Call to restore wetlands to former glory
THE wetlands in Casino weren't always overgrown and so inaccessible.
In 1988, as part of a bicentennial project, the wetlands were opened to fanfare and included a viewing platform and amphitheatre.
Tourists visited the site to take photos in front of the indigenous Jabiru Geneebeinga sculpture and Casino High School students honed their water-testing skills.
Today, photographer Donna Maria Colbrelli- Adams has to wade through long grass and weeds, almost over her head, to photograph the bird life she loves.
People used to come and have their wedding photos taken at the now decrepit viewing platform in front of a lake, Ms Colbrelli-Adams said.
Now, the waterways are blocked and a black rooster drowns out the sounds of the native birds.
The Jabiru Geneebeinga Wetlands are on Crown land and Richmond Valley Council is the trustee.
"We receive no financial assistance for their upkeep and the maintenance budget is around $6000 a year for general work such as mowing, whipper-snipping, rubbish removal, toilet maintenance,” a council officer said.
As next year is the 30-year anniversary of the bicentennial project, The Northern Star's weekly publication the Richmond River Express Examiner is launching a Save Our Wetlands campaign so the anniversary can be celebrated with a wetlands that local residents and tourists are keen to visit.
Ms Colbrelli-Adams spends five hours at a time stalking and photographing birds and is especially fond of a swan and her cygnets.
"I had the mother so quiet she would show me her babies,” she said. "First three, then two. One of the cygnets had its elbow ripped and I had to call Wires.”
She wants to see a 15m ramp for disabled visitors from the car park to the viewing platform.
"It is so peaceful to sit here and hear the birds, even if you can't see them,” she said.
Mostly, she wants to see a community group formed to restore the wetlands.