GREG RAY: Secret havens no more

YOU’VE got to feel sorry for Helen Russell Brown, who lives on the Allyn River Road.

Helen wrote a letter to the Herald this week, wishing aloud that the newspaper hadn’t published an article singing the praises of Ladies Well, on the Upper Allyn River in the Chichester State Forest.

Writer Emily Steele penned the article, recommending city dwellers take their tents and families and friends to experience the joys of a ‘‘semi-discovered haven’’.

‘‘When you arrive you will instantly hear the gushing river only metres away, see the lush greenery surrounding you, smell the fresh water and feel the sun beaming down on you,’’ Emily wrote.

‘‘I have been going camping all my life and nothing, I mean nothing, has ever compared with Ladies Well.’’

Helen agrees, but wishes for less publicity.

“While this is a place of stunning beauty it is best appreciated by nature-respecting and law-abiding people. Articles such as this also attract those with no appreciation and respect for nature,” Helen remarked.

That’s the trouble, isn’t it? When we disagree about ways to enjoy beautiful places, we end up with conflict and unhappiness.

When I go bush, for example, I love to just chill out and listen to the river and the birds. I like to spend some time weeding out lantana and privet, as therapy I guess, and to make myself feel useful.

I love watching the ever-changing parade of nature and marvelling at the surprises that it constantly brings me.

I like cooling off in the river, snorkelling with the fish and tortoises, skipping rocks with my kids and having a beer near the fire in the evening.

But I know, from direct experience, that lots of other people like to go to the same places as I do and enjoy themselves in different ways.

Some bring trailbikes, for example, and ride them around and around all day long. Others bring guns, and fire off shots at random intervals at goodness knows what. Some groups bring ghetto-blasters and play loud music and they drink premixed bourbon and coke and yell as loudly as they can into the wee hours of the morning.

Some bring chainsaws and cut down trees to build big bonfires and sometimes they bring pig dogs and let them loose around the place.

And because it’s a nuisance to take their rubbish home, I suppose, some of them leave it where they drop it.

While I sit and listen to their noise I like to tell myself that those people are having fun in their own way and I should just try to focus on something other than the insistent buzzing roar of the bikes and the jarring rifle shots. But I must admit there are times when it’s a battle not to hate them.

Helen wrote of her beloved Allyn River: “There have been numerous times in the past few years when antisocial behaviour at Ladies Well has resulted in damage to nature, pollution (trash left behind to pollute the area and river downstream) and need for the police to attend the area to restore law and order.”

“At particular times of the year the Allyn River Road becomes a super-highway for those with no respect for the local people or animals,” she wrote.

Yep, I’ve seen that first-hand too, especially at Easter and Christmas-New Year, on the dirt roads outside Gloucester.

Some families bring their kids’ pushbikes and they ride around the hills. I dread the day I will read about a bunch of them being cleaned up by a wannabe rally champ throwing his ute sideways around a bend, maybe distracted a little by his need to throw an empty bottle out the window.

“Sadly your article may well attract more of the great hordes of the disrespectful and destructive drongoes that have been coming this way of late,” Helen lamented.

Sorry Helen. There’s no solution to it, I’m afraid. We try to keep our favourite places secret but every lovely place gets found, sooner or later.

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