Australia is rightly famed for its amazing national parks. Grey nomads, along with young families and overseas tourists, are drawn to these supposedly protected and pristine wilderness areas. But away from the high-profile waterfalls, gorges, and lookouts, there is another far less attractive side to the national parks story.
To some, remote tracks and dense bushland represent nothing more than an easy opportunity to dump all manner of household and commercial rubbish for free. It seems that rubbish attracts rubbish and, as soon as a precedent has been set, other tippers quickly add to the piles of stinking garbage that pollute our parks.
Reports of illegal dumping are multiplying both in number and in severity, with some suggesting the problem is reaching epidemic proportions. Just this week, local residents issued a desperate plea for piles of rubbish including couches, televisions, and car parts to be removed from WA’s Kalamunda National Park. The Department of Environmental Regulation says areas of state forest and national park adjoining metropolitan areas are becoming dumping hotspots. But it’s a nationwide problem.
Earlier this year, 4WD enthusiast, Steve Shotton, brought the scale of the issue home to many by shooting a short video showing the endless piles of broken furniture, children’s toys and unwanted household items marring bushland near the end of the M1 Motorway at Tarro, near Newcastle. His video posted to Facebook quickly achieved thousands of views.
Mr Shotton described what he saw as ‘bloody atrocious’ and is worried about the example we are setting for future generations. “I hope the people who are doing this have a long hard look in the mirror before they go to bed tonight,” he said. “Because this ain’t good enough.”
However, the problem is not just household dumpers. The Royal National Park near Sydney is allegedly being used as a ‘free tip’ by building companies, with construction materials including asbestos, insulation, roofing tiles and electrical wiring being found in bushland.
And the authorities recently called for help in tracking down those who dumped asbestos in Cottan-Bimbang National Park, not far from the Oxley Highway, east of Walcha National Parks and Wildlife Service Walcha Area Manager Roger Mills said the impact of illegal dumping was far reaching.
“Dumping waste in a national park is dangerous not only to the public who visit these natural areas, but also to the native plants and animals that call the parks home,” he said.