Take only photos, leave nothing but footprints" is a popular saying at national parks and places of natural beauty. The origins of the saying are muddied by time but 3 years ago when Fixit Guy were on out last big adventure in our camper trailer I saw one that was in my opinion even better
It was at a national park just south of Sydney where we camped for a few days. The sign at the camping area we stayed in said
"Leave it better than you found it."
What a challenge. To go to these beautiful places and not just not damage it ourselves but repair any damage that others who were not so careful who came before you have done.
I took up the challenge, not just there but at each park or place of natural beauty that we visited that trip and subsequently. Its not much. I certainly don't pick up every bit of rubbish that I see but I try to pick up something; - at the places that we camp I try to pick up the rubbish that previous have left behind so as to leave the campsite cleaner than when we found it. When we walk through the national parks or along beaches I do the same - just a couple of things that I can carry back to the bins in the carpark or to our rubbish bag in the car or the van.
This holiday we have done a lot of walking along beaches.
Each walk I have found something to bring back to the rubbish bins. Its been intriguing what has washed up with the tide. The beach at Wonga had tomatoes! Yes tomatoes. Along a stretch of a kilometre or so we found about 10 of them on our first walk. I didn't pick them up as I figured they would break down soon enough either on the beach or when they got washed back out to sea. Or the birds or crabs would eat them. I also saw an apple and an orange. It was intriguing to think about how they got there - did someone drop a bag of shopping as they were climbing into a boat or did they go off and get thrown overboard?
By our last walk 4 days later there were still a couple there but the rest had gone. I didn't take a photo of them. Fixit Guy was very patient as I took photos of waves and foam,
the endless stretches of beaches and palm trees
but figured he might be totally bemused if I started photographing rotting fruit!! And I wasn't planning this post back then.
At one beach we found a little toddlers dress, dropped some time before, judging by how grubby it was. At another beach, a little black top that a There was no one on the beach and no cars in the car park so I picked it up too. I found a hat beside a swimming hole in a creek near Mission Beach.
I wondered about leaving these things in case the owners came back looking - the risk being that if they didn't they would be ruined by the weather and would become garbage, littering these beautiful spots.
On Wonga Beach I picked up a thong - one thong (flipflop for those of you who are freaking out that I picked up some used underwear) It was pretty new by the look of it but had been in the sea as it had seaweed draped around it. It was child sized. Can you imagine the cross mum who finds their child has lost a thong yet again. (losing both is bad enough but just one is such a pain. How long do you hold onto that lone piece of footwear before you give in and throw it out- convinced that the other one will turn up as soon as you do)
My favourite piece of detritus I found on the beach this trip this bottle.
Its lid was on but water has seeped inside. There was no message in the bottle but barnacles had started to grow on the lid and the outside.
I might have kept it but I would have wanted to tip the water out first, imaging just how smelly that water might have become and what if it leaked in my car. To open the lid though I would have knocked off some of the shells - and that is what made the bottle so appealing.
On our 2nd last day at Wonga Beach we went for a really long long walk. We finally had a day at home so to speak - no plans for day long adventures - and so we were able to have a morning walk at low tide.
I picked up one piece of drift wood to take home.
Not sure what I will do with it and it might end up on a campfire before we get home. But for the moment I am enjoying its beauty