Letters to the editor November 6


In relation to Jeff Smith's letter regarding the Urunga Wetlands (Courier-Sun, Oct 30), they are far from being a "white elephant". Not everything has to be a tourist trap. We need our quiet, contemplative spaces as well, and the remediation of this previously toxic, unusable area has provided that. The wetlands are great for a quiet walk and some photography, while providing essential habitat for heaps of waterbirds and insects, and for protecting the paperbark forest. While the signage might not be the best, the area itself is an example of money very well spent.

Jim Sweeney, Bellingen

Free camping

Re the online article on free camping in Urunga (Courier-Sun, Nov 6). We are Grey Nomads travelling Australia most of the year. We do not stay in caravan parks that charge over $22 and there are thousands of Grey Nomads like us who do the same. We free camp most of the year but I would like to point out we are not freeloaders - we give donations or pay camp fees where required. We are CMCA members and Centrelink pensioners and travel on that pension, if we stayed in caravan parks we could not afford to travel. We own a secondhand motorhome fully self contained and we don't need caravan parks and don't consider ourselves tourists, just Australians travelling Australia. We spend money on food, fuel and other things we need, we do not waste money and that allows us to travel and enjoy what we do.

We were up north but never went to Cairns as there was no affordable accommodation under $22 but went to Babinda free, Mareeba rodeo ground and other places where low cost camping is and we were made to feel welcome. Cities like Geraldton WA, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Maryborough Qld all have free camps and there are towns all over Australia reaping the benefits by having free or low cost camps.

We were in Victoria for eight months or more over Christmas. We stayed a month in Colac on the lake totally free. Other towns like Ararat, Hoptourne, Casterton, Timboon just to name a few all have free or donation long term camping. At Ararats' Green Hill Lake up to 1200 Grey Nomads stay over summer and council told me it is worth over $100 per night per caravan or motorhome.

If we stay in a caravan park we don't want caravan parks that charge over $15 and change more just because they think it's peak season. It's not our fault if they spend thousands on their parks, why should we have to pay for things we don't need? All we need is somewhere to park with rubbish bins, water tap and dump point somewhere in the town.

Overseas backpackers who hire campervans are another issue. They are not all self contained but spend money on food, fuel and other things also. We are told Australia needs them, and if so they need to be catered for as they can't afford the caravan parks either and if we force them into parks they won't come and thousands of jobs will go from hire companies that provide these campers and cars.

Urunga needs a free or very low cost camp. If cities like Geraldton WA can do it so can every other town in Australia.

David Rickertt (CMCA member) Rockhampton


At school we learnt that in the right conditions, forests make rain locally. Tree leaves expel water so native forests can generate large flows just from water vapor into streams and rivers. Every day, forests replenish the supply of water vapour in the atmosphere. They draw up water through their roots, and release it from their leaves via transpiration. Water dripping from tree leaves contributes significantly to stream flow even without rain. I cannot understand why we are ignoring the science at a time when the impacts of drought and the climate crisis are being felt across the nation. We've cut down nearly 40 per cent of our forests in the past 200 years. Surely every native tree, especially older forests in our catchments, must be retained to help maintain our water supply? What am I missing?

Jack Griffith-Saunders, Bellingen (17)


Even without the stalwart Darcey Browning stirring the pot there is certainly a lot brewing in the logging issue with some controversy. Various authorities and facts are quoted; some quite contradictory. Straining the heavy brew to filter the truth out from the claims is not easy. In the welter of words it seems to me that one simple fact is overlooked. Am I being naive to suspect that there is no longer any need for timber? As one contributor stated, a lot of timber goes to make pallets and woodchip. As the decking and seat on the footbridge at the Urunga wetlands is made from recycled plastics, I can't see why the same technology cannot be used to make building materials. Paper, clothing, canvas, car bodies, tiles, houses and whatnot can be made from crops such as hemp, nettle, bamboo and flax. They can be used to make everything now made from plastics but they are biodegradable. Vast crops of these hardy plants would boost agriculture, and the factories converting them to various materials would create thriving industries and could employ thousands. While the controversy continues, all nature is screaming at us to change. There is only one constant in life and that is change. The danger is that if we continue chopping forests to bits and polluting the planet with plastics and chemicals, we will eventually run out of the opportunity to make the right changes. These alternatives to timber would employ many more workers than the timber industry ever could, so as far as I can see, there is no imperative need to chop trees down at all.

Russell Atkinson, Bellingen

Saving the forests for the next generation

This is a down home story like Darcey would tell. I was on one of the Kalang Headwaters blockades recently when a Forestry ute drove up. Here was the enemy. I was his, he was mine, until we saw each other and realised we had met in another life.

You see, I used to drive his daughter to the preschool at Orama five years ago. She used to fall asleep on the bus so I was always careful not to brake fast or turn sharply and have her end up toothless on the floor.

His name is Neil, mine is Jack. His question to me at the blockade was, "What are you doing here, have you got too much time on your hands?" I basically replied that I was there to save the forest for his nine-year-old daughter and her kids.

I'm sure he was thinking how did the bus company let such a ratbag drive his daughter to school and that him having a job would do more to provide for his daughter than I ever would.

I went to school a long time ago. I remember being taught that people involved in primary industry (including loggers) were noble heroes. The backbone at Gallipoli. Decent people who got up early to tame nature because it was a gift from God to be exploited. An unploughed paddock or an unlogged forest was a waste and an eyesore. Nature had to be tamed and consumed and the earth was best dug up while driving a Holden and eating a pie and a beer.

To me that always seemed like killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. I've always adored birds and the other critters. I was more inclined to marvel at a brown snake than kill it. To this day I relocate snakes to save them from people reaching for the shovel.

Humans are destroying the Earth while the other critters live in balance. People have permission to clear millions of acres of bush to make lots of money to buy "stuff" and send their kids to boarding school and have their homes featured in designer magazines. What madness.

The arrogance and stupidity of humans is amazing. The presumption that we are better and wiser than nature and can do what we like to satisfy our greedy instincts is stupid.

The arrogance that we can destroy the habitat of millions of creatures, as if that doesn't matter at all, and that exploitation is applauded and driven by politicians to the Earth's detriment is inexplicable to me.

I would like to say to Melinda Pavey and Neil and others who support logging this is why I am manning the blockade, when I would prefer to be in bed or doing something else. This is why I will continue to do so until Melinda and her government acknowledges the science and comes to their senses. There are alternatives. I'm with you Greta.

Jack Meagher


Australian reality gap

The huge ruckus about killing redundant racehorses for their meat, hide and bones shows the huge gap in reality between the majority of Australians who live in cities and those of us who live rural lives. I in no way condone cruel practices in abattoirs as I have a small head of cattle myself. I also used to have a much-loved horse who died of old age in my paddock and I currently have a pet heifer among my cattle. She has a name, not a number on her ear-tag, and I have no intention of ever sending her to market.

But a redundant racehorse, if not a pet, is no different to a redundant dairy cow. I have eaten dog and horse meat. Dog meat I did not like the taste and what it may have eaten. But horse meat, cooked for me by a friend in Europe, was tasty lean meat, and if I had not been told it was horse meat, I would have thought it was venison, and if I saw it on display at my local butcher, I would buy it.

The other thing it shows is how unaware non-rural Australians are of the drought we are in. Many farmers currently cannot even find feed to buy to feed their breeding stock, which city idiots would like to be fed to redundant racehorses. These are the same people who are against killing all the wild horses in our national parks, which were created to preserve our native fauna and flora, not feral animals.

Since dairy cows give humans longer service than most racehorses, giving us milk, butter, cheese and veal, will there be a pension scheme for them?

Philip Robertson-Smith