Apallingly Filthy & Dangerous- Dairy Cattle & Excrement on Road

Keith Watkins owns and operates a dairy on Main Creek Rd at Main Creek in the Dungog shire. Four times a day approximately 450 dairy cattle are allowed to wander and stand- often unattended and without appropriate warning signs- on Main Creek Rd for a stretch of about 4km around the dairy: on the way to and from being milked and while being milked, as well as 'stragglers' from the main herd being left on the road singly or in smaller groups.

This leads to highly dangerous, offensive and unhealthy conditions. The road is currently thickly covered for several km around the dairy with cow excrement. It is slippery and dangerous for motorists, not to mention unsanitary for anyone incautious enough to try to walk through that area.

The cattle standing on or meandering along the road constitute a major traffic hazard as well because they completely block the road for hours every day.

The cattle also walk through a creek, polluting it.

Keith Watkins could build laneways on his property so that the cattle are not on the road, but he said, in a meeting with council and LHPA representatives that he 'would not be taking any action in the future to construct laneways and remove cattle from the road'. This situation has existed for many years and little has been done by council to improve road safety along Main Creek Rd.

There have been many accidents and injuries over a period of many years. How long will it be until someone is killed?

Road conditions continue to deteriorate as Mr Watkins continues to increase the size of his herd following the building of a rotary dairy- approved by council with the proviso that landscaping would be done on the sides of Main Creek Rd where the cattle walk and stand, by a date now several years ago. These roadsides are in an horrendous state- a stinking quagmire of cow dung and urine. No landscaping has been done and there is no point- the cattle would only destroy any work done, as they do roadsigns, road surface and guide posts along the road.

Dungog council denies responsibility for the permit allowing cattle to be walked on the road. Responsibility lies with the Mid Coast LHPA (former PP board) which granted a permit to allow the cattle to be on the road. The conditions of this permit are being flouted daily. Luke Booth, a representative of the LHPA has said that all permit conditions are being met and that council is responsible for safety and the condition of the road.

Council appears to be trying to encourage tourism in the shire and many tourists travel along Main Creek Rd on their way to accommodation in Main Creek or to visit the forests. This leads to a situation where drivers are unaware of the cattle, may be driving at or near the speed limits, turn a corner and are confronted by a wall of cattle blocking the road and a road surface slick with excrement. Even locals are often caught unawares by the depth and slipperiness of the excrement on several corners, which frequently leads to drivers running off the road or having near misses with other vehicles and pedestrians. Council are well aware of the situation yet it continues.

I would like to know who will be held responsible when someone is killed by an ongoing situation which council denies any ability to remedy?


I agree totally with the comments on the condition of Main Creek Road in Dungog Shire. The road verges on unusable and must cost unending expense to those who live in this area. The excrement very quickly rusts out cars, those that aren't written off when accidents occur on the thick, slippery slick on the road surface. One wonders why one of the insurance companies which has paid out following an accident due to the state of this road has not sued those responsible for road conditions.

Yesterday 4 June Dungog Shire Council graded a small section of the excrement on the bitumen covered surface of Main Creek. The grading of the bitumen surface failed to remove much of the excrement and a wet. slippery coating remains on around 4km of this road. This is the start of a long weekend. Many of the residents of Main Creek and Dungog rely on tourism for an income, so groups and families must travel along this extremely dangerous road to get to the holiday area of Frying Pan in the National Park.
Also, because some residents of Main Creek have expressed serious concerns about accidents on this section of Main Creek Road, Dungog Shire Council has today erected two new signs warning drivers of slippery conditions on this road. Is this admitting their liability, I wonder? After all, Council is responsible for this road.

So Dungog council came out and graded some of the road near the dairy. That is some improvement, at least. Thank you, Dungog council!

Bear in mind though that this is a tar-surfaced road which was graded... The road condition is bad enough that manure can be scraped off the tar surface with a grader, which is usually used for dirt roads.

However the problem is not resolved. Manure remains on the road, despite some having been graded off. One corner in particular is still extremely dangerous and slippery. The 450 dairy cattle continue to stand and walk on the road daily. The pollution continues. Nothing has been resolved. This is purely a band aid measure, but still, it's something. Road safety has been improved slightly for a short period, but given the state the road was in before the grading, that's not saying a great deal.

Of course this is a long weekend. Mr Watkins appears to know that it's unlikely any authorities will be checking on the cattle during such periods and will probably be even more likely to leave them on the road unattended over the weekend, so by Tuesday the road will be in a worse state than it was before it was graded.

Long weekends are a time when many tourists use Main Creek Rd- the worst possible time to have cattle wandering the road, yet periods such as this are often the most dangerous.

Council have also left "slow down" and slippery surface (the graphic type) signs on either side of the manure-affected stretch. I wonder whether that will affect their liability when someone is seriously injured or killed?

As a lead-ganger for a well known country council, I believe I can answer your question.
The "slow down and slippery surfaces" will absolve any proportioning blame on council. Slow down does not mean you drop 10 kkkk'sss off your speed of 100kph.

Slow down means a top speed of 15 kph, the same as approaching a rail-road crossing, slow enough to bring a vehicle to a STOP quickly.

Slippery surfaces has the same speed limit, again to STOP quickly, these both slow speeds allow even the hand-brake to be applied, so in effective, you have 2 ways of stopping a vehicle, brakes and hand-brake.

Unfortunately, many drivers do not know the basic rules of country driving, what they do in the cities does not really suit those same habits in the country.

Should you knock down the signage, therefor allowing council to be liable will not work either, when the signs are erected, they are signed off by the supervisor over the workers who erected them. When time permits they are inspected periodically to see that they are maintained or have batteries replaced.

I believe the speed limit in that area is 80 kph and if there are cattle signs on the road, speed should drop to 50-60 kph.

Thank you very much for your clear, concise and very timely warning about the top speed of 15km speed limit when there are slow down and slippery signs in an area. Your explanation probably saved me from serious injury last Monday evening. At 5.45pm, just as we were driving VERY CAREFULLY at 15km/hour past the Watkins dairy, in pitch dark, with a quad shining its headlights directly into my eyes, with the cow sign (that is usually propped up against a garbage opposite the dairy) turned face down on the road, and with no cows standing on or near the road a black cow suddenly walked out onto the road in front of our vehicle. One metre behind the cow the dairy owner also walked onto the road, almost as though he were driving that cow onto the road. We managed to stop, then swerve around the cow and its owner and drive safely home at 15km/hour.
Perhaps you could also clarify whether the dairy owner has any responsibility for how he uses what I thought was a public road?

If a farmer knowingly has cattle, horses, pigs, sheep crossing from paddock to paddock a red light must be lit after sunset, visible to road-users. When this light is lit, legality says users must slow down to 15 klms ph. The light must be high enough to be visible for a distance of 200 mts,in both directions, reflective warning signs must be placed 100 mts before paddocks in question with a visible white light-lantern.
A good example of red-light is the one on the left side on the hill going towards Stroud, it is situated on top of the crest, just before the farm on the right before the over-head railway bridge.

In NSW, all farmers, citizens, ratepayers,are responsible for their animals being on roads, day or night, this means your dog or cat, bird,pig, sheep, cattle, horse, donkey, ass, camel etc etc etc if it escapes and is involved with a vehicle the owner can be up for all expenses for damage to said vehicle.
BUT only if you prove the animal belongs to the owner, in other words, if you hit a cow and it is blocking the road and a friendly farmer says he will remove it, get the ear-tags off first, this shows who the owner is, or dog tags, or cat collars.
Believe me, a good size dog can cause a lot of damage at 60 kkkksss.

If its a dog killed or cat, and if no-one claims responsibility, take it to a vet and get it scanned for micro-chip, showing owner. It just depends on how much damage there is and if you can find the owner.

That is why, never ever hit a animal in Queensland, the law is reversed, not so much reversed but, the farmer-owner is not responsible. Don't travel in outback Qld at night, unless its a semi. with a bull-bar.

Cark, i genuinely appreciate your advice and information, thank you. At least I now know that this dairy owner, who is giving all dairy owners a very bad name, is not following correct procedures.
Can I seek your advice yet again, please? There is no way this dairy owner will follow correct procedures. Complaints to Dungog Shire Council are met with instructions to contact the local Livestock, Health and Pest Authority (LHPA). There Peter Fotheringham, Senior Ranger at local office Mid North Coast LHPA has responded with an instruction to phone Luke Booth at the Maitland LHPA office. His response is that he will go and look at the problem. By the time he gets there the dairy farmer seems to have taken his cows off the road. The LHPA grants the "Walking Cows" Licence to this dairy on an annual basis and say that they do not see anything incorrect or illegal happening.
Yesterday was a good example of the lack of assistance from Council, the LHPA or the RTA to address cattle and road issues. In the afternoon some of this dairy's young cows, not milking age, had wandered from the LHPA land, where presumably they are kept, and were standing on the road for several hours. Council and the LHPA's response is as above.
Council states that, "the dairy operators now own contiguous parcels of land for 2.8 kilometres along Main Creek Road and internal lanes parallel to the road can be constructed to all parts of the property except for one parcel on the eastern side of Monkerai Road."
So why is everyone living, and trying to run small businesses in this area, disadvantaged by one person who in February stated that he would not build laneways.
Minister Ian McDonald ignores correspondence on this issue.
Please can you suggest anyone who may address this festering nightmare?
Thanks again for listening and replying.

Lorraine, have you photo-copies of all correspondance to the various offices regarding the above problems, try writing to the Ombudsman, who is not affiliated to any organisation or party. All Governmnt bodies are answerable to The Man.
Try taking photos with a date/time stamp on prints.This farmer wouldn't by chance be called Blueee,??

Back a few years ago, a Victorian farmer did the same thing, cattle crossing etc etc, the ppl whom moved into the area complained about the same problem and the farmer was taken to Court and he lost,the cattle were banned from doing what they did for the last 80 odd yrs and the farmer sold out.

If the farmer has a "walking licence" there is not much that can be done and the LHPA are correct when they say it is not illegal BUT it is not correct when moving animals at night on a public road, it stands to reason and common sense that lights and signage must be displayed after sunset

Carl, thank you so much for your suggestions. Yes, I have copies of all correspondence to the local council, several LHPA officers, the Dept. of Rural Affairs and Minister McDonald. I also have extensive video footage and now have a digital camera that date/time stamps photos.
Yes, you are correct about the name of the dairy owner.
Yes, the LHPA has renewed the walking licence on the grounds that no one has recently complained about the problem. There were no complaints because Luke Booth of the LHPA told people who contacted him that the dairy owner would build cattle walk ways by June 2009. What a joke!
Another response Luke made to complaints was that the dairy had been there longer than many property owners. That's correct except that originally there were around 150 cows. There is now over 450.
The council, when road safety issues are raised, uses local rates to grade a bitumen road to remove thick excrement.
At this stage I have been waiting over six weeks for replies or phone calls from Council, Luke Booth (Maitland LHPA), Peter Fotheringham (Mid North Coast LHPA) and Minister McDonald (who is obviously too busy cosying up to the wine industry to care about voters).

Hi Carl,
Thank you for your response. That does clarify matters somewhat. Yes, there is a red light at the Watkins dairy, but no, it is not visible in accordance with the requirements you mention.

However, frequently this light is not in use when cattle are being moved along the road by the farmer when it is dark. And yes, I would say that he knows that the cattle are on the road at these times without appropriate lighting, as I've frequently seen him within sight of the cattle.

At no time have I ever seen any white lights of any sort around the areas where the cattle walk on the road.

Thanks also for your tip on removing ear tags... It may be a useful piece of information to pass around the other locals here, as accidents involving cattle do occur.

the watkins family are one the few survivors in an industry that once employed hundreds of local people every road around dungog was covered in cow manure as working dairies were so close you could watch your neighbours milk their cows i can only guess that the people who complain about keith are pit streeters or blowins on 25 acre blocks if you dont like a bit of organic matter on the toorak taxi or find living in rural areas is on the nose go back where you came from maybe keith could use your block as a night padock

Not all of us are privileged enough to have had all our forebears interbreed closely in a small country town for untold generations. Not all of us are cemented to opinions formed in the 19th Century either.

Some of us too, are not victims of rural provinciality or perhaps aldsheimers. Please, Mr Abbot, join the rest of us in the 21st Century!

Yes, you are right, I guess you might remember that there were previously 18 working dairies along Main Creek Road- fifty years ago. Fifty years ago Dungog shire council was not trying to promote the area as a tourist destination anywhere near as actively as nowadays, if at all. Fifty years ago things were very different for the dairy industry. Fifty years ago DDT seemed like a good idea too.

Times change, Mr Abbot. Fifty years- even ten years ago, the world and Dungog shire was a very different place. It would be nice if you remembered that and made comments which are relevant to the present.

Now I'm not saying that your outdated opinions and old-fashioned arguments are those of a dinosaur with an IQ less than a chicken. Not at all! I am simply pointing out that most of the world has perhaps bypassed you and your opinions. Probably rightly so.

The dairy industry did previously employ hundreds of people. Nowadays the tourism industry employs a lot more people and brings a lot of visitors to the shire, some of whom visit Main Creek. Visitors expect a road which is passable, not blocked by hundreds of cattle and covered in excrement.

As you're so intent upon mentioning what once was... Once upon a time- not very many years ago in fact- the Watkins dairy was milking about HALF the number of cows it now does. That means that nowadays there are about TWICE the number of cows on Main Creek Road with a much larger daily traffic volume on the road.

I do not wish to identify myself or my family in this public forum because of the very real chance of extremely unpleasant repercussions from apparently ignorantly opinionated persons such as you and those you are so adamant in advocating. For that reason I will not answer your questions as to where I live or what I drive (supposing I were to drive any vehicle).

But I would ask: is there a reason why you attack the owners of small acreages or four wheel drives? Do you possibly have some deep, underlying feelings of inadequacy that perhaps require therapeutic resolution which isn't available in Dungog and/or which you have chosen not to avail yourself of?

Oh, and by the way, punctuation would have made reading your post marginally easier.

I do not feel any need to apologise for my ancestors nor do i see a need to hide behind anonimity. The land around maincreek ,alison ,fosterton etc carries no more cattle today then it did 50 years ago. As many dairy farmers changed to beef cattle others had to expand to survive. I very much doubt that bluey has been able to increase his stocking rate to any degree so he has acquired his neighbours farms and expanded. Good on him . There are far less animals on the roads then in the past. Far from applauding Dungog council i curse them for allowing the destruction of working farms via subdivision into 25 acre blocks.Tourism supports just a fraction of the families once supported by farming and hobby farms even less tourism is a big contributer to the consumption of fossil fuels and produces nothing . Tourists have always come to dungog and leave little behind apart from litter ,vandelism, cut fences and gates left open that they found closed. attacking farmers wont change that.Why is it that whenever little fish leave the big pond for the little pond they think their now big fish and can take over and destroy the lives of those who came before . As well as being a coward who hides behind anonimity you claim your arrogant veiws are those of the rest of the community and that any one who does not agree with you is living in the past .what crap. Livestock on roads are part life in rural areas and the times dairy cows are on the road when being taken for milking entirely predictable. YOU should learn to live with your neighbours not drive them out of business .

ps I apologise for my obviously inferior grasp of the english but i used to be a dairy farmer and i dont have a desire to use big words to impress people

ps i have checked my family tree and can find no evidence of inbreeding your wrong again

The key issue here is not your ancestry, your allegations of attempts to put a dairy farmer out of business, or the intolerance of long term residents of some country towns.
The key issue is the the filthy and dangerous road (ignored by local Council), the dangers associated with cows, calves and bulls standing on the road for many hours, the illegal
and dangerous quad driving antics of Mr Watkins employees and the impact of these on local residents and local tourism.
Months ago this matter was been brought to the attention of the relevant Minister, the Hon. Ian Macdonald and he has not even had the courtesy to reply.

To Richard Abbott. You miss the whole point. I too live in a rural area having moved from Sydney. The level of ignorance I have encountered is spectacular to say the least. I have found a lot of the local folk to be arrogant, ignorant, vindictive and most are quite chummy with local government authorities. They will not listen to logic citing they were here first. Times change, people change, rednecks don't. The person commenting anonymously is right to be wary. I have encountered the same rednecks mouthing off regularly. Hit them with facts and they say get a life and get all puffy chested as they have no intelligent argument. So Richard I say to you, like I say to all the other rednecks get dicked mate.


Are you afraid to focus on the issue, Mr. Abbott? In case you've lost the point of these posts it's about the illegal activities on Main Creek Road. Can you justify the filthy and dangerous activities related to the Watkins dairy, and the apathy of the authorities?
You say you were a dairy farmer. You obviously condone the dangerous behaviour of Mr Watkins and his employees. Did you also treat public roads as though they were your private property?
I wonder does the local council read these posts, and if it does, how it feels about comments like yours being read by potential tourists. And before you state that tourists are not important, let me reiterate that, like the Industrial revolution of the 18th-19th Centuries, change will occur. Dungog, like many smaller towns, has a declining population and needs new industries to create employment.

I think this is a rural area , maybe you should slow down whilst driving near the Animal Crossing.
or is this too hard.
I cant understand this post , its a Farming area.

Obviously you haven't read the initial posts, and equally obviously, you don't drive Main creek Road or you'd realise that it's not about an animal crossing. An animal crossing is what the people managing the dairy herd that used to cross the Stroud to Dungog Road near Dungog had. The Watkins dairy herd wanders unattended for many kilometres, with some calves and bulls often left out on the road all day. The cattle are unsupervised when crossing and the drivers of the quads sending the herd down to the gates are usually nowhere to be seen, or suddenly, with friends/co-workers doing balancing tricks on the quads, drive out of gateways on the apparent assumption that no one else uses that road.
No one is complaining about slowing down. The complaint is about major pollution, filthy road conditions, effluent on the road and in local and Hunter waterways, and a road that is frequently dangerous to use.


The word for the week, Mr Abbott, is "relevance". Do look it up, please. If you do manage to locate and actually use a dictionary or even, heavens forbid, something newfangled like a search engine, you may also want to look for the definitions of "harassment" and "flaming".

Obviously, not only are you not particularly literate, but you're not internet-savvy enough to be aware that typing in capitals is downright rude and potentially inflammatory.

Or was your intention to lead this thread off-topic and take the onus off council?

As a person who travels Main Creek Road regularly, given the attitude of "dairy farmers" such as yourself, shouting threatening irrelevancies online at people who only try to draw attention to the dangerous and revolting situation on and around that road and the Watkins' dairy, why would anyone want to let you know who they are? So you can harass them in person? I think not.

You know, the epithet "gutless" could also be applied to those who refuse to join the rest of us in the twenty-first century. Or those who are proud of their lack of literacy. I do believe that there are courses available to remedy that. So why haven't you attended any? Because you don't want anyone to know just how ignorant you are? Or because improving oneself might be seen in dairy farming circles as being socially unacceptable?

Personally, I don't move in those circles and have no desire to meet you or your dairy farming friends if they have the same ignorant, outdated attitudes as you imply they do. Given the threatening tone of your previous posts, I have strong concerns about my safety.

But I have been led off topic by concerns for safety. Please pardon my little digression.

This site is intended as a forum to air gripes about councils, not for you to flame residents or visitors. This topic specifically asks why Dungog shire council continues to allow the situation caused by the Watkins' dairy to continue. Little has changed since the original posts, so what is Dungog shire council doing about it?

Nothing, it seems.

Its a rural area embrace it.

I have read the posts but cant understand why all the fuss??

Roads are always dangerous to use, drive with care.

Chill out man , whats the big deal.

I Am sure dungog council would act if it had a genuine reason to act. Anonymous should take a look at him/herself. Anyone who disagrees with your point of view is and i quote "inbreed,has the iq of a chicken, is arrogant,ignorant , a redneck, lacks computer literacy lives in the past and a threat to your saftey" etc ,etc . It seems you feel vastly superior to the local people and resent them .You should discuss this with your therapist . Perhaps Mr Watkins did not invite you to his last barndance . The issue here IS speed anyone who manages to hit a cow on main creek rd hard enough to injure themselves or the cow is obviously driving too fast . As for quad bikes people used to use horses but people like you made that too dangerous .

You may not be aware that the cows have actually decreased their dumping since June perhaps we need to look at using different tread on our tyres or dont drive that way as for appalling condition what poo is appalling.



The cows have decreased their dumping, you say? Is that based on a per head assessment? how did you come to that conclusion, pray tell? Are you out there, sneakily measuring bovine output on a daily basis?

If you've perhaps erroneously measured the individual output of each bovine- because we're not just talking about cows here but also bulls and calves- and calculated the representation of each "category" of bovine within the herd then I'm sorry.

The facts are that your "statistics" are misleading. Even if each bovine excretes less per head, there are more and more HEAD of bovines on the road each day.

I don't think Keith Watkins is bothering to use some sort of bung system, so why would the cattle excrete less? Are they being fed less?

As for their being dehydrated... I'm not in the least surprised. The herd spends so long on the road each day that I sincerely doubt they're getting sufficient hydration as they don't spend a lot of time in their actual paddocks where their drinking water is.

By suggesting that the cattle may be dehydrated you are either maligning Mr Watkins' care of his herd or confirming that they do not have access to sufficient water because they're not in the paddocks where they have access to water. Or both.

Make up your mind and not specious "statistics".

EM, are you suggesting locals who live along Main Creek Road drive a different way to avoid using a road that Mr Watkins clearly regards as his private property, a belief that is condoned by Dungog Council and local police? How should they do that? Should they fly over the many kilometres of road used by the cows, calves and bulls for grazing. There is no alternate road.


You call me an idiot .I misinterpretted the blog.The article didnt indicate that there were other people living there.

Merry Christmas.....im on the wrong site!!!!

I have been reliably informed that the reduction in excrement on maincreek rd is due to mr watkins efforts in training his his cattle to use latrines on his property he should be congratulated. He should also be congratulated on his charitable contributions from his yearly barn dances

As Mr Watkins is so charitable maybe he would like to contribute to the cost of cleaning excrement from under vehicles using Main Creek Road, as well as the cost of replacing vehicles rusted out underneath due to the corrosive nature of the excrement from his dairy herd.
At least the excrement is no longer from a Johne's infected herd, so hopefully those Dungog car mechanics who worked on cars from the Main Creek area will no longer risk contracting Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

I can Not believe what i have just read ,why have most of you people moved to the country ?and when you were looking at these properties were there cattle there ?from what i have read ,Yes, so can i ask where your waste goes? into a trench that then seeps into the ground then into the local creek ?when you drive in the country you drive to the conditions that includes cattle,road surface,wildlife "SLOW DOWN",and if you are driving this road enough to get rust then you are living in the wrong place and you have a cheap car ,if you lived by the ocean would you ask them to remove the salt from the ocean ? LOL you all sound like bored little people who think the food supply chain should move for you ,and Guys (farmers your Council sounds like a breeze and at least Know there rules ) cheers greg

Theres better blogs on The Age Site.It too relates to the state of Dungogs shitty roads....

Having driven past this dairy with my wife and kids while on holidays (and without wanting to get into this dispute) i would like to say how fantastic it was to be able to show the kids a fully functional dairy and where the milk we drink every day comes from.
I would also like to question the truthfulness of the original article as i observed both fixed metal and temp. corflute cattle ahead signs each side of the diary. As for cattle on the road they seemed to be on the road side verge and attended by a young chap on a quad, not unattened at all.....

Whynge whynge whynge go get a life. Farmers are the life blood of this country. Piss off to where you came from. And this is coming from a kiwi that lives local here in the hunter. City slicking money grabbing mongrel that's all you are.

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