One man’s cry for change at an iconic Australian lookout has prompted the government to “put a lid on it” and fix the problem.
Rex Lookout, located in Wangetti in Queensland, overlooks Trinity Bay, which is part of the iconic Great Barrier Reef and attracts visitors year-round.
However, one local man, Brett Tait, has identified a glaring problem with the lookout, which has a very simple fix - “put a bloody lid on it”.
At the lookout Mr Tait says there are three bins, for people to dump their trash, however, the rubbish sometimes finds its way into the ocean due to the fact none of the bins have lids.
Situated between Cairns and Port Douglas, the bins are almost always full at the lookout and Mr Tait told Yahoo News Australia this has been a decade-long problem.
“In this situation where there is such a focus on the protection of the Great Barrier Reef and the health of the reef, to keep tourism running when everyone has got a part to play, and that part starts with our local council,” Mr Tait told Yahoo News Australia.
On August 23, Mr Tait shared images of the overflowing bin to his Facebook page - Aussie Bin Fails.
“Time to act everyone, share your disgust that not even a bin with a lid can be placed just to stop this litter,” Mr Tait wrote, speaking about the issue of the bins at the lookout.
In addition to the posts on social media, Mr Tait has also started an online petition, calling for a better bin “for the reef”.
“At the end of the day, the Great Barrier Reef needs protecting and this is not protecting [it],” he told Yahoo News Australia.
“Time is up, stop the loss, put in a fit-for-purpose bin at Rex Lookout and stop polluting the Great Barrier Reef,” the online petition states.
“This location is popular with visitors all year round and after many complaints by many no one seems to care.”
The petition calls for immediate action, as the area is photographed “daily” and used to promote the surrounding areas.
“Sea turtles and our sea birds are being placed at risk by the inadequate infrastructure to stop litter entering our environment,” the petition says.
Wildlife at risk due to bins at Rex Lookout
Not only is the rubbish angering the locals, it’s harming the wildlife, Jennie Gilbert, co-founder of the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre told Yahoo News Australia. The main thing she sees is ‘floater syndrome’.
“That’s a term for air under their shell,” Ms Gilbert explained.
“That can be caused by impaction by marine debris, rubbish, a compromised immune system, which would be down to the plastics and the by-products in plastics.”
Although, Ms Gilbert also said it’s not just turtles who are impacted by rubbish; wild birds, fish and the coral are also at risk and just the other day while feeding the turtles squid, she discovered pieces of plastic in the squid.
Like Mr Tait, Ms Gilbert is also concerned about the bins at Rex Lookout due to the sheer amount of rubbish in the bins which makes its way into the water.
“There’s a lot of rubbish in those bins and there’s wind and it gets carried over into the ocean,” she said.
“Also, those bins can fall over and everything gets carried out like that as well, because they’re not too stable.
“So it’s a concern for the whole reef and it’s a concern for all the animals.”
Ms Gilbert said she would like to see wheelie bins at the lookout, with them chained down and also signs educating people on the harm the rubbish can cause.
Ms Gilbert only looks after turtles, and she says the harsh reality is, those impacted by rubbish don’t often live.
“Some of them just don’t make it,” she said.
“The problem is when they get an impaction and they’re floating on the surface they can float for months before they actually die, or the lucky ones get bought in.”
Government plans to install new bins
Mr Tait told Yahoo News Australia he found out the bins at the lookout were not the responsibility of the local council, but of Queensland’s Department of Transport and Main Roads.
In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said they appreciated the community for bringing the bin problem to the department’s attention and there is a plan to act.
“We have received a request from the community to install a lid on the bin at Rex Lookout,” the spokesperson said.
“We will install a new, 140-litre bin with a lid next week.
“We are committed to minimising impacts on the environment and appreciate the community bringing this to our attention.”
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.