Let me introduce myself…

The founder of the Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef is qualified Marine Biologist, Nicole Nash. The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef was a one-woman campaign aiming to eradicate single use plastics, starting with straws on venues operating on and around the Great Barrier Reef. People had the opportunity to assist with the campaign through Citizen Science using the volunteers pitch plastics perfectly pack and through our partnership with Reef Check Australia.AA01-SeaOfPlastic-TheLastStraw (8)

Nicole grew up on coastal towns around Victoria and Queensland (Australia) where marine life were a big part of her childhood and early career. Nicole  graduated from her Bachelor of Environmental Science (Marine Biology) at Deakin University Warrnambool in 2013 and then started working in the field. Working as a marine biologist in temperate Port Phillip Bay had its challenges – very cool ocean temperatures meant winter diving was off the cards (13 degrees and a 9mm wetsuit still doesn’t keep you warm for long)!


After a few summer seasons of working as an educational tour guide, deckhand, underwater videographer and diver, Nicole packed up her car and moved from Victoria to sunny Cairns to further her skills in science – by undertaking her Masters in Science at James Cook University. This included writing a research Thesis on the accumulation of  marine debris items around Australia’s East and West coasts. Nicole graduated in 2017 from her Masters. Whilst undertaking her research, Nicole worked closely with the Tangaroa Blue Foundation, where she soon realised just how much debris there was in the oceans around the world – including in the waters off Australia.

Whilst studying in Cairns Nicole worked on the Great Barrier Reef as a marine biologist and saw the reefIMG_2968 go through severe bleaching events in both 2016 and 2017, where she saw some of her favourite reefs die before her eyes. From her research she knew that there was something she could do to help. That being, to reduce the stress on marine life in anyway possible and give them a fighting chance of survival – one way that Nicole knew that she could do this was to reduce pollution entering the ocean.


Nicole undertook a detailed investigation in 2016 to find out what other initiatives were underway in Australia that were looking at reducing single use plastics, particularly straws. Nicole connected with Eva from the Last Straw Australia and developed a sister-campaign to drive straw eradication on the Great Barrier Reef. 

Officially launching at the end of December 2016, the Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef was in action! 

The data that the campaign collected was provided to the Queensland Parliament (read the full submission here) in August 2020.  Nicole delivered the statistics of the campaign at the Public Hearing in Cairns on 4 August 2020 and has been advised by committee members that this assisted in the passing of the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Plastic Items) Amendment Bill 2021– banning single use plastic items in Queensland.


“Straws are something simple. Something that people use for a couple of minutes and then dispose of, or they simply stir their drink and then throw it away. People don’t consider the fact that – that straw will outlive them.”

Quote: Nicole Nash

The last staw project  - Great barrier reef - no more plastic straws
Nicole Nash – Founder and manager of The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef. Photography by Blueclick.

Straws are just the start of the conversation really – when people stop and realise that you don’t offer straws they start to ask questions.

  • Why don’t you have them?
  • What can I use instead?
  • Where can I get a re-useable stainless steel straw from?
  • What’s the point?

Straws truly do ‘suck,’ but most of all why would you want to sip your delicious beverage through something that is made of petrochemicals – plastic, when you can sip it from a glass? Take that as food for thought  – and, remember to say ‘no straw, please’ when ordering your next drink.

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Nicole works full time as a Park Ranger and solely runs the Last Straw campaign in her spare time (the few hours she gets), so please be mindful if there is a slight delay in any correspondences. There have been other movements start up throughout Australia on plastic eradication programs, however data collection and credibility is key for an successful campaign which is often not recorded so well from some startups. Nicole is very passionate about collaboration and working together to achieve the one goal – which is to protect and preserve the natural environment for future generations. Together we can.


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‘I am eager to get this movement rolling across the state and the world, all it takes is one person to make a change – the rest will eventually follow. Be that Someone!’ N Nash 2016

Muddy’s Cairns esplanade – discussions about straws and options for reducing other plastic waste. Photo courtesy of Bengar Films
Hear Nicole’s story on Ten Play – Episode 1 – Advancing Australia by Bengar Films

To hear Nicole’s full story, head over to our Blog to learn a little more. Nicole has been recongised as an Australian Innovator and featured on Advancing Australia’s, Episode 1 – Plastic Oceans for her work.