Thursday, December 15, 2016

The problem with "flushable wipes" in the outback.

Mt Dare Hotel is more or less in the centre of Australia, not far from the Northern Territory border on the western edge of the Simpson Desert. It's a long, long, long way from anywhere. It's usually crispy dry except on the rare occasion it floods. It's often hot. Very, very hot. We were there in November, and as we left the bar, after having a very welcome beer indoors away from the damn flies, the barman, doing his best Crocodile Dundee impersonation, (complete with 'beater and Akubra style hat), reminded us to use our torches and stomp loudly on the way out to our tent as he'd just been shooing away a "king brown". 
The bar with an interesting selection of stubby holders.
My first thought was ... "Is this some weird outback thing he's doing with beer bottles, and why am I scaring them away?" Followed by "Oh! he's referring to snakes!"

The heat, dust, mozzies and flies can do that to you ....
The newly revamped beer garden is a delight, but ... flies...
What I didn't know then was that a King Brown is another name for a Mulga Snake. That's one I know to be wary of, having watched a particularly long one in a picnic shelter in Corner Country a couple of years ago. Stepping on one in the dark wouldn't be good. (Info on their venom here.)

I stomped vigorously!

As with all travel, there are times when the topic of toilet etiquette comes up. It's no different in the outback. When there's no loo, go behind a bush (some ladies use a small brolly if there's no vegetation), dig a hole and bury your waste, burn or remove any paper and leave the place as you'd like to find it. 

However, there's a new menace cunningly marketed as 'flushable' which creates havoc not only in cities, but in the outback as well. Seeing these little off-white sheets stuck on bushes on remote tracks, fluttering into pristine ancient springs, stomped into red soil and generally creating an eyesore, I kind of wish they'd never been invented. I also have a lot of sympathy for anyone whose job it is to unclog pipes and septic systems where they're an inconvenient, expensive, time consuming menace.  

The ACCC is currently taking court action against the manufacturers of "Flushable" wipes:
“The ACCC alleges that the impression given by the representations which Kimberly-Clark and Pental each made about these products was that they were suitable to be flushed down household toilets in Australia, when this was not the case,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“These products did not, for example, disintegrate like toilet paper when flushed. Australian water authorities face significant problems when non-suitable products are flushed down the toilet as they contribute to blockages in household and municipal sewerage systems.”
It's not just suburban household and municipal sewerage systems that suffer. Notices like the one above, in the toilets at the camping ground behind the Mt Dare Hotel, are important to raise awareness of the problems the wipes cause. 

Basically, "flushable wipes" stuff up the septic system and create all sorts of problems which are a pain to fix. 

At one other camping ground there was detailed information about how unpleasant, tedious and time consuming it is for staff to rummage around in the system to locate the clogged spot - and then remove the offending items by hand. Peeeeuw. You really get the feeling people are completely over these things. 

Then there are the stories of wet-wipes clogging the pipes in Septic Pump Trucks and the driver having to clear the hoses manually: a messy, smelly, slow process. Ugh. 

Flushable wipes might technically be flushable, but they create LOTS of problems - if you must use them, put them in the bin. 

And whilst the wipes are generally cursed, so are lazy people who shove dirty clothing, nappies, and even sleeping bags into long drop toiltes; kick cheap broken camping gear behind bushes and and seem to think the outback is a massive garbage dump. 

But all grumping aside, Mt Dare Hotel is great! They put on a decent meal, and it's a beaut spot to stop, share information and listen to tall tales and true from local characters!  


1 comment:

Emilia Pugliesi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.