News

Ooshie farmers start Facebook page

By Sophie Baldwin

When Katandra couple Stephen Black and Melissa Portingale destroyed a rare Simba Ooshie on national television to highlight the negative impacts of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and online bullying, they had no idea the storm it would create.

The consequent media frenzy has died down but the couple is using the momentum it generated to continue to highlight farmers' plight and have established a Facebook page and personal blog titled The Ooshie Farmers.

Mr Black said initially he was keen to retire from the media.

"I was under a lot of pressure with the farm, and once the media stopped I had a huge meltdown. I didn't know I wasn't okay," Mr Black said.

A trip away from the farm and up into NSW to visit Tolarno Station, the Darling River and the Menindee Lakes saw Mr Black return determined to continue the fight.

"I realised I wasn't finished and I could do more. This whole Murray-Darling Basin Plan is a mess and my trip away affected me so much I couldn't sleep — it's much worse than I ever thought and if this vehicle we created still has any wheels left, then I will use it to my advantage to get the message out."

Mr Black said it was distressing to know that some people only had access to drinking water because it had been given to them by charity.

He said the farming community and the environment was in a huge mess.

"To stand in the bottom of an empty Darling River is a very eerie feeling," he said.

Mr Black said the couple's Facebook page was all about sharing information on the plan and bullying.

"We are not a counselling service but a place where people struggling can share their own experiences."

On-line trolls bombarded Mr Black and Ms Portingale when they initially tried to sell the rare Ooshie for $5000 to buy water

"We have all the help numbers available for people to access, we are not counsellors but just a couple sharing their own personal life experiences."