About the Project

The Great Barrier Reef is a site of beauty and ecological diversity. Clean stormwater is required for the growth of its ecosystem, allowing light to penetrate to the corals, seagrasses and other plants, which further support the survival of other marine life. Clean stormwater is also paramount to the health of our local creeks, rivers and beaches.

There are more than 260 drains and waterways in the Cairns Region that flow out to the Great Barrier Reef. Our stormwater is not filtered or treated, and we have no stop gap. There is nothing preventing litter, grease, oil, paints, green waste and garden fertilisers from entering our waterways. Not only does this make our beaches unsafe places to swim, but also seriously damages the marine environments, and implicates heavily
on the survival of the Reef.

Why Stencil Drains?

Drain stencils are messages located on drain inlets that remind the community that our neighbourhood is connected to the ocean via the urban stormwater drain system. They are a means of prompting thought, as well as engaging the community in an activity that promotes an improvement to the quality of our waters. Stencilled drains also send a clear message to visitors that the Cairns community cares about the marine environment and encourages tourists to consider the impact of their actions.

Raising awareness about the stormwater catchment encourages people to adopt habits, such as:

  • Ensuring their waste goes in a bin
  • Picking up litter
  • Washing cars on the grass instead of the driveway
  • Sweeping and collecting leaves and dirt from pathways instead of hosing them down the drain
  • Applying lawn chemicals at the right time / dose to reduce the chance of runoff to the stormwater system
  • Keeping your streets and gutters free from litter

Could you, your family or your community group help

It is here at the local level where you can help us educate and spread the message that there is no water treatment and no stop gap between our stormwater drains and the Great Barrier Reef. If you, your family or your community group can stencil drains in your street, your suburb or our city, contact us to get involved and help get the message out!

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The History of the Drain Stencil Project in Cairns

The Drain Stencil Project was initiated in February 2015 by volunteers of the CAFNEC Marine Response Team. It was officially launched on Friday, 5th of June 2015 at Yorkey’s Knob. Our first drain stencilling event was a beautiful sunny day and it was celebrated by many members from the Cairns region and Yorkeys Knob community. We were fortunate to have a local artist Imogen from Art of ION to draw a beautiful chalk and stencil artwork on one of the drain inlets, which we were all very proud of.  At the event there were also an array of different information stalls, and free food was provided to quench everyone’s fierce appetites after a day out stencilling. The day was a great success and was enjoyed by the community, the council and the CAFNEC Marine Response Team. We were even able to show our success with an article in the Cairns Post.

DSC_0669From the launch date until the end of 2015 six stencil sessions were held in other suburbs around Cairns, managing to stencil over 40 drains. The project was able to continue in to 2016, where a suburb-intensive program was initiated, allowing us to focus on one suburb at a time. More stencilling sessions were held, and with the help of schools and communities we were able to stencil over 100 drains.

The Drain Stencil Project from the day of the launch has continued to grow and continues to have avid participants but it would be great to have more of your help, interest and involvement! If you have a drain in your local area that you think would be great for stencilling, and you want to do something positive for your community and the environment register and find out some more about how you can become involved.


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