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Two years ago Aydan Wyse started picking up rubbish from the side of the road and leaving the bags for local councils to dispose of; now, it his full time job and local businesses and random people make donations to keep him going. Image: Geoff Helisma

A wise decision and random acts of kindness

Geoff Helisma|

Aydan Wyse was in a bad place in 2017, his relationship had broken down and depression was threatening to take control – two years later, the action he took to heal himself has blossomed into a phenomenon.

The Independent first spoke with Aydan in December 2017 after people noticed bags full of rubbish neatly placed along the side of the road in Iluka.

At the time, Dennis Blake posted on the ‘Iluka community General Q & A, information and concerns’ Facebook page: “Hey folks, anyone know who the fella was picking up rubbish on the side of the road?

“…Track him down, ’cause if he aint on the work for the dole scheme then he deserves a carton of beer or a couple of bob from me.”

Subsequently, people from the Lower Clarence to Cairns and even Alice Springs have adopted Denis’s “a couple of bob from me” advice … and more, much more.

The Independent caught up with Aydan before he headed back to Cairns, where he now lives.

He recently spent two weeks holidaying with his six-year-old son, Ky, in and around Cairns – all courtesy of donations from random people and businesses.

Flight Centre Cairns gave him tickets to fly south and back; and when he was in Cairns he and his son travelled in a car given to him by five Cairns businesses.

And, after two years without a phone, two Lower Clarence businesses, Maclean Mobile Barn and Signcraft & Design have now taken care of that problem.

After leaving the Lower Clarence, Aydan hit the road with just his trusty thumb to hitch a ride, his meagre possessions in his backpack.

First stop, Evans Head, where some council staff didn’t know what to make of this man bagging rubbish on the side of the road.

“You’re picking up too much rubbish and making us look bad – you’ll have stop,” someone said to him, hinting he could be arrested for “illegally dumping rubbish on the side of the road”.

Aydan told the man he was “happy to leave the town as it is” and dropped the bag he was carrying.

Meanwhile, his backpack, which he had set down near a bin, had been thrown into a garbage truck.

Subsequently, a passing youth worker stopped because he “saw I was upset” and took Aydan to the waste depot to try and retrieve his bag.

To no avail, however; the bag along with all his possessions had been destroyed.

Only wearing a pair of shorts, he went to the Wellspring Christian Centre, which gave him a shirt.

“As I was leaving town there was too much rubbish,” Aydan says, “So I went to IGA to get some bags and they donated money to me.

“I picked up another 400 bags on the Evans Head to Woodburn road.”

Since then “people offering me a place to sleep and to feed me” has virtually been a daily occurrence.

Initially setting out to “change [his] life” by regularly exercising, he was jogging along the side of the road around Goodwood Island, noticed the “rubbish and decided to start picking it up”.

“People beeped their horns and stopped and asked what I was doing.”

Aydan then worked his way to the NSW/Queensland border, picking up rubbish and receiving support from random people who appreciated his efforts.

Then he hitched to Hervey Bay.

“Quick Cat II took me out to watch the whales,” he says. “I got to swim with the whales and almost touch them – there were 300 people on the boat, then a German guy got in with me,” says Aydan.

There was a free trip to Fraser Island and the Palace Hostel and the Hub Backpackers gave him about a month’s accommodation.

Next stop, Airlie Beach, then Proserpine, all the while hitchhiking and picking up rubbish.

There, he enjoyed two complimentary trips around the Whitsundays on the Spank Me super maxi yacht and a free session from Skydive Australia; and there were many other “businesses right along the coast” that supported him.

But how did all of these people know about his work?

Aydan says he’s not too sure about how much social media has spread the word (he now has 6.5k followers), but thinks the mainstream media played a significant role. Over the past two years he has been featured on television programs – including The Project (which followed him for a week) –, “been on the ABC multiple times” and in newspapers.

“I say to people, ‘My name is Aydan Wise and my organisation is called ‘A Wyse decision – everyone can be a part of my mission’; they can take a picture of a bag of rubbish they’ve picked up and send it to my Facebook page and I’ll fly or walk to anywhere in the world, to wherever they, are and pick up the rest of the rubbish for free.

“I’m aiming to go around the world and create a ripple effect.”

In Alice Springs, Aydan met the mayor on the side of the road adjacent to the Todd River, where he had gathered up bags of rubbish.

Ayden says the mayor suggested he put the bags back down near the river because “putting rubbish on the road was making the town look bad”.

Ayden refused, so the mayor moved the 20 bags off the road.

“Then I got back to main road just as the mayor pulled up in his ute and I helped him load the bags.

“The traditional owners gave me a ‘skin’ name, ‘Jabanardi’.”

Next, he hitchhiked to Cairns, where a woman “hooked me up to five businesses,” says Aydan. “She interviewed me to put it on social media, to let people know.

“Then The Project got on to me and followed me for a week – and the woman said she’d give me a car.

“I turned up and there were five businesses who had prepared the car for me.”

So, what’s next for Aydan Wyse?

“I’m heading back to Cairns to keep on keeping on. I have no expectations, so there are no let downs, every day I wake up is a good day, I’m just happy to be alive.”

To find out more go to the ‘One Mans Effort to Clean the Clarence’ Facebook page.

Cairns businesses, Zenaco Cleaning Services, Inspired Signs, Cairns Cheapest Car Sales, Grip Tyre & Auto and Earthhost Airbnb Property Managers, provided Aydan with this car, which has the words ‘One Man’s Effort emblazoned across the bonnet. Images: Contributed
Flight Centre Cairns presenting Aydan with return tickets to fly south to pick up his son for the holidays. Image: Contributed