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Nov 11, 2021


If you’re a fan of Hawkesbury Council’s Facebook page you’ll have seen no less than 2 posts on the planned refurbishment of Wilberforce shopping centre – the second post put up because there were a decent number of clicks on their first story. Admittedly the pictures are pretty, and ultimately it seems great news for Wilbo.


What you won’t see on Council’s happy Facebook page is the rubbish strewn all around Upper Colo’s river – including used nappies and human faeces – presumably it’s not picturesque enough, but for the residents of that area, who lost their bridge in the March floods, it’s a constant reminder 8 months later Council still hasn’t solved their problems.


This last week, residents were told through the weekly Council email they receive that a new concrete bridge is now in the planning stages, and they even got a diagram of the proposed bridge, so there is at last some movement on a replacement, even though that bridge won’t be open until the end of 2022, at the earliest.


Because of the lengthy bridge closure and the numbers of visitors still turning up to the river – mostly on weekends – there’s another big issue, the levels of rubbish left behind by the weekenders has been piling up.


Some residents say thousands of people can visit on weekends – it’s often definitely in the hundreds – and many of them just dump their rubbish when they leave.


At a full council meeting on September 28 councillors decided to “liaise as soon as possible with the communities of Bilpin and Upper Colo to identify sites requiring bins and litter–related signage”.


Since then Hawkesbury Council has placed four bins on the north side of the broken bridge – the residents’ only road access. But the majority of people who visit are using the south side Upper Colo Road river access and they cannot see the bins and keep leaving rubbish behind.


The Council has put two cement barriers in to stop cars driving onto the damaged riverbanks and the broken bridge.


“Residents are fed up, quite frankly,” resident Alice Voigt told the Post today.


“It’s such a long time and council have really dragged their feet on this [the replacement bridge].


“Residents just want to be able to function as a community again.


“Council also promised that the dirt sections of Upper Colo Road would be sealed prior to the bridge construction, but there seems to be no plan for this yet.


“Also this area attracts hundreds of people each weekend who leave rubbish, toilet paper, bags and bottles,” she said.


“Residents feel overwhelmed and disheartened by council who make promises that are never kept. Each weekend is the same, with locals the ones to clean up.


“Social isolation for people on the north side is getting worse due to the broken bridge, and the wear and tear on cars is blowing out.


“With 12-18 months more of this, my car will not last and I won’t be able to provide the critical support my NDIS client needs,” says Ms Voigt.


A heart-felt post was put up a few days ago on the Upper Colo Facebook page by Bushwalking Mama, the moniker of a well-known local resident.


“Hands up if you’ve ever loved going to the Colo River at Upper Colo?”, she asked.


“It used to be known for being “The last pristine river in New South Wales”. We used to tell people they could drink the water from the sandy banks, and that it was a marvellous place to take your kids to swim in the shallow waters.


“I don’t do that any more.


“Thousands of people visit every weekend during summer with very limited options for rubbish and parking and zero options for toileting. 4wds and motorbikes do circle work in the river, trees are chainsawed, for I don’t know what purpose, and then the next people decide that’s a handy spot to shove their used nappies and plastic bags.


“There’s glass in the sand now, and local kids have been paddling on weekends collecting bottles and rubbish to try and make some efforts into cleaning the place up. I admire their sense of purpose and protection and caretaking for this living beauty.


“But they shouldn’t have to.


“This beautiful spot has been undervalued by Hawkesbury Council, and it shows.”


“Why should any visitors care to take care of the place when despite advertising the beauty of the river, the people paid to value it, don’t? With every complaint or suggestion we make, the time just seems to drag before deliberate moves to control this decline occur.


“What else can we do? Genuine question. I don’t understand the mindset of people who visit natural areas to destroy them. I also don’t want to stand by complaining into the void when an area I love is destroyed. What can I do?

Vale the last pristine river in NSW.”


As it happens, the heavy rain we’ve been having this last week or so has raised river levels and Bushwalking Mama tells us much of the rubbish has of course been taken up and washed downstream, further polluting the river.


Bushwalking Mama’s post got over 15,000 views, but they’re not concerned about how many clicks they get, they’re more focussed on how many soiled nappies they have to pick up on these coming weekends.


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