A couple of weeks ago, the Northern Territory has its annual Territory Day celebrations. Much like the similarly timed Independence Day in the USA, the Northern Territory has developed its own tradition of celebrating self governance through the detonation of fireworks (somehow the standard total fire ban that's in place around this time always gets waived). Personally, I've always found it kinda strange how DIY explosive devices have become synonymous with declarations of geo-political autonomy.

Starting in June, the local rag becomes a flaming hotbed of strong debates by the pro and anti camps. Many supporters of the right for Joe Public to spend thousands of dollars on small thermo-nuclear devices set off fireworks, playing the 'outback frontier spirit' card and taking unreserved delight in 'getting revenge' on year long barking neighbourhood dogs (granted, this is an extremely irritating problem in Darwin, however the irony of getting 'revenge' by creating a situation that causes 90% of dogs to go into an epic barking meltdown seems lost on many people), while opponents voice concerns about the disturbance to pets and wildlife and the potential for injury and property damage (case in point, one of our neighbours set part of my parents' garden on fire last year).

Personally I used to sit somewhere in the middle. Hell, I was a kid once (I was!) and fireworks can be a lot of fun. But now I'm a cranky old killjoy with a finely honed sense of being annoyed by village morons. Besides, cracker night doesn't last one night any more, it's more like 4-6 weeks, plus a few random 3am drivebys throughout the year, they're far too dangerous to be letting off in suburban areas during our driest period of the year, and it's heartbreaking to see pet dogs fleeing in absolute terror through the suburbs during the late afternoon. And here is one of the worst consequences of fireworks;

In the days following Territory Day I can easily collect several kilos of plastic fireworks casings much like this (not my image as I forgot to grab a camera) - or worse if they are of the type that explodes into tiny shards..

Many people go to the beach specifically to let off fireworks, dumping hundreds of kilograms of plastic debris straight onto the beach - and straight into the sea. Despite clean up efforts some are always missed and these shells and casings will wash up over the course of the next year, until the dwindled supply is topped up again next July. One of the more surprising things about this, considering the Territory prides itself on its fishing resources, is the absolute lack of public awareness around this problem, the provision of adequate bins at prime beach spots, or any form of education encouraging people to take their trash home with them.

 Apparently independence doesn't extend as far as cleaning up your own mess.

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