What tipped the outcome in 4-year war against unwanted dam
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Saviours of the Mary Valley
AS WE face the imminent reality of the presses going quiet and us holding the last print edition of the Gympie Times in our hands, it would be totally remiss not to thank the Gympie Times for its role in the Traveston Dam campaign.
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In what was rightly described as a David and Goliath battle that raged for over three and a half years, The Gympie Times not only took the side of a whole community opposing the dam, but actively sought out stories and opinions that never failed to give both heart and information.
Along with the Sunshine Coast Daily, The Gympie Times, and principally editors, firstly Michael Roser and then Nev McHarg, your seasoned journalist Arthur Gorrie was put on to the case and he did us proud.
At last year’s celebration with Peter Garrett at the Mary River Festival, a decade on from his “no” decision, we had some of the key players on stage, but if there’d been room on that tiny stage for a few more seats, it would have been fitting that Arthur’ s backside occupy one of them.
The campaign though, did a lot more than stop in its tracks an ill-conceived plan, a plan that had the massive momentum of a determined state government behind it.
It roused a community to celebrate its river and particularly the things that live in it. From a river that had once been regarded as one of the most degraded in southeast Queensland, we came to realise that it was p’raps better to look at what continued to live in the river rather than look at highly visual photographs of riverbank collapse following flooding.
Of course it was one of but a couple of rivers that were home to the Queensland lungfish, rightly described as the equivalent of a living dinosaur whose discovery in the late 1800s brought a flurry of international scientific interest. It was the very limited habitat of the Mary River Cod which we now recognise as not just a sub-species of the Murray Cod but a species in its own right.
And just over a decade prior to the dam announcement we realised it was also the sole home to an elusive turtle species the Mary River Turtle, and in fact was a major “turtle river”.
Long after the dust from Peter Garret’s “no “decision had settled, Professor Tim Flannery and John Doyle visited the Mary in 2012, as part of the “Two on the Great Divide” television series.
I’m sure it put a lump in the throat of all those who’d fought to keep the Mary flowing when Tim Flannery stated in conclusion “it’s not the biggest, it’s not the longest, but I reckon it’s one of the most important rivers in Australia.” .
And The Gympie Times, and particularly Arthur Gorrie, played such a huge role in not only stopping a dam but in giving the community the heart, the support and the courage that it needed, that would finally see it emerge victorious.
I’m sure I speak on behalf of so many in the Mary Valley when I say a huge thank you, Gympie Times.
Ian Mackay, Chairman Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee and member of Save The Mary