Archive and History

Friends of the Mongarlowe River was founded by Judith Wright, in 1986 when a group of concerned residents protested about plans to rework old gold tailings near the Mongarlowe River (Braidwood, NSW). If the proposed activity had taken place, toxic chemicals would have been released into one of the cleanest rivers in the state with grave results for water quality. Fortunately the proposal was dropped. The arcticle below by Sandra Von Sneidern discusses in detail events of that time and the beginnings of Half Moon. At a later date FMR also protested about an ill considered scheme to divert water from the river over the escarpment: this was a misguided and ultimately fruitless attempt to supply the coast with water from the Mongarlowe River. Since then, FMR has broadened its activities to include the protection of Monga Forest as a means of ensuing the quality of the river. In 1996, a reserve proposal was prepared by the group and submitted to RCAC (Resource and Conservation Assessment Commission). Monga State Forest was included in an interim reserve. In the same year, State Forests planned to log an area in the Monga State Forest which contained old growth. These plans were shelved following vigorous protest from FMR. The Friends have been involved in the RFA (Regional Forest Agreement) process from its inception in 1998. They commissioned an in depth study of forest values and processes from Brendan Mackey, a landscape ecologist from ANU, organized visits by politicians such as Ian Cohen and Arthur Chesterfield-Evans and took many groups into the forest to demonstrate the sheer quality and magic of the place. The RFA decision in January 2000 gazetted some 80% of the former Monga State Forest as National Park – this was, perhaps, better than expected, but FMR had argued from the beginning of the process that all of Monga be protected from logging. State Forests continued logging in three compartments in Monga, all of which form part of the catchment for the Mongarlowe River. All of this remaining 20% of Monga has now been protected. Another section that belonged to State Forests north of the Kings Highway has also been handed over to NPWS with the exception of a section that has been handed over to Mineral Resources NSW. This area follows along the Mongarlowe River upstream from the Mongarlowe Village. This is presently being monitored closely. Since 2006, FMR has been working on various projects to protect the endangered Macquarie Perch in the Mongarlowe River. There is more about this under projects topic on this FMR website. A follow on project to establish a groin downstream of the Mongarlowe commenced in 2008 and is detailed in The Bank Job project on this website. FMR comprises a diverse group of people who have come together because of a passion to preserve things they feel to be of great and lasting value. They organise forest walks and occasional events. They will continue to help protect riparian and water quality in the Mongarlowe River and its tributaries, and to learn about and protect the Macquarie Perch in the Mongarlowe River, and to inform planning to prevent ecological degradation.