Paradise under threat

Recently I attended a Rivers SOS conference at Booral near Gloucester. Rivers SOS is an alliance of 40 groups from all over NSW committed to protecting the integrity of river systems and water sources against the impacts of mining.

The weekend was held at Country River Camp, an informal and natural grassy camping area right by the Karuah River. Keith and Margaret Wynne, who own Country River Camp, love their river and are strong supporters of those who fight to protect it.

On Sunday we were taken on a tour of this beautiful, well-watered area, under grave threat from the expansion of the two coalmines in the district. It’s hard to get a peek at the so-called ’boutique minery’ of Duralie mine, tucked away from the main roads as it is. But they’re expanding way beyond boutique, and if they get their way it will be all too visible.
rivers-1 Many farms, like the one below, have already been bought up for hard-to-resist prices; across other paddocks we could see dozens of test drill pipes under their white caps.
rivers-2 This region is watered by pristine rivers and creeks that rise in the nearby World Heritage sub-alpine Gloucester and Barrington Tops. And yet the mine wants to discharge its toxic waste water into these streams.

They call it ‘irrigating’, which means indirect discharge, as the waste will just take a bit more time to reach the rivers as it enters the many gullies and watercourses of the river flats and slopes they want to use for this (below).
rivers-3These gullies run into Mammy Johnsons River (below), which flows to the Karuah River and thence to the tourist and marine environment mecca of Port Stephens.

If beauty like this doesn’t matter, with water becoming such a precious commodity, it has to be an obscenity to consider mining this area which is also blessed with fertile soils.

We can’t drink or eat coal.

Read moreParadise under threat

Mining madness

Our governments appear to be blind, mad or bad when it comes to coal. This is just one instance.

Firstly there is the madness of having approved, in 2007, a mega coal mine that in Stage One will produce 127 million tonnes of coal over 15 yrs for the world to burn to make more CO2 — just what we need; now they are contemplating approving Stage Two, to produce 17 million tonnes of new coal per year for 24 years — even better if we don’t want the global warming to slow down.

This Moolarben mega-mine, owned by  Felix Resources, will comprise three opencut mines and a longwall underground mine.

The second evidence of madness ( or whatever) is where the mine is to be located:  in close proximity to the Goulburn River & The Drip Gorge area that abuts the Goulburn River National Park.

The three opencut mines will trash the picturesque Moolarben valley, rich in bird life and biodiversity, will displace many farming families in this area and come within 2 kilometres of the village of Ulan and local primary school. I’m sure they will welcome the health benefits from all the heavy metal laden fine dust particulates and the 24-hour noise, lights and stress.
drip-1The Drip’  in Goulburn River National Park under threat from mining; get the scale of its grandeur from the two figures at its base.

Read moreMining madness

Defeating the dinosaurs

coal-dinosaurIn the months before the international climate conference in Copenhagen the dinosaurs of the coal industry are spending up big on lobbying to keep things the way they like them and helping the usual crew of Parliamentary dinosaurs to block the creation of hundreds of thousands of badly needed new clean energy jobs.

Now a coalition of organisations including World Wildlife Fund Australia, the Climate Institute, the ACTU, the Australian Council of Social Service and the Australian Conservation Foundation, have launched a counter-camapign.

You can add your voice to it by visiting the WWF’s Road to Copenhagen website and sending a message to your local MP.

Coal port takeover

Although I’d only been home for a few days, last Saturday I drove to Newcastle to help take over the harbour entrance to this major coal exporting port.

It’s the fourth year that the dynamic climate change action group, Rising Tide, have organised the event at Horseshoe Beach. This is a peaceful, family-oriented way to protest that the continuing export of our coal for the world to burn in power stations is fuelling global warming and thus climate chaos.

That’s me in the red hat, centre left, camera in hand.

This lone polar bear –  who sat there all day – said it all. The police boat kept a close eye on him: it’s the silent types you have to watch.

Kayaks were supplied, but many people brought their own water transport, from surfboards, sailboats and rubber dinghies to inner tubes and floaties. Some had made rafts of limited navigation and dubious flotation abilities, but great ingenuity and sense of fun.

I didn’t do much paddling about, being a bit of a wuss waterwise, opting to help out in the kitchen tent instead.

This year, the port authorities didn’t wait for the people occupying the port for the day to have the chance to actually stop any coal ships leaving the port. They cancelled them anyway.

This made the protest a success before it started and also kept the tension and the numbers of police down from previous years.

See Rising Tide’s website for further details on the day and their ongoing great work. People power does work: you might like to get involved.