Brendan Adams has lived in Wilcannia for 20 years and said he's seen firsthand the devastation the drought has caused in the community, and others along the Murray-Barka/Darling river systems. BB Adams speaks to Gman on 3KND live from the blockage before, during and after it took place.
"We've had no water in this Barka for over five years and since then I've seen, personally, the impact that has devastated our people," he said.
"I've seen depression with the men and women and suicidal thoughts with the young people. I've seen the dispossession and the slow genocide of our cultural identity being taken away.
"The Barka is the mother of our people, it is an entity, but at the moment, we've seen so much pain and trauma. "We can't continue like this." Mr Adams said today's blockade is a call to action for the people across Australia to fight for the river. "The people who are here united today know what needs to be changed," he said. "Let's not give up, lets not stop until we can get those changes." In an open letter to Water NSW, the three explained “stronger action [is needed] if we are to avoid the death of the Riverland and wineries in South Australia, the loss of sustainable agriculture in Victoria and a complete rural economic collapse in NSW. “If the Menindee Lakes remain dry, then western NSW will die and there will be no future for rural communities, farmers or the Barkandji and Ngiyeempaa Traditional Owners.” The Darling River has been largely bone dry for the past few years.
As a result, drinking water, bought with funds raised by grassroots activists, has had to be trucked in to local communities in far western New South Wales. Outlining their demands, the three wrote: “Our primary demand is that water must be taken off the market and water trading ended in Australia. Water is not a commodity. “We also demand an immediate embargo on river diversion, flood-plain harvesting and the pumping of rivers by irrigators upstream. “We must allow the current flood waters to fill the Menindee Lakes and to provide a proper flush for the Darling Barka, with full connectivity all the way to the junction with the Murray.”Wilcannia Bridge has been the site of four protests in the past three years, though this was the first time police facilitated the bridge’s closure. Solidarity actions also took place in Parramatta, Sydney, Newcastle, Chinchilla, Bourke and Menindee.