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The healing powers of Australia's Clean Up campaign

In the disaster-ravaged shire of Eurobodalla, one could be forgiven for thinking locals might lack the energy for volunteer work.

In recent years, they've endured drought, deadly bushfires that destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, a spate of floods, and the pandemic.

But in the face of it all, those living on the NSW South Coast have resolutely shown up for Clean Up Australia events like those happening nationally this weekend.

Maree Cadman believes there's a deep catharsis to be had in doing something so normal, when life has been anything but of late.

"After the drought and the fires and COVID, there is just so much disconnection in the community, and so much trauma," the shire's Clean Up Australia project officer says.

"Some people lost everything in the fires. And then COVID hit, and we had the heavy rain and the floods last year. It's just been one challenge after another down here.

"But Eurobodalla council has been supporting Clean Up Australia Day for over 25 years and we wanted to keep it going, to encourage people to come together for the normalcy. We've done it every year so we thought let's not stop now."

There was even a silver lining after the fires that tore through on New Year's Eve 2019.

"With the Clean Up Day in 2020, it made it a lot of easier for us to access rubbish we'd never seen before.

"In sand dunes and adjacent to car parks, where it had been burnt, we could really get in and grab all the bottles and car tyres and get all those things out of the bush."

Clean Up Australia chair Pip Kiernan remembers the call she made to Maree soon after the fires.

It was among the many interactions that's made her understand that events like Clean Up are as much about personal wellbeing as they are about doing something for nature.

"I said 'I imagine you won't be doing an event this year?' Because that area was so decimated.

"But Maree said 'Oh no, we need to get out and do something constructive, together'. And it just hit me that this is so much bigger that just doing something for the environment.

"The way we live our lives, you can feel very disconnected in this day and age. But nothing beats getting out and working side by side with your local community."

It's not too late to register for the hundreds of clean up events that are planed for this weekend. To join in visit