AUTHORITIES who’ve turned a blind eye to homeless campers in North Coogee bushland for more than a year are being asked to take a tougher line because of piles of garbage accumulating at the site.
Hidden between the old and new Cockburn roads across the freight line from oceanfront Port Coogee, the campsite of four or five tents is extensive, and includes a makeshift ‘garage’ for a car.
Nearby residents who’ve been happy to let things be say the amount of rubbish at the site is out of control: strewn across about a hectare are piles of plastic bags, milk cartons, food tins, alcohol containers, old clothes, scores of tyres, a broken fridge, mattresses, toys and an empty LPG tank.
There’s so much rubbish it’s visible from space: the camp’s main tipsite can be clearly seen on Google maps. Even the living area is full of litter.
One resident said he’d been prepared to tolerate the campers when he stumbled across the site while bushwalking, but as the rubbish built up his blood started boiling. The site has drug paraphernalia and marijuana is being grown, but our resident says what really upset him was evidence the campers were keeping cats.
The bushland is a rare haven for the local birdlife and is regularly visited by flocks of endangered Carnaby’s black cockatoos.
“I rang Cockburn council and spoke to a ranger a year ago,” the resident told the Herald. Shortly after, he was contacted by a representative from the WA Land Authority — better known as LandCorp, which owns the site — who promised something would be done.
He says the only action seems to have been a firebreak contractor trying to screen the biggest rubbish pile with flattened bushes.
Cockburn council community safety manager Rob Avard denies rangers are aware of the illegal camp, but says LandCorp and police have now been alerted.
The Herald made several visits to the site, and while no-one was home at the time, a Coles receipt on the ground showed someone was there this week.
Evidence from belongings left lying around points to a group down on its luck, but with the wherewithal to install solar panels that charge mobile devices.
They also show some gardening ingenuity; around the camp depressions in limestone rocks have been filled with soil and a fresh crop of cannabis seedlings is thriving.
LandCorp was approached for comment.
by STEVE GRANT