Campers on the Brisbane River near the Geoff Fisher Bridge in Fernvale.
Campers on the Brisbane River near the Geoff Fisher Bridge in Fernvale.

‘Disgraceful human filth’: River trashing condemned

SOMERSET Regional Council is urging the State Government to crack down on people trashing the “once tranquil” stretch of the Brisbane River which runs through the region.

Councillor Sean Choat said the council had been pushing for action to be taken to stop campers and four-wheel drivers causing damage along the Mid Brisbane River catchment for years, but it had fallen on deaf ears.

The council will write to the new Resources Minister Scott Stewart to request a change in legislation to assist in managing behaviour in the catchment, which runs from Wivenhoe Dam to the Mount Crosby Weir.

Somerset Regional Council councillor Sean Choat at Savages Crossing.
Somerset Regional Council councillor Sean Choat at Savages Crossing.

It will also contact Shadow Resources Minister Pat Weir about the issues being faced.

A fired-up Cr Choat said he was sick and tired of the mess people were leaving behind after setting up at popular spots along the river like Savages Crossing and Twin Bridges.

All manner of rubbish is being dumped by campers including human excrement, nappies and used condoms.

He said police had their hands tied when it came to moving campers along and punishing such behaviour.

People behind the wheel of four-wheel-drives are tearing up river banks and the fences of neighbouring properties had been cut so campers can set up or drive where they want.

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Cr Choat said nearby residents were at their “wits’ end” with cattle let out onto roads, paddocks ripped up and threats being made against them if they confronted perpetrators.

“Disgraceful human filth is the best way to describe (the worst of what is dumped),” Cr Choat said.

“We’ve got to do something. Council is so frustrated. We’ve tried everything.

“We can’t police it. It’s in the lap of the State Government, it’s their corridor.

“This is south-east-Queensland’s pipeline. A lot of people don’t realise that there’s not a pipeline from Wivenhoe Dam to the pump station, it’s just the river.

“It’s got to be looked after and protected.

“The problem with all the damage is it just exacerbates the problem of the river getting silted up and banks getting washed away because the vegetation is just getting destroyed time and time again.

Rubbish dumped along Brisbane River in the Somerset region.
Rubbish dumped along Brisbane River in the Somerset region.

“You cannot camp (in these areas) is my understanding. You’re not supposed to be camping but there’s actually no law to stop you.”

Cr Choat said police have told him the vast majority of “ratbags” are coming from outside the region.

Local businesses rely on visitors boosting weekend trade and such behaviour is hindering the tourism potential of this stretch of the river.

“Businesses want to run kayak and canoeing trails and council would love to have that and even provide facilities but it would be a waste of time and ratepayers’ money,” he said.

“I know people who operate those sort of businesses. They’ll come to something like this on the weekend when it’s in full swing and they’re horrified what they see floating in the water.

“Council has for years tried hard, with the assistance of local police, to address the problem however for reasons unknown the state refuses to amend legislation to enable sanction to be brought against individuals who are ruining this once tranquil section of river.

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“With a simple amendment bill in the parliament, the state could address this matter once and for all, enabling environmental protection and council to create an attraction for local residents and visitors alike.

“That would enable there to be protection against what I might call unlawful activities; tearing up the banks and illegal camping (and) issue people with warnings and if need be, fines or seize vehicles.

“Unfortunately it’s going to be heavy handed.

“We don’t people to have to come up here and wade through muck. I hope for the sake of Brisbane’s water quality and the environmental standing of this section of the river, someone will do something.”

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.