Category Archives: Background Information

Background Information

Update February 2020


After the fires the Macleay catchment is progressively coming back to life. However, the first rain also caused a fish-kill in the river. Further contamination through ashes and other debris being washed into waterways can be expected and it is important to monitor the effects on the water quality

Attached is a report by SOMR President Arthur Bain about the fish-kill which finishes with a call for help to buy water testing equipment.

Fish Kill Report
Dead Fish at Riverside Park in Kempsey 31 January 2020

Apart from water sampling at the Bellbrook Bridge for a long-term research project by Southern Cross University, which is ongoing, it is very important to be able to test the water in different parts of the catchment where there are concerns about water quality in the field. Information of the results of mobile water testing could be made available to Kempsey Council, to scientists and to the wider community leading to remedial action to maintain good water quality. SOMR members have identified a suitable water testing kit, which tests most general and Macleay specific elements such as antimony and arsenic, costing about $1,300.
SOMR lodged application for water test kit funding from the Kempsey Shire Council Mayor’s Community Fund and the Credit Union Community Foundation: Both applications were rejected.  So: We now turn to the local community, who have supported SOMR’s activities over the years, to please assist with a contribution to the cost of the mobile water testing kit by donating to it. 
Your much-appreciated donation contributions can be made to:

Account Name: Save Our Macleay River  BSB: 704-189 Account Number: 00047244 And please put ‘Water Testing Kit’ in the reference section.
To be able to thank you for your donation personally, please email a remittance advice. If you don’t, we thank you in advance and; Please contact us if you would like further information.

Hillgrove Mine

As previously reported, Hillgrove Mine changed owners in July 2019. Red River Resources are the new owners. The SOMR committee had an initial conversation with their Managing Director Mel Palancian. Their focus is on the production of gold, rather than antimony. It is not expected to start processing for two years.


Boogie Queen Jan Preston has once again offered to perform in Kempsey and donate a substantial part of the ticket charges to SOMR. Her concert is planned for July.The Paddle on the Macleay is being planned for the 2020 Spring. Further information will be posted in time.

Update July 2019

After a fairly quiet period, SOMR is again attending to several issues affecting the health of the Macleay River:

Report on Nulla Creek and Styx River State Forests Logging inspection 29 – 30 June 2019 by Arthur Bain
How does logging impact our waterways? SOMR’s approach is to go out and take a look, which is what we did in the last weekend in June.
We explored a Nulla Creek resident’s concerns regarding “devastating” logging in Nulla Five Day State Forest. We found no evidence of Forestry Corporation logging activity in the Nulla Creek area.
We then investigated recent, proposed and current logging operations of compartments in the Styx River State Forest, with harvest plans provided by Forestry Corporation of NSW. We were able to get a good picture of the impacts in the Styx. It’s not pretty. With our brief being focussed on impacts to waterways, we have concerns about logging into gullies, from both past and current operations. – We will be bringing this to the attention of relevant agencies.

Logging a “Non-Regrowth” compartment at Styx River State Forest – photo by Rupert Milne Home

In early April SOMR committee members were guided to sites selected by Forestry Corporation officers In Tamban State Forest.  They were shown recent recent intensive operations and regenration sites. For more details go to

Report on Comara Station intensive farming inspection, 29 – 30 June 2019 by Christa Schwoebel.
During recent months, the SOMR committee had been told of residents’ concerns about sudden stock increases on a cattle station upriver. Overstocking, especially during drought conditions, can lead to land degradation, soil erosion, damage to watercourses and water pollution.
We had also heard about high mortality rates of stock. Carcasses had reportedly been seen in a creek bed.
So, on the weekend we went upriver, we stopped to have a look at herds grazing near the road, which looked in reasonably good condition although there is hardly any feed on the ground. At first glance, we couldn’t see dead animals, but at a closer look we found a carcass in a creek bed, another one top of a ridge with crows feeding on it, several others in dry shallow watercourses. Overall, a very upsetting and unacceptable situation.
We are now gathering further information and have contacted authorities with our photographic evidence. There are a number of agencies involved in the registration and monitoring of livestock, such as Kempsey Shire Council (KSC), Local Land Services (LLS), Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and not least RSPCA.

Carcass in the creek bed near Five Day Creek Bridge – photo by Christa Schwoebel

SOMR is also looking into the legalities of clearing on steep slopes and irrigation near the Macleay River.

Hillgrove Mine News
While in care and maintenance for 2½ years, the Hillgrove Mine was up for sale. 
On 3 July 2019, Peter Hosking who has been liaising with SOMR over the years informed us about the completion of the sale.

On the same day Australian Mining reported:
“Red River Resources will acquire the shuttered Hillgrove gold-antimony project in New South Wales from Bracken Resources for $4 million in shares.
Hillgrove has received more than $180 million in investment since 2004 from previous owner Straits Resources and Bracken, which acquired Hillgrove from Straits for $33.2 million in 2013.
Red River managing director Mel Palancian said  (…)
“We love gold and bringing mining assets back to life cheaply,”Palancian said. “It’s rare to find a high-grade gold asset that is close to production with quality resources and infrastructure.”
Further information coming soon.

Paddle on the Macleay 2019
The committee is currently discussing this year’s Paddle.  We are planning to hold the event in late September.  With water levels in the Upper Macleay being unreliable, we are considering the section from Nelsons Wharf to Kempsey Riverside Park.  The suitability of the launch side needs to be investigated before a final decision can be made at the general meeting following the AGM.

SOMR Annual General Meeting
The AGM will be held on Saturday 3 August 10.30at the Kempsey RSL Boardroom.  All members are welcome.  

Forest Visit

Concerns were raised with SOMR about the impact of the new Integrated Forestry Operations Approval (IFOA) system on water quality in the Macleay Catchment. In line with SOMR’s mode of operation, we contacted Forestry Corporation NSW to get boots on the ground and get perspective on the issues.
On Tuesday 2nd April; Christa, Denise, John and Rupert attended a site visit to selected Forestry Corporation NSW recent intensive operations and regeneration sites, with Peter Walsh (Soil and Water), Justin (Forest Operations Planner) and Reece (Field Manager).
It is important to understand that FCNSW manages 4% of the Macleay catchment, significantly less than our southern neighbours in the Hastings, and the Nambucca and Bellinger catchments to the north.
SOMR was informed that improved mapping software and improved “walk over” machinery allows for the selective harvesting of timber, with minimal damage to the immediate environment.
The Environmental Protection Authority has a team dedicated to monitoring forestry operations, every machine operated by FCNSW is GPS tracked in “real time”, allowing the EPA to access precise data on the location of operations.

SOMR members with Forestry Corporation officers in Tamban State Forest

It was explained that the reduction in riparian buffer zones from 10 m to 5 m will also have little impact on sediment in waterways. There is a 10 m “No Go” zone as well as the buffer and use of the “Walk Over” machine minimises soil disturbance. Operating distances from waterways vary according to stream ratings.
Forestry operations are planned to minimise erosion, snig tracks and access roads are stabilised using cross bank constructions (up to 0.5 m) when operations are concluded. The extent of erosion control is based on the analysis of slope and soil type.
There are concerns regarding the impact of private logging, connectivity for wildlife corridors and the development of monoculture plantations, however these are not under SOMR’s remit, which is exclusively on water quality in the catchment.

Viewing cross bank construction

Future directions include FCNSW use of drones in field management, the inclusion of FCNSW representation on the Macleay Contamination Working Group and SOMR plans taking a look at the ‘Non-Regrowth’ operations in the Styx River area, scheduled for this year.