On the Friday of the Sydney Knitting Nannas and Friends’ Listening Tour some Nannas visited the Narrabri Fish Farm, 10 kilometres from town.
Mick was our tour guide – a country character with lots of stories. He told us the history of the farm and about its growth and success. Many thousands of native fish and yabbies have been distributed around the country, and have contributed to restocking after the tragic fish kills on the Darling River in early 2019, and the long drought that severely reduced fish stocks in waterways and dams.
Nannas were impressed by the gravity-based system of many connected dams where Murray Cod, Silver Perch, Golden Perch, Eel-tailed catfish and yabbies are bred and supplied to landholders around NSW and some other states. The water is pure and comes from a groundwater bore at the top dam. Veggies for fish are produced with an aquaponics system that uses fish poo.
Mick showed us fingerlings and yabbies of different sizes – and a very beautiful blue adult yabbie. He also showed us how to tell male from female yabbies, and showed us yabbies regrowing limbs they’d lost in fights.
We met the black dog who features in one of Mick’s stories. One day when the farm owner, Rick, had finished at the main building he started walking to the car to go somewhere else. But the dog wouldn’t have it – he herded Rick back to a big dam full of perch, where he noticed the aeration system had failed. Good dog, just saved thousands of fish from stress or death.
Nannas asked about the impact of the Santos Narrabri Gas Project on the Fish Farm – what if the aquifers are damaged or contaminated by the gas wells? Unsurprisingly Mick said that the farm would be wiped out because of its reliance on the purity of its groundwater.
The history of this farm has had a commendable focus on sustainability, with dams designed to have minimal impact on water resources. Yet its contributions to native fish stocks, recreational fishing and to tourism would be lost if gas mining were to damage or pollute the Great Artesian Basin.
Visitors can fish in one of the dams and basic camping facilities are available.
Worth a visit. Book for tours, which start at 10.30am most days.
By Nanna Marie