Life’s a (turtle) beach and much more
Lizzy Capp has only been in Port Hedland seven months, but her love of the town and its community — particularly the women’s football side — and the delight she gets from her job are evident within minutes of meeting her.
A degree in marine science obtained in Queensland led to a three-month internship at the Kimberley Marine Research Station in the “tropical paradise” of Cygnet Bay, north-east of Broome, before she was appointed Care for Hedland Association Coordinator.
But not for Lizzy the tired misconceptions of Port Hedland people shared when she told them she was moving from Broome.
She has found a welcoming community, an area of natural beauty, the Hedland Blazers women’s football side — and says now she has “too many things to do”.
Perhaps it also helps when your day job involves Care for Hedland’s internationally recognised flatback turtle monitoring program.
Lizzy was appointed as Association Coordinator after initially applying for a position as coordinator of the turtle program.
“Coming to Port Hedland in the middle of summer and in the middle of a turtle season was always going to be a shock, but my job as coordinator is just amazing,” Lizzy said.
“The turtle program has been running for 17 years and Care for Hedland as an organisation for 18 years, so we are very much part of the community. We have grown as Port Hedland has grown.
“I’m blessed to be in the role, to go out into the community, promote Care for Hedland, the environment, and encourage people to connect with the environment.”
She said Care for Hedland could not exist without the help of volunteers, who are involved in a range of programs including the community garden, Containers for Change, litter pick-ups, and the turtle monitoring program.
“We have casual staff who also work for us, but all our programs receive exceptional community support,” Lizzy said.
“We’ve just come in to growing season, so our garden coordinator is in the community garden all the time. She does lots of workshops on what to grow in Hedland because people have this image of not being able to grow anything here and it’s absolutely untrue.
“Our community garden is a prime example. I was there this morning snacking on some of the produce.
“It’s a hub for people to come in and get involved.”
She said Port Hedland was fortunate to have turtle nesting on one of its beaches within easy reach.
“They nest on Cemetery Beach, it’s not some remote location or island. I can walk there from my house.
“To have turtles nesting in such a public environment and to have access to that is amazing and it gives people the opportunity to see something they may not necessarily be able to see anywhere else.
“Watching the community engage with that. Sitting on the beach with little kids who get to walk down from their house and see a flatback turtle come within metres of them and nest is an invaluable experience.
“We really try to promote that as does the Visitor Centre.”
And what of the Hedland Blazers?
For Lizzy, joining the football team — “I play in the back line because I’m good at tackling people” — is a way of being part of the community, giving things a go and making new friends.
“I came to Port Hedland because the job was a great opportunity and it has been wonderful,” she said.
“The place is what you make it. I have made some beautiful friends.
“It has been a very welcoming community from the beginning. People really want you to enjoy it.
“Just like anywhere, you have to engage with the community to be part of it and if you don’t want to engage then of course it’s not going to be a great experience because you’re just getting home and drinking a beer by yourself. That’s no fun.
“Get out there, chat to people, especially now its peak camping season. The community is so welcoming, so keen for you to love it and stay longer.
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