In 2015, I wrote about the direction that we appear to be headed when it comes to finding places where you can legally take your dogs for walks, camping and other activities that you might pursue as a dog owner. As I pointed out, all and sundry dogooder, medical expert and know it all chastises anyone who doesn’t meet their weight or health ideals and tries to impose ever more on your chosen lifestyle. However, on the same hand they go out of their way to prevent enjoyable means of exercise. In my earlier story I pointed out how so many places are no longer accessible to dog owners and the trend seems to be to make access even more difficult, if not impossible. Councils everywhere are turning over age old rules that permitted access to areas as such as beaches and parks, where dog owners could play, teach and enjoy time with their pets.
We’d been lucky that we have access to Mossvale Park to give our hounds a daily (or so) run as a means of uninterrupted exercise, but after the passing of Jenna, it was only Tas that would accompany me on those daily runs. But around mid-November, I had to do some major repairs to my Patrol and with my wife busy on other things, it meant that I wasn’t going to Mossvale Park for a while. So I opted to go for short walks instead, which is something that Tas hasn’t done in a while and needed to become reacquainted with his halter and lead. Now it’s pretty hilly around our way and Tas is getting on in years, so I didn’t want to overdo things, especially if it was warm. A short walk down the main road or offshoot would be sufficient to keep him happy and mobile. I found this out after a walk to our local hardware store where it started out quite cool, but by the time we were halfway to the store, it had become quite warm and humid. Poor Tas was pretty tired by the time that we got back home.
So one day I decided to take a walk along another road to a pathway where I’d walked both Jenna and Tas for several years when we first moved to Mirboo North. The area is only about 300m or so as the crow flies from our place and is in Baths Road Reserve, which has had its ups and downs as far as maintenance goes. It was certainly an overgrown mess when we first arrived, with many paths barely visible and some completely closed off, which was one reason why I stopped going there. The other reason was that the place must have been a haven for snakes and, as things became worse, it wasn’t a pleasant place to be by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of talk was going on around that time about who was responsible for the maintenance (it had been looked after by volunteers at one time) and concerns were raised about the potential fire risk. The local CFA did their annual inspections and some burns, but they really couldn’t do a lot because of the difficulty of access.
But recently, a volunteer group started up once again and began clearing and cleaning things up, in an attempt to restore the reserve to what it was when there was a dedicated group looking after it Though from what long-term locals have explained to me, in its early years the reserve was more like a park, with little undergrowth and weeds and pathways and bridges criss-crossing the creeks etc. On my recent walk into the reserve, I found that some of the pathways that existed when we first arrived at Mirboo North were, more or less, back to what they were like in those days. The pathways were more visible and a lot of the spreading growth had been removed. By no means was the entire area clear of fuel loads and scrub, something that many adjacent residents were concerned about, but it did look better than a few years back. However, what was quite disturbing to me was the sign that I encountered at one entrance to the reserve, a no dogs allowed sign. This sign was only evident at one entry point from our end of the park, so exactly why had it been placed there I have no idea.
But what do you make of things when the South Gippsland Shire operated website, Visit Prom Country, states that dogs are allowed in Baths Road Reserve? Do we once again have a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing? Or is this a case of the council once again bowing down to the ignorant Greens that seem to have no practical experience in anything other than banning anything they disagree with? Little wonder that the South Gippsland Shire council is under administration, it’s little things that are often indicative of deeper malaise in any organisation. And this is just one example of such a malaise.
I can’t imagine a more stupid and pointless restriction, if indeed that is what it implies, than banning people from walking their dogs in this reserve. As I mentioned at the beginning, we keep hearing endless sermons on how overweight and unhealthy everyone is nowadays, yet the very basic activities that keep people fit and healthy are ever more restricted. I simply can’t comprehend why walking your dog in this reserve would be forbidden and clearly many people simply ignore the the sign (or signs if there are others elsewhere), as I know that people do walk their dogs in the reserve. If the signs are put there by conservationists with the faulty thought that wildlife will be at risk, come to our yard and see how wild birds, possums, echindas, koalas, wombats and even kangaroos seem not to be concerned with the dogs owned by us and nearby residents.
Having lived in Mirboo North for eight years now and having travelled the High Country for over 40 years with and without our dogs, I know first hand that dogs that are family pets do not have much impact on wildlife. It’s people that cause the most damage and death to wildlife through deliberate and/or inadvertent/reckless actions (like allowing the bush to become overgrown, thus causing devastating bushfires). Cats are probably the most destructive of any domestic animal in existence and putting up signs forbidding cats is about as pointless as putting up signs forbidding foxes. All too many cat owners still allow their cats to roam about unimpeded and, in an area like Mirboo North, cat ownership should be severely curtailed. It seems that we are now living in a world run by the stupid. The movie ‘Idiocracy‘ wasn’t a science fiction movie, it was a documentary on society in the 21st Century.