After a long 500km drive, Sydney Knitting Nannas and Friends arrived in Warren at the Window on the Wetland Centre (WOW), an information centre built around a lovely old church. Locals transported the church from the town to act as WOW’s focal point. It includes a shop, café and community activity centre.
Here we picked up information leaflets and maps of the Macquarie Marshes, one of many wetlands in the Murray Darling Basin. We explored the nearby Tiger Bay Wetlands, a lovely walk for travellers needing to stretch their legs.
The Macquarie Marshes are located on the traditional land of the Wailwan People. Unfortunately by the time we finished the walk around the wetlands it was on dusk so we did not have time to walk the Beemunnel Indigenous Heritage Trail but it’s on the list for our next visit.
In the evening, volunteers from WOW, who are also members of the Warren Action Pipeline Group, entertained the Nannas with a special dinner in the old church. These local women told us how they will be impacted by APA’s Western Slopes Pipeline, one of two pipelines proposed to transport gas from the Narrabri Gas Project to the east coast gas network. This pipeline is proposed to go through the Coonamble and Warren districts, joining up with the Moomba Sydney pipeline near Condobolin. Both pipeline routes have not been fully surveyed and are strongly opposed by landholders who feel they will have a disastrous impact on their properties and their businesses, in some cases making them uninsurable.
The pipeline at Warren would go through a flood plain with remnant vegetation which can be underwater for a long period of time. It doesn’t take much to change the flood plain flow. However, land clearing a 30 metre pipeline corridor and burying a pipeline will do it.
This area also has vertisol soils, commonly known as black soil, which is very boggy and prone to deep cracking. The pipeline would damage farming land during construction and because of the unsuitability of the soils, the risks of the pipeline cracking and leaking would be high. It is infuriating that the government allows APA to keep the threat of a pipeline hanging over these landholder’s heads.
Meeting these women and hearing their concerns was a thought provoking start to our listening tour. Over the coming days, as we drove great distances and spoke to more people, we felt privileged to be living in a city with everything close by. We realised how remote our system of government is from country districts and how government doesn’t listen to those with local knowledge and ignores their input on important issues.
The following one minute videos were taken at the dinner in the old church at the Window on the Wetlands Centre.
Di Perry of Warren Action Pipeline Group whose husband’s family have lived in the area for eight generations.
Kate Mildner of Warren Action Pipeline Group lives on a property on the Macquarie flood plain where she and her husband practice regenerative agriculture.
Warren is a wool and cotton town and it’s the end of cotton picking season. Roads leading to the cotton gin 7km from Warren on the Oxley Highway are lined with white fluff. Huge cotton bales lying in grey stubble fields await transportation to the gin and the long banks of huge shallow dams for flood plain harvesting made us realise just how extensive cotton farming is in NSW.