“Fisher folk, stand-up boarders, kayakers and everyone are invited to bring their sailboats, tinnies or whatever and come along with us to stand up for our inland rivers,” says Carol Carney.
Carol is the proud owner of “Sneaky Snag”, a beautiful 4.8 metre long blue and white trailor-boat that floats around the Murray River and other waterways near Echuca, one of Victoria’s primo river towns.
At 3pm on April 16, 2021, boats of all descriptions will launch into the weir-pool above Lock 32, at Menindee in Western NSW. This action is to demonstrate growing concerns and a deliberate course of action to improve the water management practices that have almost destroyed The Darling/Baarka River and The Menindee Lakes.
Carol Carney laments, “The Great Darling Anabranch and Menindee Lakes are still not receiving their environmental flows because, when it rains, the first order of business is to the large irrigators up in the Northern Basin who are given first access to the water. It should be to ecology, our natural systems, wetlands, lakes and fish nurseries that have first rights to that water, but now they are last! Fish don’t have Money!”
Carol Carney and Tuesday Browell were first made aware of how serious the problems on the Darling/Baarka were getting when they joined a protest action at Wilcannia. The action was a protest-blockade and closure of The Barrier Highway over the Darling/Baarka River at Wilcannia on, Friday 13th March 2020.
This act of desperate defiance was triggered when Prime Minister Scott Morrison failed to respond to a letter sent to him by indigenous leaders, Dr Beryl Carmichael, Barry Stone and associate, Ian Sutton, which stated – “Critical water accounting arrangements and allocation arrangements are not consistent with hydrological realities and the negative impacts of this are nation-wide and have abridged our right to use water. As a response to your inaction over the degradation of the Murray Darling Basin, the community will be peacefully blockading the Wilcannia bridge on Friday 13th March 2020.”
There were nine arrests made on that day after the bridge had been closed for six hours, mainly by local Wilcannia women who engaged in a painting ceremony in the middle of the bridge, until they were arrested by NSW Police. There are still matters pending at Wilcannia Court related to these events.
Carol, “Sneaky Snag” and all the boats will launch at Menindee on April 16th for five days of travelling up and down the 47 kilometres of navigable water there. They will then travel overland, to Pooncarie Weir, via Tolarno Station, on Wednesday April 21, for another five days, then to Wentworth on April 26.
The convoy will finish at the Murray/Darling/Baarka confluence in Wentworth on Saturday May 1, 2021.
Tuesday Browell, Carol Carney and the many sailors joining them will highlight the longstanding historical First Laws and Rights of Passage on that inland waterway. They urge all boaties and freshwater fishers to join the convoy from Menindee to Wentworth and let their message be loud and clear to the authorities.
Convoy Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/Darling-Baarka-River-Convoy-136243708266211/
This article appeared in The Koondrook and Barham Bridge Newspaper, 15 April 2021.