The need to dam a highly productive river is yet to be proven...


Williams Valley

A great place to live


Williams River at Tillegra

Vital to our community


Williams Valley

Area to be inundated if the dam goes ahead...


Williams Valley

Prime agricultural land



A tradition on this productive land...

dairy cows


A living community...

Community Involvement

River water

Vital for biodiversity


Williams River



Riverine forest

A rich ecosystem vital for biodiversity


A special environment...

Could you vote for a party that would destroy this?


Tillegra Bridge

A dead end road? We think not!


No Way!

The need to dam a highly productive river is yet to be proven...

No Way!

A Story from the Valley

Jul 9th, 2008 by admin | 0

“Devastation does not seem to be enough to describe the shock and incredibility…dammad

The announcement to build a dam at Tillegra has divided the community of Dungog, families and friends. It was the last straw for so many on the land who have battled through droughts, floods and deregulation. To be told through the press, without any prior consultation or consideration that all that you have worked for in the past, and all you have out laid for the future, for your children and grandchildren’s future, is to be taken from you without any justification or consideration is truly demoralising.”

The following is a heartfelt account of the effect of this proposal on just one family, originally presented by Carol Pasenow at an information meeting in Newcastle on 28 May 2008. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

My family, the Moore family have lived and worked the Brownmore property since the early 1900’s. My great grandfather, grandfather, father and now my brother have dairy farmed at Brownmore. Four generations of family have toiled over this parcel of land. The “old house”, as the family always refers to it, was where my great grandparents, grandparents, and my partner and I lived. This house was originally a guest house and telephone exchange / post office – Brown was the Post Master – hence the name Brownmore. This is the place where the family gathers for all important events. Christmas is always held at the farm. Brownmore is the meeting place for the Moore family, the drawcard that brings us all together.

Brownmore is a parcel of land nestled in the Williams Valley on the banks of the Williams River, which unfortunately is in the inundation area of the proposed dam. I have lived at Brownmore for all but 15 years of my life.

Twelve months ago my partner and I moved permanently from Brownmore as we felt it would make it easier for my parents to make a decision on how to best approach the farm’s future. With us out of the equation we hoped to ease their burden of what best to do with the farm, ie: hang on to the bitter end or sell now to Hunter Water.

I am the daughter, sister, granddaughter, great granddaughter, of the owners and ancestors of Brownmore. As a descendant of four generations of the Moore family who have lived in the valley, the announcement of the proposed dam shattered me.

Yet I am only a descendant, unlike my brother, my father, my grandfather I have not invested all of my finances, I have not put all my hopes and dreams, nor have I worked the land 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so if I was devastated by the announcement I cannot find the words to describe how this decision has affected my brother and his family, nor my father. Devastation does not seem to be enough to describe the shock and incredibility they felt, we all felt, when the announcement came out of the blue, with out validation or prior investigations. I cannot speak of the devastation the real owners of the land, the past generations who have worked the land for most of their lives, must be feeling, only of the devastation I feel, as a part of a generation that lived on that land and helped it be what it is today.

Many people cannot understand the bond felt by the people in the valley who will lose their family land. The term ” but think of all the money” or “you will be well compensated” tends to make my blood boil. If money was an issue, the landowners definitely wouldn’t be still working the land, they could have sold out to developers any time in the past, there are much easier ways to make money than trying to make a living from the land. Given the choice Hunter Water can keep their money – we want our land, our home, our roots and our memories.

Why then is the land more important than money, why can’t we just uproot and move on without a fight.

The connection with the land starts at a very young age. When you are brought up on a family farm you are a part of the farming industry from a very early age. When mum and dad go off to do the work – you go with them. From when you are just a toddler you are involved with the land. On go the gumboots, over to the dairy, wash out the yard, feed the calves, gather the eggs, what a good helper you are, and how grown up do you feel. You’re a farmer, an important part of industry from early on.
Five, six years old, you’re big enough to carry an irrigation pipe, help with the milking, bring the cows in. Until you are ready to move on you are an important cog in the family industry.

You can drive the tractor in a straight line while dad throws the hay on the trailer, or sow the seeds in the paddock. It was never a chore, it was fun, an adventure, and all along you are part of an enterprise – a family enterprise that has grown and prospered over generations. As a child you have helped to make this farm, this parcel of land what it is today. Even when we have moved on with our lives, that little parcel of land will always be a part of us. This is why we have such a sense of belonging with the land. This is why there is a connection with the land that can never be broken.

My brother has invested in Brownmore for his future, and his family’s future, believing, as has happened from generation to generation, he would inherit Brownmore on my father’s passing. He has ran the dairy farm for the past 23 years with this belief. He has invested money in his future. He is not a legal owner of Brownmore, therefore he is not entitled to any compensation for all his years of hard work. Technically he will walk away with nothing. What does the future hold for him? He is now at an age (mid forties) were to start again would not be viable, yet he is too young to retire. How can this be right?

I have watched, with great pride, my great niece Charlotte, who is now 3 ½ years old, don her gumboots and become a part of the family hierarchy. I will be denied this bonding with my granddaughter. She may never know the sense of belonging or learn to love nature and come to know the pure joy of being part of a family farm.

The Quartpot cemetery is situated in the middle of the Brownmore property.
Quartpot cemetery will be on the edge of the proposed Tillegra Dam. My grandparents, and great grandparents are buried there, not to mention other members of the Moore family. This was to be the final resting place for my father. This was their chosen resting place, a place with a view that looks out over the Brownmore property, and the two homesteads. A view of their land, the land they loved and worked.

My family, as well as many families in the district, are now being torn apart by the relocation of the cemetery. To have to ponder the idea of exhuming a loved one is horrendous. The decision to remove your loved one’s remains, or leave them to be covered by water is something no family should ever have to consider. To have to relive the grief of a death, and rebury a family member is devastating. This has divided many families and the community.
That is a small part of why I, as a family member who has lived in the inundation area, am opposed to the proposed dam.

Now as a concerned citizen I have many other reasons why the Tillegra Dam should not be built.

The Williams River is one of the last true pristine rivers systems in Australia. As a child, and then as an adult the soothing sound of the river lulled us off to sleep each night. The raging water of the river in flood excited us and awed us as it swept past with giant trees in its raging waters. I have watched platypus frolicking in the river, fished in the river, swam in the river and spend many hours just watching the river. To dam this magnificent river would be a crime in itself.

I also firmly believe there are many more economical and environmentally friendly ways to harvest water.

When you grown up on the land, with a water tank as your only means of water, you understand at an early age how precious water is. The people of Australian need more education on how to conserve and harvest water. There may be only one good thing come from this last drought and that is that Australians have learnt how precious our water supply is and how to conserve water.

To dam the Williams Valley, a fertile agricultural valley, in an era where agricultural land is becoming rarity, is a sin in itself. We can all attest to rising prices for fruit and vegetables. With so much of the country affected by the changing climate why would you flood a valley, a rich fertile valley, which will be essential to the growing demand for supply of agricultural products.

The Williams Valley will be required to feed a growing population in the future. It’s OK for Hunter Water to over estimate the water requirements for the future, but what of the requirements for food.

There are many reasons why the proposed Tillegra Dam should not be built from heartfelt reasons, to economics, to geological faults. But I think the issue, which irks me more than any, is the reason the dam was announced in the first place. That
an announcement could be made of this magnitude, without any justification, without prior investigation and consultation, for political reasons, that peoples lively hoods and families can be torn asunder at the whim of politicians is unbelievable and forgivable.

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