Wednesday, 8 July 2009

WATER MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD: The Aboriginal Battle against Barrick's for Lake Cowal

When we think of Aboriginal battles the picture conjured up is often of hopeless battles with spears against a white squattocracy or regimental soldiers with Aboriginal people losing badly and being put to flight.

However, battles continue to-day and Aboriginal people are not always dispersed in disarray. The losers are frequently us - the white settlers, the colonisers - because we don't take time to listen, to learn, to rethink our ways.

An ongoing battle has been fought by Uncle Chappy Williams for approximately a decade in the back-blocks of New South Wales at a place called Lake Cowal. The Lake Cowal Campaign is set against one of the major international players in the world of mining - Barrick Gold Corporation.

Above is/was the beautiful seasonal world of Lake Cowal.
Below is what Barrick's has done -
leaching gold out of this area of significant Aboriginal heritage
with cyanide.
The blue is a tailings dam full of stuff that is nasty to the environment

Uncle Chappy teaches at the
SoS 09 at Monash University.

Uncle Chappy is ably assisted in the Lake Cowal Campaign
by Elli Gilbert. Ellie is a filmaker.
She is the widow of Aboriginal poet, playwright and artist
For Uncle Chappy and Elli Gilbert,
the battle for Lake Cowal is unfinished business.
Where it will end is unclear.
Damage to Lake Cowal may be irretrievable
but when one cares for country,
when one takes on that responsibility
it cannot be easily laid down
The country itself calls out,
the voices of those who have gone before echo,
and the burden of the bequest to future generations
does not rest easy.
In Melbourne, a few of us are trying to revive
the Lake Cowal Campaign that used to be active here.
If you wish to be a part of this,
please email Miss Eagle at
In the end, as Kevin Gilbert would have us remember,
it is all about Sovereignty.


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