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Byron Shire
October 3, 2022

Are macadamia farmers poisoning us?

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Some five years ago now, my Lismore doctor diagnosed my serious melanoma. Then a specialist surgeon cut the serious melanoma from my upper arm and several suspect lymph nodes from my right arm pit. So far, I am one of the lucky cancer survivors. Others in the area haven’t been so lucky.

The same doctor told me recently he and several of his northern rivers colleagues avoid drinking town water from local storage dams. They only drink bottled water. They put the higher than normal incidence of ALL CANCERS in our region down to toxic runoff from local macadamia farms.

With our regional high rainfall, fungicides and pesticides are washing off sprayed trees and leaching into our water supplies. Poisoning our waterways and critical storage dams. Sprays are wafting with the winds into neighbouring properties, roofs and home tank water storages.

My doctor’s theory on higher than normal cancer incidence resonates with me after an upsetting experience at Saturday morning kids soccer at Eureka at the back of the local little school. It’s 9am, here we were on the hill watching our kids on a calm clear blue winter morning. Macadamia trees are right on the northern school yard boundary. We could hear the farmers tractor sprayer next door as he was doing his toxic work. With the sun coming up to the east, we could see with absolute horror a waft of toxic spray clearly coming over the playing fields kids and parents.

I decided there and then to jump the fence and confront the farmer. First he got shirty with me for being on private land. I asked him to please stop spraying and he refused. I threatened to call the police and he stopped (for now). How often did this happen with the school kids playing on their fields? Who knows?

It was a relatively clear calm, clear day. A day when farmers are supposedly allowed to do their spraying safely. If wind is less than 10kmh apparently. But who checks? Our Saturday morning experience clearly highlighted there is a real problem.

Neighbours of ours recently tried to reason with a local macadamia farmer across the road as he continued to spray his toxic mix with little consideration for those living close by. He was not even willing to rationally discuss the situation with his neighbours. Neighbours who are very concerned what might be happening to our roof collection and rainfall water storage tanks.

Our message to farmers needs to be clear. If you are unable to grow your nuts in an organically sustainable fashion without toxic fungicides or pesticides, we DO NOT want your industry here poisoning our drinking water and wider environments.

Our kids and the rest of your neighbours deserve better. Please STOP poisoning us.


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  1. Agree completely..I live next to a macadamia farm and both my parents have had cancer!!!! Not to mention a lot of our neighbours…surely there is other influences from lifestyle etc though what there spraying on those nuts is seriously toxic especially when you put into the equation that a lot of people in this region are drinking there rain water including us…should we be scared? I think so…so is is something I feel very passionate to change though also slightly helpless and small so I am curious How can we make positive change for us for for the future? I would love to collaborate with anyone interested to see if we can start studying to see if we can do anything about this legal poison!! We should not have to live our life just accepting that there’s nothing we can do, I believe there is though, people in this area buy land here to excape the toxic environment which the cities hold…my father has had this land for 40 years building a strong relationship with it caring for it and now he has to put up with macadamia farm and a nbn tower at each side of it due to neighbours not thinking of there community which is meant to be a strong point of this area, we need to build this community again through caring for each other’s wellbeing instead of money please reach out if you want to try and see how we can make changes [email protected]

    • The most immediate thought I have Layla…..is don’t buy macadamias unless they are organic…..they are much more expensive I know, but this is where our power lies…..if farmers lose profit, they will change their behaviour, they are unlikely to change otherwise…..thank you for your story

    • Hello Layla,
      I have emailed you a few times. Guessing you’re not getting them? I am also next to a Macadamia nut farm (I was here first!) have had ongoing problems for many years and am interested in conversing with someone with the same problems?
      Please let me know if you get my message,..

  2. Melanoma is only from sun damage so get out of the sun between 10am and 3pm. A lot of other cancers are from poor eating, poor exercise, too much alcohol, too many cars, factories etc. All over Australia crops are being sprayed. Even home gardeners are using what they call natural sprays like garlic and other concoctions but these in heavy amounts are still toxic. Until we all go back to eating vegetables and fruits with blemishes and in season you get what you get. There is no such thing as organic anymore wherever you live the air is so polluted that when the rain goes into our rivers and dams and water tanks the pollution goes in too. Farm animals are treated so bad being fed their own or other species when they should be eating vegetation. They are so full of chemicals to clean out parasites inside and out and when it rains those chemicals go into our soils and rivers etc. Sounds all bad it is. So make the most of your lives and try and be happy.

  3. I live next to a macadamia nut farm. (They moved in next to me!) apparently, according to them, I have no rights? they’ve even threatened to sue me because I asked them not to spray right along my fence line! We live on tank water, all the pesticides & insecticides fall on my roof, my whole property!! There’s no respect or consideration! They live no where around here, they dump their crap and go home..! Early mornings, late nights, weekends, public holidays! EPA don’t care, nor do council!? Their Sprays also wash into the creek which flows into the main river in town! I wish I could prove their actions are making me ill… not to mention my animals! My chickens are unhealthy,( we eat their eggs!)even my goldfish have lumps all over them! …. And,…. Cane toads die when they came here! Have no idea what to do, no one will help me! .. …

  4. Hello Denise, my sister is in hospital with Acute Myeloid Leukmia. She has been tired for years and last year had irregular heart rhythms. She lives in the hills above Lismore surrounded by macadamia plantations. They have tank water as well as access to water pumped up from a creek.
    I have been wondering if the spraying is linked to my sister’s cancer.

    • Hello Anne , by chance does your sister live in Dunoon?
      I am considering buying property there , but with it backing onto macadamia farms I am very concerned for my children 🙁
      Maybe it’s not a good idea I’m thinking after reading these sad sad stories. I’m sorry for your sister ….


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