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Media Release: Irwin's Turtle fundraiser exceeds expectations

Media Release

22 March 2021


  • Donors commit $29,000 to protect our rivers systems
  • Urannah Dam threatens a wetland of national significance that is home to 30 rare and threatened species.
  • Dam will return just 26 cents in benefits for every dollar it costs


The Swim For Our Rivers fundraising event held last Saturday raised a total of nearly $29,000 for campaigns to protect Irwin's Turtle and the Burdekin River system.

Mackay Conservation Group and North Queensland Conservation Council held simultaneous swim events in Mackay and Townsville on the weekend.

"We were really pleased with the level of support we received from our communities," said Peter McCallum, Mackay Conservation Group coordinator.

"235 individual donors contributed $120 each on average."

"Mackay Conservation Group will make use of the funds to continue our campaign to protect the Irwin's Turtle and all the other species that depend on Urannah Creek."

Mackay Conservation Group opposes the proposed Urannah Dam west of Mackay. The group is concerned about the impacts the dam will have on wildlife and water quality in the Burdekin River system and the Great Barrier Reef.

The group also claims the dam doesn't make economic sense. An analysis of the dam's costs and benefits by independent economists Altus Impact last year showed that the project will return just 26 cents in benefits for every dollar it costs.

The site of the dam is a wetland of national significance which is home for 310 animal species including 16 that are listed as rare or threatened. It also supports 484 plant species, 14 or which are considered rare and threatened.

"The most iconic species that lives in the wetland is the Irwin's Turtle, discovered by Steve and Bob Irwin in 1990. This species is Mackay's own unique turtle," Mr McCallum said.

"Thanks to the support from our community, we will be able to continue raising awareness about the importance of our rivers and the foolishness of building a dam at Urannah."


For further comment contact:

Peter McCallum, Coordinator, Mackay Conservation Group 0402966560

Annabel Gorman Deane, Rivers & Reef Campaigner, Mackay Conservation Group, 0467 025 580

High resolution photos of the this year's Swim For Our Rivers Mackay event are available at:

Photo Credit: Bradley Hunter

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  • Peter McCallum
    published this page in Media Releases 2021-03-22 14:34:37 +1000