Coonamble is on the border of Wailwan and Gomeroi Country on the Castlereagh River. Aboriginal people refer to the Castlereagh as an “upside down river” due to its usually dry sandy river bed but a digging stick always finds water.
Coonamble is one of 120 towns in Australia that rely on the Great Artesian Basin for drinking water, particularly in times of drought. The risk of this water being contaminated by the Narrabri Gas Project united the Coonamble community against the project in 2018. They vowed to stop it and APA’s pipeline with the Coonamble Declaration. Signs on major roads around the town make their position on coal seam gas very clear.
To date the community has stopped APA’s contractors from surveying properties for a pipeline. Expired Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs – licences for exploring for coal seam gas) also hang over the heads of Coonamble people as well as many other north western communities. For more info read Zombie PELs Explainer.
A new Visitor Information Centre is being built near the painted water tower on the Castlereagh Highway. Coonamble has two excellent cafés – The Hub Café – entrance is in Warrena Street just off the Highway and the Global Village Restaurant, at 53 Castlereagh Street.
Reference: Studies by Radke et al. (2000) and Macaulay and Kellett (2009) identified leakage from the Macquarie and Castlereagh rivers as important local recharge sources for the Great Artesian Basin.