Slug Life

Out With the Old and in With the Old

This year I will not be observing one of my favourite time-honoured traditions. I am a little saddened. It is an event as lovingly anticipated as say, Christmas or Easter in my house. What is it? Bulk Refuse Day. Oh, be still my beating heart. In the UK, there is no Bulk Refuse Day. It is not a ‘thing’. The best you can hope for is an unguarded skip, or the pickings after a jumble sale. It’s never stopped me accumulating rubbish. Mr ND has had his share of head shaking at the ‘secondhand treasures’ I have brought home, but moving to Australia opened up a whole new world of tat opportunities.


entice me to your junk pile

I love a good collection of junk. A pile of furniture and bric a brac, stacked outside a house, Is as irresistible to me as a cardboard box to a cat, bait n wait. A couple of scabby chairs and a coffee table, will have me running to your verge like you laid out an entire lolly buffet and champagne flutes, just for me. Back in my old suburb, Bulk refuse day was Exciting. Dumpster diving was recognized as the sport of Champions. A time to embrace your inner Bogan, count down the days till that last chuck out weekend, and cruise around the neighbourhood, loud and proud.

It is important to search for artifacts worthy to display at your BBQ or Man shed, and proudly proclaim “Yes, I got it on Bulk refuse day who’d a thunk it”. There is a certain camaraderie as everyone chugs around the grid system in their 4WDs and Utes on that last Sunday afternoon. Many of us exercising hitherto unknown mental powers, that would make Dynamo weep, recalling with laser like accuracy the exact location of a kettle, we passed doing 60kmh in the pitch black, that looked interesting, last Thursday, when we took the kids to footy but couldn’t be arsed to stop. There is a special beauty in executing the essential skills of a good bulk refuse day event.Let me explain.

The slow crawl: Where the male driver must hang their elbow out of the window and look disinterested, whilst in the passenger seat, the female uses her Xray vision and archeological skills to locate the terracotta handles of a large planters, buried under avalanches of MDF and bean bags. This system one functions one way, mess with the formula and you’re stuck with a fruitless ‘boy look’ and a woman who has crashed into someones water feature, because she thought she saw a candle holder and got distracted.

The second reccy: Usually performed by Bulk Refuse first timers and those newly arrived to Australia. In a country where the motto is ‘first in best dressed’ there is no such thing as a second chance, a second reccy ends more often than not in tears of regret on the verge. If it was half decent someone would have had it before your sat nav had thrown a wobbly at you, for your u turn.

The polite drive by: Is a really a low level stealth technique, for those who quail at the thought of wrestling the plastic storage boxes from their previous owners grasp as they are place them on the kerb, It is for shy types, those with social anxiety and English people.

Full Frontal Assault: Some seasoned Bulk Refusers think nothing of greeting a house holder with a cheery “G’day” as they stand knee deep in old toilet seats, hoovers and cushions. Only for the brave.

Stealth Approach: It should be noted there are angry householders out there who are very committed to fulfilling their landfill quotas, and will resist all attempts by you, to recycle their stuff, not limited to taking it back indoors again, if and when they see you coming.The only way round this is to return under cover of darkness, with Ninjas.

I feel I should also mention some of the more common neurosis’s associated with Bulk Refuse Day, should you need to perform an intervention. Bulk Blindness and Junkphoria are common. Bulk Blindness is temporary disruption to you spatial awareness in which you believe the laws of physics have ceased to apply to your Hyundai Getz, causing the fabric of the time space continuum to bend in order to that the leather and aluminum chaise longe will fit into the glove compartment of your car. A delirium. This is this same insanity that causes people to carry allen keys an dismantle Ikea Expedit bookcases by the side of the road. Save yourselves the tears ladies, It’s like re-using a kleenex. Yes, you could probably manage it, but structurally would you want to risk it?

Junkphoria is a different. This is a delusional psychosis, where you believe the thing you have found at the side of the road is essential to your well being, that flamingo shaped, macrame and rattan toilet roll holder for example, that you MUST have. Luckily you can counter this by imagining in what other circumstance you would purchase it, home shopping channel? red dot? garage sale? If that fails try asking yourself one singular question. Would this look out of place in my mother in laws house? This might be enough to bump you back to reality. In more serious cases you can look at three sticks and a plank and scream. “I can upcycle it”. Walk away from the broken furniture. The only way it works is if you get UP on your CYCLE and pedal away. I am always sucked in by the pity piles,the one eyed teddy bears, baby toys, and unloved bikes, they can all come with me and find a home. (read, sit under the house for five years until they are unrecognizable as things.)

Natural Hazards: I consider myself a seasoned junk hunter, but I have had my flops. There was the termite infested dressing table I nearly brought home, and that schoolboy error of accidentally adopting an entire community of redback spiders who were living in an old dolls house I found, but mostly I have found some stellar items, now lovingly adopted.

The main reason I am not joining the Bulk refuse scrounge this year (apart from the fact I cant physically wrangle a sofa onto the roof at present) is Treetopia seems a bit tame. Nobody is cruising about,no cut and thrust, unless under cover of darkness, Its all very civilized, Perhaps the good citizens of Treetopia are a bit too posh to scramble through the rubbish, or perhaps there’s not enough good stuff being discarded. Either way I will always crave that death race 2000 affair, that community thrill of the chase and genuine belly laughs of watching the people when they are scavenging, wondering who the hell actually bought THAT in the first place, who even took THAT and how on earth did they tie it on the roof.

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