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Book launch: Georges River Blues, Swamps, Mangroves and Resident Action, 1945–1980

24 April , 12:30 pm 4:00 pm

Please join us @ Hazelhurst Gallery on 24 April for the launch of Heather Goodall’s insightful book on environmental advocacy and the Georges River.

Co-hosted by Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society. Speakers include Chris Gambian from the Nature Conservation Council, and Rob Dixon from the Georges Riverkeeper.

The launch is free and all are welcome.

We are meeting in Hazelhurst cafe from 12.30pm, so please join us!

This is not a catered event, however food and drinks are available at the cafe.

The launch itself will start from 2pm in Hazelhurst theatre. Seating is limited, and it would be good if you could confirm your attendance prior:

Time can involve a “generational forgetting”. People do not realise what has been lost. People also forget, or do not realise the struggle it has taken to save certain areas. They forget what is owed to local campaigners from past decades: ordinary local people who fought to protect the areas they loved, and put effort and spirit into environmental advocacy.

What does it take to save a threatened area, when others don’t understand the importance of complex, interconnected ecosystems? What can everyday local people do?

Histories of the Australian environmental movement have largely focused on campaigns to save distant ‘wilderness’ or inner-city built environments. The Georges River environmental conflicts may have been less theatrical but they were fought out just as bitterly. And local Georges River campaigners – men, women and often children – were just as tenacious. They struggled to ‘keep bushland in our suburbs’, laying the foundation for today’s widespread urban environmental consciousness.

Please join us for a launch of this book that celebrates the role of everyday people and what they have achieved to protect the Georges River, the Estuary from Milperra downstream to Towra Point.

Heather Goodall is an award-winning author and historian, who has published books on Indigenous histories and environmental history. She grew up on up on the Georges River.

Georges River Blues traces seven local environmental campaigns from the 1950s, through to 1980. In the early twentieth century the lower Georges River, on Dharawal and Dharug lands, was a place of fishing grounds, swimming holes and picnics. A beautiful area. After World War II rapidly expanding industry and increasing population fell heavily on this river, polluting its waters and destroying its bush.

Locals like Ruth Staples (cover) campaigned to defend their river. They battled municipal councils, who were themselves struggling against an explosion of garbage, as population and economy changed. Building community awareness of the importance of local ecosystems and educating councillors was often a key element of these campaigns.

Heather Goodall has analysed river environmental history and politics in rural areas and in cities. She has co-authored with Aboriginal activists Isabel Flick and Kevin Cook. Her co-authored books on Georges River people and environment include Rivers and Resilience (Aboriginal communities); Waters of Belonging (Arabic-speaking communities) and Waterborne (Vietnamese communities). She is a Professor Emerita of History, University of Technology Sydney, and continues her work as an activist researcher.

Cover: Ruth Staples was a courageous environmental campaigner and teacher. She kept on fighting to regenerate the river until her death, aged 90, in 2020.
Bernie Clarke points out some of the effects of beach erosion in Botany Bay in 1975. Picture: Peter Moxham / Fairfax Media
Bernie Clarke advocated for many issues along the Georges River, including at it’s mouth around Towra Point. Here he points out some of the effects of beach erosion at Botany Bay in 1975. Picture: Peter Moxham / Fairfax Media
Como Railway Bridge, at the junction of Georges and Woronora Rivers, c.1900s

* Georges River Blues can be downloaded for free online: https://press.anu.edu.au/publications/series/world-forest-history/georges-river-blues

* Hard copies will also be available for purchase on the day.

Free

Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre

782 Kingsway
Gymea, NSW 2227 Australia
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