ONE (sic) A LONESOME, seemingly infinite stretch of shoreline more than 100km away from any significant outpost, two Aboriginal rangers trawl through a pile of marine debris. Other than their own footprints, the only obvious signs of life the Yirralka rangers see are a sun-bleached kangaroo skull, crabs, hawks, and the occasional pile of buffalo droppings.
But at this Yolngu-owned area of East Arnhem Land, on the Northern Territory edge of the Gulf of Carpentaria, something is significantly wrong. The beach is far from untouched. It’s littered with thousands of multicoloured nets, ropes, thongs, wrappers and bottles.