Editorial January 6th 2023
Welcome to this week’s editorial, Having lived on the South Coast for 36 years I have seen many Christmas holidays come and go. Like many I have memories of scorching summers, the wild storms, the cold snaps and the endless rains that we have experienced from time to time, but fortunately there have been many years that were simply Normal. To my mind, this is one of them. Post bushfires, and post Covid lockdowns, the number of visitors seems to have returned to ‘Normal’ where ‘Normal’ is the full capacity of our holiday accommodation. Cafes appear to be well patronised and town streets are full of visitors enjoying being generally unrestrained and out and about. Even the weather has been ‘Normal’ offering up days of sun for beach activities and then delivering overcast days to remind us that summer holidays are also spent around jigsaws, Monopoly sets, kicking a ball at a local park or going to the movies. Adding to it all are the many who have brought their bikes to ride our cycleways, their trainers to explore our walking tracks and their dogs to discover our off-lead beaches. Our markets are overflowing with visitors and local produce. To anyone looking down from above the South Coast is indeed “all kinds of natural”. It is understandable that folks come to enjoy the natural beauty of the place. In doing so they leave no place unexplored. The creeks, the rivers, the rocky foreshores are there for the exploring; as to the beaches, lakes and rivers. Pristine and ready for discovery and enjoyment. And we know they have been there by the little reminders they leave behind. Bait bags strewn along the foreshores by fishers who “love nature”. And then there are the bottles, cans, fast food packaging strewn along the highway along with the local park bins filled to overflowing with stinky prawn shells and the rest of the holiday detritus. But not to worry. Once they have all gone home the locals will do as they have always done and go out and pick up all the crap left behind by the self-entitled who seem to have arrived at “all kinds of natural” and happily left it as “all kinds of sh*thole”.
I watched with interest the latest Australia Day Lamb advertisement (https://youtu.be/bq3UpFAwPbA ). It is well crafted and has a good message however… it failed to identify one of the biggest flaws this country has… our propensity to throw rubbish out the window, to chuck bait bags overboard, and to disrespect fellow Australians with the assumption that someone else will pick up their rubbish. As you watch the Australia Day Lamb advert ask yourself whether it is now considered very Australian to litter highways and waterways and very (by the poor turnout) Un–Australian to register for Clean-up Australia Day. Maybe it was too hard for the producers, or too controversial, to put a spot-light on Australians, all Australians, who rubbish their own country. Maybe they should have. Talk to any international visitor about our fair country and eventually they will comment on how our roads sides are a garbage tip from Cape York to Tasmania, Byron Bay to Perth. This surprises them more than the volume of roadkill they see. But for the average Australian this has become the ‘normal’ and apparently the Australian thing to do, as it is clear there is more than one Australian doing it, and they are being witnessed by friends and family. But then… it would be un-Australian of me to mention that our pride of country and pride of place appears to be little more than jingoism given the state of our roadsides, parks and foreshores. The annual volunteer turnout for Clean Up Australia Day each year is less and less. As it turns out there is only a handful of people who are actually stooping to pick up the garbage. Steadily we are losing the battle. The “All Kinds of Natural” and “Nature Coast” that Eurobodalla used to be is long gone. At every turn there is now rubbish to see. New rubbish and old rubbish left to rot by those who walked there before you. It might be un-Australian to rubbish Australians but it now seems quite acceptable that Australians can rubbish their own country, and live with the fact that they have become, in the eyes of international visitors and Pacific neighbours, a Rubbish country.
Maybe the National chant should be “Aussie Oi, Aussie Oi, Aussie Oi, Oi, Oi … Oi .. You !!, yeah, you, pick up your #$@^ garbage!!”. Until next—lei