See area C on Aerial Photo Map.
Providence Road is bordered by Woodlands Historic Park on one side or the other for 1.8km of it's length. For about 550m the park is on both sides of the road, and for another 800m the park is on one side and Greenvale Reserve is on the other side.
One use of this road is as a "short cut" for people travelling from Mickleham Road towards Oaklands Junction. If a 60 km/h speed limit was enforced, which it should be for safety reasons, then this traffic would stay on the main road. Instead the speed limit is 100 km/h, even though it it 80 km/h on the main roads.
At the weekend the road is used by sight-seers, but apart from that the major use is by rubbish dumpers, hoons, drug takers and people who think they have a right to eat and drink in their car and throw the litter out the window.
Dumped items include household, garden and commercial waste and stolen cars. The remains of home-slaughtered sheep are also very frequently dumped, which adds to the prevailing stench from Kangaroos killed by cars. Council contractors remove the larger rubbish every week or so, but litter either remains on the roadside or blows into the park. Garden waste also often remains until it rots down. Some people who dump this may think they are not doing any harm, but garden waste often contains material which can take root - Kikuyu grass, bulbs and cacti all are or have been found growing on the roadside for this reason, and they are all a threat to the park.
Even before Twin Dams Paddock was added to the park in 1995, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment had discussed closing a portion of Providence Road with what was then the Shire of Bulla (now City of Hume). Parks Victoria and Friends of Woodlands Historic Park have continued to seek this ever since. Since the road is still needed for maintenance of the power line and for emergency use, the closure would require the installation of a gate at the south end of the section of road outlined in purple on the map.
The advantages of closing the road would be:
- Less vandalism and vehicle damage to fences of Woodlands Historic Park and Greenvale Reserve.
- Making it harder for people to access the park for illegal purposes such as collection of firewood and worse.
- Improved connection between the two parts of the park for wildlife and park users.
- Creation of a safe route for cyclists and horse riders.
- Less litter blowing into the park or thrown over the fence.
- Less weed invasion from dumped garden waste.
- Less risk of arson.
- Stopping the clouds of dust which blow into the park and Greenvale Reserve.
- Protection of roadside vegetation.
- Fewer Kangaroos killed by cars.
- Saving the ratepayers the cost of grading the road several times a year.
Originally it was proposed to re-route Section Road through Twin Dams Paddock to remove the dangerous intersection with Somerton Road. The proposed re-routeing is no longer possible due to construction by the council, so now it would be necessary to put traffic lights at the intersection to cater for those few people with a legitimate need to access the area from the West. Heaven forbid that they should have to go all the way around via Mickleham Road.
There is an approved precinct structure plan for the area between Section Road and Mickleham Road, which calls for traffic lights at the Section Road-Somerton Road intersection, but not until 2020-2025. Closure of Providence Road should be planned to occur at the same time, if not earlier. In the meantime, a 60km/hr speed limit should be imposed.
The eastern side of the road has mature or regenerating Red Gum, Yellow Box or Grey Box trees along most of it's length, along with Golden Wattle. Beside Twin Dams Paddock the trees are festooned with Clematis. At the south end of the road there are Sugar Gums, which should be replaced by Yellow Box or Grey Box.
One of the mature Red Gums on the roadside died at the end of 2015. The reason is not obvious. While extensive vehicle traffic in it's root zone may have had an impact, the tree next to it would appear to be exposed just as much to this threat but seems healthy.
On the western side of the road all trees higher than about 3m are removed because of the 66kV power-line. At the north end the council has planted shrubs to replace them, and Friends of Woodlands Historic Park has continued this work along the rest of the roadside. The species planted by council include three which have not been recorded in the park:
- Boobialla (Myoporum Insulare)
- Fine-leaf Desert Cassia (Senna artemisioides ssp. filifolia)
- Hakea Decurrens.
They also planted Eutaxia microphylla var. microphylla. This species does occur in the park, but as the prostrate (basalt plains) form rather than the upright form which according to Flora of Melbourne occurs in Yellow Gum woodlands on sedimentary soil.
There is still some native grass and a few lilies along the road. The council Bush Crew takes an interest in it, and in 2014 they sprayed the weed Chilean Needle Grass, which threatens the native grass and is all along the road due to slashing by another department of the council. The native grass is doomed, not just because of weeds and being driven on but because the council or its contracters pick up dumped rubbish using a front-end loader, taking the topsoil with it. When soil is dumped they simply spread it, killing the grass in the process. Dumped garden waste such as grass clippings is usually not collected and remains to smother the grass.
How You Can Help
If you see an injured or even a dead Kangaroo please call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535. They will send out a volunteer to check whether there is a joey in the pouch, and to euthanase an injured animal if necessary. A paint mark means someone has already attended so there is no reason to call in this case
If you see someone dumping rubbish you can report it to Hume council. The council has two enforcement officers and has prosecuted people for dumping on Providence Road. Unfortunately we no longer put law-breakers in the stocks in the village square, and fining people has no deterrent effect on others since they don't even know about it. For some reason more appropriate penalties, such as making people pick up rubbish, are not imposed.
Instead of relying on expensive and ineffective enforcement, we should have laws which remove the economic incentive to dump rubbish. At the moment we have the opposite. For example, there is a state government levy of $2 on disposal of car tyres, intended to subsidise recycling. A worthy aim but an extremely stupid law, as it just increases the incentive to dispose of tyres illegally. Quite obviously the levy should be on the sale of new tyres, and the recyclers should be paid by the tyre importers for each tyre disposed of. This change would not be visible to the law abiding consumer, since they already pay the levy when they buy new tyres. However it would save ratepayers money since they would not have to pay for the disposal of dumped tyres.
Exactly the same principle, of charging for disposal costs at the time of sale, can be applied to all manufactured goods, and should be unless they are biodegradable. In most cases offering free disposal is not enough to prevent dumping - the council already offers free pick up of most items (including tyres) from residents. However if the levy on sales is increased, then a refund (the levy less the cost of collection and any subsidy required for recycling) can be paid when people dispose of the item. This is exactly the same principle as the well known deposit scheme for drink containers which has long operated successfully in South Australia and every civilized country in the world, and which the NSW government has recently agreed to introduce. Successive Libor and Laberal governments in Victoria have been refusing to introduce such a scheme for 30 years or so, but perhaps the voters are sick of living in the garbage state?
If you would like to do something about reducing litter and increasing recycling, or if you object to paying the council to pick up other peoples rubbish, you can show your support through the Boomerang Alliance which campaigns on these issues. You should also vote for a political party dedicated to sustainability and which is not unduly influenced by business lobby groups which just want to sell more stuff and don't care where it ends up.