Clean Up Australia Day

Today is Clean Up Australia Day, a day in which volunteers tidy up their environment, from the beaches, rivers and creeks, parks, public bush lands, shops and malls, school grounds and outdoor transport areas. The campaign, online at, was started by Ian Kiernan, an Australian builder and solo yachtsman. As he sailed around the world in 1987 he was shocked at the extent of pollution and rubbish he saw in areas such as the Sargasso Sea in the Caribbean. When he returned to Sydney he enlisted friends and developed a campaign to enlist 40,000 volunteers to clean up Sydney Harbour. In 1990, the following year, almost 300,000 volunteers enrolled for Clean Up Australia Day. Clean Up the World was launched in 1993, involving approximately 30 million volunteers in 80 countries.

Clean Up Australia 12 Apostles

Clean Up Sydney Harbour BridgeThis year’s TV campaign, “That Mucky Country”, focuses on the ruin of Australia’s classic scenery by rubbish. To the tune of “Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree”, the spot opens on what at first appears to be Uluru (Ayers Rock) at dawn. But no, it’s an overflowing rubbish bag left on the ground. And no it’s not a rocky outcrop in the Grampians, it’s trash. A bicycle wheel replaces Sydney Harbour Bridge. A plastic blag swims through water like a jellyfish would through the Great Barrier Reef. Brown bottles replace the 12 Apostles rock formations on Victoria coast. A gloved hand reaches down and picks up one of the bottles. The camera shows us that we’re looking at volunteers on the beach near Port Douglas, north of Cairns.


Mucky Country was created at DDB Sydney by creative director Carry Horner, creatives Michael O’Rourke, Daniel Lunn and Charlie Cook, with agency producer Sean Ascroft.

Filming was shot by director Ken Lambert via Film Construction with producer James Shulz. Photography and retouching were done by Trent Henderson and Graham Jones.

Earlier Campaigns

Clemenger Proximity Sydney is the advertising agency behind the earlier Clean Up Australia advertising campaigns.

Bag Yourself a Better Environment

Clean Up Australia - Say Not To Bags - Bag Lady“I’ve been through my fair share, I must say. One minute they’re by my side, next day I shove em. Then you see them down the beach. They’re in the street and it’s so embarrassing. Now I just have to refuse the offers. Thankfully I’ve got really close to this new one. I’ve come to realise how useful they can be. Strong. Reliable. Great with the shopping. Best of all, if I don’t have this one by my side I know I can easily pick up another one!” The super: Refuse & Recycle Plastic Bags. Bag Yourself a Better environment.”

Video Store

Clean Up Australia video store say no to bagsA woman behind the video store counter asks her male customer, “Just the video?” “Those two thanks”. “Would you like me to put them in something that blocks up drains and creeks, injures our precious marine life contributing to the 230,000 plastic bags dumped in landfill every hour, taking up to 1000 years to break down?” “Ahm… I’ll just carry them!” Voiceover: “It’s time to think about what you’re really asking for. Say no to plastic bags.”

Supermarket Checkout

Clean Up Australia Supermarket Say No to BagsThe checkout attendant says to her customer, “Good afternoon. Five fifty thanks.” “Can I get something to put those in that’s going to injure marine life, clog our drains and landfill adding to six billion other plastic bags used every year that aren’t recycled meaning most end up as rubbish.” “You could just use one of these…”, says the attendant, holding up a green re-usable shopping bag. Voiceover: “It’s time to think about what you’re really asking for. Say no to plastic bags.”

This spot was directed by Peter Mether at Film Headquarters, Brisbane.

Clean Me

Clean Up Australia Clean Me RussoThis ad, from 2005, features Merrick and Rosso, Australian comedians. Russo opens the ad by wiping clean a screen with the words “Clean Me”. He says, “Gidday Australia. Did you know Sunday March 7 is Clean Up Australia Day. It’s your chance to give this brown old land of ours a good old clean. So don’t just sit there Australia – get on down to your local clean up site and help make Australia shine. Visit cleanup dot com dot au or call 1800 024 890.” At this point the camera pans out to reveal Merrick idling on a couch as volunteers around him pick up rubbish. The blue gloved hand of a coordinator taps him on the shoulder and urges him to get into action. Sponsors listed are Collex, Ford and McDonalds.

  • helen


    I am all for the Bag Yourself a Better Environment Campaign. The sentiment is highly commendable. However the campaign never attempts to educate the public on what do use to line our household (kitchen and toilet) rubbish bins instead. Whenever I ask the check-out chicks at the local supermarkets for example, “what are we supposed to use for our kitchen tidy bin lining if not these plastic bags?”, they answer, “I don’t know” or, “you can buy some kitchen tidy plastic bags from here if you like”.

    Obviously that would defeat the purpose, big time!

    The only alternative I can think of is to line the bins with newspaper. This can be messy but if you don’t live in an apartment (which I do) then you –
    i)can compost your fruit and vege waste in the back yard; and
    ii) don’t have to use the garbage shoot (you are not permitted to toss loose garbage down the shoot in any apartment building).

    However even if you don’t live in an apartment, if you read the newspaper on-line so never buy a physical hard copy newspaper (as I do), then this is not a practical solution either.

    I would dearly love to stop using the grocery store plastic bags but currently I believe I need them. Can you help me solve this problem please? Can you please incorporate an education campaign about the alternatives available also.


  • alfred

    im cooler than this website

  • John

    Hi Has anybody got or knows where I can find the clean up australia ad where they say yucky yucky yucky poo what are we gonna do????? I used to love watchin that ad when I was a kid!!!!!


  • Samantha

    i love cleaning up and to help u can clean up too!!!