Narromine-Warren-Willie Retreat

Submitted: Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 15:07
ThreadID: 98155 Views:1982 Replies:3 FollowUps:8
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G'day Folks

I'm travelling from Canberra to Willie Retreat next week to do the NPWS weekend tours in the Macquarie Marshes.

The secondary roads from Narromine to Warren follow the Macquarie River. I'd appreciate any comment on whether there is much difference between the roads north and south of the river, and any comment on views of the river along the way.

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Reply By: Andrew & Jen - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 15:59

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 15:59
Hullo John

We were in the area a few weeks ago

Our memory is that there was not a lot of water in the Macquarie R. WRT the roads you have mentioned, there is extensive irrigation on both sides of the river with huge above ground dams and enormous flat ground (lazer levelled) that has laid waste to almost all natural vegetation - cotton production rules!

As to the Macquaries Marshes, the best part for us was north of Willie on the narrow sealed western road leading to Carinda where the marshes extend on both sides of the road. Some homesteads are tucked into small areas of slighly higher ground just off the road, surrounded by lagoons, reeds, trees, frogs, snakes, water birds, etc - quite magnificent.

Note also that the Gibson Way has water over it - about 0.4m when we were there - but there is a firm bottom.

Hope you enjoy it.

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Follow Up By: Member - John G- Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 17:25

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 17:25
Thanks Andrew

We were up there in mid June, and the water on the Gibson way was at about the same level.

I'm going back mainly to take advantage of the National Parks guided tour which I understand will get into areas that are normally restricted to casual visitors. I'll also do the loop out along the Gibson Way, up to Carinda, and back down the Carinda-Warren Road. The Marshes is a fascinating area, and the issue of cotton production and water usage is a hoary one isn't it?

I've come across a good read in The Macquarie Marshes - an ecological history, by Gillian Hogendyk. Published by the Institute of Public Affairs (Occasional Paper, September 2007) an available on their website. Cotton production is not the only variable in the life of the Marshes.

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Follow Up By: Andrew & Jen - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 21:15

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 21:15
Hullo John
Thanks for the reference. I have downloaded it for reading over the next few days while the memory of the place is still fresh.
And I agree that cotton production is not the only variable; it is just the most obvious at the moment with the 10s of thousands of hectares of flat, bare land and huge above ground dams.
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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 14:06

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 14:06
Whilst not trying to push the cotton industry or what crops should be grown, I wish you would get the full facts regarding land in that area and agronomic practises.

Fact, the ground is naturally flat.
Fact laser leveling is good for the environment IF you are flood irrigating as it prevents ponding and results in more efficient irrigation (less water required for the same plant growth).
Yes it is bare at certain times, but so too in reality is the wine country for a period of time that a lot of urban people flock to. Never hear of people talking about that.
Not all flat agricultural land was tree covered. Some of it was naturally grassy plains, just read Allan Cunningham's & other early explorers journals.
Yes trees have been removed to allow for tillage and reduce the amount water required to grow crops, but you have not been able to wholesale clear land in NSW since 1996.
You can buy hemp clothing if you wish, but at the moment people prefer cotton. Farmers grow what the market wants and the environment permits.

The misconceptions peddled by some people


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Follow Up By: Member - John G- Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 16:50

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 16:50
G'day Mark

I assume that your follow-up is to Steve's reply, but I don't get the sense that anyone (including yourself) is laying out the "full facts", or even claiming to.

While the reference that I gave to the Institute of Public Affairs paper is a well-writen comprehensive document, it too probably reflects some bias and absence of facts. It does have some background to how the cotton industry came about, together with a perspective on land management throughout the (European) history of the Marshes.


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Follow Up By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 17:50

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 17:50

Yes I was replying to Steve's comments. I said at the outset that I wasn't defending the cotton industry or extraction of water from the Macquarie's impact on the marshes.
I have friends who are cotton growers and also friends who have irrigation licenses, live among cotton areas who dislike cotton but won't grow cotton.
What I was commenting on was the statements about land clearing, laser levelling and bare ground. The other agricultural industry which I didn't mention and has a lot of bare ground is vegetable production. Never see any criticism of the intensive vegetable industries?

I just want comments based on fact, not incorrect emotive half truths initiated by individuals to suit their argument to unaware people removed from the region who don't have the opportunity to have a balanced view point.

Please tell me what I believe to be facts (or vice versa) are wrong?
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Follow Up By: Member - John G- Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 09:22

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 09:22
G'day Mark

The way I read your first follow-up was that you were about to deliver the "full facts", and I was trying to have a gentle dig, while not challenging the facts that you stated.

When it comes to thinking about cotton production in areas such as those around Warren and Bourke, I try to listen to those for and against, and to appreciate the investment, endeavour, and hardships of those who grow cotton, but at the end of the day I finish up wondering whether cotton is the right crop for areas of the country that can be so affected by drought. As a former South Australian, and now as a Canberran, I also wonder why the Murray-Darling Basin water issues cannot be resolved.

But . . .this Forum is not going to resolve those issues is it?

I will drive to Willie Retreat along the Macquarie, and delight in the landscape, and the opportunity to be able to be in it.

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Reply By: Member - Mark (Tamworth NSW) - Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 21:09

Friday, Sep 21, 2012 at 21:09
Both roads (at least as far to Gin Gin bridge) are excellent two lane bitumen roads, the one on the northern side (Burroway Rd) is narrower. Views much the same. From Gin Gin bridge one of the roads for much of it is gravel (forgotten which one), again good roads, not too much in it.
Travelling on the southern side from Narromine to Gin Gin is perhaps simpler.
Either road is more picturesque than following the Highways via Trangie & Nevertire.

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Follow Up By: Member - John G- Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 08:20

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 08:20
Thanks Mark
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Reply By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 13:11

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 13:11
Regarding the cotton issue; I wonder why they don't grow hemp as cotton uses about 6x more water to grow (so I'm told by a hemp fabric supplier) I don't know a great deal about this but it is also a lot more durable than cotton too. We have often used it in furnishing applications and it is really good. Some people have issues with it's hippy connotations but it is a great product.
AnswerID: 495406

Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 19:08

Saturday, Sep 22, 2012 at 19:08
Because the powers-that-be will not let it be grown in Oz. You may be able to hide recreational grade plants amongst the clothing grade stuff.

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