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Rising river lifts the spirits

Saturday, 23rd January, 2010

* Dwayne Roberts and Ronald Wilson cool off in the Darling River on Thursday. * Dwayne Roberts and Ronald Wilson cool off in the Darling River on Thursday.

The filling of the Darling River is bringing joy to Wilcannia, locals say.

On Thursday the fast flow and rising river was the talk of the town as people swam, fished and sat by the water. Former Wilcannia local Ronald Wilson and his pal Dwayne Roberts were at the river and were blown away by its presence. "It's too hot to sit at home so we decided to come down for a swim," said Mr Wilson, who now lives in Renmark.

"I was back just before May. It was really dry, bone dry, dreadful. "It's beautiful now actually. You don't see it flooded very often but when you do it's amazing." The Central Darling Shire Council's General Manager, Tim Hazell, said the flow of fresh water was having another beneficial effect.

"I think there's a whole heap of optimism and a cleansing sort of feel for the place," Mr Hazell said. "I don't know about the police stuff but it seems to calm everyone. "It's good and positive rather than the negative talk like 'there's no water and it's hot.'" But Mr Hazell said the surrounds were still very dry. "It would have been even better if we could've had some rain," he said.

"We've got a good healthy river flow and that's wonderful but landholders are still suffering, still feeling the pinch. "It hasn't stopped the drought." Mr Hazell said that despite the increased media interest in the flowing river, there did not seem to be an increase in visitors to enjoy it. "I don't know if I've noticed that but there's been lots of media interest."

Yesterday at the main channel the river was 8.35 metres and rising. It's expected to peak at 9.4m on February 9.

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