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Film premiere Coal Creek: “What does it take to stop a coal mine polluting our waterways?” – Sutherland Shire screening

4 February , 1:30 pm 4:00 pm AEDT

“Coal Creek” documents the tireless work of a large number of concerned citizens to shine a spotlight on the damage being done to the Royal National Park by a neighbouring mine.

Filmed on Dharawal Country in 2022, the story shows repeated pollution events by the neighbouring Metropolitan Coal Mine into Camp Gully Creek, which carries the pollution into the Hacking River, a major artery of the Royal National Park. To add to these concerns UNSW relocated a colony of Platypus into the river.

Citizen scientists led by Sutherland Shire Environment Centre have been advocating for the mine to be held account for the damage wrought over the years.

When they were joined by renowned water scientist Dr Ian Wright, and Wild Magazine Editor James McCormack stumbled onto a major pollution event, voices calling for the issue to be addressed grew louder, and the mine is now the subject of a court case.

“Coal Creek” is the latest documentary by Illawarra based impact film maker James O’Connor. James is the man behind the lens for recent coal mine docs including “Mining in the Blue Mountains” (which has won international awards and massed over 25,000 YouTube views) and “The People Against Russell Vale Mine”. “Coal Creek” will be released in early February 2024 and will have a limited run of premier screenings.


This screening will be held at the fabulous Hazelhurst Gallery Theatre starting at 1.30pm. Doors open at 1.15.

Come early to catch up with friends and have lunch / drinks in the cafe beforehand. Please be sure to book as seating is limited!


In addition to an introduction by James O’Connor, panel speakers for the screening include –

  • * Dr Ian Wright, a recognised expert in the field of water quality, freshwater ecology, water policy and the science and management of water pollution. The Environmental Defenders Office has previously engaged him as a specialist consultant, and he has separately provided independent expert testimony on environmental science matters for the NSW Land & Environment Court.
  • * Sue Higginson, Greens MLC, and former principal solicitor and CEO of the Environmental Defenders Office, who inspected Camp Gully Creek in early September and raised the issue in parliament and media.
  • * Shannon Kaiser and Dr Chad Beranek, two scientists who carried out extensive surveys examining the health of the local frog population in the Royal as part of their research analysing the impact of foreign chemicals introduced to freshwater ecosystems.  Dr Beranek is a research associate at Newcastle University: Shannon Kaiser is currently completing his PhD at Macquarie University in aquatic toxicology.
  • * Cooper Riach, Sutherland Shire Environment Centre board member.  With other members of the Centre he’s been actively monitoring the pollution in the Royal since 2021.  He is currently a member of the group’s Camp Gully Creek Streamwatch program.

* Bob Crombie, former Royal National Park head ranger who first flagged the issue of coal waste in the Royal, and who has been monitoring water quality there since the 1970s. Bob was a key figure in Sutherland Shire Environment Centre’s advocacy for World Heritage listing for the park, and he took many of the photos that showed the terrible impact of the coal waste pollution in Camp Gully Creek, and down through the Hacking River to Audley.


There will be an additional screening Sunday evening, 28 January at the Servo Food Truck Bar at Port Kembla.

  • * Dr Ian Wright, Cooper Riach, and Bob Crombie will speak at both the Sutherland and the Port Kembla screening.
  • *  They’ll be joined at Port Kembla by Jess Lumbroso, the Streamwatch Coordinator for Greater Sydney Landcare.  The Streamwatch program fosters environmental stewardship across the Greater Sydney Region, providing training, support, and equipment that allows community groups to monitor water quality and to protect their local waterways.
  • * Jess Whittaker, a resident of the Illawarra who has a passion for preserving and restoring local waterways will also speak. She is a citizen science participant who has worked with the NSW EPA and Dr Wright to investigate pollution in local waterways.
782 Kingsway
Gymea, NSW 2227 Australia
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