The Bottom Line

In the April issue of the Bobby Dazzler Newsletter, I mentioned an email I had received from reader Jon regarding the inconsiderate toileting habits of some Outback travellers.

I wrote: “It brought to mind my recent experience when camping at Koorawatha Falls near Cowra, NSW. This idyllic spot was marred only by the wads of used toilet paper littering the area – in spite of there being a pit toilet only a few metres away! I find it impossible to understand the mentality of people who behave in such an inconsiderate way. One would assume that by travelling to such a place, they have at least some interest in natural beauty, and yet their actions belie it. The owners of Outback camp grounds have told me of their despair when they find that someone has defecated on the ground only a short distance from a clean, functioning toilet.

“Jon says he’s heard that rangers are proposing that travellers in some areas be required to carry portable toilets. That would be a further blow to the good old Aussie concept of free and easy Outback travel where there are still relatively few stifling rules and regulations, and room for everyone to do their own thing, so long as they behave in a considerate and responsible way. I’ll put something about this on the blog, where there will be opportunity for readers to record their thoughts and suggestions.”

So here’s a chance to express your views on this subject, particularly if you have any suggestions as to what action should be taken. Please tell us what you think.

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About dazzlerplus

Writing about the things that interest me helps me to discover what I think. One of my loves is the Australian Outback, and I travel out there often, and when possible take friends with me.
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6 Responses to The Bottom Line

  1. Some people are just idiots. Perhaps they have some vague idea (however wrong) that this is how people behave in the wilderness — though I’ve seen the results of people defecating in elevators, dressing rooms in stores, and other inappropriate places. So some people are just jerks. It’s a pity that those of us who are thoughtful and careful often have to pay for the actions of those who are irresponsible and thoughtless. That said, if you don’t already know to use the available facilities, I’m not sure passing a bunch of rules is going to change your behavior. It’s usually the people who behave well who are affected by these rules. Those who behave badly will likely continue to do so, either because they’re idiots or because they have some idea that behaving badly is clever of funny.

    Hope that if there is anyone who is simply uninformed, they will be warned by your post. But I suspect that people thoughtful enough to read your column are probably thoughtful enough to not leave a mess at their camp sites.

    • dazzlerplus says:

      Ah, waltzingaustralia, I fear you may be right. If so, it puts you and me and our kind into the position of “those who know” how to behave, with the task of trying to proselytise the “heathens” who don’t. Of course, it’s not often that one has the opportunity to actually confront a person who has defecated inappropriately. — I suspect they tend to move away from the scene of their performance rather quickly. But even if one does, it may well be difficult at that particular moment to enter into a conversation of sweet reasonableness in which you outline the merits of turning from their past ways, and joining the Church of Thoughtful Defecators. It’s more likely that they will be on the receiving end of a fairly strongly-worded assessment of the inconsiderate stupidity of their behaviour — which will in all probability have them walking away mumbling about “that cranky old bastard” or something worse.

      What a heavy cross we wise, insightful ones have to bear, as we seek to make the world a better place!

  2. Anne says:

    Perhaps they were caught short on the way to the “clean, functioning toilet”?

    • dazzlerplus says:

      Yes, that’s possible. And maybe that they got there and found there was already a queue. But one would hope that they’d have the common decency to clean up afterwards.

  3. Jo says:

    This really shouldn’t be a topic of conversation but sadly it is. We have also been discussing it in our weekly newsletter and it is a debate that just won’t go away (just like the offending toilet paper). Personally I find it difficult to understand what the problem is. I, like many others I suspect, enjoy the use of toilet paper – but when the job is complete just put the paper into a plastic bag under the floor mat in the 4WD. It can then be disposed of in a proper manner.
    It was so disheartening on a recent trip out bush to see so many campsites decorated with paper trails. We were in such isolated areas and yet everywhere we stopped there was evidence of thoughtless travellers.
    Having said that though – I have just returned from a trip to the Middle East. I could go into a lengthy discussion about squat toilets and hoses and NO toilet paper but let’s not. What astounded me in the countries we visited was the sheer amount of litter. Literally tonnes pushed up against the side of the General Store. Locals never using a rubbish bin and just dropping waste as they walk. The staggering amount of empty plastic water bottles is overwhelming and very disheartening.

  4. richard says:

    In 1960, or thereabouts, I worked for a while at the London department store, Harrods.
    The toilets in Harrods were grand, awesome one might say, with everything maintained to the highest standard of cleanliness.
    The department adjacent to the one where I worked, was carpets. It was one of the largest departments with all these fine carpets fully laid out.
    One day a man dressed in tawb and keffiyeh, who had been looking at the carpets, sat on his haunches in the middle of one of these large carpets, and made a deposit.
    He told the salesman to roll up the carpet, paid for the carpet in cash and left, leaving the carpet.

    I wonder whether those who make similar deposits in campsites are telling the rest of us what they think about those campsites. That would be too arrogant by half.

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