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Getting by without, Courtney’s bin recycling

Sometimes it takes a trip away to realise just how good things are at home says Catalina’s Courtney Fink-Downes after her 6,000 kilometre family-trip across the Australian outback.

Starting their journey through Far North Queensland at the Rockhampton Caravan Park, Courtney said she was surprised to find there were no recycling facilities. The staff were surprised at her surprise.

“The caravan park people were a little mystified when we asked for the recycling point,” Courtney said.

“It turns out everything there goes to general waste.”

That pattern was repeated as Courtney, her partner and two sons drove west and north to Winton.

“Even returning home through NSW, the little towns had no recycling facilities,” she said.

“We didn’t want to throw it out and we didn’t want to burn it and put toxic emissions into the atmosphere. So we stored our recycling in the back of the car. Poor Harry got squashed.”

Harry the dog is “the fifth member of our family” explained Courtney.

“We’re travelling hundreds, sometimes thousands of kilometres and there’s less than a handful of places taking recycling.

“When we got home the boys said how lucky we are with recycling in Eurobodalla.

“Even shire residents without bin service don’t have to go far to take recyclables to a waste management facility or a ‘Return and Earn’ collection point – so different from our experience in FNQ.”

Courtney said although recycling was important, her work as a natural resources officer made it clear it was just one part of a bigger picture.

“At home, we have a veggie garden and a solar system,” she said.

“We can do so much more as individuals and families to reduce waste. It’s not just up to government to fix this. You can’t avoid everything but my family is down to two small corn-starch bags of landfill per week.

“I’ll take reusable containers when buying groceries and I choose to shop at places which allow that. Again we’ve got it good here – where my parents live no shops offer that option.”

Eurobodalla Council runs several programs which help shire residents and visitors make sustainable choices in their daily lives. To find out more, visit

Above: Courtney Fink-Downes wants more people to support Eurobodalla businesses that allow shoppers to bring their own containers.

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