Crowdfunder raises over 30k!

The crowdfunding campaign has drawn to a close. From 212 pledges we have secured over $30,000 towards our campaign to Restore Pedder. This is a huge show of support and a big step toward helping us recruit a restoration ecologist to make the case. Our Paddle for Pedder video has had over 10k views, we have had great coverage from Australian Geographic and Patagonia as well as press around the country.

We will be working hard to keep the momentum going and to secure the additional funds we need to roll out this restoration project. Although the crowdfunder has ended, you can still donate via https://lakepedder.org/join/. To keep updated, please sign up to our mailing list at http://eepurl.com/gig3rP.

Keep an eye on our social pages for updates coming soon!

Christine Milne features in Patagonia’s Roaring Journal

This week, Patagonia Australia featured an article by Christine Milne in their online ‘Roaring Journal’. In her article, Christine reminisces on how Lake Pedder’s flooding inspired her activism and delivers an urgent plea to restore this submerged treasure.

‘There are times in our lives when momentous events occur and you remember where you were and how you felt at the time and the feeling never leaves you. I was an eighteen year old University student when I learned that the Tasmanian Government had approved the drowning of Lake Pedder, the globally renowned jewel of our South West Wilderness. I couldn’t believe it would disappear under the impoundment created by the damming of the Gordon, Serpentine and upper Huon Rivers, but it did. I decided then and there that I would never stand by and allow the excesses of hydro industrialisation to destroy our wilderness again and that is why I joined the blockade to save the Franklin River. ‘

To view the full article, visit www.patagonia.com.au/blogs/roaring-journals/restore-pedder

Remembering Pedder

The story of Lake Pedder lies nearly forgotten beneath the tannin stained waters of Southwest Tasmania. If we are to remember it, we must evoke the memories of the Elders, who knew the Lake before her transformation. Only the Elders may understand the true value of what we have lost. Some of them have passed from this life, but even so, memories of them remain, and their spirits live on in our thoughts and in our dreams. If we can awaken memories of the Elders, we may also awaken a vision in which the restoration of Lake Pedder becomes possible.

This story on Olegas Truchanas, written by Andy Szollosi, is the first of a series of articles about those people who have shaped and been shaped by the Pedder story. Click here to read the full article.

Portrait of Olegas – Ralph Hope-Johnstone

Your story contributor – Sue Hope

In 1955, 24,000 hectares of South West Tasmania, including the isolated and beautiful Lake Pedder, was proclaimed as the Lake Pedder National Park

In 1965, I moved to Tasmania’s north-west coast to teach at Ulverstone High School.   The following year, I moved to Launceston and taught at Riverside High School, while my husband to be Lindsay moved to Launceston from the Blue Mountains. We met and both became members of the Launceston Walking Club.  We had many trips into Lake Pedder

The Launceston Walking Club bus, full of eager walkers, would depart Launceston on a Friday at 5 pm and drive through the night to South West Tasmania, where it would park by a walking track.  This track became accessible after the building of the Strathgordon Road.  By moonlight, at midnight, the party would put on their packs, walk into Lake Pedder and pitch their tents.  Saturday was for exploring the area and climbing the fringing mountains. We walked out to the bus on Sunday and at 2pm left for Launceston in order to be back at work on Monday morning.  Lake Pedder was an inspiring place of great beauty and tranquility. I will never forget the first long midnight walk, by moonlight, into Lake Pedder. We all believed Lake Pedder was protected by its National Park status.

However, by 1967 it became clear that the government, led by Eric Reece and Hydro Electric Commission by Commissioner Allan Knight, had plans to modify the National Park and that Lake Pedder would become inundated. Members of The Launceston Walking Club and The North West Walking Club had some keen and vibrant young conservationists. We established the Save Lake Pedder National Park Committee led by Peter Sims of Devonport. Lindsay and I were very active on this committee. Through articles in the local paper and slide presentations of the magnificent Lake Pedder the committee raised money.  Some of this money was used to fly politicians into Lake Pedder from Launceston airport. I interviewed them on their return and wrote stories about their impressions of Lake Pedder, which were published in the Launceston Examiner.

Road access for dam construction was first established via the Strathgordon Rd.  Once the Scotts Peak Dam Road was built, members of the Save Lake Pedder National Park Committee set up a large tent on the side of the road on several weekends and handed out information and hot drinks to passers by to educate them about the scheme.  I remember one freezing winter night camped by the side of the road expecting the new NASA space blanket to keep me warm – it didn’t.

In Hobart, the South West Committee was established to alert the public to the beauty of this lake and the importance of saving it from inundation. This committee later became the South-West Action Committee, which in 1976 became the Tasmanian Wilderness Society.

Many brains were focused on trying to find another solution to drowning the lake. Alternatives were proposed that would have avoided flooding the lake, with only a small loss of power generation capacity, but these never received serious consideration.  Despite the community being behind the efforts to save the lake, the Premier, Eric Reece, and Allan Knight of the Hydro-Electric Commission were determined to proceed.

Lindsay and I married in August 1969 with many of our friends from the Save Lake Pedder National Park Committee in attendance. After the birth of our child Georgie, we left Tasmania in 1970 with heavy hearts that we had, so far, not managed to save the lake.  Lindsay had obtained a surveying job in Gladstone, Queensland. We followed the Lake Pedder saga from Queensland.

During this time opposition to the flooding of Lake Pedder extended well beyond Tasmania and spread throughout Australia and internationally. The focus on the South West Tasmania Wilderness area as an environmental battleground increased interest in the area, and many travelled to Lake Pedder before it was flooded to see what the issues were about.

In December 1971 we returned to Launceston so that Lindsay could continue his study and complete his qualifications to become a surveyor, which he had begun in Tasmania. We took Georgie walking with the Launceston Walking Club and joined the continuing protests to stop the scheme.

The Federal Government was inundated with petitions. Whitlam flew to Tasmania to see the situation for himself.  In July, the Federal Government recommended a moratorium on the flooding but achieved little other than infuriating the Tasmanian ALP Premier Eric Reece.

In 1972, Premier Reece approved the flooding of Lake Pedder, which proceeded despite a determined protest movement and a blank cheque offer from Prime Minister Gough Whitlam to preserve the Lake Pedder area.  Reece refused Whitlam’s offer, stating that he would “not have the Federal Government interfering with the sovereign rights of Tasmania”.

Lindsay and I have always been conservationists and it was an interesting situation in our household when we were fighting the drowning of Lake Pedder while my father was manager of Humes Steel Ltd.  He had spent many years working closely with the Hydro Electric Commission helping to establish the Power Stations in Central Tasmania, which so efficiently provided power to Tasmania and attracted international companies, which used the cheap power.  We could see the value of Hydro Power but wanted Lake Pedder eliminated from the Upper Gordon River hydroelectric generation scheme.

In March 1972 on the last weekend aircraft were permitted to land on the beach, Lindsay and I decided that we would fly into Lake Pedder taking Georgie with us.  Dad decided he would like to come too. So, we booked the flight and packed our tent, clothes and food.

On that magnificent long weekend in March, we left Hobart airport in a light plane and flew to Lake Pedder to camp for the last time before the dam gates were closed to fill the Serpentine River plain and drown Lake Pedder.

This was history in the making.  Light planes landed on the pink quartzite beach all weekend and flew back to Hobart and Launceston airports to collect more people.

Newspaper cameramen and television cameramen recorded the final days of splendour for this unique lake in the Tasmanian South West Wilderness. Everyone was aware of the momentous occasion, as the fight to save the lake had been spread, via the news, all over the world.

We flew back to Hobart knowing there was nothing more that could be done to save this gem in the wilderness.  Despite his association with the Hydro Electric Commission, my fatherwas mesmerised by the beauty of the lake and agreed that it should not be flooded.

In 1973, our growing family left Launceston for Maroochydore, Queensland, where Lindsay, now a fully licensed surveyor had obtained an excellent job. We discovered magnificent Fraser Island in 1974, joined FIDO (Fraser Island Defenders Organisation) and worked to ban sand mining and logging on the island. Lindsay created a slide presentation with music and commentary, which he showed at various places on the Sunshine Coast. Malcolm Fraser was responsible for the World Heritage listing of Fraser Island and the stopping of sand mining in 1977.  This was a joy to achieve after the disappointment of losing Lake Pedder.

In 1976, the Tasmanian Wilderness Society was formed by members of the South West Action Committee and fought to stop the Franklin Dam.  A young doctor, Bob Brown, who had arrived in Launceston in late 1972, joined the group and was a founding member of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society.  He was a major player in the fight to stop the damming of the Franklin River. Lake Pedder had laid the groundwork for one of the best-known environmental wins in Australian history – the blocking of the Gordon-below-Franklin dam in 1983.  It was under the Bob Hawke government that the Franklin Dam was halted.

Lindsay has been a member of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society for many decades and we follow the progress of their conservation achievements with great interest.

Your story contributor – Lindsay Hope

Born in 1946, I grew up in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales. There I enjoyed many bush walking expeditions and developed a strong love of the natural environment, as well as a curiosity to explore. In 1962, my father led a group of Blue Mountains boys, including myself, on the Cradle Mountain Reserve Overland Track walk. This was the beginning of my love of Tasmania and its wild beauty.

In May 1966 I returned to Tasmania to live in Launceston and to commence a Land Surveying career. There I met Sue Large from Hobart who at the time was teaching at a Launceston high school. We both joined the Launceston Walking Club (LWC) and enjoyed many walks and mountain climbs in the beautiful and rugged wilderness areas of Tasmania. We married in Launceston in 1969 with many of our walking club friends as guests

From 1967 to 1972, as members of the LWC and the Save Lake Pedder National Park Committee, we fought alongside thousands of other Australians and world-citizens / scientists to try to ‘save’ the lake from inundation. During these campaign years the club organized a number of weekend walks into Lake Pedder for members to camp, explore and photograph.

The club had its own bus and a 5pm Friday departure from Launceston was not unusual. The Pedder track off the Gordon River Road would not be reached until well after dark and then members would commence the 9km walk into the lake. One walk must have been planned to coincide with the full moon, because I remember that long walk, up over the saddle beside the Sentinel Range and across the swampy plains, being made a little bit easier by being able to see some of the bog holes!

The scene at Lake Pedder was one of quiet beauty with its magnificent pinkish-white quartzite beach, fringed by mountain ranges. It is difficult to describe the tranquility and spiritual refreshment experienced by walking into Pedder on a fine day and spending time in that unique natural environment.

My final visit to, and camp at, Lake Pedder was on the March 1972 long weekend. Sue and I flew in from Hobart with our two-year-old daughter Georgie, and Sue’s father. This was the last time that aircraft could land on the beach with visitors before the backing up Serpentine dam water permanently covered the lake and beach. During that visit we quietly enjoyed and absorbed that beautiful, tranquil, spiritual place and lamented its impending inundation. Since then it has been my lifelong wish that that the original Lake Pedder would one day be restored

The following photos are some we have scanned from my slide photography shot on that memorable weekend. My camera was a Canon 35mm SLR loaded with Kodak Ecktachrome 100 ASA slide film.  The photos themselves probably best describe Lake Pedder and environs on a beautiful day, man interacting with the environment, camping, the vegetation, the topography / geology, the dam water backing up, the beach as an airfield, and the eco-tourism potential of this once jewel in the Tasmanian South West Wilderness.