The Big Lap is brilliant … except for the rubbish!

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Pacific Highway rubbish
Tania Lamb with bags of rubbish collected from alongside the Pacific Highway. PIC: Robert Lamb/ABC

For all the unexpected wonder th­at grey nomads find as they travel around Australia, there is one common discovery that brings almost universal dismay … the sheer amount of litter that is strewn along the sides of our roads, at our rest areas, and at our campsites.

The solution has been touted as being everything from more bins, more regular council collections services, and more education of the travelling public. In the meantime, however, it seems like the rubbishing of Australian continues apace.

On the New South Wales mid north coast, a new stretch of highway has brought the scale of the issue a lot closer to home for many. In the village of Sandy Beach, just north of Coffs Harbour, residents have been shocked – and disgusted – by the litter problem.

One of them, Tania Lamb, told the ABC that she had taken the matters into her own hands by regularly collecting rubbish from along the highway … but she admits she is fighting a losing battle.

“We clean up the Sandy Beach off ramp, and have filled 13 garbage bags from the same spot in the last six weeks, and today there is about the same amount sitting here waiting to be picked up,” she said.  “Coffs Council told me to talk to the RMS, they told me to talk to the EPA, and the EPA told me to talk to the council … I’ve done the full circle.”

Peter Gill, who runs a cleaning business that requires him to drive up and down the highway, is also appalled at the amount of rubbish on the highway. He thinks more rubbish bins and perhaps a regular rubbish clean-up program is needed, but he also believes education is the key.

“We need education to reinforce the message, but we also need the infrastructure to encourage people to be better and do the right thing,” he told the ABC. “I’ve just noticed that the litter problem is growing substantially, from takeaway containers to drink bottles, nappies, human faeces and toilet paper … even couches … it is simply disgusting.”

A spokesperson for Roads and Maritime Services, which is responsible for the management of the Pacific Highway, said it regularly carried out maintenance work, including litter removal.

“The need to clean it up exposes our workers to unnecessary risk, given that litter collection is a slow and labour-intensive task,” the spokesperson told the ABC.

·         Have you been shocked by the scale of Australia’s litter problem as you travel? Is one state worse than the others? What can be done? Comment below.

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5 Responses to The Big Lap is brilliant … except for the rubbish!

  1. We have the most beautiful country in the world and these uncaring, lazy mongrels are filling it with garbage.

  2. Yes somthing seriously needs to be done because it is getting worse snd worse and at all levels..that is young people ,tourists and Grey Nomads and the every day person just travelling to work etc. Being grey nomads we see it every where. ..so Education ,mobile obsevstion camers and heavy fines education by all car,van hire companies and more educstion at preschool level and all the way through school to develop some good basic care about our land.

  3. This requires educating the children to shame there parents into doing the right thing . Put it in the bin. In the 70 ‘s WA had an advertising campaign that I think was working. That of course was phased out and people again trash there own backyard.. It isn’t hard. No bin, take it home from where it came. Respect your environment.

  4. The reason we have bushfires is to clean up the shit the truckies and tourists plus deadhead locals throw out the window. RESPECT

  5. On a recent trip up to Broome we noticed there were a lot of stops without bins that used to have them. I think maybe Main Roads are cutting costs if so the rubbish problem will only get worse

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