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  • Shelley Scoullar

Hume ward bound

An epic journey to raise awareness about environmental and humanitarian issues impacting southern NSW and northern Victoria will finish at Hume Dam next Saturday.

The 303km journey which began in the small rural town of Barham on the NSW side of the Murray River on Wednesday November 11 will end for Lloyd Polkinghorne at Hume Dam around lunchtime on Saturday November 28.

What is now known as Lloyd’s Walk for Water has been well supported by locals as the former farmer and now Koondrook-Barham Bridge newspaper editor stops in on a number of rural communities along the way.

Tomorrow (Saturday November 21) will be a rest day in Berrigan before his team; wife Lauren, his two daughters and two support crew spend four days on the road arriving in Howlong on Friday for a final rest day.

Mr Polkinghorne said the walk was his contribution to raising awareness about the devastating impacts of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and water reform on the environment and people in the region he grew up in.

“The average Australian would be absolutely appalled if they were aware of the destruction to the environment which is taking place along the Murray between Hume and Barham.

“They would be gobsmacked at the annihilation of our premier food bowl, forcing good farmers who took pride in caring for the environment off their farms. The river banks are collapsing, forests are sick from over watering and the mental health issues being faced by these salt of the earth people is unacceptable.

“I wanted to give people the opportunity to tell their story; there are so many people who have been hurt and are hurting by political decisions. We just have to get the message out there that the current plan is not working,” he said.

Mr Polkinghorne suffered his own set back when a farming accident left him with an acquired brain injury resulting in the heartbreaking decision to sell the farm which had been in his family for generations. A series of events left him battling his own mental health issues.

“My perspective on life has certainly changed a lot since then. I felt the walk was something I could do to make a difference. It really is in the best interest of our entire country that we fix the water mess.

“The walk has allowed people to come and share their stories in a non-threatening environment. These are stories which the rest of Australia need to know about.

“The amount of support I have received from total strangers just goes to show how important our rural communities are and what they are made of. But these people are at the end of their tether with how they have been treated by governments,” he said.

Mr Polkinghorne said the ultimate achievement would be drive change for those few who are left on the land to produce food and fibre for the rest of us.

“These remaining people need reliable and affordable water, simple as that,” he said.

Anyone wishing to support Lloyd can follow his Facebook page Lloyd’s Walk for Water, go to www.beefitupaustralia.org or get in contact with the Speak Up Campaign, with details on its website.

Lloyd's Walk for Water Berrigan

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Speak Up was established by a group of passionate farmers and community members in the Southern Riverina. We aim to highlight the issues impacting Southern New South Wales and Northern Victoria.

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E: speakup4water@gmail.com