Invaluable archive shines light on historic river

Archives collected by Friends of the Mongarlowe River has looked back at three generations of activism, education and science from members in the region. Photo: supplied.

Archives collected by Friends of the Mongarlowe River has looked back at three generations of activism, education and science from members in the region. Photo: supplied.

The story of the Mongarlowe River is not only one of activism, but brings together art and science says Friends of the Mongarlowe River (FMR) secretary Sue Doran.

The story of the river and its conservation is not an unfamiliar one and on Sunday the FMR members showcased the timeline of this journey as part of their meeting.

The six hour film illustrated the three generations of stories beginning with Judith Wright's first determination in the eighties to challenge a licence to mine - and winning in court.

It also included the stories of Harry Laing, Alison Sexton-Green, Suzanne Bellamy, Cath Moore, Mark Lintermans and many more. 

Letters, submissions, news articles, meeting records and other FMR material reaching back to 1980’s were collected by Hugh and Marina Tyndale-Bisco to be digitised for protection. About 17 people participated in the overall project. 

Ms Doran who attended the 30th anniversary last year in the Monga Forest said she was touched by the personal stories shared, and believed it should be shared. 

“It’s inspiring when all else seems so dastardly,” she said. “This research can show the world that it’s possible, it’s possible to travel intergenerationally to protect what we have.”

The FMR plan to not only give their findings to the Braidwood Historical Society, but also to the Braidwood Central School Library and both the National Library and Mitchell in Canberra.

Ms Doran said the critical original voices were almost lost, but progress was still being made amongst the younger generation. 

She named botanist Mary Appleby, responsible for taking people for walks along the river to assist them to identify the plants and weeds.

“I don’t know what it is about this area, it seems to attract a broad range of deep thinkers and deeply committed people,” she said.

“Students, universities and individual people reading about it might find some of this process extremely informative for future strategies.

“This archive goes a long way to that because it’s so inspiring and energises the next generation to keep going.”

The cloud fed river is a part of the Sydney water catchment and is approximately 70km in length running from the Monga Forest to the Shoalhaven.

She said the current generation of FMR members are looking to re populate the river and rebuild eroded banks. This also includes spreading information on the river’s upkeep to residents and visitors. 

“This knowledge belongs to all of us,” she said.

“In fact it belongs to more than Australians, it goes to anyone who wants to conserve and shows how much could be done.”

Ms Doran said the group hopes the footage can be turned into a documentary.

For more information or to get involved with the Friends of the Mongarlowe River email Sue on secretaryfmr@gmail.com.

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