Raising the Warragamba Dam in New South Wales by 14 metres will destroy over 4,700 hectares of Blue Mountains World Heritage National Park, inundating 48 threatened plant and animal species and 65 km of Wild Rivers.

“What is a Wild River?”

A “Wild River” is globally defined as a system of untouched river and water systems which together make a naturally pristine ecosystem”

It is classified as a river or a river system designated by a government to be protected and kept “relatively untouched by development and are therefore in near natural condition, with all, or almost all, of their natural values intact.”

In Australia, we are lucky to host a number of pristine Wild River systems including NSW’s Brogo River and Forbes & Upper Hastings Rivers, Tasmania’s Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers and the Herbert River and Cape York Peninsular in Queensland. Spanning the Australian states, these Wild River systems are home to a plethora of plant and animal species, many of which are native to those areas as well as some that are classified threatened species. Sharing the space with the wildlife that inhabits within, humans also have the luxury to use this wild place as their playground. They have become an outdoor enthusiast’s dreamland boasting spots for kayaking, canoeing, packrafting, bushwalking, trail running, camping, canyoning, and other sports in, on, around and next to the water.

Wild Rivers are found globally and are considered some of the most pristine environments around the world. The Wild Rivers in our own backyard are under serious threat due to the proposed plans by the NSW government to raise the Warragamba Dam walls by 14m – resulting in 4700 hectares of World Heritage National Park and 65km of Wild Rivers being destroyed.

We’re backing this wild place – as such, we’re committed to standing up to protect an outdoor environment that our staff, community and wildlife currently enjoy in harmony.



We strongly believe that together, we have a voice – and a loud one at that! There are a couple very simple ways you can join the movement.

Firstly, you can speak up and sign the Wild Rivers petition. We’re on our way to the goal of 10,000 signatures. On the petition, there’s a box you can check to send a message to the Premier to make your voice heard! Unsure of what you’d like to say? The petition has a foundational message that you can use for inspiration, that you can personalise, or that you can send off straight away if you’re in a pinch for time. Drilling down even further, the petition hosts a quick and easy to way to reach out to your local MP, letting them know what their community stands for. You can make your voice heard and protect the environments you love from anywhere in the world, in a matter of seconds.


Sign the Petition


Spread the word! Don’t forget to share this online petition with your network. Voices heard will translate to governmental action, and with 65km of Wild River Systems at stake, we’ve got a lot to lose and only a little time.



Next, we’re stoked to get in on the action and raise awareness about the beauty of Australia’s wilderness, and most importantly, get to know what these wild places mean to you! In partnership with the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Paddy Pallin will donate $2 for every entry into the ‘Wild Rivers Photo Competition’ to the Colong Foundation in support of saving our Wild Rivers.


Wild Rivers Photo Contest


This isn’t a problem that has just suddenly erupted. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It’s been on government radar for quite some time now. Let’s rewind:

In 1995, the raising of Warragamba Dam wall was rejected by the Carr Labor Government on environmental and economic grounds. Instead, the Carr Government built the Warragamba auxiliary spillway at a cost of $100 million to ensure dam safety in the largest of floods.

In 2016, the NSW Government resurfaced this initially dismissed idea and allocated $30 Million to begin the plans to raise the walls of the Warragamba Dam for downstream flood mitigation. This movement is narrowly spearheaded by property developers who intend on developing on the 2355 hectares of Western Sydney Floodplains for their urban sprawl. Raising the dam walls will not only result in over $700 million worth of damages in Sydney’s pristine water catchments but also pose serious flood dangers to the proposed household developments.

Fast forward: in March of 2018, The Colong Foundation for Wilderness launched their national campaign to petition against the raising of the Warragamba Dam wall. Backed by Dr Bob Brown and Bob Debus AM, they’re on a mission to save the 65km of World Heritage Listed Wild Rivers. During the launch of the campaign, Mr Burkitt stated:

“There would be over 65 kilometres of Wild Rivers and 4,700 hectares of Blue Mountains National Parks submerged and ruined under the equivalent of two Sydney Harbours if the dam wall was raised- that’s twice the length of the Franklin River which was under threat in the 1980s”.


In April, 2018 it was announced that the Hawkesbury City Council would not support the plans to raise the Warragamba Dam walls. They showed their support in this conservation effort in voting down the motion to move ahead. The vote came in at 5-7 councillors rejecting the Liberal motion with numerous councillors expressing their concern when being asked to vote for a motion they know very little about. In response to the movements within the Hawkesbury City Council, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness spokesperson, took a strong position, highlighting the discrepancy arising from the situation. 

“We have a NSW Government hell bent on using the dam wall raising to justify new urban-sprawl across western Sydney floodplains. All the while downstream communities who are said to benefit from the dam wall raising are expressing serious doubt over the validity of the idea. They don’t want to see thousands more residents in their community exposed to an unacceptable flood risk” -Harry Burkitt

“The prospectus released by Infrastructure NSW on the dam wall raising states that another 130,000 people will be housed on the floodplain by 2047- it’s just ludicrous” -Harry Burkitt

In understanding the severe impacts the Warragamba Dam wall being raised, many environmentalists have been inspired to support the Colong Foundation for Wilderness. This includes figures such as Dick Smith, who announced his support to the campaign in May of 2018 with Dr Bob Brown whilst getting an aerial view of the greater Blue Mountains in a helicopter.


Paddy Pallin has been at the forefront of conservation in the industry since its establishment in 1930. As this value developed over the years, Paddy launched The Paddy Pallin Foundation in 1970 in a non constituted way. This action was a means for the Pallin family to support and fund suitable causes. Throughout the years, the foundation helped support the Franklin River fight and in 1986, gave funds to the Wilderness Society (Tasmania) to promote the Tasmanian forests under threat. The Pallin family decided to make their foundation formal in 2007 which gives access to customers to make tax deductible donations towards the causes the foundation supports.  We’re continuing Paddy’s legacy and vision of conserving our outdoor spaces, fostering their accessibility for the present and future generations to come.  Backed by Paddy’s foundation pillars of protecting our wilderness areas, we’re digging our heels in and taking an important stand as a business to protect our own, and our entire NSW community’s, backyard. 


The Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage area is home to the Lower Kowmung, Coxs, Natti, Keduma, Wollondilly and Little River systems which together make up parts of the Blue Mountains Wild Rivers. 

By raising the Warragamba Dam wall, it’s not only humans and their adventure playgrounds, homes and communities that will be burdened by the devastation. The result will be detrimental for 48 endangered animal and plant species. Two key examples of species to be inundated are the largest wild population of nationally threatened Camden White Gums and Sydney’s last Emu population. On top of that, the Kowmung Hakea, which is only found in a small area of 18 sq km of the Kowmung Valley will also be endangered due to the flooding resulting from the raising of the dam walls.



The crisis of the Blue Mountains Wild Rivers has reached new levels with a coalition of conservationists, traditional owners and flood policy experts seeking support and intervention from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.  Leaders authored a letter to the international governing body urging them to request a comprehensive report from the NSW government on the impacts of the dam raising as well as a moratorium on any state government approval processes until the threat of the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains has been assessed.

In addition to the environmental consequences that will undoubtedly spiral from the dam walls being raised, numerous Indigenous cultural heritage sites belonging to the Gundungurra people will become casualties of the flood. The initial construction of the dam in 1960 ruined many of their cultural sites, making the last ones left standing rare and unique. Spanning over more than half a century, the consulation process with traditional owners has been disingenuous to date.

We’re calling on all outdoor enthusiasts to take a stand to protect this pristine ecosystem right in our backyard!


Sign the Petition

Learn more about the campaign:

Wild Rivers

About The Author


Some 80 years ago, a young bushwalker's dissatisfaction with the limited and heavy bushwalking equipment available prompted him to design and make his own. Before long, word spread, and Paddy Pallin's lightweight, functional designs were soon in demand among fellow bushwalkers. From its early days the company has concentrated on supplying bushwalkers, travellers and adventurers with the highest quality and most advanced products and knowledge. Since 1930 the company has grown to become Australia's leading supplier of specialist outdoor and travel gear. The company, still owned by the Pallin family, now has thirteen stores throughout Australia as well as online, mail order and corporate sales divisions. We are using our vast wealth of knowledge, and experience, to build an online community where we can share our stories, reviews and tech tips to help you research and plan your next adventure.

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