• Woke editors

Do You Give a Dam?

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

By Arliah Varnel


The Blue Mountains National Park is a World Heritage listed region inhabited by an abundance of flora and fauna. An extremely significant portion of Australia’s biodiversity resides in this area including; 1, 500 plant species (114 of which are endemic and 177 which are threatened), 52 mammal species, 63 reptile species, over 30 frog species and about one third (265) of Australia’s bird species.


Blue Mountains National Park. Image by Hans Braxmeier

If the raising of the Warragamba Dam goes ahead these native species will become extinct due to 4,700 hectares of this pristine national park being inundated! This proposal is primarily developer-driven and will allow for flood-prone land in Western Sydney to be developed, against the local communities wishes.


Warragamba Dam, NSW. Photo by Maksym Kozlenko @ commons.wikimedia.org

But what exactly is the Warragamba Dam? The dam waIl was built in the 1960’s and sits in the lower reaches of the Blue Mountains. In 2016, the NSW Government announced plans to raise the dam wall by 14 metres, which would consequently drown 65 kilometres of wild rivers and 4, 700 hectares of National Parks surrounding the dam.




The Give a Dam Campaign’s mission (run by the Colong Foundation for Wilderness) is to STOP the destruction of the Blue Mountains National Park through raising public awareness, petitioning politicians and pressuring key decision makers to recognise the destruction that this proposal will cause.


Give a Dame Campaign Twitter on Fev, 17

The Blue Mountains offers breath-taking wilderness to live within.

From growing up here, I have not only gained endless amounts of knowledge towards the importance of this national park but also experiences and lessons that have set me up for life such as hiking, navigation, living sustainably and simply appreciating the gifts that the world offers. So when I heard about this proposal I felt a need to do everything I could and work alongside this campaign and my fellow peers to save my home so future generations to have the opportunity to grow up in such a magical place.


1000 people attended the March for the Mountains on June 9, in Katoomba. Photo courtesy Give a Dam Campaign

I have never seen as much passion and fight that my generation portrays when our futures are at stake. We care about the future of Australia’s world heritage areas because we care about our futures. Although we need the Federal Government to understand the destructive effects that this measure will have on the mountains, its citizens and its wildlife in order to protect everyone and everything’s future.




Katoomba High School student Arliah Varnel @ the March for the Mountains on June 9

This proposal places 3 key issues upon the Blue Mountains National Park. For one, it places 65 kilometres of wilderness streams and rivers within the World Heritage site under direct threat from dam water inundation.


It also assigns risk upon Aboriginal people’s culture and dreamtime stories. The southern Blue Mountains is home to the Gundungurra People. The waterholes, rivers and mountains in the areas tell many dream-time stories in Australia and when the Warragamba Dam was first built, many cultural heritage sites were flooded. If the dam wall is raised, their remaining sites will be destroyed, including Indigenous archaeological sites, creation waterholes and cave art.


The Regent Honeyeater, one of the Critically Endangered species in the Blue Mountains. Photo by © Dean Ingwersen

Raising the dam would also place hundreds of native flora and fauna species under threat of extinction. For example, the Regent Honeyeater is currently listed as Critically Endangered. The Burragorang Valley floor (which would be flooded if the Dam wall was raised) is the most fertile regional habitat as well as being a key breeding site for this species



As seen above this proposal will have major consequences on culture, environment and the future of this national park. From holding rallies to opening stalls at markets to raise awareness for this campaign, the Give a Dam team are dedicated to fighting for Australia’s national parks (in particular the Blue Mountains) and precious World Heritage regions to remain protected by government and community.


This campaign needs you to get involved because when communities get active history is made. If you give a dam and want to be a part of a powerful movement head to https://www.giveadam.org.au/volunteer and if you seek more information watch the Give a Dam Documentary.



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Woke acknowledges the Traditional Owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture.  Woke pays its respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

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