Recently, seven Blue Mountains Youth Councillors were given the opportunity to visit Warragamba Dam and Burragorang Lookout with members of the Blue Mountains City Council Healthy Waterways Team and Gundungurra Elder, Aunty Sharyn Halls.
There they learnt about the significance of the waterways for the Traditional Owners, plus how the water in our ecosystem works and the different ways it is filtered.
“It’s a lot more complicated that you would think” said Youth Councillor Zeke Turnbull. “Our tour guide Rusty Worsman from WaterNSW, talked to us about how Warragamba Dam supplies the raw water that runs into our taps and drinking water. We also got a first-hand look at some very interesting parts of the dam wall.”
The Youth Councillors then continued onto Burragorang Lookout for a talk with Aunty Sharyn Halls. Aunty Sharyn pointed out the sacred sites that can be seen from the lookout and spoke about her life, the different sites she has seen and what life has been like for her as a Gundungurra woman.
“It was sad to hear about the trouble Gundungurra people have had to go through to be on their sacred land,” said Mr Turnbull. “Aunty Sharyn explained that raising the dam wall means these sacred sites surrounding the dam, and the waterways leading into the dam, would be flooded and this would destroy generations of history.”
The Blue Mountains Youth Council plays an important role in giving a voice to young people on Council matters and community issues, as well as working to gain Council’s support for projects and initiatives that are important to them and other young people in the Blue Mountains.
In 2022, the Youth Council chose to focus their work on the theme of climate change and the environment. The field trip to Warragamba Dam has helped inform some exciting upcoming Youth Council projects aimed at supporting healthy waterways and restoring Platypus habitat in Blue Mountains.
“I applaud our Youth Council for focusing on our environment this year – and for highlighting such a significant issue – the proposed raising of the Warragamba Dam wall,” Blue Mountains Mayor, Cr Mark Greenhill, said.
“This project will destroy significant sacred Aboriginal sites, it will bring a number of endangered species to extinction and, as we heard last week, put at risk the Blue Mountains Heritage listing.
“The Youth Council are raising awareness about issues that affect not only young people, but all of us. I look forward to their ongoing, insightful contributions.”
Blue Mountains City Council invites young people from the Blue Mountains to apply to be elected to the Youth Council at the beginning of each year. For more information visit bmcc.nsw.gov.au/YouthCouncil.
Photos: (1) L to R: Rusty Worsman (WaterNSW), Alan Davies (BMCC) and Luke McGrath with Youth Councillors Kitara Taylor, Zeke Turnbull, Lola Blair, Kirrilly Blaxland, Chelsea Willingham and Sable Munro Davies. (2) Aunty Sharyn Halls and Youth Councillors at Burragorang Lookout.