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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

The Unspoilt Coast is not so unspoilt

Every year residents look forward to summer. To the beaches, the warmth, the long days. It is an idle and idyll time. Yet with summer many know and fear the approach of the summer rush of visitors to the coast. For six or more weeks there is increased traffic, mobile reception goes haywire, the internet is sucked dry to a dawdle and car parks are a little more difficult to find. With those numbers comes prosperity to our local businesses reliant on the summer trade to make it through the quiet winter months. The butchers, bakers and candlestick makers all benefit as do the holiday rentals, the cafes, the services and and our own residents working long hours to make up for the fact that this area suffers dramatic underemployment and many find it difficult to make ends meet outside of the tourism season. The visitors are a bonus to our economy and as such also vicariously contributors to the facilities we have that are in place to cope with an explosive three fold population increase. But with the visitors comes the annual grumbles. And the grumbles are always about the same issue. Rubbish, Vandalism, Theft and Graffiti. Local media have recently been reporting the trashing of various campsites up and down the coast and the total dismay of locals who discover once pristine spots now trashed with garbage, bottles and the newest bane to everyone - disposable nappies. Our local beach and lakeside walkers are returning from morning walks with bags of bottles, cans, cigarette papers, fishing line and tackle equipment and plastic .... bait bags, plastic bags, bottles, straws and fireworks packaging. Fishers, prawners, party goers, campers, walkers, drivers, and their collective dogs and children - the minority of these groups merrily dumping their detritus up and down the coast. From one end of the shire to the other there is universal grumbling by locals about the "bogans", the "pigs", the "ars*h*les" who leave their rubbish behind. Sadly it has been revealed that much of the rubbishing done has been by our own locals as has recently been the evidence left behind along the foreshores of our prawning lakes. March the 5th, 2017 is Clean Up Australia Day. In 1989 Ian Kiernan had a simple idea to make a difference in his own backyard - Sydney Harbour. This simple idea has now become the nation's largest community-based environmental event, Clean Up Australia Day. But many on the South Coast practice Clean Up Australia day at the end of EVERY holiday period and long weekend. The City of Greater Geelong had a long hard look at littering. They established Who litters?

  • Young people are more likely to litter when they are in a group.

  • Older people are more likely to litter when alone.

  • Men litter more than women.

  • Women use bins more than men.

  • In a group of ten people in a public place, three will litter and seven will do the right thing.

  • More smokers will litter their butts than use a bin.

  • People are more likely to litter in an already littered or unkempt location.

  • The most common reasons for littering are: 'too lazy' (24%) 'no ashtray' (23%) or 'no bin' (21%).

Less than one third of older people who were seen littering admitted their behaviour when questioned. Why they litter:

  • Unaware - Littering is not always a deliberate act, and may result from uncertainty as to who is responsible for disposal, or just viewing their littering as an inconsequential thing to do. For instance, householders and businesses may dump at the front of their property, thinking it is the council's responsibility to clean it up.

  • Careless - Some people litter because it is too much trouble for them to do otherwise, or litter is something they simply don't think about. Convenience is often the driving factor here, hence well located and designed disposal units and bins have a good chance of improving behaviours.

  • Premeditated - Individuals may be well aware that littering and dumping are illegal, but find it more convenient (and cheaper if not caught) to find a hidden dumping spot, or simply dispose of smaller litter items irresponsibly. Here, the thinking is that they are unlikely to be caught or shamed. In summer there is a marked increase in graffiti as city youth bring their need to pee in the corner to mark their territory. Often stylised the graffiti idea then takes hold in our own youth who want to declare the territory as their own and a turf war builds with walls, signs, and footpaths emblazoned with artless tags. With the mindlessness of graffiti comes the insidiousness of vandalism with destroyed toilets, smashed bottles, ripped out street signs, burnt rubbish bins and willful damage to cars and property. It's also that time of year again where the warning goes out that there are thieves around. They usually prey on the casual happy nature of people on holiday who come home from the beach or fishing and leave their things on the lawn or propped up by the house. Surfboards, boogie boards, fishing gear, beach towels, bikes and even line off the clothes line. They usually lurk under cover of darkness and prey on holiday homes, caravans and tent sites. Sadly, along with all of the many happy visitors we welcome every year to our mostly pristine South Coast there also comes an Element, a tiny but much unliked and unwelcome element of thieves, vandals and environmental trashers and sadly the holiday period is also a time when our own miscreants tend to come out of the woodwork as well. Is there anything we can do other than grumble? Not really. Confrontation with miscreants, caught in the act, is certainly not recommended. We can fume, we can be bewildered by the lack of any moral fibre or civic duty these people might have. We can also shake our heads at the negative swathe they leave behind but other than that, the garbage, the vandalism, the graffiti and theft have now become the norm. While there is a push for expansion to bring "jobs and growth" many are developing an opinion that such expansion, with its influx of more people will only lead to the fast tracking of the once unspoilt coastline to one more commonly found closer to other areas of population sprawl. Please report anything suspicious or lawfully untoward that you might see to CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000 or ring Council Rangers on 44741000

CC0 Public Domain

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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