OUTRAGED: Residents and advocates for Cambanoora Gorge, Tony Pearson, Briath Hill, Wendy Williams and Melanie Caldwell.
OUTRAGED: Residents and advocates for Cambanoora Gorge, Tony Pearson, Briath Hill, Wendy Williams and Melanie Caldwell.

‘Environmental disaster’ sparks Killarney community outrage

THE controversial Condamine River Rd crossings were quietly filled with tonnes of asphalt just one month after the council formally accepted a petition to preserve Cambanoora Gorge “in its current state”.

More than 1700 people signed a petition pleading for Southern Downs Regional Council to reconsider plans to install concrete culverts at each of the 14 river crossings.

The crossings, the petition said, could have horrific consequences on endangered local wildlife and four-wheel-drive tourism appeal.

It seemed like a win when, during a council meeting on October 23, councillors voted to consider the environmental concerns “in any future decisions regarding changes to the river crossings”.

That was until gorge residents began to report dozers and rollers pressing tonnes of road base into the river beds.

“We are absolutely outraged,” said resident Tony Pearson.

“This is an ecosystem all of its own and to bring any foreign matter into it is putting it at risk.

“They’ve basically just put their middle finger up at the thousands of people that signed that petition.”

It is a devastating development for the community, many of whom have spent a significant amount of their own time and money to care for the crossings.

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS: Tony Pearson fears for the health of the gorge ecosystem.
ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS: Tony Pearson fears for the health of the gorge ecosystem.

The distress was evident during a meeting with the council in Warwick this week, when resident Melanie Caldwell slammed a large chunk of bitumen in front of SDRC water manager Seren McKenzie.

“This is in our river,” Ms Caldwell said.

“This is not a little, minor job, this is an environmental disaster.”

Ms McKenzie said the council had “no ill intent” and conducted the works to increase road safety.

“The condition of the road needed work when we were there,” Ms McKenzie said.

“Our officers didn’t realise there was an issue with that.”

The Department of Environment visited the site on Wednesday to determine the environmental impact.

“If there are any immediate actions required to remove the material we will do that,” Ms McKenzie said.

But the damage to the environment, the tourism and the community may already be done.

Landscape management is complex and requires careful consideration, according to Tanya Jobling from Condamine Landcare.

“We need to consider all of the implications,” Ms Jobling said.

“Everything from pollutants to erosion to physical barriers and road accidents.”

Mr Pearson said the local community had lost confidence in the council.

“They don’t care and they’re not listening to what people want,” Mr Pearson said.

“We feel like we have to watch everything they do now, to cut them off before they do any more damage.”

Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie advised a community meeting would be held at Killarney before any further work was conducted.


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