Doc and I went to Port Stephens on the weekend. This was part of my Christmas present from him – a long weekend away with sun, ocean, restaurants and bars, sun, beach, relaxing and more ocean. And 4WDing along the beach of course. Hmm, maybe it wasn’t just my Christmas present?
Friday night started sedately. We went for a walk along the harbour front, then stopped at the bar for a couple of drinks before dinner. Then we met some locals, started talking, and had another drink with them. Then another …. and another …. and before we knew it, it was breakfast time and we hadn’t had dinner yet.
So after finding a café where we could get a breakfast that would cover our missed dinner, we headed off to Stockton Beach.
The people we met at the bar the night before advised us we’d need a permit to access the beach, and lamented that you could no longer drive on the sand dunes. This was sad to them because they’d grown up in those sand hills, but they understood why it was necessary. Then when we got the permit it had two major rules – DO NOT DRIVE ON, THROUGH OR BEHIND THE FRONT DUNES, and TAKE YOUR RUBBISH WITH YOU.
The first rule was important because they were trying to revegetate the dunes to protect the rest of the sand hills and the beach, particularly in storms. It was reinforced with signs along the beach, so really, there was no excuse for those idiots driving up and over the front dunes. And I’m glad at least one of you got booked.
And then there was the rubbish.
Picture it. We drove off the road along a sandy access track. The sand got softer, whiter and more abundant, until we were surrounded by white sand dunes. Then just around the corner the vista opened up to the bluest ocean you have ever seen, and a long, white, sandy beach stretched out in front of us as far as the eye could see.
There were people fishing, families with kids playing in the water and on the sand. And lots of rubbish all along the beach.
Seriously. What is wrong with people? How difficult is it to take your rubbish home with you and dispose of it properly. And no, burying a dirty nappy and associated baby wipes a few inches down in the sand is not disposing of it properly!
Doc and I have driven along outback tracks, and stopped to camp where you’d think few people had ever been, and always there’s rubbish. Cans, bottles, paper, broken equipment. On Stockton Beach there was even a potty standing at attention on the sand, waiting for a toddler who needs to go.
People who don’t do the right thing spoil it for everybody. And not just because living amongst so much rubbish is unpleasant. It’s also bad for the environment and the wild animals who get caught in it or poisoned by eating it. And if councils or those responsible have to keep cleaning everything up themselves, or spend time and money watching that people don’t do things like drive where they’re asked not to, then they will stop everybody doing it.
BRING HOME A BAG.
It’s simple. Take a plastic bag with you when you go out hiking, camping, or to the beach or park, fill it up with rubbish you find along the way, and bring it home and put it in your garbage bin.
How long would it take to clean the place up if we all did that?