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Bridge shut today

Friday, 13th March, 2020

Children in Wilcannia love having the river back and have been going down there every day to play PICTURE Ian Sutton Children in Wilcannia love having the river back and have been going down there every day to play PICTURE Ian Sutton

By Craig Brealey

The blockade of the bridge at Wilcannia and protests elsewhere should show the government that the west was determined to save the Darling/Baaka, said an organiser of today’s protest.

The bridge will be closed to all vehicles from 9.30am (CST) and will stay shut for as long as the people of Wilcannia wanted, said Barry Stone yesterday.

Protests in support of the Darling and Wilcannia will be held elsewhere in the country today, including on Sydney’s northern beaches and in Brisbane.

Brewarrina, Walgett, Bourke and other towns will also hold bridge rallies today.

In Wilcannia the day will begin at 9am with a smoking ceremony and the “welcome to country”. After that the bridge will be closed and the speeches will begin, said Mr Stone.

“The bridge will be blockaded for the day, but it’s up to the community to let us know when they’ve had enough,” he said.

“We could stay out for two or three days; it’s entirely up to the community.

“At the end of the day, the community will direct us. They have full say.

“There will be blockades all over the place. We’ve got the Knitting Nannas, mate!”

The Knitting Nannas formed in the NSW Northern Rivers region in 2012 to protest against gas fracking on prime agricultural land and the destruction of rivers and waterways. 

The Nannas attend protest sites where they sit down, knit and have a cup of tea.

“The Nannas alone will be on three bridges - two in Lismore and the bridge at Narrabeen,” Mr Stone said.

Narrabeen is on Sydney’s northern beaches and the Pittwater Bridge across the Narrabeen Lagoon is a main thoroughfare to the city.

In Parramatta protestors will march across the bridge to the offices of Water NSW.

In Sydney next week a protest banner will be hung from a bridge across from a hotel where water traders are due to hold a meeting on March 20.

More than two weeks ago the organisers of the Wilcannia blockade wrote to the Prime Minister and Cabinet to warn them of today’s action and to demand an end to the water trade.

They also sought a Federal Royal Commission inquiry into the management of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Mr Stone said the Prime Minister had not had the courtesy to even acknowledge receipt of the letter.

“Not a peep, but they’ll find out tomorrow,” said Mr Stone. 

“The government thinks because there’s only about 15,000 people out west they don’t have to worry, but they’d better start worrying,” he said.

“We are fighting for our lives here, for people and the environment.

“This flow we’re seeing now could be the last in 10 years or more because the cotton dams are getting bigger and the over-extraction is getting worse.

“They’re taking nine gigalitres per kilometre out; it’s open slather and the water from the floodplains is not metered.

“This has got to stop and water must be taken off the market. People are getting rich from ruining the river and our lives, and we cannot have that.”

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