Cleap Up Australia Day's Ian Kiernan dies at 78

BIG LOSS: Ian Kiernan, who founded Clean Up Australia Day, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 78.
BIG LOSS: Ian Kiernan, who founded Clean Up Australia Day, has died after a battle with cancer. He was 78.

IAN Kiernan, the round-the-world sailor who founded the Clean Up Australia organisation, has died, aged 78.

Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said Mr Kiernan’s passing would reverberate through the region, where Mr Piper said the seeds that would bloom into Clean Up Australia Day took root. 

Clean Up Australia announced his death on Wednesday.

Mr Piper said Mr Kiernan had been “a great friend to many in Lake Macquarie” during his lifetime. 

“Most people wouldn’t know that not only did Ian have [a strong link] to our area, but so did Clean Up Australia Day.” 

HAPPIER DAYS: Ian Kiernan and then Lake Macquarie mayor Greg Piper in 2008. Picture: Stefan Moore

HAPPIER DAYS: Ian Kiernan and then Lake Macquarie mayor Greg Piper in 2008. Picture: Stefan Moore

After returning from an around-the-world yacht race in 1987, where he found the world's oceans befouled with rubbish, Mr Kiernan organised a community event to help combat the spread of litter in public parks and waterways around Sydney.

Mr Piper said that concept, which quickly flourished, followed a chance visit to a similar program in the Hunter. “He had been thinking of ways to address the problem when a visit ... coincided with a council-sponsored program, Clean Up Lake Macquarie,” Mr Piper said. 

“Ian thought that something like this could be used on Sydney Harbour and set in train the first Clean Up Sydney Harbour in 1989.”

Mr Kiernan founded Clean Up Australia as Clean Up Sydney Harbour, and the following year his idea went national before going international in 1993.

Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Clean Up Sydney chairman Ian Kiernan in 1990. Picture: Andrew Taylor

Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Clean Up Sydney chairman Ian Kiernan in 1990. Picture: Andrew Taylor

“His talent and gift to his community was to inspire and mobilise others and to bring together an army of concerned citizens to tackle the rubbish choking our bushland, waterways and oceans,” Mr Piper said. 

“He was one man, but one amazing champion for the environment and he will be greatly missed.”

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