Letter in Defence of the Deua River, its Ecosystem, and its People

In the bleary-eyed minutes before the midnight deadline on August 26, I submitted the following letter in opposition to Unity Mining’s plans to mine and process gold ore using cyanide at the headwaters of the Deua River, Australia. I offer it to the ether.

1. Objection to the Dargues Gold Mine: Modification 3

Over the last six years, I’ve explored dozens of rivers in Canada, the United States, and Chilean Patagonia by raft and kayak.  I’ve rowed and paddled thousands of river miles from sleepy flatwater to rapids at the upper limit of commercial navigability. As a river guide, I’ve introduced an inquisitive, international public to the beauty and rush of freshwater in motion, and to the humbling grandeur of its framing landscapes, from alpine forests to cacti-studded deserts. And I’ve witnessed the consequences of a Tailings Storage Facility spill in a freshwater ecosystem, smelled its septic waft and felt its toxicity in the pores of my skin. I’ve listened to the denial of accountability that follows, the down-playing of disaster by mining officials and government alike. I’ve watched as the cost of clean-up skyrockets over the bond fronted by the company responsible, and into the stratosphere of public funds, despite the underlying impossibility of rehabilitation except by the passage of decades, centuries, or millennia. Continue reading


Unwinter on the Rogue River

Rogue river 2015

19/02 – 22/02, 2015

We bowled South down the Washington interstate in the invincible two-door Honda with rasping brakes. Polished pickups slurped by, personal freighters purchased in a gas price slump like flaming skull tattoos commissioned in an hour of drunkenness. Four tonnes of steel and four hundred horsepower to carry one marginally overweight male and his cell phone along a paved highway. I looked to the baking February sky for signs of winter. Does Mr Bigfootprint notice that something is not quite right with the seasons? Does he make the connection? My thoughts idled away as my foot grew heavy on the pedal. We crossed the Columbia River into Oregon, pylon shadows weaving across the hood. Continue reading


Homewater

The Deua River borders my folk’s property in New South Wales, Australia. Since the age of 11, I’ve taken the plunge into the placid green rippling with eucalyptus trees lining the prehistoric forest. This is the swimming hole I dream about during years abroad, the gully that echoes in my mind when the otherwise abstract idea of ‘home’ is cast in conversation or printed on an immigration form. Continue reading


Moto Tramp 125cc_part XV: Devilspawn

12/03/14 – 13/03/14

Still in Puerto Pyramides, Peninsula Valdes, Argentina

The mosquito  is among the most readily despised of all lifeforms on Earth. More airborne than the leech, more illusive than the paralysis tick, more numerous than the Wall Street stock broker. Mosquitos were designed by the Devil to seek out the ear of a sleeping human, and beat their wings at a trillion times per second, pausing to sip blood from shallow capillaries. If convenient, they’ll stick you with a blood-borne disease. And when you come unasleep to their near-subliminal buzz, swatting at the darkness and scratching the pinprick welts on your face and knuckles, they’ll dance out of reach, riding the updraught of your semi-conscious flailing. There they’ll hover unseen, just long enough for you to process the sleep-drugged notion that you’ve won. Then, as you chase the disintegrating elements of your dream back into the underworld, they’ll descend from the ceiling, light on a freshly exposed vein, juicy with the pulse of your reveries. They’ll probe for a lucky pore, inject their needle-mouth with surgical indifference, drink triple their weight in blood, and return to restricted earspace to buzz and itch you from sleep once more. They won’t be satisfied at midnight, won’t leave you alone by one. They will not rest until they’ve borne into your ear and gorged on your dreams. Continue reading


Moto Tramp 125cc_part XIV: Dri-Rider

09/3/14 – 11/3/14

Puerto Pyramides Punta Norte – and back to Puerto Pyramides

(all this takes place on Peninsula Valdes, Argentina)

The beach of Puerto Pyramides was unpeopled, the ocean still and cool. Nerves flinched against ankle-waves before the plunge. A few freestyle strokes turned my core into a reactor, and I was warmer swimming than when I hesitated in the evening breeze. Continue reading


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