In 2015, a 25th anniversary aerial reconnaissance flight was conducted up the Palmer and Mitchell Rivers by pilot Arthur Beau Palmer and the Kowanyama Aboriginal Land and Natural Resource Management Office (KALNMRO). The goal was to photograph the condition of habitat (wetlands, rivers, catchment) and land use activities along the Palmer River that feeds into the Mitchell River and its Delta. The photographs are classified into Mining (M), Habitat (H), Erosion (E), Grazing (G), and Weeds (W), with additional Horticulture (H) photos in the adjacent Laura-Normanby Catchment.
In 1990, Beaufort M.H. Palmer, his son Arthur Beau Palmer, and KALNRMO conducted a similar flight up the Palmer River to document the impacts of mining activities on river health and downstream pollution. The Kowanyama community then and now holds serious concerns for the pollution and sedimentation of the Mitchell River from upstream mining and other land use. The 1990 photographs were used as discussion points at the first conference on the Mitchell River Watershed, held in Kowanyama, from which the Mitchell River Watershed Management Group (MRWMG) was formed. The conference and formation of the MRWMG is documented in the movie “Running the River” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DICb0GZleUo
Arthur Beau Palmer donated the services of his plane to KALNRMO in 2015, as did his father Beaufort M.H. Palmer in 1990. Beaufort M.H. Palmer was a squadron leader and fighter pilot in the RAAF during WWII (1942-45) and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Arthur B. Palmer is an ethnographic consultant and pilot with a history supporting the cultural heritage of Northern Australia. He has a strong connection to the Palmer River and its mining history, since the river is named after his family and great grandfather Hon Sir Arthur H Palmer, Premier of Queensland 1870-73 and Governor Queensland 1883-1896.
Financial support for these flights came from generous donations from the Palmer family, as well as KALNRMO’s Wetland Management Program, Cape York Natural Resource Management (CYNRM), Northern Gulf Resource Management (NGRMG), MRWMG, and photographers Chris Hannocks (KALNRMO Land and Sea Manager), Viv Sinnamon (Kowanyama Cultural Centre Manager), and Jeff Shellberg (Geomorphologist).
Thank you to all those that contributed.