IT'S BAD OUT THERE: A land of sunburnt plains.
IT'S BAD OUT THERE: A land of sunburnt plains. Ann Britton Outback Photography

Water is needed now out Walgett way

THE call came out from Walgett in the west of NSW that they needed water and they needed it now. The rivers are dry and it's a level five water crisis. The community has bore water, but things are pretty bad.

My Aboriginal friend contacted me and we went to the supermarket and got as many containers of water as we could fit in the boot of my car. We drove them to her car, where she transferred them and then took them up to the sports grounds where the footy clubs and others were also helping. Everyone chipped in with food, petrol and water. A team of people were going to make the long drive out.

Yes, yes I know this is a stopgap measure and what about the plastic (note: the bottles are reusable). A friend said helpfully, you should send a tanker. Good idea, I thought, and while you organise that, we are putting water into the cars and it's going out west pronto.

You see, they need water now. In New Zealand, when I grew up I was taught this: you see what needs to be done and you do it. You don't say it's not my turn/ responsibility/ fault. It's not about getting a gold star or other kinds of recognition. It's not about you at all. You roll up your sleeves and you do what needs to be done.

My friends and I were discussing the powerlessness we feel in the face of all the environmental degradation and loss. Sometimes it's hard to feel optimistic. The massive fish kill in the Murray Darling river system along with all the blaming and finger pointing that is going on had us especially upset.

We decided that all we could do, all we can ever do, is take care of our own patch. So we renewed our vows to do as much as possible to reduce waste/plastic/etc and continue to do as much as we can that is earth-friendly. We reminded ourselves about the great win the Lismore community had in the battle to stop fracking at Bentley. As the story goes, "the extraordinary tale of a community who defied a gas juggernaut”. Go Lismore! (Fracking has been banned in France, Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Uruguay and Scotland. And across the world various states and counties have instituted bans, including Victoria here in Australia).

Little wins, big wins - we take 'em wherever we can and remind ourselves to not give up. Keep doing whatever you can, wherever you can, even it's simply putting water out for the wildlife in your garden and neighbourhood.

In the blistering heat we packed the water and sent it out west. Things are bad out there.


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