July 25- Menindee Lakes and Kinchega National Park (and a few surprises)

The boom/bust nature of Broken Hill as a mining community is paralleled by the boom/bust cycles of water supply in the region.  Even though uncharacteristic amounts of rainfall have made water abundant, long-term security of a water source is not easily guaranteed.  The Menindee Lakes offer temporary relief but sustaining an isolated community, like Broken Hill, involves diverse sources and savvy community leaders.

Trees overcome by high water

Locks at Menindee

Kinchega National Park was next on the agenda, but our trip encountered its first major deviation.  Heavy rains (the same that helped to fill Menindee) washed out some of the dirt roads at Kinchega.  We arrived at the park to find much of the staff on leave and many of the roads closed.  Although we were able to see an old sheep shearing station, our focus for the day was on aboriginal heritage.The day appeared to be meeting a premature end but there were still a few surprises in store…

Flooding in the national park

Diana, at Truly Tribal, was able to set our group up with a tour at the ABC Radio (like NPR) of Broken Hill, a regional radio station.  In addition to a tour of the facilities Jim, Alexis, and myself were interviewed for a segment on one of their radio programs.  It was a very cool and unique experience and you can listen to the interview here:

http://blogs.abc.net.au/sa/2011/07/rainwater-tanks-mining-and-large-open-spaces.html

In many instances on our program, it is easy to concentrate on issues of environmental or economic sustainability.  A key aspect that is often overlooked is social sustainability.  People in the Broken Hill area use local radio to stay informed and interconnected.  Without this service communities, like Broken Hill, would become far more isolated and far less sustainable to their population.

The hot seats at 999 ABC

For the second surprise of the day, a few of us visited Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation (www.maarima.com.au).  Maari Ma is a NGO, community health service that provides resources to the local aboriginal population.  They provide chronic disease strategies and primary health care services in hopes of sustaining healthy individuals, families, and communities.  Employees at Maari Ma relayed the importance of early intervention in their work.  Many chronic disease, drug abuse, and mental health problems can be prevented if early care is taken.  To accomplish this Maari Ma offers school-based programs for kids, healthy mothers/babies education, and mental health services.
 Most of the employees at Maari Ma are aboriginal, so it was a great opportunity to talk with them about the issues facing their community.  This organization offers an important lifeline to locals who, otherwise, may not have the means of seeking help or resources.  Starting with white colonization, aboriginals have faced a lot of adversity in Australia.  Organizations, like Maari Ma, work to sustain their community’s unique culture and vitality.
Changing plans and new opportunities made for an unforgettable day.  A trip like this one requires a certain amount of flexibility and today was a good showcase of that kind of spirit.
-Geoff
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2 responses to “July 25- Menindee Lakes and Kinchega National Park (and a few surprises)

  1. To add to the day a few of us went to the Broken Hill Regional Art Gallery instead of visiting the Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation. On display they had an Australian Outback art contest. It is open to all Australians and the piece has to represent something about the outback. I really enjoyed looking at all the pieces and learning about the history of the Gallery.

  2. The Maari Ma really left an impression on me. The lack of access that the aboriginal tribes has was really shocking, and the health center was definitely providing a much needed service, while projecting the tradtions of the aborignal people.

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