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Go country for Cockburn

Saturday, 24th September, 2011

TIMES ARE TOUGH: But the people of Cockburn - including guitarist Ryan Esam - are tougher and they want BH people to share their community spirit. TIMES ARE TOUGH: But the people of Cockburn - including guitarist Ryan Esam - are tougher and they want BH people to share their community spirit.

By John Casey

 The tiny Barrier Highway hamlet of Cockburn may again be facing financial ruin at the hands of the SA Government, but its residents are putting up a brave fight for survival and want Broken Hill to support their plans.

In two weeks the “Cockburn Country Revival” will be staged in and effort to raise much needed funds for the community which is suffering extreme hardship because of a massive spike in water rates.

Since June 1, Cockburn and other towns on the BH-Adelaide highway such as Manna Hill, Olary and Yunta have been hit with a huge hike in fees from SA Water which is crippling the communities.

“We just can’t comprehend it,” Cockburn Progress Association President Ryan Esam said.

“We are being asked to pay almost four times the water price that consumers are charged in suburban Adelaide and it just isn’t sustainable.

“We understand that the cost of living is going up everywhere and that everyone has to pay for the services that are provided, but what SA Water is doing is ridiculous,” Mr Esam continued.

The Barrier Highway communities are now being told they must pay $11 per kilolitre for water once they breach the 0.32-kilolitre threshold, while metropolitan consumers are charged a maximum of $2.98 according to Mr Esam.

“In Adelaide they have a tiered system where charges increase in three or four increments and it never rises above $3,” Mr Esam explained.

“But our area goes from the $1.93 starting point straight to $11 - and that is for water that is non-potable.

“SA Water tells us don’t drink the water, not to cook with it and don’t brush your teeth with it - and then wants $11 per kilolitre for the product - it doesn’t make sense,” Mr Esam added.

After the SA Government proposed to close down the small communities along the Barrier Highway in the early 1990s, locals are entitled to wonder if this is another attempt to undermine their futures.

Regardless, the people of Cockburn are digging in their heels and have planned a huge celebration for the weekend of October 14-16 to raise much needed capital to help fund the town’s future.

 The “Cockburn Country Revival” will be a three-day extravaganza headlined by nationally-acclaimed musical talents Luke Dickens and Luke Austen.

As well as live music throughout the weekend there will plenty of free activities, an art competition, community garage sale and an emphasis on kids’ entertainment.

“We want to celebrate our country life with music, art and community spirit,” event organiser and Cockburn Hotel Publican Meredith Esam explained.

“It is about putting Cockburn back on the map with perhaps the biggest event staged by the Progress Association since Slim Dusty performed here more than 10 years ago and will help re-invigorate our community.

“We want to see thousands of people flood into town over the three days and all the proceeds will go to the Cockburn Progress Association to ensure there are funds for the future,” Mrs Esam continued.

Organisers are hoping to draw people from Tibooburra in the north, as far east as Cobar and from Barrier Highway communities like Yunta and Peterborough, but BH is expected to provide the bulk of visitors.

Tickets have already been sold to people in Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

“There is a great tradition shared by Cockburn and Broken Hill and we want to build on that historic relationship,” Mrs Esam, who re-opened the Cockburn Hotel in May, added.

“Broken Hill people don’t have to travel too far (50km) to enjoy a great event in another state, so come and enjoy a party in South Australia.”

For further information and accommodations bookings, phone (08) 8091-1634 or go to the website; cockburn.org.au.

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