Protestors Falls at Terania Creek.
Protestors Falls at Terania Creek. Contributed Peter Greenwell

When is it all right to be a busy body?

LAST week I considered the question: when and how is it appropriate or good to give help. Now I have another conundrum: When is it okay to say something?

I ask this because I took my sister, visiting from New Zealand, on an excursion to Protestors Falls, right up the end of Terania Creek road.

This is a magnificent tranquil rainforest, saved from logging in a protest 30 years ago that was hugely significant and changed the way we protect the environment and the forest forever after in Australia. It preceded the famous Franklin River protest in Tasmania.

We were stunned into silence as we walked through the rainforest cathedral up to the falls.

It is so splendid and beautiful. A very nice man (Bill) helped my sister clamber across the rocks to get her snap of the water tumbling down from the precipice. Thanks Bill for your helping hand! We gazed admiringly then began our walk back down to the road. On the way we passed people coming up and about six or so small groups. And many of them were carrying towels.

At the beginning of the walk, on an information sign (admittedly in small writing and visible only if you stop to read it) is a request that people do not swim in the falls. Sunscreen, deodorant, shampoos and the like are harmful for the endangered frog population who live there.

I dithered in silence as the groups of towel carriers walked past me and then finally said to a man and his partner walking up, "are you going to swim there?” The woman nodded. The man said, flicking his dreadlocks, "looks it's okay if you are using natural products. It's sunscreen that's the problem. I am just going to rinse my hair.”

We went on our separate ways, them up and us down, and I worried about it until we met two women in sensible walking gear and sturdy shoes heading up. These women looked like Miss Agatha Trunchbull from the film Matilda, (the one who terrified every child in a 50 mile radius).

I relaxed. The monitors were on their way. These women, I decided, would not allow any kind of rule flouting, dreadlocks or short back and sides. If they said NO SWIMMING. There'd be No swimming.

But when do you say: Excuse me are you going to pick that rubbish up? Your dog has just pooped on the lawn, are you going to do something about it? Are you going to swim there? Could you please manage your rampaging child in this small cafe?

When do you decide to avoid conflict, turn a blind eye and walk on by? When are you a concerned citizen and when are you an interfering busybody? Advice please.


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