During the last couple of months a video clip has been doing the rounds on Facebook pages on how to crap in the bush.
It is, sadly, very relevant. When we’re travelling in remote and not-so-remote Australia, the amount of times we had to clean up crap paper and crap from campsites has been unbelievable.
One of our last camps was typical. We were camped on the Finke River just north of Glen Helen Gorge and it was a magical spot. There was a sandy flat area above the creek proper with a couple of large gum trees that threw some sparse but still welcome shade during the hotter part of the day. A long stretch of water graced the creek while the opposite bank was a mass of reeds which was backed by scrub and small trees plus the odd taller white gum. Birdlife was chittering and chattering, flittering and flapping all around. It was a top spot.
Anyway, after setting up camp I went for a wander and behind the trees just 10 metres from our camper was a disgusting pile of crap and rolls of toilet paper, as if someone had thrown a grenade into full drop-pit toilet. Okay, so I exaggerate a little (in fact, I have seen what happens when a drop-pit toilet blows up, but I digress), but it was still pretty bad and you get the idea. Nearby was a pile of discarded hamburger wrappers and cardboard drink containers, cheap plastic toys and other assorted junk. Just a few metres away was another pile of crap and streamers of toilet paper.
You know what it’s like at times like this; you really want to ignore it and hope it goes away, but it doesn’t. I avoided it for a while then picked up the shovel and went and cleaned the mess up, burying the human waste and throwing the rest of the rubbish onto a small fire I had got going for the purpose.
We enjoyed the camp after that, but I couldn’t help but think: who does that? Or let their kids do that? Geezzuus, I wonder what they do at home?
Of course, none of this is new. When we first started going to the Cape in the late 70s I remember the north side of the Wenlock River was a bit like one huge toilet dump. Today though, the problem is worse as more and more people, with little or no bush skills or ethics, get out there enjoying our wild natural places.
I don’t get it! It ain’t that hard to do the right thing!
If you need to go to the loo when in the scrub and there is no facility for that, take a shovel with you, dig a small hole and after you have done your business, burn the toilet paper (without setting the adjoining scrub alight) and bury your waste.
Why burn the paper? Well, paper doesn’t break down and if some wild animal (dogs are notorious at it) comes along and digs the crap up, they’ll have a feed, but at least there won’t be reams of toilet paper to be spread around.
And girls, if you are going for a twinkle at a quick ‘nature stop’ or the like, keep some small plastic bags in your toilet kit and put the used paper into a bag and dispose of it later on the fire, or in a bin.
If everybody does those simple things we’ll all be able to enjoy a cleaner, healthier bush. Do it for Australia… and the next visitor, which could be you!