Australian news, and some related international items

Barkindji people have title to Darling River area – but their river is dying, killed by drought, and whiteys’mismanagement

Indigenous community say they’ve lost their culture to water mismanagement, SBSThis is the final part in a series of reports from communities along NSW’s Darling River that have been impacted by water mismanagement and drought. BY ANEETA BHOLE 18 Oct 19,  An Aboriginal community in rural NSW fears their culture may be lost, as dry conditions and low river flows threaten the future of the Darling River.

The Barkindji people have lived, hunted and passed down their oral history on the banks of the Darling for more than 40,000 years.

Now the river is drying up due to over-extraction by irrigation upstream and drought.

The community’s fears surfaced at a recent corroboree in the small town of Wilcannia, which was once a thriving Murray-Darling River port.

The Yaama Ngunna Barka corroboree had been travelling to towns along the river from Walgett to Menindee. The corroboree have been travelling to towns in outback New South Wales in a bid to raise awareness about the plight of the Darling river.

‘Dead water’

Lilliana Bennett can still recall her grandmother talking about taking the family down the riverbank to fish and hunt for goanna. The river was a place of safety and community for her family.

“It’s a place they go to relax, to tell stories,” she told SBS News.

“For me, it’s been really devastating, I mean we went down and camped by the river where there’s still a bit of water around and it just doesn’t have the same feeling, it’s dead water.”…….

With water levels at an all-time low and the drought continuing to ravage the region, native animals have also started to disappear from the river banks. Many with spiritual significance. …….

The Barkindji community fought for Native Title of the land – covering 128,000 square kilometres — from Wentworth at the Victorian border to near Wanaaring in the state’s north-west, including Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Menindee, Pooncarie and Dareton.

They started the claim in 1997 and won two decades later, but many have said without water flowing in the river they feel robbed. …….

Case for change

Last month, the National Resources Commission (NRC) released an independent report looking into the water-sharing plan of the Barwon-Darling River system.

The system takes in the the Barwon River, from upstream of Mungindi at the confluence of the Macintyre and Weir rivers, to where the Barwon meets the Culgoa River.

At this point the river channel becomes the Darling River and the Barwon–Darling system extends downstream to the Menindee Lakes.

It found that provisions that allow increased access to low flows resulted in poor ecological and social outcomes downstream of Bourke, including the town of Wilcannia where part of the Barkindji community live.

The NRC has made 17 recommendations, including one which has called for stricter regulation of when irrigators, including cotton farmers, can pump water from the river……….  HTTPS://WWW.SBS.COM.AU/NEWS/INDIGENOUS-COMMUNITY-SAY-THEY-VE-LOST-THEIR-CULTURE-TO-WATER-MISMANAGEMENT

October 19, 2019 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment

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