Kayaker goes against the flow
STEVE POSSELT, the environmentalist who paddled and dragged his kayak from Brisbane to Adelaide last year to highlight the parlous state of the Murray-Darling river system, is gearing up for another long haul - this time from Brisbane down the coastline to Sydney.
Mr Posselt, a 55-year-old retired civil engineer who spent more than 30 years in the water industry, is making his second epic journey to highlight concerns over the construction of the Traveston Crossing Dam on Queensland's Mary River - a dam which could endanger the survival of the prehistoric lungfish, which he said outdated the dinosaur.
Now living at Alstonville after moving from Brisbane, the Grafton-born Mr Posselt plans to leave Brisbane on Saturday, October 4, and arrive in Sydney on November 1.
He hopes to present the signatures of thousands of dam opponents - many from members of the Save the Mary River group - to Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett, in a bid to stop the dam's construction.
He describes the effects of the dam's construction as being 'the worst thing I have seen in the water industry in my career'.
“It would be much worse than the Franklin River Dam,” he said, referring to the proposal to dam Tasmania's Franklin River, which was scrapped after massive protests in 1983.
Mr Posselt's trip down the Darling and Murray rivers to Adelaide involved 2150km of paddling and 1080km of walking. “That gives a good idea of the state of the flow,” he said.
Mr Posselt doesn't hold back when he describes the state of the Darling. “It's stuffed,” he said. “There's no way it can be fixed. We now have to decide which parts of it we want to live and which parts we want to die.
“It's quite depressing. I'm ashamed to be part of a civilisation that's done that.
“Almost everyone down the Darling thinks the answer is to dam the Clarence River and divert the water flow.
“My response was that, being born in Grafton, there's no way I'd let that happen.”
Mr Posselt said the Save the Mary River group was well-organised and there was overwhelming opposition to the Traveston Crossing Dam.
He acknowledges water shortage problems in south-east Queensland, but said the water from Traveston Crossing would not be needed for another 25 years.
The decision to press for a dam on the Mary River was political and not an engineering decision, he said.
“The Queensland Government's attitude has disgusted me,” he said, adding that the dam would be a major emitter of greenhouse gases and that it could lead to the extinction of the lungfish.
The website Native Fish Australia says the lungfish belongs to 'a very ancient group Sarcopterygii (fleshy finned fishes). Fossil members of this group have been dated at over 400 million years'.
Similar lungfish fossils found in Northern NSW have been dated at 100 million years, from the early Cretaceous Period, making this species a member of the oldest extant vertebrate genus, the website says.
Mr Posselt said: “The lungfish lives for 100 years and is found nowhere else in the world. The Mary River is its last full natural habitat.
“Once people understand, it (the dam) won't happen. Extinction of the lungfish will shame Australia.”
Mr Posselt will have one simple message, if and when he gets to meet Peter Garrett: “Extinction is forever.”