Living by the River

An example of a Science in Context program demonstrating schools working with Aboriginal communities.







In November 2004, Warren Central School Year 8 science students went out to the Macquarie River on a fishing excursion with Peter Darcy (known locally as Uncle Charlie).




Uncle Charlie has spent his whole life on the river.

“We've knocked around the river all our lives. Well I've spent - must be forty-five years on the river, I suppose.”

“…I lived - about a thousand yards…from the river – the Macquarie. But more or less lived on it - like - even when I was supposed to be school I was down here.”

“We used to live on the river. Mothers and fathers had to come and sort of hunt for us out of the river of a night!”

But the river has changed with the arrival of flood irrigation for cotton crops and the introduction of exotic species like Carp.

“Now the river's up and wouldn't know when they're breeding. They're only guessing, like us I'd say. I'd say we'd have a better idea...”

“...the carp affected the fish more than anything. See they eat all the eggs and once a carp dies, he - you might kill him - but they reckon he'll live …(his)… eggs and all that will live - for what - ten, twelve years on the bank - still be alive.”


The kids had a great day mucking around in the river...



...and even caught a few fish!



They also had the chance to ask Uncle Charlie questions about the ways in which the river has changed:

“Were there more fish in the river when you were younger?”
“More yellow belly, more black fish, more cod - more catfish and very little cod, yeah.”

“What was the quality of the water like back then? Was it clearer?
“A lot better than this, yeah.”

“Is fishing important?”
“To me it is, yeah. My kids have been brought up on it, you know - and I mean brought up on fish. They reckon it's good brain tucker but I don't know - might have worked a bit on the kids, but not on me!”