Shoalhaven Riverwatch has released a fitting tribute to Shoalhaven's "Old Man River" Charlie Weir who passed away aged 93.
The following was presented as a eulogy at Mr Weir's funeral.
Charlie was involved with Riverwatch from day one - a history that goes back 40 years.
Charlie was passionate about protecting the Shoalhaven River; no doubt a passion arising from a lifetime spent growing up, working and living on the river.
His family were river people.
His father was the master of a river ferry that serviced the farms along the river.
He spent his early childhood at Riversdale which is now part of the Bundanon estate.
His absence from the Bundanon Trust Christmas parties will be noticed.
Since the 1980s Charlie was a thorn in the side of many politicians and bureaucrats, fighting numerous battles to protect the river.
But something special happened in October 1997.
That was when Charlie responded to an ad placed in the local paper by Alan Lugg, of NSW Fisheries, asking for volunteers to come and plant mangroves.
Charlie went that day and so began his "retirement".
From that point on Charlie was devoted to the planting of mangroves on the Shoalhaven.
It wasn't just the seven day a week, sun-up to sundown time spent on the river, it was very much his application to understanding what was required for the successful planting of mangroves.
As it turned out much of the initial mangrove plantings were not successful.
But Charlie studied, experimented and was innovative until he developed methods of planting mangrove seeds that resulted in a high rate of success.
Charlie then worked with people and groups such as Green Corp, Work for the Dole participants, school groups and just about anyone else he could talk into planting hundreds of thousands of mangrove seeds.
When his beloved mangrove seedlings were under attack from a tiny mite, he bought a microscope, developed a spray and rigged up a boom on his boat. It wasn't a smart move on the part of the mites to come between Charlie and his mangroves.
What we have today on the southern bank of the Shoalhaven River from Numbaa Island through to Pig Island is a mangrove forest which we hope one day will be formally named "Charlie's Forest".
If you are travelling east along Bolong Road in the vicinity of the fishing platform just before Broughton Creek, then take the time to notice the forest on the other side of the river. These trees have all been planted over the last 25 years.
As Charlie started to slow down six or seven years ago (in his mid 80s) he became concerned about the future of Riverwatch and reached out for help.
That began a rejuvenation of Riverwatch with the injection of some new energy and direction.
The membership of Riverwatch during this time has blossomed and working bees became regular and well attended.
The reason for this wider participation was simple. People were inspired. And the bloke that inspired them was working alongside them.
What goes around comes around and for Charlie to see the new brigade made him a proud man.
The group's last working bee was back in mid-March this year and of course Charlie was there at the age of 92.
Those present will always treasure a memory from that day.
One of the new brigade, Peter Jirgens, is very proudly this years' Shoalhaven Citizen of the Year and was showing off his medallion.
When he handed the medallion to Charlie, the response was "Yeah, I think I have got one of those."
Charlie earned and deserved every public recognition that came his way, and some of these were significant awards.
In 2003, he won the NSW Individual Landcarer of the Year and the following year he was the runner-up National Individual Landcarer of the Year.
This is as big as it gets in Landcare circles!
He also received accolades from NSW Maritime, Shoalhaven Superheros and Shoalhaven City Council.
Always though Charlie talked about mum - all understand that without Freda's support he could not have made the contribution of being the "Mangrove Man" that we knew.
Riverwatch extends its condolences to all of the Weir family.
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