RIVER OF RUBBISH: Cool off ends in stitches
LIKE many families trying to escape the heat over the last few weeks, Lisa Southgate and her kids have been cooling off at one of the Clarence Valley's many watering holes.
On a hot Sunday afternoon, the Southgates stopped at McPhersons Crossing for a dip before heading home.
"We went down there because the weather was so hot," Mrs Southgate said.
"We rarely swim there because of the litter. There is always something down there like nappies and broken bottles. But Sunday a week ago, we went down there on a hot afternoon and my son, Max, stepped on broken glass down there."
Max, 10, cut a tendon in his foot.
"It was a vodka bottle that was broken, submerged in the water," Mrs Southgate said.
Grafton Base Hospital did not have the resources to treat Max on Sunday night and he was forced to go to Coffs Harbour for treatment.
"We're just really upset,'' Mrs Southgate said.
"This has been an ongoing thing over the last few years. I don't know what's going on there but the impact of people just seems to be getting worse," she said.
"There is more glass, more household rubbish ... six months ago I went down there for a walk with the kids and I found a dismembered kangaroo.
"It's an indication of the type of people who are using that place, the trees have been graffitied, they've been chopped with axes."
Mrs Southgate said McPhersons Crossing was once a hot spot for swimming.
"We've lived here for over 14 years and it's always been a good place to swim, but I suppose over the last three to five years (it's gone downhill)," she said.
"As locals, we're using more secluded places that we know rather than using McPhersons because it's become such a public area."
Mrs Southgate said there had to be a way to manage problems at the site.
"(There needs to be something to) make people accountable for the things that are going on there," she said.
"There needs to be some public awareness for people who are using those places, like simple signage."
Clarence Valley Council manager open spaces and facilities Peter Birch said the council sympathised with the Southgates.
"It's unfortunate that it happened, it's been an ongoing problem for us to manage the issue," Mr Birch said.
"We've had signage removed there, we've had large rock bollards there but people with 4 wheel drives push them out of the way.
"I can identify it as a hotspot for us in terms of littering and dumping."
Mr Birch said it was very difficult to police the areas all the time, but they are looking at ways to help curb illegal dumping and littering across the Clarence Valley such as cameras and trying to educate the community.
"It's unfortunate that it happened to her son. It could happen on other riverbanks anywhere on the Clarence River, we just don't know what's there and it's often submerged in water, particularly around boat ramps and river banks," he said.