LISTEN

Podcast: Forgotten River goes to Wilcannia where the Aboriginal community have lived in harmony with the Darling for millenia

When we visited Wilcannia -- before COVID-19 tore through the Far Western NSW town -- it was the day before the footy grand final.

Two Wilcannia teams -- the Boomerangs and the Parntu Warriors -- were set to square off in Broken Hill the following day. The Central School was running a fundraiser. For $5 the kids would paint your car in your rugby league team's colours.

Local kids painting cars at the Football Paint-Up at Wilcannia, NSW, to support their local football team the Wilcannia Boomerangs in the grand finals. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Local kids painting cars at the Football Paint-Up at Wilcannia, NSW, to support their local football team the Wilcannia Boomerangs in the grand finals. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

Out on the oval, green now because water is again flowing in the river, there was a carnival atmosphere.

The fate of the Barkindji -- the river people -- is tied to the fate of the river. When the Barka is flowing, the mostly Aboriginal town of Wilcannia can practice its traditions, can thrive.

The Barkinji rely on the the river for food, for kinesthetic learning, for play, and for healing. They belong to it.

So our practice is dying. It's a slow genocide. The world has to understand this. It is very important to us to live every single day, continue our identity, continue our culture, but also just to survive.

Brendon Adams, Wilcannia River Radio

But too often in recent years the river has ceased to flow, and the people of the river have suffered. And this community of 750 feels ignored. And the residents we spoke to put the blame squarely on the upstream irrigators and water policy.

In episode three of Forgotten River -- Voice of Real Australia's special mini series -- we introduce you to the people who have made their homes along this river for 40,000 years and who fear that if it dies, they'll go with it.

You can listen to every episode of Forgotten River now, here, or by searching Forgotten River in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen.

This story Where will the river people of Wilcannia go? first appeared on The Canberra Times.