Dharriwaa Elders Group (“DEG”) hosted a community event 1 November 2023 to celebrate renewed access
to the public road leading to the Barwon River and junction of the Ngamaay and Baawan rivers near the Walgett weir.
We invited Russell Hill and Felicity Rooney of WaterNSW Aboriginal Programs and Engagement Team to partner in this event, who were joined by NSW Public Works and DPI Fisheries.
DEG Secretary Virginia Robinson opened the day with a Welcome to Country and provided the story of the 20 year effort by DEG to ensure ongoing access to the weir site and river. Aunty Norma Kennedy, DEG River Ranger Project Officer was the MC for the day, and an enthusiastic song and dance performance by Walgett primary school students lifted our spirits. Then DEG’s Stephen Dennis and Walgett Community College Primary School Captain Nyoka Gibbs “opened” the gates for the ceremonial procession of vehicles down to the river.
The event continued on the bank of the Baawan. Walgett Community College High School students gave a dance performance, Heath Robinson from NSW Public works spoke about the weir and fishway design, Evan Knoll from DPI Fisheries discussed fish passage and DEG’s Caring for Country and Water program collaborator Dr Martin Mallen-Cooper spoke about river flows and the health of the river. Then, while Elders Clem Dodd and Bow Simpson offered their memories of the community’s use of the river at this spot under the shade of the marquees, tours were given of the weir and fishway by Heath and Evan. The weather was perfect – not too hot.
Afterwards everyone was invited to the DEG’s Elders Centre in town for lunch and a yarn – which gave us a chance to thank the school students and their teachers and further build DEG’s growing relationships with WaterNSW, DPI Fisheries and Public Works. We discussed DEG’s plans for an interpretive sign and community amenities that we will work together to bring about so that the Baawan Weir at Walgett is more accessible for the wider Walgett community and its guests in the future.