NBN NEWS TILLEGRA DAM SERIES

To the second in our special series on Tillegra Dam.

Some tough decisions are being made in the Williams Valley about what heritage needs to be saved if the area is flooded.

This generation is being forced to determine the future of hundreds of years of family history.

The Williams Valley is one of the Hunter’s oldest farming districts.

Its centrepiece is Munni House, a property that used to cover around 1,500 hectares.

The problem is, the house is right in the area that will be inundated with water, but there is a plan to save it.

“Because not all of the house is original and we’re waiting for information for what sections of the house would be required to be moved, how do we do it, section by section or do we do it brick by brick”

“It kinda misses the point, the whole area was named after this house, Munni house and now the whole area is Munni, Munni house not in Munni kinda seems wrong.”

While it’s now Hunter Water’s site office, the property belonged to Nikki Coleman’s family for more than 120 years, her aunt and uncle the last relatives calling Munni home.

“This really was the headquarters of the sort of anti dam movement, and back in those days even the sheds had no dam written in huge letters up on them.

Her family is negotiating to sell their other property further down the road, where her mother’s ashes are scattered in a memorial forest of 1000 trees.

“I think if this dam goes through i don’t ever want to come back to this place, i just think it would be too difficult, i would just have to turn my back on it.”

One of the most sensitive issues is the future of Quartpot cemetery.

Established to replace Chichester cemetery when that dam was built almost 100 years ago, Quartpot will mostly go underwater if Tillegra goes ahead.

“There’s three generations here, my grand parents, my great grand parents and my parents.”

Hunter Water has identified an alternate location for families to relocate their loved ones.

“If you leave them here, because of the slope of the hill, with the rise and fall of floods and droughts and the erosion, and to have whatever’s left here, washed out of the ground isn’t a very pleasant thought to me.”

A decision Patty’s family is wrestling with – the four siblings divided.

“It’s just too hard to make that decision, it’s just too hard to say well that’s where you wanted to be mum and dad but we’ve got to move you someplace else.

Tomorrow night, why some believe the dam shouldn’t go ahead.

“We don’t need a new storage, we don’t need to spoil rivers, we don’t need to dislodge farming families.”