Community Landcare activities at Catherine Hill Bay were launched impressively on “Clean up Australia Day” 1991 – about 100 residents filled a semi-trailer with rubbish collected from a local beach.
The clean-up was part of a concerted effort by the local community, the largest landowner in the area (Coal and Allied Operations Ltd), National Parks and Wildlife Service, local councils and police to clean-up Moonee Beach, close it to 4WDs and incorporate it into Munmorah State Conservation Area.
Coal and Allied initially invited residents to join a Dune Care group which had a common membership with the Catherine Hill Bay Progress Association.
The two groups formally became one body in 1998 and were incorporated as one body in 2002, coinciding with the anniversary of the Progress Association’s foundation a century earlier.
With strong support from Coal and Allied the Dune Care group fenced the frontal dunes at the southern end of Catherine Hill Bay beach, the work being performed by volunteers on Sunday mornings.Later in 1991 Coal and Allied Operations Ltd won the NSW Landcare Business Award for its activities at Catherine Hill Bay.
During 1995-97 three LEAP Training Programs each with a supervisor and 10 trainees completed the re-shaping of high dunes at the northern end of the Beach, between the heritage cemetery and the popular surfing spot known as “Graveyard”.
The project was particularly sensitive because of the re-discovery there in 1992 on the top of one dune of three historic family graves, dating in one case from 1897. The Dune Care activities cleared the site and removed sand 2m deep to expose the tombstones. In addition the LEAP teams restored vegetation, defined paths with fencing and marked walkways.
Two Green Corps programs in the late 1990s and early 2000s grassed Moonee Beach and completed improvements at the cemetery and southern beach car park.
Underground coal mining at Catherine Hill Bay declined sharply from about 2000 and mining ceased in 2002, and part of the area was sold to a developer.
The Progress Association turned its environmental attention to preparing a case for the former coal mining lease (known as the Wallarah Peninsula) to become a national park. The submission took about two years to complete and resulted in an Environmental Assessment of the area in 2005. The Department of Environment and Conservation confirmed the high ecological value of the area, which contains a number of threatened species and fauna and flora.
Through the period Dune Car has promoted Clean Up Australia Day as a significant community activity.
Activities at Catherine Hill Bay were re-invigorated in 2005 when a group of volunteers approached the Progress Association to re-establish on-ground activities. They developed a work program and priorities and Catherine Hill Bay Progress Association and Dune Care Inc is a proud participant in the Landcare organization.