Throughout central Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales, farmers hope spring will bring a thriving crop of canola. When flowering, the crop has a distinctive yellow glow, leading many to refer to it as the ‘Fields of Gold’. The farming heartlands, in which canola crops grow are only a day trip away; the plant only flowers for three or four weeks a year, but that’s enough time to send Instagrammers into a frenzy.
Farmers must now battle Instagrammers, as well as the drought. Canola is currently worth in excess of $650 per tonne, but the thousands of photographers who swarm these ‘Fields of Gold’ give little to no thought to the damage that they’re inflicting on farmers’ livelihoods.
As reported in Farm Weekly, "Tourists and day trippers looking at crops such as flowering canola could easily spread weed seeds and soil material that may contain a fungal disease on their footwear or vehicles to other properties, which could devastate crops,” says Jeff Russell (Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) grains biosecurity officer).
Can ignorance really be an excuse for trespassing onto private land in search of the perfect photograph?
A brief snapshot of the problem currently facing Geelong & Bellarine Peninsula.
Drones in Airport Airspace
Whilst documenting trespassers in crops, I was located approximately 500 metres from a major commercial passenger airport and multiple people were flying drones at maximum altitude (120 metres). I could literally see planes on the runway from where I was standing. It felt sickening to consider what would happen if a commercial aircraft collided with the drone at high speed. There was a clearly marked No Fly Zone, but the tourists didn’t seem to care.
The Real Impact
The ‘Fields of Gold’ are beautiful to look at and photograph, but what responsibility do we have to discourage trespassing and illegal behaviour on private property?
Click images for captions and larger images (Lightbox).
“If you had a stranger walk onto your property, how would you react?
If this impacted on your annual income negatively, how would you feel?
So why is it ok to jeopardise farmers’ financial security?”
The vibrant colours of canola field attract visitors far and wide, but do you really need to climb in it to get the shot?
Visitors need to recognise that the canola fields are someone’s private property, their livelihood, and are not planted for visitors to walk around in. The benefits of tourism to country towns are huge, but farmers are also being confronted with substantial damage to crops, especially in 2018, during a time where many parts of the country are experiencing drought. Additionally, the biosecurity risk — of tourists introducing pests and diseases — is substantial for farmers.