14 January 2023

The saga of Tuggeranong's mysterious 'free' mulch pile to come to an end ... for now

| Lottie Twyford
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pile of mulch

Fadden’s mysterious mulch pile has raised questions for local residents – many of whom thought the mulch was free for the taking. Photo: Facebook.

Life is full of mysteries.

Mulch isn’t usually one of them, especially a whopping great pile of it in Canberra’s South.

Nonetheless, that’s exactly what’s been confusing residents of Tuggeranong.

A large pile of mulch on the side of Isabella Drive (alongside The Dome in Fadden, opposite Chisholm Shops) has been interpreted as a free-for-all by many residents, while others have been more cautious.

A recent Facebook post on a local community noticeboard ignited a huge debate about whether or not it was okay to grab the mulch, where it came from and whether it was actually safe to use on local gardens.

Some believed it belonged to the government and was not free to use.

Others said companies were dumping it there instead of having to pay to dispose of it.

One resident claimed a family member had been caught taking some when the police pulled up and advised them it was government-owned property and they should not be taking it.

Reports of police speaking to people in the area were backed up by many social media commentators.

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Unfortunately, for lovers of the “free” mulch, the pile is about to disappear for good.

A spokesperson for the government confirmed it has been investigating the mulch since late last year.

Their early investigations determined the mulch was mostly wood chip material.

“The ACT Government is aware of the pile and is a result of illegal dumping in the area,” the government’s full statement read.

“We have been conducting surveillance activities in the area to deter this behaviour.

“Residents are advised to not take any contents from the mulch pile.”

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Signage has already been installed at the site informing residents not to use material from the mulch pile and the government has begun removing other waste which has been dumped in the area, the spokesperson confirmed.

The government says it plans to remove the mulch pile next month.

But this isn’t the first time this particular mulch pile has come to the attention of authorities.

The topic was raised in 2018 on an ABC Radio gardening show and again in 2020 with the government.

Signage was installed in the area two years ago to advise people CCTV was operating in the area. But the consensus in a separate social media discussion was that unfenced and unmonitored anything was free for the taking … as long as you don’t get caught.

Whether the pile returns after next month’s removal remains to be seen.

It’s understood similar mulch piles can be found in Charnwood.

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It could have been dumped for free at Corkhills. There’s no charge or problem with them dumping woodchip so it’s unlikely to be a private operator.

Capital Retro8:09 am 17 Jan 23

The material is already mulch which cannot be processed into compost. That’s why Corkhill’s won’t accept it.

Any pile of mulch that appears like this one is fair game, unless otherwise signposted imltho. There’s always wood chips being dumped along Antill St. between Hackett and Watson in amongst the trees. People just take what they want.

Capital Retro11:15 am 15 Jan 23

I haven’t seen any signs or CCTV there – we are the government so it belongs to us. It is a lot cleaner than the crap sold at MLRMC and the green recycling facility there won’t accept processed garden greens anyway so where is the ACT government going to move it to?.

There were definately cameras there at one point, the type you can buy at Aldi and almost anywhere, so whether they were govt. cameras or a private citizen I couldn’t say, but the free mulch thing has been going on for years.
I suspect its the dumping of building waste, comercial waste and a plastic Christmas tree that have bought this to a head.

So I understand that this pile of mulch is not owned by the Government, it is a result of illegal dumping. I get that they can’t “endorse” people coming and taking mulch from it at will. By why are they so keen to prevent it? It seems like a self solving problem to me.
Someone dumped it there to avoid having to deal with properly, but other people want it. Why cant they let people just take from it at their own risk?

devils_advocate1:35 pm 15 Jan 23

I suspect they’re making a tokenistic effort to tell people they’re not supposed to take it while at the same time making minimal effort to prevent it.

If they were really concerned they’d just clean it up. They’re probably more concerned about the dumping aspect than the collection but if someone has an accident there (e.g. traffic accident) the government would need plausible deniability to escape liability.

“Residents are advised to not take any contents from the mulch pile.”

Possible liability reasons. If someone hurts themselves, the authorities can tell them they were told not to take it.

If the government doesn’t want it, what is wrong with people removing it to put in their gardens? Surely it would be better for gardeners to use it than dumping it.
Why are the cops getting involved? Go out and do something useful like catching drivers who are on their devices, there are hundred of them around every day.

its bit their duty at all. do sonething useful, exactly

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