A look back at 2021 in the Kimberley

Posted on December 24, 2021

What a massive year it’s been for the Kimberley!

Despite another year living with the challenges of the pandemic, you showed us your passion for the Kimberley knows no bounds. From film premieres and award-winning documentary series to rallies and record-breaking submission results - this year was one to remember thanks to our collective efforts to protect one of the most spectacular places on earth!

Here’s a few highlights of what we achieved together this year:

43,000 people stand up to protect the Martuwarra from a Murray- Darling fate 🖊️🎉

This year we not only achieved a personal milestone for the Martuwarra Fitzroy River, but we broke a record - with one of the biggest results in WA history - more than 43,000 people made submissions to the WA Government to protect the Martuwarra from damaging irrigation developments.

This phenomenal outcome sends a loud message to decision makers about how important this National Heritage listed river is for Australians right across the country.

Submissions from Aboriginal groups, scientists, recreational fishing groups and environmental organisations have further reinforced the broad support for keeping the Martuwarra Fitzroy River flowing and not to allow irrigated agriculture to occur.

We expect a government response early in the new year regarding the submission findings. We’ll be keeping the pressure on to protect the Martuwarra Fitzroy River and will be in touch to let you know how you can help.

Rec fishers speak out to protect Fitzroy River fishing! 🎣

The year kicked off with well-known recreational fishers from the Kimberley expressing their concerns on camera about the future of fishing on the Martuwarra Fitzroy River if large-scale irrigation developments were approved.

The videos with Sara Hennessy and Bluey Vaughan showcased how important the river is for the health and wellbeing of the community – as well as how healthy river flows and floods support fantastic fishing.

Premiere of The Serpent’s Tale 🐍

In February, hundreds of  Martuwarra Fitzroy River supporters and VIPs attended the premiere of short film The Serpent’s Tale at the Two River’s Talking event in partnership with the Martuwarra Fitzroy River Council and local Noongar leaders. The film tells the cultural creation story of  the Martuwarra and the Rainbow Serpent, the sacred ancestral being that has the right to live and flow.

The film was such a huge success that we screened it again in August for hundreds of supporters - as well as a special screening at Parliament House for decision makers.


3.6 million buses of water from the Fitzroy River 🚌

Our efforts to protect the mighty Martuwarra Fitzroy River hit the busy streets of Perth in May, with striking images and statistics splashed on two Transperth buses. The reality of the proposals to extract massive volumes of water from the river were highlighted with the message "3.6 million buses worth of water risking the death of the Fitzroy River".

17,000 send submission for Buccaneer Marine Parks 🐋

In June, over 17,000 passionate Australians supported the draft plans for Australia's first co-designed marine parks in the Buccaneer Archipelago. It's encouraging to see widespread support for the ground-breaking design approach which combines traditional cultural knowledge with modern environmental management to protect marine life and healthy fish stocks. 

We will share more news about the completion of these marine parks as they progress in 2022.


Voices of the River series released and wins multiple award 🎥

We heard from 10 Martuwarra Traditional Owners in the Voices of the River documentary series, as they shared what the Martuwarra Fitzroy River meant for their connection to culture and Country.

The series, which was released in partnership with Environs Kimberley and the Kimberley Land Council, received international acclaim and was screened at film festivals around the world, winning multiple film awards, including Best Documentary Award at Sydney Web Fest.

We plan to screen the series at a special outdoor cinema event in early 2022 in Perth, please stay tuned to find out more!

Hundreds march to protect Aboriginal heritage and the Fitzroy River ✊🏿✊🏽✊

“Don’t let the Martuwarra Fitzroy River become the next Juukan Gorge.”

They were the powerful words spoken by Kimberley Land Council chair Anthony Watson at Parliament House in August as hundreds of people marched alongside Traditional Owners calling to protect Aboriginal Heritage and the Martuwarra in response to the proposed Aboriginal Heritage Bill.

This Bill has since been introduced to WA Parliament, despite the concerns of Aboriginal people and members of the public.

Huge community support for protecting the Fitzroy 💚

We've spoken to people from across Western Australia at community stalls at 30 locations across Western Australia, talking to the community from Broome to Denmark about their love of the Martuwarra Fitzroy River.

In addition to the 43,000 submission, over 25,000 of you have signed a petition to the Premier that we will deliver early next year, hundreds have ordered bumper stickers online, and so far a further 600 West Aussies have written to their local MP urging for Fitzroy River protection in the last month.
We've hosted film screenings in Broome, Fremantle and Leederville, held photography exhibitions in Rockingham, and a community celebration on International Sawfish Day. 

A huge thanks to our team of volunteers, who have worked hard at stalls and in our campaign office, and their continued support to protect the lifeblood of the Kimberley. We can't wait to get back out into the community next year! 

2021 has been another challenging year for many, with tough lockdowns across Australia and distance from loved ones. Despite these challenges over the past 12 months, your support to protect the Kimberley hasn’t wavered and because of you, we can say we gave it our all this year!

But there is still more work to do, with a decision expected in early 2022 on whether the life-giving natural flows of the river will be protected or to instead approve the extraction of ground or surface water from the Martuwarra.

In 2022 we will see the completion of the proposed Fitzroy River National Park and the Buccaneer Marine parks – and we hope some legislation to protect the Martuwarra!

Thank you for your continued support. 



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