A major clean-up effort to remove up to 100 truckloads of illegally dumped rubbish in scrub surrounding an Aboriginal community has begun, with most of the waste being cleared by hand to protect native vegetation.

Key points:

  • Between 80 and 100 truckloads of rubbish has been dumped illegally near a SA Aboriginal community
  • The Gerard Community Council has received more than $100,000 to coordinate the rubbish removal
  • It’s working with the Berri Barmera Council to install hidden cameras to stop the dumping

The Gerard Community Council, based in the Riverland region of South Australia, has received $102,000 dollars in Federal Government funding and is working alongside the Berri Barmera Council to coordinate the clean-up by local contractors.

The rubbish is dumped in at least a dozen randomly positioned piles strewn throughout the bushland and includes household waste, construction material, old furniture, 140 mattresses and at least a truckload of tyres.

The Berri Barmera Council’s infrastructure services manager, Dave de Grancy, said it was causing serious environmental issues by destroying vegetation where native animals, including kangaroos and emus, like to forage.

Berri Barmera Council’s Dave de Grancy says the illegal dumping is “an environmental disaster”.(

ABC Riverland: Anita Ward


“It’s unsightly, we also don’t know what the batteries and other products [dumped] out here are doing to the soils underneath,” Mr de Grancy said.

Gerard community not to blame

Mr de Grancy said the excessive build up of waste, which he expected to take “at least a couple of months” to remove, was coming from outside of the Gerard community, which in 2016, recorded a population of just 39 people.

Old couches are among items that have been dumped illegally dumped in the bush.(

ABC Riverland: Anita Ward


“There’s just too much rubbish for a community the size of Gerard to produce,” he said.

“Sadly we’ve got people bringing it in from outside the area.

“Where we can get to it, there’s several pits out here and old quarry sites, they’ve got a lot of rubbish in them and we can use the loaders in there.”

Most of the waste needs to be removed by hand to preserve native vegetation.(

ABC Riverland: Anita Ward


Hidden cameras to catch culprits

To combat the illegal dumping into the future, the two councils are working to install hidden cameras and have applied for Government funding to upgrade the fence line from the cattle grid when you first enter the area, to the community’s centre.

The gates along the fence will also be locked and the Berri Barmera Council has committed to increasing its patrols around Gerard.

The illegally dumped rubbish is destroying natural habitats where emus and kangaroos regularly forage.(

ABC Riverland: Anita Ward


“It’s just got to stop, this is terrible. It’s on such a large scale you just can’t fathom it until you see it with your own eyes.

“If you just sort your waste and take it to the waste transfer station, it’s nowhere near as expensive as you think.”