Coolmunda Dam open day raises questions about free camping

The Inglewood community has celebrated 50 years since the opening of Coolmunda Dam which is located 13 km east of the town and provides water to the town and surrounding farming district.

A take away question though is… what about the recreation area by the flood gates?

The Coolmunda Dam is currently at 26 per cent capacity, but SunWater says there is many years of supply left, leaving the township of Inglewood and surrounds in a fruitful position. Locals will tell you that the dam can be low one day, and overflowing the next. SunWater, who manages the dam, are hopeful that capacity will be reached by March 2019.

When walking around the dam it is evident that this infrastructure project that was completed 50 years ago was indeed forward thinking and progressive. In recent history water security has been a political football with it being touted as the divide between environmental management and a necessity for primary producers.

With future population growth across this region being predicted to be only a few percent, we must capitalise on all opportunities to draw visitors to the region by whatever means possible. Great success has come from initiatives like Discover Farming which showcases local produce and free RV camping which have poured economic growth into struggling local businesses.

The original recreational site at Coolmunda Dam that was located by the flood gates was closed in 2014. This is a beautiful, lush green sanctuary that offers serenity, fishing and camping and, as it is located only a short walk to the other water recreational facilities, it offers the best of both worlds. I believe that this area is worthy of promotion as a family orientated destination for day trips.

The Goondiwindi Regional Council didn’t consider the original recreational area to be viable and so opted to build a new camping site instead. These two areas provide vastly different experiences. The new camping site offers access to the boat ramp, but lacks natural vegetation after being cleared.

The original recreational area near the flood gates give you a serene experience of natural gum tree ecology with the lake supporting a booming bird and fish habitat.

At the time of the closure of the original recreational site I understand that some people were concerned about safety. Safety should always be our first priority, but this concern shouldn’t preclude us from enjoying our natural environment. Equally important is the notion that recreational facilities shouldn’t solely be the financial responsibility of SunWater, or at the expense of struggling farmers. If this camping site was to be re-established it should be funded through local or state government.

On this occasion the open day was attended by hundreds of people who enjoyed being able to explore a behind-the-scenes look at the dam structure as well as play facilities for the children. It was also great to see emergency services such as the Inglewood SES onsite in order to promote their important role in flood emergencies.