Aussie bush lockout laws

By: John 'Roothy' Rooth, Photography by: Anthony Warry

Have we gone too far when it comes to restricting access in the bush?

Aussie bush lockout laws
For too long, governments have been influenced by a small minority of extreme greens and have found it easier to gate our shared land because of it

Unlock Australia’s (ULA) began as a protest against track closures, limitations on free camping and access to publically-owned land. These days, it’s morphing into a lobby group to push legislators into recognising that Australians need responsible access to their own country. As a volunteer-fuelled not-for-profit, it’s got a long way to go but it’s a huge fight, and the momentum and interest from fellow travellers is growing constantly.

The situation, as we see it, is pretty simple. For too long, governments – federal, state and local – have been influenced by a small minority of extreme greens and have found it easier to gate our shared land because of it. It helps that it’s usually the cheapest option, too, but as anybody who’s keen to explore Australia knows, these restrictions on what should be ‘shared country’ are really biting hard.

As a young bloke drilling water on Fraser to feed the sand mines, I ‘saw the light’ in Bob Brown’s early campaigns to save some of the bush from destruction and still feel I’m a ‘greenie’ at heart. But I reckon there are two types of greenies – those who sit in the city and want the bush locked off, and those of us who want to get out there and feel it up close.

Yep, somewhere along the line the pendulum swung too far and ULA exists to try to restore some balance. We believe there are better solutions to bans and gates, that cultural education and a love of our country needs to be underscored rather than deleted by strokes of the bureaucratic pen. There are some ridiculous situations in play out there but let me mention one, just to give you an example.

In most states, councils now charge people to dump rubbish. Fair enough. But in NSW, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has funded itself by putting a levy on waste disposal. That means a trailer load of household rubbish can cost a family $150 to take to the tip, so it’s no wonder that struggling (and irresponsible) families might find it easier to dump their crap in the bush. The EPA then takes the money raised from us responsible types and uses it to fund gates to keep us all out of the bush. How ridiculous is that?


Yep, as my mate Chooka usually says after he’s spent the morning sorting his rates and taxes, we live in the most over-governed country on earth. Funding three separate lots of politicians to live it up on first-class travel and life-long pensions while the rest of us struggle to make change for a beer is really just a great big hangover from our convict days. Give someone some power in this country and before you know it they’ll be whipping you silly...

Hmm, if ‘whipping’ means living it up on the public payroll we’ve sure got some shining lights getting elected all over the shop, haven’t we? Maybe if they made it a rule that all politicians should travel economy class, pay for their own meals and promise they’re not working for developers, our world would be a better place.

Cop you later fellow travellers!

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