Voice of Real Australia: Indigenous heritage be 'dammed'

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Gundungurra spokeswoman and community leader Kazan Brown at one of the valley's indigenous sites. Picture: Supplied

Gundungurra spokeswoman and community leader Kazan Brown at one of the valley's indigenous sites. Picture: Supplied

Having grown up in suburban Sydney (for the most part) trips to 'the country' were a regular occurrence.

When we couldn't make the trip out to Bathurst or Mudgee in NSW's Central West or Wangaratta in Victoria's north east, we'd inevitably end up at Warragamba Dam, south of Sydney.

We'd have a barbecue, check out the dam and play whatever ball sport we'd brought along that day.

Sometimes, for an extra treat, we'd visit the Burragorang Valley lookout.

It was never short of breathtaking - so it's sad to think that we could potentially (most likely) lose that iconic view.

Western Sydney minister Stuart Ayres has proposed raising the Warragamba Dam wall in an effort to mitigate flooding in the Hawkesbury Valley region.

Sure, it might help to reduce flood risks but it will destroy a World Heritage listed site filled with sacred Indigenous sites and endangered flora and fauna in the process.

First Nations people have been fighting this plan since it was first announced because they lost a lot of their sites when the valley was originally flooded to make room for the dam more than 60 years ago.

Now they stand to lose the rest.

The government spent just 25 days assessing the Indigenous significance of the valley, barely scratching the surface of the importance of these sites.

Scientists, politicians, insurance companies, locals - even the United Nations - have also raised concern with the plan.

Wollondilly and Blue Mountains councils have even joined forces to fight the project.

The iconic Burragorang Valley could be flooded if the plan to raise Warragamba Dam wall is approved. Picture: Simon Bennett

The iconic Burragorang Valley could be flooded if the plan to raise Warragamba Dam wall is approved. Picture: Simon Bennett

But their collective cries seem to be falling on deaf ears.

The NSW government released the 8000-page Environmental Impact Statement for the dam wall proposal last month.

Mr Ayres said the document "was a significant milestone in the delivery of raising Warragamba Dam wall. It's an extensive, even exhaustive, environmental impact statement".

The project is still in its early days of approvals, but it somewhat seems like the government is ready to forge ahead.

Some people think this plan will aid Sydney's water supply - which we all know reached dangerously low levels during the recent drought.

But let's make this clear - raising the dam wall will not increase Sydney's water supply.

The capacity of the dam will not increase by one drop.

There are also other flood mitigation options available.

So why is raising the dam wall the only one being considered?

That's a 'dam' good question.

One I am sure every detractor for the project would like answered.

With the Daintree being handed back to its traditional owners in recent weeks, why are we placing such little value on a similarly vast and important site for Indigenous people in Sydney?

Surely we need to hang on to as much of this history as we can.

Because once it's gone, it's gone.

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