Iredale

Every project begins with inspiration, and in this instance it belonged to Robyn Iredale. A retired academic, Robyn's association with Scotland Island stretches back over 30 years and she is the current SIRA president.

In 2019 Robyn hit on the idea of the Two Catherines Café, which still meets in Catherine Park on the fourth Sunday of every month. The café celebrates the memory of two women of significance to island history: first Catherine Benns, Darug woman, midwife and 'Queen of Scotland Island', and secondly Catherine Bouvier, after whom Catherine Park is named.

In 2021 Robyn devised a series of talks exploring the island's past. And now Robyn is producing a play, based very loosely on the lives of the two Catherines. It's a rollicking adventure and a classic island farce, so expect wine, merriment, a little sex and lots of history, even though almost none of it is true.

The playwright: Jasper Marlow

Robyn's first job was to commission a script, and the job went to Jasper Marlow, a playwright, screenwriter and director from Sydney. He is also the son of island resident Chris Hampshire.

Jasper's debut full-length play Zetland was nominated for best new work at the Sydney Fringe Festival and performed at Sidetrack Theatre. Jasper was the head writer for the 2021 Screen Australia-funded animated series Sunset Paradise (GLITCH PRODUCTIONS) and has previously written for Home and Away, Fair City (IRE) and the German/English comedy series Just Push Abuba.

Jasper has also written and script-produced 18 episodes of the popular web series SMG4, alongside his satirical commercial 790 On George.

Jasper is currently employed as a Storyliner for Channel 7 and has co-created the upcoming web series #VANLIFE(EMOTIONAL).

The director and lead actor: Sophie Lepowic

Sophie is a multi-talented artist with a passion for all aspects of theatre and film. Demonstrating the point, Sophie is directing the play and is also playing the key role of Catherine Bouvier.

Originally from Belgium, Sophie moved to Avalon Beach a decade ago, and recently to Elvina Bay.

Sophie has a number of film and theatre credits to her name, as actor, writer, director and producer. She is also an experienced trainer in various stage and film crafts. 

Sophie is always looking for opportunities to connect with like-minded people and get involved in exciting projects. She is committed to pushing creative boundaries and contributing to the development of the art scene in her community.

... and the co-producer: Kay Reaney

Many more offshore residents are taking part in the production, both on and off stage. Special mention goes to islander Kay Reaney. Kay is working hand-in-hand with Robyn and Sophie as a consultant, helping to ensure that the play will appeal to audiences on the island and beyond.

Kay enjoys a successful career as a freelance executive producer for events and broadcasts. Kay's vast and varied career ranges from working for global brands, government, entertainment and sporting bodies, through to not-for-profit agencies, both locally and abroad. 

In the next edition we meet some of the other actors, and also hear from Robyn as to what the play means to her.

Easter Egg Hunt

Catherine Park, Scotland Island

Sunday 9 April, 10 - 11 am

Scotland Island Rural Fire Brigade presents the great annual Easter egg hunt. Families with children are invited to Catherine Park to search for cunningly hidden eggs.

There will be separate hunts for younger and older children. Test your powers of observation.

Following the hunt, buttered hot cross buns will be served, courtesy of your friendly firefighters. All welcome.


International Folk Dancing

Scotland Island Community Hall

Saturday 15 April, 7 - 9 pm

The Recreation Club asks for $5 per person per attendance to defray expenses.


The Tuesday Discussion Group

Scotland Island Community Hall

Tuesday 18 April, 11 am - 12.30 pm

The Recreation Club runs a discussion group, meeting on the third Tuesday of each month, from 11 am to 12.30 pm in the Recreation Centre. Everyone is welcome.

Members take it in turn to design a session. At the March session, Jane Rich asked whether letter writing is a lost art. The ensuing discussion considered the relative merits of handwritten and electronic communication, as well as our feelings about personal letters that we and our family members have sent and received in the past.  

Bill Gye will introduce the topic for the April meeting. He asks what factors shape human well-being? We all have some sense of what it means to live a good life. So what are the essential ingredients? What should we prioritise? What should we avoid? And how do we go about maximising our enjoyment of the limited time we have? For preparation:

1. Read the Wikipedia article 'Well-being contributing factors', available here.

2. Read 'The Nature of Human Well-being', from the Encylopedia of Puget Sound, available here.

The group is administered via a WhatsApp group, which will be used to distribute further information about this and future discussions. If you would like to be added to the group, send your mobile phone number to editor@scotlandisland.org.au.

Alternatively, contact Jane Rich (janebalmain@hotmail.com) for more information or to express your interest in participating.

The Recreation Club asks for $5 per person per attendance to defray expenses.


Fire Shed Dinner

Scotland Island Fire Station

Saturday 22 April, 7 pm onwards

To buy tickets, click here.


Scotland Island Café

Scotland Island Community Hall

Sunday 23 April, 10 - 12 noon


For further information on the Gemma Rasdall workshop click here.


Newcomers' Welcome

Scotland Island Community Hall

Sunday 23 April, 11 - 12 noon

Residents who have just moved to the island are invited to a special information session, to be held in the Community Hall during the 23 April island café. We’d love to meet you and give you the opportunity to get to know more residents.

If you are new to the island, we’re shouting you coffee! Please register and get a coffee voucher at the hall and put your coffee order in early (around 10.30 am) as there is often a queue.

There will be ‘need to know’ information available with key speakers on SIRA, fire, water, wharves and roads.

Some island businesses and service providers will be on hand to tell you what they have on offer. And we’ll give you a heads up about various social and cultural groups.

Anyone new to the island will find this very useful and we look forward to meeting you

Any provider who would like to be included in this please contact me.

Rosemary (0410 500704) 


Anzac Day Memorial Service

Thomas Stephens Reserve, Church Point

Tuesday, 25 April, 10.45 am

Our traditional ANZAC Day service will be held at Thomas Stephens Reserve, Church Point on Tuesday, 25 April, commencing 10.45 am.

The guest speaker will be announced shortly. 


Feast for Freedom

Scotland Island Community Hall

Saturday 29 April, 6 - 9 pm


To pay by donating directly to ASRC, click here


Seafarers' Shindig

Scotland Island Recreation Centre

Saturday 20 May, 6.30 - 10 pm



Scotland Island Revive Retreat

Scotland Island Community Hall

Saturday 10 - Monday 12 June


For further information and to book, click here.


Winter Market Day

Scotland Island Catherine Park

Sunday 25 June, 10 - 1 pm

Calling all makers, artists and entrepreneurs!
Do you have something you’d like to sell at a market stall at the June island café? It could be artwork, pottery, clothes, candles, books or... well, pretty much anything. 
Tables are $20. To book, please email floydcbg@ozemail.com.au.


Scotland Island house for rent

For rent: a waterside, Scotland Island home.

North aspect, 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom.

Large living area with floor to ceiling glass. Expansive 180 degree views. AC and slow combustion heater.

Access to jetty and marina berth for commuter boat.

One house from Tennis Court Wharf on Scotland Island.

$800 per week.

For further information, contact Karen Warburton: warburton_karen@hotmail.com.


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The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily the views of the Scotland Island Residents Association (SIRA),
or the Western Pittwater Community Association (WPCA)
Original Newsletter Design:Paul Purvis & Julian Muir