Conservationists cleaning a forest reserve near Lockwood have hauled away 1.5 tonnes of waste and another 400 to 500 tyres, leaving the event’s organiser horrified at the amount of illegal dumping at the site.
One ditch was still so full of discarded junk it could be easier to bring in a bulldozer to clear it than continue by hand, according to John Lindner, who helped organise the cleanup.
In late April, the Bendigo Bushwalking and Outdoor Club, Mid Loddon Landcare and Parks Victoria came together to clean five sites in the Shelbourne Nature Conservation Reserve.
The sites had been chosen for Clean Up Australia Day activities, but were postponed until mid-autumn after high temperatures during the 2016 event.
About 1.5 tonnes of rubbish, including concrete slabs and a dead sheep wrapped in an old tarp, was sent to the tip.
That figure did not include 400 to 500 tyres pulled from a ditch south of the Bendigo-Maryborough Road.
Mr Lindner helped crews working on the ditch and said the sight blew him away.
“I was horrified there was that junk much in there. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” he said.
Mr Lindner was unsure how long the rubbish had been at the site.
“Perhaps it was there a few months, perhaps a few years,” he said.
Mr Lindner said illegal dumping was common across Australia.
“I’m out in the bush walking with the University of the Third Age and other groups a couple of times a week. The amount of rubbish being dumped around Bendigo is catastrophic,” he said.
“People justify dumping by saying ‘the tip’s too expensive’, ‘it’s too far away’ or ‘I don’t want to do it’. Some people would not take junk to the tip even if it cost a dollar. It’s a complex issue.”
Mr Lindner was concerned illegal dumping drained the local Parks Victoria department’s budget unfairly.
He suggested to Parks Victoria a joint approach might be needed to make greater use of Landcare and other groups in the region, with input from council.
Parks Victoria was approached for comment.