Category Archives: Background Information

Background Information

Save our Macleay River Update

SOMR’s Paddle with the Macleay River Festival:

It went smoothly with 18 boats registering including the Dragon Boat. An easy paddle past the Riverside Park up to Euroka Creek, where drinks and home made cakes were waiting. Paddlers could relax and chat on that beautiful part of the riverbank before heading back as a “flotilla” where they received a great reception from the Festival participants. The festival was short on river activities, with those that were there receiving a good response .

There was a lot of interest in our Information Stalls (both at Euroka Creek and Riverside Park) with some new members signing up

All in all we felt it was worth the effort and would be happy to repeat the exercise next Festival.

However we are planning to organise another one of our “serious” paddles, probably next Autumn so as not to clash with the River Festival in Spring. This will be from Bellbrook to Nook Creek, taking about 4 hours.

Other news:

  • No news on the Hillgrove Mine front regarding the outcome of their EIS for a proposed underground mine at Clarks Gulley. Things seem to be progressing slowly as is the way with many stakeholders being involved.  A decision was to have been made in March, so we are conducting a ‘watch and wait’ position. Our enquiries will continue.
  • We have purchased a copy of the Dunn & Bradshaw report on the structure and composition of the Hillgrove Company. We can make it available to anyone is interested in reading it.

We are working with Southern Cross University who are adding their research on the river to that of University of New England.

Related issues:

  • We have put in a submission opposing the Baird government’s proposed land clearing laws and encourage anyone concerned about maintaining or improving our remaining vestiges of biodiversity in this state to join the campaign. You can ring Baird directly on 85745000 or email him through their web portal For more information you can contact Dr Mehreen Faruqi MLC who is running the campaign. We feel this is relevant to our mission.
  • Another relevant campaign is to stop the privatisation of bodies like ASIC. To sign the petition go to the GetUp link:

     Not much time left to act on these two causes, so don’t delay!


Macleay Contamination Working Group Meeting

8th July 2016     –     by Rupert Milne Home

On 28th June a meeting hosted by Office of Environment & Heritage, was held to inform and address contamination in the Macleay River. It was attended by some 20 State and Local Government, University, Health, Oyster farmer and community representatives. Longer presentations were from Derelict Mines, Macleay Eco-health and University of New England (UNE) with shorter ones from Kempsey Shire Council, NSW Food, Southern Cross University (SCU) and an emailed summary from Hillgrove Mines was read out.

Presentations and discussion focused on antimony (Sb) and arsenic (As) contamination sources and levels in the upper, mid and estuary parts of the catchment and specific sub-catchments. GHD consultants, engaged by Derelict mines, presented their desk-top assessment of the impacts of historic mining and which sub-catchments pose what level of risk. The findings of this report will help guide where investment should be directed to reduce the impact of historic workings.UNE updated the group with their research into the uptake and transfer of As & Sb into plants and animals and, perhaps in association with SCU, had developed a research-funding proposal to further their research into the levels and risk factors which influence the contamination levels and associated potential toxicity/danger levels.

Group discussion ranged from naturally occurring levels, historic and uncontrollable point sources, how the ‘total’ and ‘available’ levels of As & Sb varied, as well as education on the use and management of contaminated waters by Councils, farmers and rural land-holders.

The main point of the meeting was:- Who could and would fund the research and what information did the potential funding bodies need to know so that the impacts could be effectively mitigated, controlled or managed. – Naturally, potential funding sources want useful information!

Out of all the representatives there, only Kempsey Shire Council advised they would contribute. A few others advised they would ask their department heads, as they could not ‘unilaterally’ make that commitment. Derelict Mines declined to commit funding until further discussion and review of the research proposal against its funding guidelines and priorities of limited funding.

It was further resolved that: Letters asking for direct support be sent to various departments who were unable to attend the meeting and/or had a potential interest in the results. SOMR, being the only independent ‘community’ based organisation there agreed to carry out some lobbying for support and posting information in our media outlets.

The meeting was important in forming a more comprehensive understanding of the contaminants in the catchment, gathering concerns of various bodies and working toward a more integrated approach to managing the issues.

Wetland Restoration in the Lower Macleay

In the evening after the Paddle on the Macleay, people gathered at the Stuarts Point Community Hall to learn more about the wetland restoration in the Lower Macleay.

During the day, while at the Golden Hole, NPWS Ranger Penny Kendall had already given a potted history of the area and the reasons behind the re-inundation. (See the previous post about the Paddle.)

In the evening, the appreciative audience listened to long term resident Lindsay Brackenbury (96) who expanded on the history of the Yarrahapinni area and the wetlands with an indigenous and non-indigenous perspective.

Rupert Milne Home, event organiser and ex-Chair of the Yarrahapinni Wetland Reserve Trust, and Penny Kendall gave a good insight into the difficult and lengthy process of negotiation by the Yarrahapinni Wetland Reserve Trust and later National Parks and Wildlife Service before tidal flow could begin. The land effected by acid sulphate soil and the water in the area responded almost instantly to the inundation with saltwater. Click here to read more about  The Yarrahapinni Wetlands Story

Considering the surprising speed and extent of the recovery, they concluded that it is now necessary to address the restoration of other wetlands such as the Clybucca.

The last speaker of the day was Oyster Grower Todd Graham. He gave an excellent insight into the interrelation of the ecosystems and the effects on the oyster industry:

In May 2014 the Macleay River Oyster Farmers Environmental Management System (EMS) was launched. In the EMS the highest external risk identified was Low pH/Acid Sulphate Soil (acidic water released through disturbance or drainage of acid sulphate soils). This acidic water has changed the Clybucca Harvest Area from a highly productive area to an area that the oyster farmers rarely use. The acidic water bleaches he shells of older oyster and it will kill younger oysters by dissolving their shells.

In late January 2015 this acidic water combined with low DO in the water caused a major fish kill. Any oysters that were in the Clybucca Harvest Area had to be moved to one of the other harvest areas. The continuation of a successful oyster industry in the Macleay will depend on the restoration of the wetlands in the estuary.

The Macleay River Shellfish Quality Assurance Program formally supports the Clybucca Floodplain Rehabilitation Project which is attempting to determine the best practice management options to improve the water quality emanating from the Lower Macleay floodplain landscape. This project is being headed by the Clybucca Working Group.  Click here to read about the Macleay River Oyster Farmers Environmental Management System

All the speakers agreed that the restoration of the wetlands in the Lower Macleay needs the support of the community.

SOMR is preparing a public event for early 2016. Scientists from the University of New England are going to present their latest research results in the Macleay River catchment. We also anticipate a presentation about the Clybucca Wetlands.