17 November 2014

Vandal or innocent fun?

At my favorite camping spot I was confronted with this scene.
To paint the picture a bit I should mention that it is a National Park heavily frequented by motor boats; a popular destination for day trips or overnight camping; in other words a busy place, not remote at all.

Axe yealding_c

I did not know how to react and experience has taught me not to engage too much with somebody possibly not doing the right thing. My initial reaction was disbelief soon followed by anger: somebody was cutting down trees that offered shelter from the sun and wind, in a natural place pleasant enough that I often call home for a night or two.
But the best I could do was to keep my distance somehow and just take photographs.
Even though the youngster did not look too menacing, my camera is no match for an axe; if not used by the youth, certainly by the parent not too far away.

Cut tree_c

There were a dozen trees that have been freshly cut, some a bit too large that seem to have deterred the short attention span of the kid that found attacking smaller ones more rewarding.
The child was still hacking away when I got near him but then he stopped and watched me for a while.
I am not sure what went through his head and if he felt that a camera on the scene might have prompted to review his actions.
It was not long before the adults arrived to see why the chopping stopped.

Cubby house_c

I was asked what I was doing and I explained that I was photographing.
Again the older man wanted to know what for and I revealed that it was for documentation.
Hammer in hand he stepped closer to me and asked: What for?
I explained that somebody might be interested in my images, suggesting the ranger.
At this point the vibe changed and I could sense a shift in emotions.
The hammer holding man tried to convince me in a loud voice that his kid was just having fun and that I was not allowed to take pictures.
Soon a little group gathered (friends of the man) and started to shout rather insulting remarks.
It was clear to me that it would not be wise to try to explain my view, after all I was quickly labelled pedophile and pervert and police was going to be called in.
I thanked them for their decision to actually call the police as maybe a few things could be cleared but I never saw the arrival of any law enforcement.
I also knew that it was time to retreat, clearly outnumbered by menacing little crowd.
I walked away happy that despite my rage I was able to remain calm and not engage: it was not my place to prevent trees getting cut down.
Somehow maybe my presence and the fact of me taking images deterred the kid from continuing and the ax was put away: damage was done but at least not continued.
I feel sad that the child lives in ignorance and cuts trees down in a National Park, right where so many others try to enjoy the place. It makes me wonder what messages has he learned at school, or is the influence of his father stronger than what I hope the educational system has given him?
The other part in me also acknowledges that it could have been intended as innocent fun to build a cubby house (his father's words), just maybe in the wrong environment?

Later in the afternoon I suddenly heard a chain saw fired up and the shrieking sound of trees getting cut down at the other side of the camp.
This time, I was not going trying to document the event.
A kid with and axe is one thing, somebody waving a chainsaw at me is a bit different, especially if alcohol is involved...



  1. Gnarly - just to assure you, schools do teach about conservation, sustainability and doing the right thing. Clearly this young man was, at the time, under the direct supervision of his parents and elders in situ. His teachers were about their business somewhere else.

  2. Hi Gnarly. This location is also a favourite camping site for any kayaker in the Brisbane area. We all know this sort of thing happens as we see the evidence of it every time we visit Blakesleys. I was horrified by your images and admire your courage in defending your right to take them in the face of an armed and probably intoxicated neanderthal. One of many neanderthals that unfortunately frequent this prime location. These morons and their moronic offspring will not be satisfied until they have destroyed completely that which they enjoy. This is the ultimate puzzle. Why do they do it when the end game is not only ruining other peoples enjoyment, but ultimately their own.
    The scary thing is that these people are out there breeding away in large numbers aided and abetted by social welfare payments funded by the likes of us. Glad I will not be around in 50 years.

  3. Vandal! Take your pictures to the ranger and the police. Some people have no respect for anything. The kid may not know better but dad should.

    Tony :-)

  4. Words fail me !

  5. Aside from your other concerns...in my experience it is not too bright to use an axe in bare feet...to allow a child to do it is completely asinine. As I child I have a very vivid memory of my older brother driving a hatchet through a sturdy pair of leather boots narrowly missing out on a toe amputation. Very cool surfing video ! I would never have thought such a ride possible!

  6. mate that is shocking. Even thought i don;t mind a bit of confrontation i think you made the right call getting outta there. Makes you wonder what is going through some people heads and even worse what they are teaching there kids. Ignorance breeds contempt for others. such a shame.

  7. First class vandal if you ask me, glad you somehow made them stop doing this. Maybe this people are not so often in the "wilderness"
    In Norway we are alloved to cut down dead tree for camp fire but never fresh/alive one, also they dont burn that good.
    Maybe this people where just unaweard of this, ore just stupid (I think the last.....)

  8. For goodness sakes! Contact the park and report it! It must be illegal for the public to cut down trees in a National Park or any park. I would. Take your pictures and run . . .

  9. I feel the frustration after seeing these images. Unfortunately I can only conclude that de-escalate is the best you can do in this situation for you're own health. The feeling of injustice gives an uncomfortable feeling and takes a while before completely disappears. Unfortunately, there are parents who do not give the values ​​to their children as you 'd expect . Unfortunately ..

    and that in a place where you expect to relax and enjoy the peace of nature (pure). That's why i myself switched over from wildwater to sea kayaking....(to enjoy nature and reset my mind and hope note to encounter these kind of people.)

  10. Damiano

    If you ever see illegal or dangerous operation, of a boat or other people, please ring the Qld Water Police on 3895 03333. They are located at Lytton and would be there in about 20 minutes, saving risk to you. They would definitely have been charged a considerable amount of money, if not removal of their boat licence.

  11. Is this what is happening in Australia now?.....this used to be such a nice place....somewhat untouched many years ago...what a shame....I hear too many like stories like this from damage to sea or land...save Australia!!!! There is no place like it!!! ...and punish the vandals!

    1. I am not sure if this is happening more than before, to a degree it has always been happening. The difference is the direct increase in population that leads to higher density and consequential higher use of recreational areas. What was less visible a decade or more ago is now more frequent and therefore more evident.
      The interesting part is that an island just a few miles away from here is in a much better shape. Why the difference?
      There is a national parks ranger on site (even if not very active) that occasionally patrols the beach. I believe that if he came across this sort of activity (vandalism) there could be possible charges.
      For some reason the motorized boat crowd prefers to frequent the sites where I have never seen a ranger: a "free-for-all" unregulated environment is more agreeable with their mentality.

    2. This is the "Aussie mates" mentality many Australians delude themselves into thinking represents some kind of genuine society of acceptance, friendship and a fair go. They are nothing but bullies, insisting on their rights (even when they are not rights) over everyone elses. They are the people who, when buying a pefectly nice weatherboard cottage by the sea will not trouble themselves over knocking down something pleasant and building an unnecessary monothilith, blocking your view of something pleasant and stealing the breeze from your windows so they can entertain their "mates" with loud, irritating music and generally give you the shits because they believe it to be their right. They will look at you with contempt when you dare to complain and try to impress you with their size and numbers. I see them everywhere, most strongly represented by tribal groups of bikers, surfers, bankers, developers, ISIL, etc, etc... Apologies for the extremism of my remarks, but your pictures and story invoke a sense of outrage in me. You did the right thing and backed away, but I applaud your forthrightness and bravery. People don't always realise how much courage it takes to be a real journalist.


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