Sustaining the Williams Valley

Solar Bulk Buy Project – REPAWA Dungog

With electricity costs rising over the last few years, many households and businesses are finding that creating their own electricity makes all the difference to energy affordability. But not everyone can readily find the money to install their own solar power system, despite equipment prices continuing to drop. So because some of us are missing out on this free, clean source of power, Sustaining Williams Valley Inc is investigating the feasibility of a community-led solar bulk buy program.

Being part of a community-led bulk buy program gives householders and businesses more than just a better price. We will do all the hard work (and research) for you. Our focus for the bulk-buys will be to negotiate the best possible discount on the highest of quality equipment and link in with the highest possible quality solar installers.

Join our contact list

If you are interested in getting further information about the project or potentially interested in participating in the initial solar bulk buy purchase, please complete the online form you can access here.


Weeping Lilly Pilly Riparian Rainforest Restoration Project Update

Working bees held on 3rd, 4th & 16th of November 2018 resulted in completing Stage 1 (planting of sun loving species) in Zones 1 and 2.  Approximately 400 trees were planted  with fertilizer, water crystals and then bagged and staked.  Both zones were weeded targeting bidens and turkey rhubarb.  It was a really great effort, thanks to dedicated volunteers.  Here are some photos.



Enthusiasm grows for Dungog CORE projects


The enthusiasm for CORE (Community Owned Renewable Energy) continued on Saturday 25th August with 31 people gathering over afternoon tea at the Uniting Church Hall to discuss their visions for energy generation in the shire in the next 20 years.  Participants proposed such visions as “a carbon neutral town, community energy security, pride of ownership, access to all, and reinvesting in community”.  And they envisioned a great range of project ideas, including:  bulk buy & sell solar concepts, bio-energy using waste from the tip and timber mills; and pumped hydro.  Some of the district’s past energy generation was mentioned as inspiration – did you know a hydro plant on the Williams River at the old butter factory in Dungog was used to create electricity in the 1930s?

The meeting followed the success of the CORE expert panel discussion held in National Science Week in mid August.  Further workshops are planned.

Community Owned Renewable Energy – Special Meeting

Half Core Web LogoSWV Inc and the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub held an event on Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) as part of National Science Week which generated enthusiastic support from the community.  A follow up meeting to allow interested parties to continue the discussion was scheduled.

Meeting Details:
3pm – 5pm, Saturday, 25th August 2018
Uniting Church Hall, 246 Dowling St, Dungog
Refreshments provided

There will be an opportunity to meet and get to know other interested community members, discuss the vision for community owned renewable energy generation in Dungog Shire as well as any ideas you have for CORE Projects.  For those of you who couldn’t make it to the Science Week CORE event but have expressed interest then we can also provide a recap of the presentations given.

Find out about Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE)


C.O.R.E! Community Owned Renewable Energy
Expert panel discussion with Q&A

Sustaining the Williams Valley Inc and the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub are pleased to present a FREE event for National Science Week.

Saturday 11 August, 3–5pm at the James Theatre Dungog

Many communities around Australia are realising the opportunities of localised power generation and distribution to benefit their communities.  CORE is a way for communities to come together to initiate, develop, operate, own and benefit from their own renewable energy projects.

A panel of experts has been invited to present to the community:
  • Jarra Hicks of Community Power Agency
  • David Marston of Energise Gloucester
  • Sandi Middleton of Enova Community Energy

will explain what CORE is, why now and could it be part of Dungog’s energy future.  MC for the event will be Christopher Saunders, General Manager of Renew Newcastle.

Community Power Agency define CORE as a concept developed in response to the fundamental challenges of climate change, regional economic development, energy access and affordability.  It presents an opportunity for communities across Australia, particularly in regional areas, to create a steady income stream to fund community development projects over the next 25+ years.

The panel will use examples of existing projects to discuss the concept, the environmental, social, economic, technological and political benefits that can result.  We will explore the hurdles that may need to be overcome and share information on where additional help can be sourced should communities in the Dungog region wish to undertake such a project.

Some of the community benefits that have been attributed to CORE projects include • Local ownership and decision making • Community building and empowerment • Renewable energy education and training • Renewable energy industry development • Energy self sufficiency • Regional development and income diversification • Community assets • Local jobs • Shareholder income • Community income • GHG emissions reduction • Increase in environmental values and behaviour.


Jarra Hicks, Community Power Agency

Jarra has a professional background in community development, campaigning and renewable energy.  She studied Development Studies at the University of Newcastle and in 2009 completed Honours research that focused on grassroots renewable energy projects as effective responses to climate change using innovative economic practices.  She is a co-founder and Director of the Community Power Agency, motivated by the power that everyday people are engaging to make real contributions to the sustainability of their communities.  Jarra spent two years as the Project Coordinator of Mount Alexander Community Wind in Central Victoria.  She has also co-founded and worked for a range of community organisations and social enterprises, from food to energy, advocacy to banking and, most recently, helped to found the Coalition for Community Energy.  In 2010, 2012 and 2015 Jarra completed study tours of community renewable energy initiatives in North America and Europe and spent time as a volunteer renewable energy policy advisor in Delhi, India.

Jarra is also currently a PhD Candidate at the University of New South Wales.  She is researching the potential for community energy projects to contribute positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for regional communities in Australia.  Her research focuses on community engagement, social enterprise models and diverse economic arrangements that community energy projects use.

Sandi Middleton, Enova Community Energy

Sandi has over 18 years of expertise in sustainability, leadership development, community engagement, strategic foresight, program design and delivery, professional coaching and organisational capacity building. She has a strong background in energy efficiency and behaviour change and is a dynamic and skilled operator across all sectors of community, ngo, government and business.

Her recent positions include QLD Regional Leader of the National Energy Efficiency Network, NSW Regional Manager of the Centre for Sustainability Leadership, Byron Shire Council Sustainability Officer and Director of Sandi Middleton Consulting. Sandi is a Board Director for The Next Economy and With Nature organisations.

In her current role at Enova Community, she manages staff, consultants and a team of volunteers to deliver energy efficiency and renewable energy education and projects that benefit the whole of the community.

David Marston, Energise Gloucester

David Marston is well qualified and experienced in the areas of Integrated Natural Resource Management, Natural Resource Policy, Catchment Management, Agricultural Development, Strategic Planning and Program Evaluation, Community Participation and Consultation, Training and Education.  He has worked with relevant community and agency stakeholders to plan project activities, setting objectives and monitoring performance.  David has 40 years’ experience in the design and management of research and development projects for a systems approach, working with multidisciplinary teams combining production and conservation objectives for crop, pasture, agroforestry for rainfed and irrigated areas.  He has lead and participated in public and private sector projects that have operated in many Australian states and internationally across a wide range of land, water and energy resource situations.  David is the Chair of Energise Gloucester.

Christopher Saunders

Christopher has worked as a Creative Producer for 20 years with national arts and social change organisation, Big hART.  This work has involved diverse communities and individuals around Australia in participatory arts practice.

His most publicised work is with the Northcott Public Housing community in Sydney.  Here he produced the site-specific performance event StickybrickS and photographic exhibition tenant by tenant for the 2006 Sydney Festival as well as the ABC TV documentary 900 Neighbours.  He was instrumental in facilitating the World Health Organisation’s Accreditation for Northcott as a Safe Community in 2007.

Christopher moved with his family to Newcastle in 2011 and worked as the producer and project manager for the Regal Cinema restoration and re-imagination in Birmingham Gardens which was officially re-opened in early 2014.

He is currently the chair of Tantrum Youth Arts.

Christopher began at Renew Newcastle as Property Manager in 2012.  He has delivered Project Support Services and carpentry expertise including The Emporium fit out.  He was promoted to General Manager in September 2014.

More progress on the Weeping Lilly Pilly Riparian Rainforest Restoration at Frank Robinson Park

Sunday 15th July was a stunning day and thanks to the hard work from volunteers more progress was made on the Weeping Lilly Pilly Riparian Rainforest Restoration at Frank Robinson Park.  Weeding was done around the plants with particular focus on removing Turkey Rhubarb.   We’ve also started bagging the plants.  It was encouraging to see that many of the plants have survived and were looking healthy.

The following day further primary work was done by BPA focusing on the large privet and volunteers finished staking and bagging plants.

So the status of the project thus far is:

  • Primary Work – clearing, weed & sediment control done by Biological Preservation Australia – Zone 1 complete, Zone 2 to be done, Zone 3 partially complete
  • Stage 1 – planting of sun loving species – in progress
  • Stage 2 – planting of light shade species – scheduled for Spring 2018
  • Stage 3 – planting of shade loving species – schedule depends on season and growth of other plants

Working Bee at Frank Robinson Park – Sunday 15th July 2018

The next working bee to progress our “Weeping Lilly Pilly Riparian Rainforest” project will be held on Sunday 15th July 2018 from 10am until 12.30pm at Frank Robinson Park, Dungog.

It will start with morning tea and an information session to talk about the project and the plans for the next stages of planting.

A working bee will follow for those who would like to help with maintenance and weeding.  Please bring gloves and tools if you have them.

There will also be a chance to renew or take out membership of Sustaining the Williams Valley.  Annual membership is $5.00 for individuals or $10.00 for a family.  A membership form will be available on the day or at Membership.

Supervised children and dogs are welcome.

Any questions and/or to rsvp (for catering purposes) please contact Judy or Dianne at or phone/text Judy on 0411 258 257 or Dianne on 0408 113 468.

Renewable Energy

In December 2017 members from SWV Inc attended the Community Renewable Energy Toolkit Workshop run by ARENA and Frontier Impact Group.  This sparked a conversion that we wish to pursue further with a view to starting our own Community Owned Renewable Energy project in Dungog.   We are working with the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub on an education event for the Dungog Community which is planned for  August 2018.

See our Home Page where there are links to the reference information covered in the workshop.


Weeping Lilly Pilly Riparian Rainforest Restoration at Frank Robinson Park

Back in December 2017 work was carried out to install sediment fences and control the weeds on the project site.  This was done in preparation for the first stage of the riparian restoration of the southern bank of the Williams River at Frank Robinson Park (see Weeping Lilly Pilly Riparian Rainforest Restoration at Frank Robinson Park under Projects & Activities).

In June 2018 a working bee was held under the expert guidance of Alex King from Biological Preservation Australia.  We planted 400 rainforest species of trees, shrubs and rushes.  The Dungog Chronicle came to see the progress Frank Robinson Park gets spruce-up.

Progress photos are below:

We plan to have another working bee to monitor the site and continue maintenance work.




First Workshop a Success

The first workshop hosted on 24 June by Sustaining the Williams Valley, Our River and Rainforest, proved a huge success. With around 70 people in attendance, people were treated to three exceptional presentations, an excellent lunch, and a visit to Fosterton Road to see riverside restoration in-situ.

The first speaker, noted environmentalist and philosopher Glenn Albrecht, recounted the words that he has come up with to describe people who love different aspects of place and nature. Glenn is known for coining the term ‘solastalgia’, the feelings of sadness or distress caused by environmental change, and he was able to elaborate extensively on this in terms of how people react to negative environment impacts around them.

Up second was Skye Moore from Local Land Services Hunter, with a fascinating presentation on the history of impacts on the Williams River since the arrival of Europeans. And thirdly was forest expert Alex King, who described many of the various trees that naturally occur in our district, and led the on-site visit following lunch.

Our thanks to our three presenters, the Settlers Arms for the great food, and to everyone who gave up their Saturday to attend.