Paddle on the Macleay 2017


Saturday 9 September from Bellbrook to Nook Creek

The Paddle on the Macleay 2017 is a moderately challenging paddle on the Macleay River, of approximately 14km, beginning at Bellbrook Bridge and ending at the Nook Creek Bridge on Saturday 9th September.

It’s a great way to appreciate the beauty of our river, and to celebrate living on the Macleay.

Click here to download the registration form.  SOMR Paddle 2017 3  (It might take a moment.)



Update June 2017

Annual General Meeting 

Save Our Macleay River Inc. will hold its Annual and General Meeting at the Kempsey Macleay RSL board room at 10.30am Saturday 29th July 2017

To ensure SOMR’s on-going procedures are in accord with the Constitution at least 4 members of the current Committee are required be present. 

The AGM is to elect the next SOMR Committee and Office Bearers:

The Constitution requires the Committee to comprise of four (4) required ‘Office Bearers’ namely President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary, with a total of seven (7) on ‘The Committee’. SOMR Committee currently includes the optional office bearer position of Public Officer.

There are a number of administrative tasks/roles within SOMR, that are currently informally delegated (eg. membership, mail-out, website and Facebook management) whether these need formalising through optional Office Bearer positions or kept on an informal basis can also be debated at the meeting.

Nominations for the Committee (and Office Bearers) should be in writing signed by two (2) SOMR members and with the consent of the candidate and delivered to The Secretary prior to the AGM’Commttee Nomination_2017         

If insufficient nominations are received in writing, candidates can be nominated and accepted at the AGM.

Please note: Membership renewals are due on July 1st – the start of the new financial year. This can be done by either electronic funds transfer and emailing your completed Membership Renewal form, or via traditional post. Renewal Form Membership Renewal_2017

New members are always welcome. Membership Application Form Membership Application_2017

Hillgrove Mine For Sale

Hillgrove Mine is for sale – once again. Purchased by Bracken Resources in early 2013, the mine’s operation was halted in December 2015 after only 20 months of production. At the time, the main product was antimony.

While the mine has been in ‘care and maintenance’ with a much reduced number of staff, the DA process for the expansion at Clarks Gully was followed through, exploration of gold orebodies was carried out and plant modifications to increase gold recovery are being prepared.

Hillgrove Mine General Manager, Scott Jones, describes the mine as object for sale with an emphasis on a so called “Transition to Gold Strategy”. His document is published on


Mineral Exploration at Halls Peak

In May we reported about the surprise encounter between SOMR chairman Arthur Bain and Directors of the Mineral Exploration Company Force Commodities Limited (4CE) at Gibsons Open Cut. As a result, SOMR received a lengthy letter from 4CE, informing SOMR, as a “important environmental stakeholder”, of the nature of their planned exploration drilling.

4CE, or as they refer to themselves, “Force” received approval from the Department of Planning and Environment on 16 May 2017 and intend to begin work in late June. Read the letter on SOMR 4CE Letter to Save our Macleay – Exploration activities

The letter is dated 25 May and signed by Executive Director Alistair Stephens. On 31May, in his address, the Chairman Mark Darras assures shareholders that he and the board members Peter Smith and Alistair Stephens (both visited Gibsons Open Cut) are “men of strong principles and ethics”. All three resigned on the same day, immediately prior to the company’s AGM.

It seems that Halls Peak with the potential profits from the existing mineral wealth continues to be a pawn in the game of a shareholding company. 

If you are interested in following the intriguing machinations of the company now holding the exploration licence for Halls Peak (EL4474), go to  , select the time span and search for 4CE 

Macleay River Health

At the meeting on 10 June, committee members confirmed the importance of SOMR’s commitment to protecting the water quality in the Macleay catchment. The Ecohealth Card, as well as ongoing water tests at Bellbrook, show high levels of in stream nitrates which largely result from use of fertilisers in agriculture. Degradation of the creek and river banks, the riparian zones, also contribute to water pollution. At KSC’s launch of the Ecohealth Card on 2 June, Mayor Liz Campbell stated that Council has already acted on two of three recommendations.

SOMR will liaise with Kempsey Shire Council about their work and follow up on aspects affecting water quality. Much of the contamination is coming from the upper reaches of the catchment and SOMR’s concerns are not limited to Kempsey Shire. SOMR is also monitoring logging activities in the Styx River and Mungay/Collombatti areas. Cooperation between the upper and lower catchment Councils is being encouraged.

The Maclaey Argus reported about KSC’s launch

Paddle on the Macleay – September 2017

This year the paddle will take us from Bellbrook down river to Nook Creek, a tour of about 4 hours.  First preparations and test paddles have begun. We’ll keep you informed about the exact date and other details.

Update May 2017

Mineral Exploration in the Halls Peak Area

In April, SOMR chairman Arthur Bain, accompanied by environment protectors from Armidale, paid a visit to the derelict Gibsons Open Cut Mine, in the gorge country of the Upper Macleay. SOMR wanted to confirm claims of exploration drilling in November and December 2016. A large drilling venture to the depth of 1,000m has been announced to start in mid-2017.

The holder of the Exploration Licence 4474 for the Halls Peak area had received a government grant of $90,500 for exploration drilling in 2014. Drilling on a small scale was carried out then. We have no information how much of the grant money was spent. The Exploration Licence was then held by Precious Metal Resources, later passed on to Sovereign Gold and more recently to Force Commodities, a company based in WA.

The abandoned Gibsons Open Cut Mine is located in rather isolated country. To the utter surprise of both parties, Arthur happened to meet representatives of the latest iteration of the mining exploration company. 
Peter Smith – the newest non-executive director of Force Commodities was also there to find evidence of the recent exploration drilling. He briefly discussed plans for the development of Gibsons Open Cut, the extraction of Zinc, Copper, Silver and Lead resources.

The site is currently “managed” by the Derelict Mines Office, state government funds are used to to minimise contamination of the Chandler River, the science does not currently exist for rehabilitation or remediation. (see also SOMR website Archive January 2014)

This time, no evidence of recent exploration drilling was found. It appears that the “new” company is simply repeating the previous claims of massive resource potential and ignoring the logistical difficulties of safely extracting and transporting minerals from this isolated and environmentally fragile area.

Ecohealth report card on the Macleay’s waterways

The Ecohealth card report for the Macleay River was tabled at the Kempsey Council meeting on 21 February 2017. On 4 May Council presented the results at a launch at the Riverside Park. A small group of invited guests was in attendance. NBN News reported.

Antimony Contamination Cleaned at Urunga Wetlands

In early 2013 SOMR was established as a result of concerns about the transportation of contaminated soil from Urunga to Hillgrove at the top of the Macleay River catchment. Since then, the antimony contamination has been dealt with in situ and the Urunga Wetlands have been transformed into a recreation area. Local media recently reported about the transformation from wasteland into an eco-friendly tourist attraction. When googling “Urunga Wetlands”, several links can be found.

AGM followed by a General Meeting

27 May 2017 at 10.30 am, Kempsey RSL Club