From the Keep Australia Beautiful archives …
In the 1970s, Merran worked at Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB). This coincided with the 1974/1975 KAB campaign “Dopes Rubbish Australia”. This was a campaign run by KAB to encourage Australians not to ‘rubbish’ Australia and to dispose of their waste in an environmentally conscious way.
One 1972 commercial captures the essence of this environmental campaign. Black and white footage showcasing a young boy reading out Dorothea Mackellar’s 1908 poem, “My Country”
I love a sunburnt country, A land of sweeping plains, Of ragged mountain ranges, Of droughts and flooding rains. I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea, Her beauty and her terror – The wide brown land for me!
The advert shows cars zooming by, emptying their rubbish onto the roadside. The clip ends with a voiceover: “Don’t rubbish Australia. It’s the land of your children.”
In a similar vein, Merran sought to promote responsible rubbish practices and reduce community littering.
In early 1974, Merran travelled across regional Victoria in a pink Leyland P76 alongside other campaigners, the car adorned with the writing “Keep Australia Beautiful” and “Dopes Rubbish Australia”.
Merran and other KAB anti-litter campaigners handed out KAB plastic bags, rung bells and did radio interviews to raise awareness about litter prevention. Merran remembers starting at the steps of Town Hall in Melbourne before heading out to suburban beaches and regional centres, picking up litter like plastic bags.
At one point, Merran ended up on stage before Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, raising awareness about littering to a crowd of concertgoers.
Other KAB campaigners also handed out plastic bags in Melbourne, advocating for environmentally conscious waste disposal, accompanied by town criers.
Like Merran and other campaigners, we too should remember that Australia is a beautiful country and only “dopes rubbish Australia”.