Education vital in fight to stop rubbish being dumped at coastal sites

A greater number of travellers to Eyre Peninsula over Christmas has put pressure on facilities at remote sites throughout the region.

With the COVID-19 pandemic stopping international and some interstate travel, tourists have been flocking to regional South Australia to enjoy their festive season holidays, including at sites across Eyre Peninsula.

Images have circulated online of overflowing bins, human excrement and discarded toilet paper as secluded sites struggle to deal with the influx of visitors.

Port Lincoln's Murray Kelsh said in a post to Facebook that he and his family visited Greenly Beach at Coles Point on New Year's Day, where he counted 117 interstate cars and 42 caravans in a two-kilometre stretch of coast.

"I couldn't believe the total disregard for the environment and us the locals that have looked after this coast forever," he wrote.

"Not only have they turned it into a dust bowl by driving over bushland and camping all over sand dunes [but] also not one person I nicely spoke to had a toilet."

He said rubbish was "left everywhere and people just drove past".

Mr Kelsh said if the area was going to be promoted heavily there needed to be infrastructure to handle the additional visitors.

Also stating his concern on Facebook was Ceduna's Michael Nicholls, who wrote visitors were camping from "Port Lincoln to Fowlers Bay and beyond" in remote and fragile landscapes.

He said the influx of people at sites such as Lake MacDonnell near Penong and Point Brown near Smoky Bay was having an impact on the landscape.

"Locals have been gently enjoying the coast here for centuries with very little impact and suddenly in one holiday period the coast is being ruined," he wrote.

He said campers at St Mary's Beach at Point Brown had been defecating on the beach and in the bushes.

He pleaded that if sites were going to be promoted there needed to be research into the impact of overuse of an area.

Lower Eyre Peninsula District Council chief executive officer Rodney Pearson said they had noticed the issue was more prevalent this Christmas period than in recent years and that some were not managing their rubbish.

"Where bins are full people are endeavouring to place rubbish on top, or next to the bin, or leaving it uncontrolled or on the beach," he said.

"Council has undertaken additional patrols and staff have been out dealing with issues and cleaning up rubbish over the Christmas and New Year period.

"It is back under reasonable control, but we are aware we have a busy summer and people travelling."

He said the assistance provided by locals helping council staff with a clean-up of the Coles Point area after New Year's Day was appreciated.

Mr Pearson said greater education was imperative for visitors to these sites.

He said the council had been working with Regional Development Australia to develop information about refuse sites in the region.

"We need to better educate people that if they are generating rubbish in an isolated located where public bins are not provided, they should plan to manage that rubbish and take it home with them, or deliver it to a designated facility," Mr Pearson said.

"Councils welcome visitors to our regions, it is good for our economy and regions, but we need to do a little more in educating people about rubbish and as councils we need to play our role in collecting as best as we can.

"We are working with Regional Development Australia to develop some information about waste sites and locations, and what people can do with their waste."

A clean-up initiative is set for this Saturday from 10am to 1pm at Fishery Bay, Coles Point and Greenly Beach.

A South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) spokesperson said there was no doubt more South Australians were taking the opportunity to "explore their own backyard" and exploring regional areas.

"While the overwhelming majority of tourists do the right thing in exploring our wonderful state, it's disappointing that a small number are not following the general camping principles of 'leave no trace'," the spokesperson said.

"The SATC is continuing to work with local councils and tourism operators to raise awareness of these issues, and to minimise the impact of visitors to the region.

"The SATC will continue to promote all of our tourism regions, including the six touring routes as suggested road trips to the independent traveller, and working with our 11 Regional Tourism Organisations to help raise awareness about limiting rubbish, reducing bio-waste and being mindful and respectful of the natural environment."

SATC said they had been in contact with relevant councils and Regional Development Australia Eyre Peninsula to discuss the matter.