Residents of a rural town dubbed Australia’s meth capital are crying out for help as they grapple with ice addictions and deal with violence caused by the drug.
An hour east of Adelaide in the town of Murray Bridge, South Australia, locals have shared horrifying stories of how meth destroyed their lives.
Locals have told poignant stories of how life there has permanently scarred them, leaving them addicted and subjecting them to unimaginable cruelty.
A young mother and resident of Murray Bridge struggles with ice addiction
A mother told Daily Mail Australia that she had lived in Murray Bridge for ten years, and said it felt like overnight the town was changing from family-friendly to ‘overrun with ice and dangerous people’.
She said that when a drug dealer took up residence on the street, violence escalated to such an extent that her son developed PTSD and she was forced to move.
“I lived near high school and it was normal for people to walk the streets high on the ice causing all kinds of trouble, arguing and screaming day and night,” she said.
“Every day I took my son to school, you saw at least 20 syringes on the floor.”
The woman – who asked for anonymity – said she was too scared to even go into her own backyard and that her son was told of violence at night in elementary school.
A former resident of Murray Bridge said the town turned violent overnight when the ice broke in
‘It was scary, I hated going out even in my own backyard, my son was terrified of it when he woke up. He is suffering now [PTSD] by living in it [street],’ she said.
‘People who scold people who owed them money for drugs … Several times [neighbours] got into fighting in the middle of the night. ‘
The woman said she eventually moved to another state to escape her ex-partner, who she said was abusive after moving to Murray Bridges and developing a drug addiction.
After leaving, she said she is happier than ever and has found a partner who treats her ‘like a queen’.
Dedicated grandfather Nathan wants help after being hooked on the 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’s desperately trying to hide from her: his meth habit.
He told A current affair he spent thousands of dollars on the “insidious” drug he started using when a friend introduced it to him.
“A good friend of mine who helped me do it – I see the road he’s on, he’s about to lose his house,” he said.
“I can tell you a thousand stories … about people coming to the estate to kick in my door, the rape threats,” she said.
“Just this afternoon, two neighbors even threatened to cut my mother’s throat.”
Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis admits the area has a problem
Another resident in a notorious part of town, who locals call ‘the bird cage’, said it was not long after moving in that her neighbor found her son dead from the drug.
Not long after I moved in, a young man died on the other side of the road. It was just awful to hear the mother scream to find her dead son in there, ”the young mother said.
The woman believed that nearly every third street in “the birdcage” was affected by meth and had an “on and off” addiction.
“I try, get back on my horse and then fall back,” she said.
Travis Kirchner (pictured) pleaded guilty to the 2018 murder of a mother of three
The city rose to prominence in 2018 when 54-year-old mother of three Sally Rothe was murdered by Travis Kirchner.
After the murder, more than 100 houses in the area were raided and police said they were shocked to see the ‘miserable’ people living in it.
“It breaks your heart when you see these families and you see these kids think that’s normal,” Sergeant David Hunt of SAPOL’s serious and organized crime division said in 2015.
“I don’t know exactly what’s normal anymore, but that’s not normal.”
According to media reports after the murder, children as young as 11 years old were addicted to ice cream.
A woman said she lived on a street with eight dealers and once saw a man threaten a six-month-old baby with a broken bottle.
“ There was (also) an argument between two families, and the male member of a family smashed a bottle and pointed it at the head of a six-month-old baby who was breastfeeding his mother, ” she said.
Mayor Brenton Lewis is shocked by the fact that his city has been dubbed ‘Australia’s meth capital’
Murray Bridge Mayor Brenton Lewis admitted the city has a problem with methamphetamine, but insisted it was a great place to live.
Over the years, I’ve hugged a few young people in our community who said to me, I just want to be clean. One was a son of a friend of mine. He’s dead now, ”he said.
However, he said the suggestion that the city was ‘Australia’s meth capital’ was hurtful.
“I’m extremely proud of Murray Bridge,” he said.
‘I think [ice] is on the go wherever you want to go. Since it is cheap, it is affordable. It’s a drug trafficker’s dream.
“The big problem you’ll find all over regional and rural Australia, wherever you go, is that there aren’t nearly enough resources to treat people.”