A Scenic Tip Down Under

Kimbriki Tip, Sydney


Among the definitions for ‘tip’ is one I’ve only seen used in Australia: ‘a place where rubbish etc. is tipped’, as per my Australian Modern Oxford Dictionary.

In my mother’s New Jersey town, she had to take recycling to a local center and wait for monthly curbside pickups to get rid of larger stuff. My Connecticut home town has a local dump, which residents can use any time.

In our continuing quest to rationalise and reduce the amount of stuff in our lives, which I wrote about in Stuff, Writing, and the Holidays, Clive has introduced me to an amazing new place right here in Sydney.

Can you guess what it is? It’s not a romantic picnic spot overlooking Sydney Harbour or a walking path along the Northern Beaches, though he’s taken me to those places, too. Currently our regular destination is only ten minutes away from where we live: the Kimbriki Tip.

Dirt road in Kimbriki Tip, Sydney

 I’ve asked friends and neighbours about the meaning of the word ‘Kimbriki’. No-one knows but everyone says it sounds Aboriginal. A Google search yielded little in the way of word origins; the closest I could find was a government geoscience reference to Kimbriki formation, sandstone used in Kimbriki limestone. Whatever the possible meanings of the word, to me it lends an aura of other-worldliness to going to the tip. And that’s before we even get there.

A Strange, Scenic Place

Australia makes it easy to recycle with weekly kerbside pickups of paper, cans, and bottles. Numerous charity shops take clothing, books, and other stuff year-round. Twice a year, the local council has a kerbside pick-up for larger stuff.

So until last week I’d never been to a tip in Australia. When we realised we had too much shredding and stuff to store until next month’s pick-up, we decided to take some stuff to the tip ourselves.

There may be other tips like Kimbriki, but I was amazed firstly at how massive it is and then how strange it felt to drive around inside it, knowing giant landfill pits surrounded us. It seems surreal that a place so beautiful is full of junk and stuff. We’ve learned Kimbriki is slated to become parkland in the not too distant future.

I remember watching the TV show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood with my son years ago, when the puppets did a skit about taking garbage from one town to another. ‘Our dump is full,’ said the first puppet. ‘I’m sorry,’ said the second, ‘but our dump is full, too.’ Mr. Rogers then talked about the importance of recycling.

We’re Going to the Tip – Hooray!

Clive and I are doing our best to recycle everything, but we still have another carload of stuff for the tip. As far as clearing clutter, it feels heavenly to know we’re making progress. Hooray, we’re going to the tip! I really must get a life.

I’m thankful Kimbriki is available to us for now, and look forward to the day it becomes a park, surrounded by the beautiful Australian bush.

Kimbriki Tip, Sydney

13 Responses

  1. Hi Carol,

    An interesting post. From someone who is interested in language and its various usages in World Englishes, I’m sure you know that the terms “garbage” or “trash” are more commonly used in the United States. All municipalities, companies, contractors, etc. that use Centre County Solid Waste “landfill,” (a euphemism, if you ask me) must pay “tipping” fees. For example, when we were remodeling our house and put new siding on, we had to pay a tipping fee to have our contractor dispose of a truckload of junk for us. Needless to say we cleaned out a lot of stuff from the basement to fill the truck.

    A real advantage of living in State College is that they have curbside recycling pick up every week in addition to normal garbage collection and we can always call in a non-holiday week for a “riff-raff” pick up on Wednesday, which means that we can get rid of anything big such as a sofa or a large appliance. This comes as part of what we pay for yearly garbage collection. Students tend to leave all kinds of big stuff, especially sofas and mattresses when they move out of apartments around town, so it is necessary to collect this stuff or there would be junk all over town. So the rest of us can get rid of excess stuff too!

    Actually I need to get into my closet and get rid of “stuff.” I do have a pile of clothes that I will take to Goodwill, but the floor of my closet is piled high. I thought I would get to it over the holidays, but I did not. Yes indeed, getting rid of stuff makes one feel so virtuous!

    As far as place name origin is concerned, I always think it is interesting how many place names in the United States come from Native American languages; Ho-Ho-Kus comes to mind for example, but historically there was little respect nor interest in the Native American culture until much more recently.

    I have produced such a rambling response, and now I must hurry home to be there in time so I can have my rather large piece of stuff–a washer–fixed.


  2. The word tip is used the same way in the UK too. We had ‘binmen’ who collected the ‘rubbish’ every week, but they wouldn’t take garden stuff so my dad would have to make special trips to the tip with that. Actually, most of the time he went to what here in the US I’ve learned to call the ‘transfer station’ – a collection of dumpsters that are then taken to the tip to be emptied.

  3. You are making some serious progress on your cleaning!!

    What a funny — and interesting- post idea, to take us to a tip! Brilliant!!

    (you are totally becoming Australian, note the use of “kerb” vs. “curb” . . .hahahaha)

  4. Carolyn,
    the best part about Kimbriki is not what you take there, it’s what you take away. They have a recycling centre for timber.The wood might have some nails in it or paint on it but it’s still solid wood at a fraction of the cost of new timber. Almost all of my woodwork and building projects use Kimbriki timber.

    They also turn all non-reusable timber, grass and tree clippings etc into compost and all brick, concrete and tiles gets turned into roadbase. Apart from the smell it’s a great place.

  5. Carolyn
    You know you have truely become Australian when you don’t use the word Kerb (or curb) at all and you find yourself calling it a “gutter” !!

  6. Carolyn, we have a tip less than 5km away from our town. We have garbage pickup, but any excess goes to the tip. It wasn’t always so; the children and I would take all of our rubbish to the tip, sometimes twice a week. It’s only open on a Sunday now and we only have to make the trip about every 3 to 4 weeks. Each time, though, one of my men brings something back. I used to complain, until I started going to the tip again. Just last week, I spotted two beautiful victorian head and footboards in perfect condish. The Machinist wouldn’t let me take them, though, and I wasn’t going to argue, lest I appeared to be a hypocrite. tee heee..

    Lovely post and all this to say – I can relate.

    Yipeeee… the tip!

  7. Hi Carlyn & Clive,
    Bonjour !!
    I can leave it to C&C to take us to trips to the most exotic spots on earth hehe and no, I haven’t been to Kimbriki… before knowing you guys !!

    I would say that it is all going with your current plans to clean,rcycle & toss out. Congrats are in order that you are making progress !
    It’s not easy to sift through the material from times past, but we have to at one point or another.

    Bon courage; you will make it.
    If you are tuckered, why not pop over virtually on “my virtual beachst”. Come on over; the water is fine 🙂

  8. Thanks, everyone! Eleanor, I do know re ‘garbage’ and ‘trash’ — here in Oz I also love the word ‘rubbish’. It’s an obvious noun but I particularly like it as an adjective; e.g., ‘what a rubbish policy’ 🙂

    Almost American, I guess ‘transfer station’ is common in the U.S. now and really what my mother had – just large dumpsters that probably got taken to a tip!

    Km B, I do try to be bi-lingual … kerb, curb … and Mrs. ChipNDale, yes I must remember — the gutter!

    Phil, I had no idea your stunning woodwork includes Kimbriki timber. That is fantastic.

    Helen, welcome and thanks for your comment! I really look forward to exploring your blog and reading about your machinist and your three (!) adult sons. (As the Aussies say, ‘good on you, mum’ 🙂 )

    xpat92, as always your understanding is awesome and appreciated. It is indeed tough at times to go through this process, but the rewards are there, too. And your photographs of Hawaii beaches are fabulous!! As much as I adore our Sydney and Australia beaches, you remind me of the magic of Hawaii.

    Cheers all.

  9. We have binmen everyweek, and they take normal rubbish, and paper, jars, bottles plastics ..and then everyother week on top of normal, they take garden waste and cardboard….anything else we take to the Tip This place has different skips for different items, electical, carpets, solvents etc etc..

  10. I haven’t heard of the word tip before. We’ve been to one in Provence which is for recycling things like batteries, computers and TVs. I haven’t seen a huge one for garbage as of yet.

  11. Hi Carol,

    Yes, I agree that “rubbish” makes a useful adjective. I could say that you have gone over to the “dark side” with “kerb,” but really we can blame the whole mess on Latin because the Romans had 3 letters for writing the “k” sound: C, K, and Q. At that point C also did double duty as the “G” sound. Later the Romans invented a new letter by putting a bar across the “C.”

    It’s a wonder that the Romans didn’t drop the “Q” sound altogether, but they made it even more difficult by inventing the “Qu” combination.

    British English tends to like using the “K” sound while the Americans, after fighting 2 wars with England, wanted a more distinctive flavor thereby going more often with the “c” sound. Written Australian English has many similarities to British English, although a distinctive vocabulary developed in that country from the earliest days.

    In novels written in the early part of the 20th century a reader is more likely to read about a car pulling up at the “curbing” rather than the “curb.” One reason for that is few houses had attached garages or driveways at that time; the houses were built first, and the garages were added at the back and the access to the garage was provided by an alley that a number of home owners used to get to their garages. To pick up people in the front of the house, rather than driving up the driveway, the driver had to pull up at the “curbing.” Only later was “curbing” shortened to “curb.”

  12. Hi Carol,

    So thanks for the inspiration. Yesterday I completed cleaning out my own closet, a job that I have been postponing for at least the last year or so! Now I just have to get the bags of old “stuff” into the car and to the local Goodwill drop off. Yeah!! Now if I could just straighten out my students that easily.


  13. Eleanor, good on ya for cleaning the closet 🙂

    To all who were kind enough to comment: I realise that I said Australia makes it easy to recycle but I didn’t specifically state that we also have normal garbage pick-up twice a week. (Just want to clarify that lest anyone think we have to schlep prawn heads and potato peels somewhere – no worries about that!) The garbage/rubbish is even collected on holidays like Australia Day and Christmas Day, which amazed me when I first moved here. Go Australia!!

    More on stuff and writing soon.


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