TURKEY CREEK RISES TO UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS IN MID MARCH….and tragically,Warmun Art Centre has been almost destroyed. This long established art centre lost about 90% of their works – washed away down the river- but by grace of being in an enclosed space, they have saved at least half of the community’s archival collection – many rather sodden and covered in mud., however if the art centre coordinators are allowed to stay, they hope to get them dried out before the paintings are mouldy and ruined.
There have been many wonderful offers of help but unfortunately there is no way in! The roads are still cut off in both directions and may be for some time, as bridges and roads need major reconstruction. After weeks of heavy rain and in particular overnight into Sunday 13th March, Turkey Creek rose to levels that have devastated the Warmun community.
It had always been thought the art centre could have been built a little low down, but who would have thought that the school could ever be in danger- the people here have lost everything. The water inundated the whole community and spread across nearly 2 km, with water pouring onto them from all sides. Last Sunday morning, whilst getting nervous about the way the creek was rapidly rising, the staff stacked all the paintings in the art gallery onto tables so ‘just in case’ the water did get as high as the floor, then at least the paintings would not get wet. Little could they comprehend how high the water would go and how ferocious its force. When even the studio looked to be in danger Gary ran in and managed to get as much as he could up to higher shelving but then ran out in danger of being trapped as the water rose so quickly. Then the sickening sound of the gallery walls collapsing - they just had to sit tight and realise the enormity of the situation. It was already too late for the people living on this side of Turkey Creek to get to safety of the green house which mercifully stands on solid concrete stilts. By about 9 pm the levels started abating as counting the number of steps they could see, and only then could some people wade across to them and enable them to sleep the night on dry ground. The ABC website has more pictures that show the complete devastation to the gallery. Currently they have no power but have managed to find a way to connect just today with the internet world intermittently. The main thing is – the Warmun Art Centre will be rebuilt. The artists are saying – we will start again – build it up- make it strong again – then we get back. The entire community is being evacuated, however the art centre managers are staying as long as they can to secure what is left and to dry out as much work as possible – they don’t yet know what is left. Please don’t forget Warmun – their art will return and everyone is working towards restoring the indigenous community who have lost their homes and everything in them. This is their country, its where they grew up and its it’s their place – they will not give up striving until their community is rebuilt and and all can return as soon as possible.