Past Drain Stencilling Events

Want to get your school involved? Look at our School’s FAQ Page.


June & August 2018

We were lucky enough to avoid most of Babinda’s rain in July with only one session being rescheduled to August. With amazing community enthusiasm from residents of Babinda and surrounding townships. We spent a whole day, split into two sessions, stencilling the main street of Babinda. There were many onlookers peering from their cafe seat or as they drove by. The street of Babinda became brightened by colours of red, yellow, turquoise, blue and orange, and the large message emboldened on the drain inlet “this drains to the reef”.

The participants had a wonderful time, taking ownership of the streets and the side walk, making their work and the message be known.

3M Suburbs

2018 Map

This map below shows you the drains that were stencilled in Manoora and Mooroobool. Brown Markings indicate that the drains are yet to be stencilled, while Blue Markings indicate the drains that have been stencilled.


May 2018

In May the last suburb of the 3 M’s, Manunda, was spray painted and filled with colour. We had three events organised in Manunda, with over 50 participants and more than 30 drains spray painted. Similar to our time in Mooroobool we had to avoid the rain as the Wet Season decided to stay around longer this year but it was perfect timing to get the community out together as the surprise of the April floods subsided. The Marine Response Team showed the participants the flood maps of Manunda and boy did they wish they had known earlier! But with the Drain Stencil Project the community will now be prepared, and they have realised the implications of rubbish on the streets.

Photos of our time in Manunda






February 2018


The Marine Response Team has  finished their involvement in the second M suburb – Mooroobool, which took place throughout February. We had three events that occurred throughout Mooroobool, with over 15 participants and over 20 drains spray painted. Although we were battered by the rain in this strange Wet Season we have had this year, we still managed to get the community together for some fun spray painting. The Marine Response Team showed the participants the flood maps of Mooroobool and it revealed a somewhat scary situation – that it would be completely inundated with water! But with the Drain Stencil Project we taught the community ways in which we can mitigate flooding by cleaning up our drains and removing any leaf litter that may be lying around, as well as to stop polluting and littering our streets, as all this rubbish flows directly to our oceans. We finished our last stencilling session with a delicious BBQ, and a chat about what we can do to help make a change.

With our second M suburb bringing together the community, with the streets now full of colour and flare from the stencils, and with children amazed at what they have achieved and what they can now tell all their friends, the Marine Response Team is ready to set off to the next suburb Manunda to instil the same sense of pride and ownership.








September 2017




As part of a campaign in changing people’s perspective and attitudes to the three M suburbs – Manoora, Mooroobool and Manunda, CAFNEC’s Marine Response Team have partnered with 3MPride and PCYC Cairns West to bring the Drain Stencil Project to these areas. The project provides an activity to challenge the stigma of anti-social behaviour and crime that surround these suburbs by facilitating and providing the opportunity for interactions and connections to occur, and for people be aware of their environment, take ownership and be proud of where they live.

Before heading out to stencil the streets of these 3 M suburbs, we asked students from Trinity Bay State High School if they would like to be involved in the project, and become custodians of the message it imparts. Through an Drain Stencil Art Competition, students designed new stencils that were to be used during the on-ground stencilling. Read more about what happened here.

The Marine Response Team has just recently finished their involvement in the first M suburb – Manoora, which took place throughout September. We had three events that occurred throughout Manoora, with over 30 participants and more than 60 drains spray painted. We are happy to say it was a great success! Our last stencilling session in the suburb concluded with a lovely barbecue, and family get-together at the Manoora Community Gardens. There was some light hearted discussions about what we all need to be doing to help reduce our waste, and what other opportunities we could create that would help bring more people from the community together to act towards environmental issues. We also noticed that people from the neighbouring streets were stopping by and having a look at the stencilled drains, curious as to what was going on.

With our first M suburb bringing together the community, with the streets now full of colour and flare from the stencils, and with children amazed at what they have achieved and what they can now tell all their friends, the Marine Response Team is ready to set off to the next suburb Mooroobool to instil the same sense of pride and ownership.

Photos of our time in Manoora

Edge Hill State School

5th December 2017

Yesterday Edge Hill State School became our new canvas for drain stencilling! With a group of 30 year 4 students, we had a lot of work on our hands but we managed to successfully stencil 6 drains around the school.

The students were chosen in groups of 4 to stencil each drain. Each person having a go at spraying something different. It was a great way to finish of the term, and to conclude their learning and understanding on the topic of the environment and sustainability.

St Michael’s School

24th October 2017

Julia, one of our Marine Response Team volunteers, had been working alongside the Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) staff and students from St Michael’s School to help us bring to them the Drain Stencil Project. As part of a university assignment Julia has been trying to make St Michael’s a Reef Guardian school, introducing sustainable principles, and increasing the school’s awareness of local environmental issues. Through her commitment and relationship with the school the Drain Stencil Project came to the OSHC students.

The students from OSHC were very eager to stencil the drains around their school. They understood the implications that rubbish had on the marine environment, and they were always asking questions about it. A caring group of students who showed great respect and responsibility in the activity. They recognised the importance of where the stencils should be placed within the school, and how it would impact on other students and create further discussions during recess and lunch.

Cairns West State School

10th October 2017

Last week the Marine Response Team went to Cairns West State School to do some drain stencilling! WHAT A FANTASTIC TIME WE ALL HAD!

We had a group of students from year 2 and year 6. We were able to have the older students help teach the younger students how to stencil a drain and also have them discuss with the younger students the issues that the Great Barrier Reef faces because of pollution.

The students had a wonderful time, each of them ready to do another drain, and be chosen to spray paint! We could see how proud they all were of their work, and it was wonderful how vocal they each were about “NO LITTERING”.

Here is what the students had to say –

“Stop littering!

If you walk around CWSS you might have noticed some pretty colours on the ground, they are not just pretty!

CAFNEC’s Aisha from the volunteer Marine Response Team came to our school for the Drain Stencil Project. (Thanks to Ms Lou!) They offered this activity to our students who have been learning about pollution, recycling and the impact that littering has on our beautiful Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and its marine animals such as the loggerhead sea turtle. The stencilled messages says, ‘This drains to the Great Barrier Reef’ and is located around our drains to raise awareness that all rubbish thrown on the ground will lead to the GBR. The message is clear: ‘Throw your rubbish in the bin!’ (…and the school will look nicer too!)

We hope you got it!

From 2Y and 6T”

Trinity Bay State High School


17th August 2017

Our second workshop at Trinity Bay State High School was filled with exuberant attitude and sass.






The first half of the session was spent with the students finalising their drain stencil designs, making sure they were following all the necessary guidelines – Is there a 1.5cm width border around the page to prevent the edges becoming to weak? Is it simple and clear? Are the lines thick enough so that they do not break off? Most importantly, have bridges been made so that the stencil does not just become one big gaping hole? Also during this time CAFNEC’s filmmaker Kate, worked with the girls to develop a promotion video for the Drain Stencil Project. Kate made them giggle and laugh. And she made them repeat their lines over and over again, not because they weren’t any good at it but because the noise of all the classrooms echoed down the hall.

After the designs were completed, and the practised stencils had been cut out. We grabbed our spray painting gear and headed out to the basketball court. The school had given us the opportunity to use the stencils, and impart the message to the other students by spray painting on one of the exterior
walls. Gloves, masks and goggles were put on, and then we all went wild spraying all the WONDERFUL, ARTISTIC and INTRICATE designs. All colour combinations possible were sprayed. I could really see the girls becoming PROUD and taking real OWNERSHIP over their designs, and the work they were doing. Afterwards, there was even discussion on where the school and students could extend the spray painting around the school, and the possibility of facilitating school clean ups.




9th August 2017

What a wonderful afternoon the Marine Response Team spent at with students from Trinity
Bay State High School. Yesterday was our very first workshop that we helped facilitate alongside Rochelle from PCYC and 3MPride. We had an intimate group of five girls who participated in the workshop to design brand new stencils to be used during our upcoming on-ground stencilling events in Manoora, Manunda and Mooroobool. We began by asking the girls why they decided to join the workshop, some said it was for their PASSION FOR ART, others because they wanted to do something that communicated a POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTAL MESSAGE, and others came because they were PEER PRESSURED (most positive peer pressure I have ever seen).

The girls, teachers, Rochelle and I, did not realise how DIFFICULT creating a stencil would
be. It was like turning your brain inside out, trying to figure out what would be cut, what would end up spray painted, and how to draw an image that didn’t leave BIG GAPING HOLES everywhere. It was so lovely to see everyone being involved in each others design, lending a helping hand to figure out the best way to draw the stencil. The initial image had to be worked upon over and over again. Lucky Rochelle had brought different coloured paints so that we could give the stencil designs a quick test run. With much trial and error, the girls began developing designs that they loved.

Towards the end of the workshop the girls had not yet completed a final competition design that could be voted on, so we have decided to extend designing into the second workshop next week too. Many of them were EXCITED TO GO HOME AND CONTINUE on with their designs, which is absolutely fantastic!

A big THANK YOU TO THE GIRLS who participated, we look forward to seeing you at next weeks workshop for some awesome, colourful spray painting!

Smithfield State High School

23rd June 2017

Thank you to Emma and Tamara the teachers involved, and thank you to Terri, the STEM coordinator at Smithfield State High School, for organising the Drain Stencil Event today with two classes of year 8 boys and girls. WE MANAGED TO SQUEEZE IT INTO THE FINAL DAY OF THE TERM! At school the students have been learning about recycling and waste, so it was a great opportunity to be able to tie this into their school learning, reinforcing that their ACTIONS CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. School is not just a place of learning from a textbook but also a place to learn from experiences and hands-on activities, helping facilitate greater change.

We made sure we put on all our safety gear first – goggles, face masks and gloves. Swapping and exchanging gloves that were too small or too big, left hand from right hand, and everyone wanted one of those badass-looking face masks too. The Marine Response Team then presented to the students…DID YOU KNOW! THERE IS MORE THAN 18,000 pieces of plastic in each square kilometre of ocean. DID YOU KNOW! ONE OF THE STUDENTS makes sure that at home he always recycles when he can and correctly.

After the presentation we split up into two groups, spreading all over the school to do some DRAIN STENCILLING. Once more, the favourite colour was TURQUOISE. Turquoise fish, turtles, octopi, and starfish. The students were great, they really got involved and enthusiastic about their spraying. We even had students from other classes peering in on the work that was being done, with calls of ENCOURAGEMENT AND GOOD WORK. This filled the students with a sense of pride, and gratefulness that they were the ones able to have the opportunity to paint, educate and spread the message.

When we had to conclude the event, students were given thank you certificates to acknowledge their great work. Many of the students hoped we would be back for more next term! There was even a student who asked if he could BORROW a spray paint can so he could go stencil all the drains around HIS OWN AREA (perhaps there were ulterior motives behind this question but lets pretend that is not the case).

What a brilliant time spent at Smithfield State High School. Thank you to the students! And thank you to the teachers that were involved in the event, who also participated in the spraying and realised at heart they too are rebels with a cause. KEEP REMINDING AND TEACHING YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT WATER QUALITY AND WHAT YOU CAN ALL DO TO HELP!

Cleaning Up Our Oceans by Terri (STEM Coordinator)

As part of our commitment, at Smithfield State High School, to creating sustainable global tropical futures, and to being a Reef Guardian School, year 8 students last term were able to follow through on their Science studies by having a member of the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC) visit the school to talk about the harmful effects of plastics in our environment and how to minimise the problem.  Students were then able to take part in a drain stencilling program around the school where they participated in spray painting images next to drains to remind students not to litter because ground litter gets washed into the oceans through our drain systems.
Students enjoyed being proactive in helping to address a major issue and helping to remind everyone to keep our school, and our environment beautiful and litter free.


Mother of Good Counsel School

14th June 2017

A story of the afternoon we spent DRAIN STENCILLING at Mother of Good Counsel School, North Cairns last Friday!

There was such great enthusiasm from the children! When we walked in the school gates we were met by three boys who were dressed up for the occasion with tie dye t-shirts, ready for a bit of paint spraying.

We began the event with our presentation talking about Stormwater Pollution and its effects on the marine life in the Ocean and the Great Barrier Reef, and give the children an opportunity to share their knowledge. We had some children who were so avid to answer our questions that they could barely keep still!

After our presentation we were ready to start Drain Stencilling! With each child spraying one part at a time, we had an almost factory line system going. Each student ready to spray was geared up, chose either the text stencil or an animal stencil, and then most exciting of all CHOOSING THE COLOURS they were going to use. White was always the base colour. Then there was yellow, red, orange, blue or a beautiful aqua, wh
ich was our favourite colour.

It was so great to peel back the stencil, once it had been sprayed and see the FACES OF EACH CHILD LIGHT UP in awe of the work that had been done. There was a wonderful sense of achievement. All of us clapping our hands and cheering at the power of the Drain Stencils message upon the blank, grey pavemet. Children wanted to have one go at it, then another, and another. WE COULD HAVE BEEN THERE ALL DAY! The enthusiasm and the sheer effort, care and responsibility put in, even when it came to cleaning the dirt and chalk off the drains. The children would be scrubbing and scrubbing to ensure that the ground was PERFECT before putting down their statements, their piece of art.

We must also mention the helpfulness of the school, who were very prepared for our event. The drains to be stencilled were already marked out clearly, and these d
rains were those important on
s that are used as games by the children. “I BET MY LOLLIPOP WRAPPER CAN GET TO THE SEA FASTER THAN YOURS!”

The afternoon was so much fun, and it was so lovely to see the children come together and be so passionate towards what they were doing. What a success! Thank you to the children, parents and teachers at Mother of Good Counsel School.