As she cruises along the Williams River in a tinny, tracing the edge of the East Seaham property her family has farmed for five generations, Janelle Spearpoint feels she is also moving closer to her wits' end.
For she is looking at her future on this land being eroded.
"It's horrific, it's absolutely horrible," Mrs Spearpoint says, as she wipes away tears. "When you're a farmer, you've got emotion for the land. To see all the work you've done, all your assets falling in, it's just environmental vandalism. And it should not be like that."
What is causing Janelle Spearpoint so much distress is the condition of the river banks. Her family's property has about three kilometres of river frontage. In places, the banks have slumped, and soil has trickled into the water. Trees have fallen into the river or are leaning precariously, as the ground beneath them is cut away.
To demonstrate, Janelle Spearpoint grasps a surveyor's staff, hops out of the tinny and wades through the shallows to the bank. She places the staff in a crevice. It is about 1.5 metres deep. She gestures at the trees above and says, "they fall in". Each time a tree falls into the river, their roots tear up more soil, and more of the family's land tumbles into the water.
While standing on the lip of the river bank, John O'Keefe, who is Mrs Spearpoint's father, picks up a stick and points about eight metres out into the water: "That's where the river was."
John O'Keefe has spent all of his 86 years on this land. When he was a boy, this was a dairy farm, established by his grandfather. A photo from 1942 shows young John sitting on a cream can on the farm's little wharf, waiting for the milk boat to arrive. That wharf, Mr O'Keefe says, has long gone, but if it were still here, it would be stuck out in the river.
"I've seen a big change over these many years, and each year it's getting worse and worse," Mr O'Keefe says.
"We've lost, we estimate, between five to eight metres," Janelle Spearpoint says of their property's edge along the river. "Some areas it's been more than that over the years."
What has been gnawing away at the land and their livelihood, Mrs Spearpoint and Mr O'Keefe say, are the wakes created by power boats on the river.
Power boats use part of what is known as the Seaham Weir Pool. It is a stretch of about 20 kilometres from Seaham Weir upstream to Clarence Town. While there are boating restrictions along the weir pool, there is a section where wakeboarding and water skiing are allowed.
The farm, which now produces beef cattle under the name of Greswick Angus, is also along the weir pool. But to Janelle Spearpoint, it is often not like a a pool.
"We can hear the waves from the wakeboarding boats from our house [about 500 metres away]," Mrs Spearpoint says.
The soil going into the water, she says, contains phosphorus and nitrogen. The boats stir up the sediment, which causes turbidity and, when the weather warms up, can create outbreaks of blue-green algae.
That has an economic effect on the farm, as stock water is drawn from the river. The deteriorating water quality and eroding banks have also impacted the neighbours, Neville and Irene James.
"I'm losing cattle in the river," says Neville James, who has been on his property for about half a century. The farm has one small point where stock can access the river to drink, he explains, but the eroded banks have been perilous for the cattle.
"I think we lost three last year, drowned, couldn't get out," Mr James says.
"They [government agencies] have to do something before it becomes a cesspool," says Irene James.
Janelle Spearpoint says the health of the Williams River should be of wider concern. For the Seaham Weir Pool is a major source of drinking water for the Lower Hunter.
Hunter Water says about half of the water in Grahamstown Dam is pumped from the Williams River at the Seaham Weir Pool.
Janelle Spearpoint explains the family planted thousands of trees and aquatic plants along the river front, to help protect the banks and water quality.
"A lot of those trees that we've planted have actually fallen into the river," she says.
"This is an open-air pipeline from Chichester Dam to Grahamstown Dam. So my question is, why is boating allowed on the Williams River when it is not allowed on Chichester or Grahamstown dams? There's no difference."
That question is only underlined for Janelle Spearpoint by the studies released through the years, looking at the river's health and the impact of power boating.
One document she refers to is a 1996 report by the Healthy Rivers Commission of NSW. It recommended for the full length of the weir pool a moratorium on power boats being used at speeds that generated waves.
Janelle Spearpoint also shows a Hunter Water media release from 2016. The corporation was responding to another report about the river banks' erosion, and it also recommended boating restrictions.
Hunter Water's Darren Cleary said at the time the weir pool's water quality was deteriorating. He warned if the erosion issue was left unchecked, the cost of producing drinking water at Grahamstown would increase.
"While Hunter Water acknowledges that the boating restrictions will cause inconvenience to some, the health of the Weir Pool and the impact on our drinking water need to take precedence," Mr Cleary was quoted as saying.
In late 2016, a management working group, including government agencies and local councils, was formed to deal with the erosion issue. The lead agency on that group has been Transport for NSW, which regulates boating on the river.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson recently told the Newcastle Herald that the agency's goal "continues to be to work with other agencies and stakeholders to find a pragmatic, shared solution to a complex issue".
So wake-producing boats remain on the weir pool, much to Janelle Spearpoint's frustration. While Transport for NSW has a boating traffic management plan for this section of the river, Mrs Spearpoint says it is "useless" in protecting the banks where wakeboarding and water skiing are allowed. During the tinny tour, she shows a section that is a "no wash" zone for boats and points out "there's no massive bits of erosion, still lots of trees, and they're not falling into the river". She says this river is too narrow for wake-producing boats.
"It is ridiculous," she says. "It is like putting a B-double [truck] on a country lane, or a ship up a canal. There are places for these wake-producing vessels, and the Williams River is not the place.
"Our land is falling into the river. Now if I got an excavator and started digging up the government departments' properties and the boaters' properties, all hell would break loose. They'd demand immediate action and remediation. This is no different. This is our property."
The State MP for Port Stephens and Shadow Minister for the Environment, Kate Washington, recently inspected part of the Seaham Weir Pool, after being invited by members of the Williams River Care Association.
Kate Washington has since written to the state water, transport and environment ministers, inviting them to see first-hand the issues along the river.
In a letter sent on January 13, the Port Stephens MP asked the Minister for Water, Melinda Pavey, about a draft erosion management plan that was expected to be released for consultation in mid-2019, but it hadn't been.
Ms Washington asked the minister, "will you release the Draft Erosion Management Plan and undertake the work necessary to prevent further erosion adjacent to the Seaham Weir Pool on the Williams River?"
The NewcastleHerald asked Melinda Pavey's office about the likelihood of the minister visiting, and when the draft management plan would be released and acted upon. Those questions weren't answered. In a written response, the minister's spokesperson said the government's "top priority" was "to deliver safe, reliable drinking water", including from Grahamstown Dam, pointed out Transport for NSW regulated boating activities, and that "through an interagency working party, we are actively exploring alternative options that prevent erosion".
Kate Washington believes the government has been "buck passing" on the issue.
"What this is essentially relating to is water quality and the environment, and the ministers responsible are not taking responsibility," she says.
For now, John O'Keefe and Janelle Spearpoint say they are watching their family's hard work slip into the river.
"We've been very patient," says Mr O'Keefe. "But the trouble is we're losing so much of our property."
"Enough is enough," says Janelle Spearpoint. "It's about time the government made some logical, simple decisions and remove the boats and make this... a no-wash zone for the whole weir pool."
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here