Residents of a rural town dubbed Australia’s meth capital are crying out for help as they struggle with ice addictions and deal with violence caused by the drug.
Locals have told harrowing stories of how living there has permanently scarred them, turning them into addicts and exposing them to unthinkable brutality.
A young mother and Murray Bridge resident has been struggling with ice addiction
A mother told Daily Mail Australia she lived in Murray Bridge for ten years, and said it felt like overnight the town turned from family friendly to ‘overrun with ice and dangerous people.’
She said when a drug dealer moved into her street violence escalated so badly her young son suffered PTSD and she was forced to move.
‘I lived near the high school and it was a regular thing for people high on ice to be walking up and down the street causing all sorts of problems, arguing and yelling at all times of day and night,’ she said.
‘Everyday I walked my son to school you would see at least 20 syringes on the ground.’
The woman – who asked for anonymity – said she was too scared to even go into her own backyard and her then-primary school aged son suffered from hearing violence during the night.
One former Murray Bridge resident said the town turned violent overnight when ice moved in
‘It was scary, I hated going outside even in my own back yard my son was terrified from it as it woke him up. He now suffers [PTSD] from living in that [street],’ she said.
‘People yelling abuse towards people who owed them money for drugs … Several times [neighbours] got into fights in the middle of the night.’
The woman said she eventually moved to another state to escape her ex-partner, who she said became abusive after moving to Murray Bridges and developing a drug habit.
After leaving, she said she is happier than ever and has found a partner who treats her ‘like a Queen.’
Devoted grandfather Nathan wants help after getting hooked onto ice through a friend
Murray Bridge resident Nathan, 48, is a devoted grandfather who takes care of his granddaughter, but he has a secret he is desperately trying to hide from her – his meth habit.
He told A Current Affair he has spent thousands of dollars on the ‘insidious’ drug which he started using when a friend introduced him to it.
‘A good friend of mine who got me into it – I see the road he’s going down, he’s about to lose his house,’ he said.
‘I can give you a thousand stories … about people wanting to, coming on to the property to kick my door in, the rape threats,’ she said.
‘Just this afternoon, two neighbours actually threatened to cut my mother’s throat.’
Mayor of Murray Bridge Brenton Lewis admits the area has a problem
Another resident in a notorious area of the town locals call ‘the birdcage’ said it was not long after she moved in that her neighbour found her son dead from the drug.
‘A young man, not too long after I moved in here, died across the road. To hear the mother scream to find her dead son in there, was just awful,’ the young mum said.
The woman believed nearly every third street in ‘the birdcage’ was impacted by meth, and has had an ‘on and off’ addiction.
‘I try, get up on my horse again and then I fall back off,’ she said.
Travis Kirchner (pictured) pleaded guilty to killing a mother of three in 2018
The town came to prominence in 2018 when 54-year-old mother-of-three Sally Rothe was murdered by Travis Kirchner.
After the murder, over a hundred homes in the area were raided and police said they were shocked to see the ‘squalor’ people lived in.
‘It breaks your heart when you see these families and you see these kids believe that’s normal,’ Sergeant David Hunt of SAPOL’s Serious and Organised Crime Branch said in 2015.
‘I’m not quite sure what normal is anymore, but that’s not normal.’
Media reports after the murder said children as young as 11 were addicted to ice.
One woman said she lived on a street with eight dealers and once saw a man threaten a six month old baby with a smashed bottle.
‘There was (also) an argument between two families, and the male member of one family smashed a bottle and aimed it at the head of a six-month-old baby that its mother was nursing,’ she said.
Mayor Brenton Lewis is upset by the fact his town is called ‘Australia’s meth capital’
Mayor of Murray Bridge Brenton Lewis admitted the town has a problem with methamphetamines but insisted it was a great place to live.
‘I’ve hugged a couple of young people in our community over the years who have said to me, I just want to be clean. One was a son of a friend of mine. He’s now dead,’ he said.
However, he said the suggestion the town was ‘Australia’s meth capital’ was hurtful.
‘I’m extremely proud of Murray Bridge,’ he said.
‘I think [ice] is on the way up everywhere you want to go. Because it’s cheap, it’s affordable. It’s a drug pushers dream.
‘The big problem you’ll find across regional and rural Australia no matter where you go, is that there’s nowhere near enough resources to treat people.’