Three wishes for the future – the Hunter River

Three wishes for the future – the Hunter River

The Hunter River is the 2003 Australasia Riverprize winner.

Vera Deacon in River Journeys 4 said, “If I had three wishes for the future I’d wish for the planting to continue; that Governments, the Council, and industry would continue to help finance the project; and that its educative role be developed to attract more and more people to come to learn and appreciate what’s taking place here in this estuary.”

Vera, at age 93, is still an active Kooragang Wetlands volunteer. In May of this year, she received the ‘Key to the Islands’ from her peers to celebrate her 20 years of ecological restoration and a lifetime contribution to local history.

Her first wish has been granted in that the volunteer planting program is still vibrant, with monthly planting days continuing – approximately 10,000 volunteer hours and thousands of plants in the ground each year with work extending to new priority sites along the river.

I regard the river as a life source. It’s the life blood of the community, of the earth, and it behoves us all to take care of it and to restore it. (Vera Deacon, 2008)

Her second wish is also in hand as a result of the ongoing combined efforts of Governments, Councils, industry groups, community service organisations and volunteers. Outcomes of rehabilitation projects at Kooragang Wetlands, Hexham Swamp and Tomago Wetlands have effectively restored an area identified in 1973 as the ideal ecological unit of the Hunter estuary, now protected within the Hunter Wetlands National Park. The Hunter River Management Plan, collaboratively developed by Hunter Local land Services (formerly Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority) will guide future investment in river management.

As a legacy of the Kooragang rehabilitation project, volunteers have formed ‘Friends of the Schoolmasters House’ to develop and deliver information about the environmental and social history of the estuary wherever an opportunity exists, including to visitors and school groups – wish number three granted.

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