Biggest fight region ever waged could be tourist drawcard
IT was the fight that saved the Mary Valley; people power forcing the State Government to backflip on a billion-dollar project to dam the Mary River and flood the Mary Valley.
Now some are calling for the artefacts of that campaign to be preserved in the region before it is too late.
New councillor Bruce Devereaux wants the fight to stop the Traveston Crossing Dam to become part of the region’s tourism identity after discovering a treasure trove of artefacts.
But not everyone agrees, Valley councillor Bob Fredman saying he does not believe there is “mileage in the fact we went through the battle”.
“Where is all this wonderful history?” Mr Devereaux asked yesterday.
“It’s in people’s heads – and it’ll disappear if we make no effort.”
- The Gympie Times and the community that could not be beaten
- From misery to renewal, the Traveston dam left a hole
He pointed to a dinghy that once sat in the air on a pole planted in a high traffic area during the campaign, but now languishing on the ground beside the road.
“I want to see this (the dinghy) up on a pole like it used to be,” he said.
The controversial Traveston Crossing dam was the brainchild of the Labor State Government and Peter Beattie in 2006.
It was envisaged as a long-term droughtproofing solution to water security concerns in the southeast corner, but at the expense of flooding Kandanga and surrounding areas of fertile country.
“The State decided what to do to us,” Mr Devereaux said.
“They destroyed the Valley, bought up all the land.
“It was a huge hit for Gympie to take.”
And the public’s response was a strike for the Gympie region.
“They said ‘this is our homes, we love it here, p--- ,off’; and they won,” Mr Devereaux said.
The dam proposal was torpedoed in November 2009 due to the threat it posed to endangered species and Gympie’s communities.
Jan Watt, an ex-councillor and secretary of Mary Valley Inc, said there was no doubt the Traveston fight was relevant as “cultural tourism”.
“It’s a moment in history that encapsulates the people and the community of the Mary Valley.” Ms Watt said.
She said plans had long been mooted for the Kandanga information centre to host an interpretative centre which would include the “history of the Mary Valley”.
“A massive part of the history, and why we’re still here, is the Traveston dam fight,” she said.
Whether this was through an upgrade to the existing centre, or proposed new one (now apparently stuck in limo) was one question to be answered, Ms Watt said.
Councillor Bob Fredman, however, said the history should be preserved but any tourism focus must remain on “what was saved”.
“It was a great save but is it a fact worth promoting?,” Mr Fredman said.
“(The battle) is not going to rank beside the Gough Whitlam sacking.”
Mr Fredman said the artefacts should be moved to the Kandanga Information Centre but there was “no mileage in the fact we went through the battle”.