14 October 2022

Wagga's Tip Shop picks the treasure from the trash and keeps it out of landfill

| Chris Roe
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two people at tip

Michael Redmond and Tammie Cook pick the treasure from the trash and educate Wagga’s residents about landfill. Photo: Chris Roe.

For bargain hunters, collectors, artists and tinkerers, a trip to Wagga’s Tip Shop is like Christmas every weekend.

“On Saturday mornings there are sometimes up to 30 to 40 cars lined up at the front waiting to get in,” laughs Tip Shop attendant Michael Redmond.

“It can get quite hectic for the first hour and a half and you have to watch out for the people who move a bit faster!”

The Gregadoo Waste Management Centre Tip Shop is brimming with Wagga’s unwanted treasures, from computers and DVDs to bikes, tools and toys.

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Tammie Cook works in waste education and says it’s all about keeping things out of landfill.

“It’s surprising what people throw out,” she says.

“The guys spend four days a week picking through general rubbish at the transfer station finding stuff for the shop.

“Rather than recycle things, stuff just gets thrown out, but we still catch it.”

Man in sombrero

There’s always a surprise at the Tip Shop. Photo: Chris Roe.

Michael reckons he has one of the best jobs in town, spotting the treasures among the trash and sending them back out for a second life.

“I came from 24 years of hospitality so this was a huge change and lifestyle wise it’s been a great step,” he explains.

“The guys we work with are great and the customers that come out absolutely amazing.

“They all want to have a chat and find out if you’ve discovered anything cool.”

Michael and Tammie laugh as they describe some of the weird and wonderful things that have been discovered.

“Keeping it PG, I think the coolest thing I’ve come across was an unopened VHS set of the original Star Wars movies in mint condition,” says Michael.

“Sadly, we put 20 bucks on it and it went in about 30 seconds.”

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“We like to create our own little stories about why things ended up at the tip,” Tammie says with a grin.

“Obviously it’s all anonymous, but we’ll come up with our own ideas like – this must have been a disgruntled wife who got sick of all his Star Wars.”

She says that some genuine treasures turn up from time to time.

“We’ve found a lot of war medals that I think might be from estate-type cases where people were just cleaning up houses,” Tammie explains.

“We’ve found funeral urns, including a full one among some photos and personal items.

“People throw out camping gear and stuff that costs hundreds of dollars when you buy it.

“Bikes. How much is a bike? You can get one here for five bucks!”

Electronics and computers are a regular feature and Michael says there are plenty of locals who come down to pick up parts and look through the piles of laptops and CPUs.

“I’ve got actually an electronics professor out at the uni who comes in with his kids and he gets a lot of the electronic stuff and teaches them how to fix everything.”

The occasional appearance of live ammunition can be a problem, and Tammie says it’s important to educate people about what should and should not go into landfill.

“Some of these plastics take thousands of years to break down, your electronics can be pulled apart and recycled,” she says.

“It’s just amazing what people just are willing to throw out without thinking and that’s the culture we’re trying to change.”

So if you’re in the market for a bike, lawnmower, hand tools, glassware, a sombrero or even a pair of authentic German lederhosen, take a trip to the Tip Shop!

They are open Saturday, Sunday and Monday 8 am – 4 pm and you can find out more here.

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