ONE MAN’S TRASH

ROB INGRAM MOURNS FOR THE OLD VIL­LAGE TIP AND ALL ITS WEIRD AND WON­DER­FUL TREA­SURES.

Country Style - - FIELD GUIDE -

“OUR TIP WAS THE SORT OF PLACE AS WHERE YOU’D LOSE A DAY JUST EAS­ILY AS YOU COULD LOSE A FOOT.”

IF THE KIDS HADN’T LONG FLOWN the coop — or if there was some par­ent­ing ben­e­fit to be pock­eted — I wouldn’t mind be­ing la­belled a stay-at-home dad. I like stay­ing at home. These days my back goes out more of­ten than I do. “Want to come to Dubbo to­mor­row?” asks The Cho­sen One. “Nah,” I say, “…there are a few things I want to do around the house.” This is manspeak for: “There are more than a few things I don’t want to do around the house” or “I’d rather do noth­ing than some­thing.” Okay, there are ex­cep­tions. When The Cho­sen One asks, “Want to come to Mudgee to­mor­row?” I im­me­di­ately ask if she’s plan­ning to call in at the tip shop. We miss our lo­cal tip. Coun­try folk used to es­tab­lish a bond with their tip. Maybe not an emotional bond, but an afff­fec­tional one. Ours was the sort of tip where you’d drop offff half a trailer of rub­bish and bring home a full load. It was the sort of place where you’d lose a day just as eas­ily as you could lose a foot. Every bush com­mu­nity used to have its tip iden­tity — ours was Fred. Fred could sup­ply any known me­chan­i­cal or tech­no­log­i­cal need from our tip. He could steer you in the right di­rec­tion. “Four-inch gate valve with a left-hand thread?” Fred would say. “Try over there un­der the cast-iron pri­mary hub sleeve.” We’d no sooner made Fred a life mem­ber of the Cobb­ora tip than they closed it. Big tips be­came waste re­source re­cov­ery cen­tres manned by san­i­ta­tion en­gi­neers, and small tips be­came ex­tinct. These waste man­age­ment cen­tres will never re­place the vil­lage tip. They deal in nasty in­dus­trial and chem­i­cal pollution that clutches at the throat and makes the eyes burn. The vil­lage tip used to pro­duce the rich, choco­late-cakey odour of de­com­po­si­tion and de­cay that hung like damp cur­tains con­ceal­ing fab­u­lous fifinds. Not ev­ery­thing in the coun­try goes to the tip, of course. Poet C.J. Den­nis tugged at the heart­strings of all Aus­tralians with his leg­endary The Songs of a Sen­ti­men­tal Bloke. Ru­ral Aus­tralia still bris­tles with sen­ti­men­tal blokes. On the way to the tip shop we pass a house with 30 cars and trucks parked out the back. “Must be a clear­ing sale there to­day,” says The Cho­sen One. They’re al­ways there, I tell her — the coun­try bloke is very sen­ti­men­tal about his mo­tor ve­hi­cles. When their work­ing days are over, they’re put out to pas­ture. And who­ever heard of a coun­try bloke throw­ing away a 40-gal­lon drum, half a wind­mill or a twin-row dou­ble-disc mul­ti­pur­pose fer­tiliser spreader. They’re part of the fam­ily. But thank God for the tip shop. The 50-cent book and the two-dol­lar golf club. The miss­ing part­ner for the bed­side lamp. The whisky glass to re­place last night’s break­age. The Royal Fam­ily cake tin and the in­door clothes­line. The miss­ing wheel trim, the torch (con­di­tion un­known). I must ad­mit to feel­ing a bit guilty about get­ting a surge of ex­cite­ment at each new tip shop. I worry that we’ve be­come so blind to ram­pant cap­i­tal­ism that we now put our garbage out for col­lec­tion on Tuesday morn­ing and cheer­fully buy it back from our coun­cils on Fri­day af­ter­noon. Worse, it wor­ries me that I’ve be­come a garbage fash­ion­ista. Our rub­bish is col­lected each week by War­rum­bun­gle Shire Coun­cil, but my favourite tip shop­ping is at the Mudgee out­let op­er­ated by Mid-western Re­gional Coun­cil. Al­to­gether a bet­ter class of rub­bish.

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