Greetings from Darwin – Part 3 – Coober Pedy

Done Whyalla,

Darwin here we come!

Nothing to see except salt bush till we passed Iron Knob.

It looks different every time I see it. It is definitely getting smaller every time.

Back in the ’50s, when I was just a lad, it was called ‘Iron Boob’

After a few decades of rather creative mining they had to rename it ‘Iron Knob’

These days it’s called ‘Iron Pimple’

Soon to be renamed ‘Iron Gully’ then ‘Iron Canyon’.

More saltbush and the occasional dirty lonely mangy sheep for the rest of the day.

Some pretty weird animals out there, best to keep going.

Plenty of rotting kangaroos being devoured by crows and wedge tailed eagles, salt lakes, one cow, nothing else till Coober Pedy.

Lots of holes in the ground. Apparently an old Italian nona was the one who discovered how to find opals, way back in days gone by. After eeking out a meagre existence scratching in the dirt for the first thirty years, as her delicate complexion became all hard and leathery and her children ran off, one by one to the siren call of the city, she came to understand that the opals grew in fissures in the rock. These elusive fissures held a little bit of water that made the grass just that little bit greener. So she and her faithful husband who had grown equally withered by her side, went in search of thin lines of slightly green grass. She devised a most ingenious method of detection: standing at the top of a long ladder tied in the back of a ute, scanning the barren wasteland day after day, through shine and shine.

Her method was very successful. They both became rich beyond their wildest dreams. But their road to riches was not without its potholes. They refused to divulge their secret method under pain of death. They were smothered in honey and staked to ants nests, they were forced to listen to Metalica 24/7, and such things, but they were both hardy peasant stock from Sicily, raised in the ways of the Cosa Nostra, they kept mum.

It was many months before they recovered from their ordeal and continued their quest. But of course, their every move was being tracked. Their secret was soon exposed.

(It is pretty difficult to be surreptitious when you are wandering around the desert on the top of a 4 metre ladder, even the most incurious start to wonder what you are up to.)

 

Next stop Alice Springs.

Greetings from Darwin – Part 2 – Whyalla Cuddlefest

Giant Cuddle-fish

Just went for a swim with 250,000 cuttlefish. Awesome!. (Yes, they do breed quickly, don’t they?)

For reasons best known to themselves, they have chosen to spend their most intimate moments before they die, between an LPG refinery and a steel smelter.

But I suspect the cuttlefish were there first.

They have chosen this unlikely spot because it is shallow and protected and has lots of rocks and seaweed to lay eggs under. They don’t seem to mind us swimming around about 2 metres above them while they do their thing. It is one of the most beautiful things I have ever encountered.

The Australian Giant Cuttlefish can grow up to a metre long. They live a solitary life roaming the seas for a year and growing big and beautiful till they all suddenly get that urge to return to the place of their birth to perform one of the world’s greatest orgies. (As you can well imagine. Having 5 long slippery tentacles this involves a lot of groping.)

Then they all die together. Isn’t that romantic?

Lamentably, the rapacious fishing squads were the first to discover this unique event, but they did not see a great natural wonder, all they saw was floating wads of cash! In the late ’90s, at the height of the pillage, over 30 boats extracted 270 tons of cuttlefish in the space of a few weeks, sending cuttlefish numbers plummeting towards extinction. Luckily, some bright spark realized they were much more valuable as a spectacle than as a piece of mock crabstick at the fish and chip shop.

So now the cuddlefish flourish unconcerned by the toxic activities all around them.

One can only assume that smelting metal pollutes the air far more than the sea.

Posing                                                Guarding

Auditioning                             Hiding

Scaring                                                                              Ghost

Mingling

Flirting

Mating

The locals claim the air is perfectly fit to breath, even though the entire town and it’s residents are covered with a dusting of soft grey soot. Roaming the streets I couldn’t help but notice the hospital is unusually large for such a small town, and the cemetery is vast!

I searched in vein for the mythological statue of Allah, but alas I was too late. It had been reduced to a pile of rubble, like so much of our cultural heritage:

 

Greetings from Darwin

Left Castlemaine: Tuesday 30th July

Destination: Darwin, for the annual Darwin Awards

We have made it as far as Whyalla, where there is a big factory for making steel.

We are going to visit the cuddlefish today. They have been gathering for months but they will be going home soon. They come here every year to mate, 150 thousand of them, I guess that’s why they are called Cuddlefish.

On the first day we saw a lot of dirty sheep. I told the farmer I was not impressed.

“It’s a disgrace”, I said, “you should be ashamed of yourself. When we go to the country we like to see nice white sheep surrounded by nice green grass.”

The farmer comes over to the fence, wipes the sweat from her brow, takes off her Akubra,  swats a blowfly, lets out a loud fart, sticks her thumbs in her braces, spits out her chewing tobacco, scratches her croth laconically, and launches into a long and sibilant solilique. (due to her missing teeth, no doubt) Something about the drought, the wool price, the wheat board, the water board, the mouse plague, the dust storm and so on and so on.

“That’s all very well,” I said, “But what about our visual amenity?”

He just walked off shaking his head.

We got as far as Hattah Lakes on the first night., where we camped with the curious emus. They scared Gunyarr a bit, but I didn’t complain to management because it is a National Park afterall.

It was great to sit by a log fire again, I hadn’t done that since the night before.

Next day we got sprung with a shit load of fruit and vegetables. They all got confiscated and we will have to pay a hefty fine. It’s all a big scam of course, just so you are forced to buy local produce. I told them they should at least give all the confiscated fruit to the poor, or at least send it back to Melbourne to be resold.

We camped at Morgan on the Murray, just before it turns south. It was really hard to find a camp on the river because it is all privately owned. It seems Victoria is the only state where the beaches and rivers belong to the people. You can camp anywhere along the entire length of the Murrray till you get to S.A.

In Morgan they have a pump that pumps water to Whyalla. Unbelievable. It is 5 hours away. Some of the water we are drinking here in Whyalla is from North Queensland.

We passed a shit load of those ugly wind towers. They are everywhere. I was so glad to get to Whyalla and see the lovely steel plant:much pretier!

I asked a local why it is called Whyalla. He said an Afghan Cameleer once built a statue of the Muslim god up on the hill here and everyone would ask: “Why Alla?”. It is apparently the only statue of Alla in the whole world because whenever anyone built one they got their head chopped off.

 

Cars V Planes – Which is worse?

CARS

 

Emissions

2.4kg per litre

12 kilometres per litre = 200 grams per kilometer

 

+fuel production

+ petrol station building and maintenance

+ car manufacture, repair & maintenance

+roads

= 260 grams per kilometer per car

   or 260kg per hour at 100kph

 

PLANES

Emissions

Fuel consumption 100kg per hour

High altitude factor x2 = 200kg per hour

+   • extraction and transport of crude oil
• inefficiencies in refineries (around 7% [30])
• aircraft manufacture and maintenance, and staff training
• airport construction, maintenance, heating, lighting etc.

To calculate and compensate for your emissions for each trip you take by car or plane Click Here

Convoy – Episode 4 A response to the response

Bill’s Bob Hawke moment

-A riposte to those poor misguided fools who see

Bob Brown’s convoy to Adani as a damp squib.

Far too many people in this blighted country are happy to accept the standard version of why we went to Central Queensland, and what happened when we arrived. Maybe there is some weird psychology going on here: Many people on the left feel a deep and abiding sense of guilt for derelicting their duty to join us on the convoy: people who proclaim loudly and often that stopping Adani and saving the Great Barrier Reef is, without a doubt, THE most important issue in their lives. But when push comes to shove, and that claim is actually put to the test, it turns out there are many, many things more important than stopping Adani and saving the Great Barrier Reef. So naturally, when our convoy fails to achieve its lofty aims, to assuage their guilt these well meaning progressive types feel sharp pangs stabbing at their bleeding hearts, they clutch at any straw that gives relief from their anguish, grabbing at the first glib excuse that will let them off the hook. It basically goes like this: “It was a mistake! Bob Brown went up there to tell the miners what to do in their own back yard. A rude thing to do to the sensitive miners cowering in their tunnels.” A version of events conveniently disseminated far and wide by the Murdoch media machine, then parroted ad infinitum by every numbskull that has it in for Bob Brown. Every nutjob north of Gimpy was sticking the boot in: Almost the entire The LNP, most of the Labor Party, even a few mentally challenged members of The Greens, plus Clive Grease-Palmer, Gina Rhinestone-hart, Katter-the-mad-hatter and let’s not forget Bluey, the alt-right-ranger.

Although none of you have shown a skeric of interest in hearing from the horse’s mouth, I feel compelled to tell you anyway.

For anyone willing to listen, now that the horse has bolted, we were invited to the Galilee Basin by Adrian Gurabulu, a leader of the Wangan and Jangalingu peoples, custodians of the land earmarked for violation. We did not go there to stir up the miners, we went there to stir up the vast majority of Australians who said they were implacably opposed to that dreadful mine.

We hoped our convoy would help keep Adani and climate change at the centre of the election campaign. We went there to stir up one vacillating individual in particular: Bill Shorten. When the convoy returned triumphantly to Canberra for our final finale, Bob Brown invited the now defunct leader of the opposition to join him on the podium. “ Bill”, he said, “ this is a golden opportunity for you to declare proudly and loudly, your total and unequivocal opposition to that accursed mine. This could be your Bob Hawke moment.” He was of course referring to that historic moment some 40 years ago when the inimitable Bob Hawke declared: “If you make me Prime Minister of Australia the Franklin dam will never be built” and it wasn’t! But alas, Bill Shorten is not a pimple on Bob Hawke’s arse. Despite the enormous effort we all put in, traveling thousands of miles to the middle of nowhere, just to focus Bill’s mind on the leadership required at this crucial moment, he fell at the last hurdle.

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him think!

Convoy – Part 3 – A short history of Central Queensland (Parts 1 & 2 below)

 

So, it seems Bob Brown and his merry band of climate defenders swung the election for the coalition, just by the sheer power of our presence in Central Queensland. Well, just for the record, we didn’t go there to stir up a hornet’s nest of disgruntled coal miners. We went there to stir up the rest of the country, the people that do care about more than their own self-interest, and we did stir them up. We had people wringing their hands and agonizing over that most difficult of choices: What do I hold most dear? My lovely money or my lovely, lonely, desecrated planet. Alas, just a few too many frightened little rabbits chose to hug their money tightly and left the planet to fend for itself.

 

So what are we to do about Central Queensland: spiritual home of every alt-right numbskull in the country? Bob Katter, Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer, Frazer Anning, George Christianson,: a rogue’s gallery of buffoons, climbing over each other to be king of the woebegone.

It wasn’t always like this. It may be hard to believe, but Central Queensland was once the most radical, even revolutionary, place in the country. Clermont, recently playing host to gangs of greenie hating bogans and their pet politicians, once played a leading role in the great shearer’s strike of 1891. In the midst of a depression, the station bosses wanted to cut shearer’s wages. The Union called a strike. It lasted for months. Scabs were railroaded in from down south. (hence the expression: to be ‘railroaded.’) There were clashes, it got nasty, troops were called in. Union supporters down south sent guns. There were 3,000 desperate workers gathered at Barcaldine. They were angry and they were armed. It was ripe for a bloodbath, a massacre like the Eureka stockade. Fortunately cool heads prevailed. The angry workers chose to pursue their grievances via a new organisation: The Australian Labour Federation. 10 years later when Australia itself became a federation, the workers federation became the Australian Labour Party, the rest is history, they have been consistently losing elections ever since. Probably because they removed the ‘U’ in labour. So ‘you’ stopped working.

But not everyone felt it was possible to achieve radical change through the ballot box. How prescient they were. These visionaries came to the conclusion that Australia was fucked and always would be, so, in a spirit of foolhardy adventure they set sail for the wilds of Paraguay, as far from the reach of overbearing Australian authority as they could possibly get. There they proceeded to set up their very own version of Utopia. A noble cause indeed, but fraught with many unseen pitfalls, as you can well imagine. This brave social experiment would probably be described today as a cult. A cult of rechabites, who found great virtue in abstaining from the evil influence of grog and gambling and illicit sex. One William Lane being the self appointed charismatic leader, decreed from day one there was to be no fraternizing with the native women. Therein lay the seeds of his downfall. (wild oats, no doubt) This merry band of adventurous idealists being comprised of 90% men; it was only a matter of time before this cardinal rule was flagrantly flouted. It took little more than a single generation for the Australians to be completely assimilated into the local population, the English language disappearing without a trace and the distant land of jumbucks and kangaroos entering the realm of mythology.

 

Meanwhile back at the sheep ranch, the locals had discovered something even easier to sheer than sheep: Coal, favourite fuel of the industrial revolution. You can heat anything with it! (Though some things can get a little over heated). The monolithic Central Queensland coal industry began in the 1920’s in a little known little town called Collinsville, or ‘Moonguya’ by the local blackfellas. Apparently moongunya means ‘place of coal’ in the local Birri language. Maybe the blackfellas started the coal industry. The town was also known as Little Moscow because it was a nest of Bolsheviks, determined to overthrow the capitalist system by any (lawful) means. Not quite as gung ho as their Russian mentors, who had no qualms about spilling a little blood, but our own home grown bolsheviks did manage to elect Fred Paterson, a card-carrying member of The Communist Party of Australia, to the Queensland State Parliament in 1944. A feat unparalleled in the history of this sheepish nation. Well-done Fred! Alas, his glory was short lived. Sir Robert Menzies was the Prime Minister of the day, and many days hence, and he wasn’t having a bar of it. The electorate was summarily sliced up and glued on to surrounding, less revolting electorates.

That was the last we saw of Fred. But mind you, he was no upstart. Fred Paterson was a Rhodes scholar and studied theology at Oxford University no less, before straying so far from the righteous path.

So here we are, in just three generations those same coal mining familes have gone from the most radical left wing workers in Australia, eagerly following world events and grappling with big ideas, to the most right wing mob in the entire country, happy to vote for every nut job that ever walked the halls of Parliament. A place so insular and parochial they wear their ignorance like a badge of honour.

How on earth did this happen?

I have no idea, but I suspect money had something to do with it.

 

Ben Boyang 31/5/19

 

Battle of the Birds .jpg

Episode 2 Camp Binbee & Ursula The Immortal

So here we are all gathered together at the Clermont Showgrounds. A motley crew of over 100 vehicles. It is a beautiful day for the Water Festival, put on by the Wangan & Jangalingu people for our benefit. It is such a relief to sleep in and not have to get up and drive all bloody day. Driving all day every day to stop pollution doesn’t feel quite right to me somehow, but we can’t all be perfect, can we? The Wangas put on a bonza show, with heaps of singing and dancing.

They even teach the whitefellas how to dance blackfella style. Very amusing!

Then out of nowhere a wild cowboy on a horse gallops right into the middle of the arena, whoopin’ an’ a hollerin’ and waving his hat around like John Wayne. There are people with little kids in the middle of the space so it is actually very dangerous and quite irresponsible. After a couple of circuits he heads for the exit but a daft woman decides it would be a good idea to close the gate on him. Dumb idea! The horse hits the gate and knocks her unconscious, then gallops off into the distance. The poor woman has to be airlifted to Mackay for tests, but she is OK.

Apparently the wild colonial boy is none too bright and has been egged on by the evil triumvirate having the love-in at the hotel. (see previous epistle)

After that episode we need a drink to settle our nerves, but neither the bottlo nor the pub will have a bar of us. They said: “Go back to where you came from”, and other less savory expressions. I must admit I am shocked. I have never had such an ugly reception anywhere else in Australia. So we are pretty glad to get out of Clermont unscathed. Fortunately, the locals are happy enough to sell us petrol to help us on our way.

At this point the convoy and me part ways. The poor voyeurs have to turn around and retrace their steps with nary more than a days rest. I certainly didn’t drive 2,8oo ks just to turn around and go home again. So I head north, further into enemy territory, heading for the Camp Binbee*, deep in the forest within Cooee of Abbot Point, the coal port owned by Mr. Adani himself. To get there we must pass thru enemy territory. There are over 60 coalmines in the Bowen Basin. The road wends its way between humongos muluck heaps and humongous piles of coal and humongous holes in the ground, for hours on end. Coober Pedy on steroids.

The Camp Binbee is set amongst picturesque rolling hills and exquisitely beautiful grassy woodlands. Such a relief to arrive in a friendly spot and stop moving. We have definitely landed on our feet. These people are bloody well organized. The place is run like a Sandinista guerrilla camp in the Nicaraguan jungle. First pick a spot out in the woods: Put up your tarp, lay down your swag. Home sweet home! Welcome to Tarp Town. Hark, the dong of the gong. Dinnertime. Every morning we have a meeting, an opportunity to choose which task we shall undertake that day: cooking, washing up, cleaning, feeding the chooks. Then we get to decide what workshops we want to do: Non Violent Direct Action training, media, banner making, abseiling, composting, ecology, whatever anyone feels like teaching. After a very intense day we gather around the campfire and sing daggy songs we have made up about Adani.

The camp could be a model for harmonious coexistence. We share all the urksome tasks, we share the bicycle, we share the cars: It’s a sharing economy. There is a garden laden with tropical fruit. There are chooks who seem content to share their bountiful produce, though the vegans may dispute that. We even have a choice of toilets: squatting or sitting. Everyone seems to go out of their way to make everyone else feel welcome. I think this place brings out the very best in people. It is really significant that we are all there for a purpose, and that purpose makes all our grievances pale into insignificance. I have come to believe that a meaningful purpose is a key ingredient for harmonious coexistence. It is not about ironing out every little issue, it is about doing something so exciting that problems forgotten, and there is nothing more exciting than rebellion.

After only one day of rest, we are thrown into a full day of feverish activity turning ourselves into sea creatures from The Barrier Reef. We retire weary to our tarpaulin homes to sleep thru the screeching owls and the eerie cries of the curlews. At the break of dawn we spring into action. Everyone knows their allotted task. We drive in convoy to Abbot Point, hoping 8 cars in convoy will not arouse suspicion. We block off the road with tape and courteously advise the approaching drivers to park their cars and await further instructions. They dutifully comply, as if we are government employees. Power to the people! Then we swim around a bit and sing some songs, then we all die a long and agonizing death, twitching and moaning in our last moments, except for Ursula: a purple monster from the deep, who is of course Immortal. She writhes and thrashes about with rage, lashing out at the approaching constabulary, making their blood run cold, no doubt.

I don’t die either, because I am a jellyfish and as the prophecy has foretold:

The jellyfish shall inherit the earth!

It begins to rain, which we love, because we are fish. Mr. Plod shows not the slightest concern at his light cotton shirt becoming completely sodden, maintaining his steely countenance throughout the entire performance. Eventually, after much argy-bargy and toing and froing back and forth, Mr. Plod brandishes his clipboard and reads out the riot act: We are to disperse forthwith or be taken into custardy. We shuffle off as slowly as we can. bedraggled wretches that we are. Meanwhile Ursula maintains her fierce defiance, wriggling and writhing and screeching as she is arrested and dragged away.

For many of us this is the first time we have willingly broken the law. We have crossed the thin blue line. Now we are Outlaws, and it feels good, it feels liberating, emancipating, empowering, and we didn’t even get into trouble.

-Ben Boyang  – Central Victorian Climate Action  – 9 May 2019

*There are at least half a dozen groups all fighting tooth and nail to stop the Adani mine, but only the fearless activists here at Camp Binbee are prepared to engage in civil disobedience to achieve their aim. Everyone else is constrained by their charity status. If you are a charity you can garner tax-free donations, but you must forfeit your right to participate in civil disobedience that steps outside the law, like trespassing on Adani land. Furthermore you must refrain from supporting any actions undertaken by any other group that transgress the letter of the law. Bear in mind that we have a strict code of Non-violence, including no damage to property. Pretty innocuous stuff, but the powers that be have seen fit to bring down the full force of the law on this little band of climate defenders, slapping them with $10,000 fines for trespassing, as well as suing everyone they can for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To read the first episode see below

To follow our exploits go to:

https://www.facebook.com/FrontlineActionOnCoal/

Further reading-

Adani Jobs

The Guardian has published a study by The Australia Institute showing that development of the Adani mine will cost 14,000 jobs in other coalmines.

To read the article Click Here

Black Throated Finch Habitat

Click Here

Coal mining in Queensland

https://www.qhatlas.com.au/content/coal

Noisy V Indian.jpg

 

 

Convoy – Episode 1

We set off from Castlemaine on a glorious afternoon: 3 enthusiastic, intrepid activists on a journey into the heart of darkness. We are not alone. Bob Brown is leading an entourage of cars from Hobart to the Galilee Basin, Central Queensland, some 2,800 kilometres away, where Guatum Adani would dearly love to put the biggest coal mine in the world. We stop every night at some big town or city. The next morning we have a rally and Bob gives a passionate speech and the local activists and blackfellas give us a rousing send-off. We spend the first night on the banks of the mighty Murray River, then back on the road, driving, driving driving further and further from our beloved Victoria, homeland of greenies, lefties and progressive types, into the unknown.

In Sydney, Pine Esera and Isaac Nasedra from Pacific Climate Warriors tell us of their sinking shrinking homelands. Dr. Kim Loo from Doctors for Climate health speaks to us all about the terrible health effects of breathing coal combined with the terrible health effects of excessive heat: a deadly combination. Adrian Burragubba from the Wangan and Jagalingou peoples explains the situation from thier perspective. His homeland is right on top of the mine site in Central Queensland. Adrian is an angry man, and rightly so. He describes Mr. Adani as criminal and an environmental vandal. We roar with applause and pledge to never let the mine go ahead.

Driving, driving, driving.

In Mulumbimby the whole town turns up: 3,000 chanting, singing dancing joyous hippies give us cheer and boost our moral. The people line the streets to send us off, hooting and tooting. Six silent and gleaming Teslas have pride of place with Bob in the first car, smiling and waving like the Pope, followed by the motley crew: 100 cars in convoy, an awesome sight. We are in a Prius so are feeling virtuous.

In Brisbane we march on Adani Headquarters and shake our fists at the empty windows. The notorious Queensland cops try to look their sternest and soon move us off the road. WE acquiesce meekly as Bob has instructed. The whole country is watching. The Murdoch Press is poised ready to pounce. We can see the headline already: Violent radical extremist Greenies run riot.

Driving, driving, driving further and further from our comfort zone.

We arrive at a beachside hamlet called Emu Park, just outside Rockhampton, Bogan Central, to an enthusiastic welcome from a phalanx of coal miners: 100 Big burly fellas and a smattering of big burly shielas, high-vis vests covered in black coal dust. Wow, this is pretty authentic. We are agog and agaste. Most of us have never laid eyes on a real live coal miner before, but it soon becomes apparent they are not here for a quiet chat. They are milling about in an agitated state. They are cross, very cross, and we, it seems are the cause. We lock horns, deploying our superior knowledge and sense of righteousness. We point out their foolishness in resisting the inevitable demise of their beloved industry.

We assure them sincerely that we empathize with their worries for their families and livelihoods, but they show no signs of being impressed. They don’t read The Age so they don’t understand us. In fact they tell us to fuck off. “This is central Queensland. We mine coal, now turn around and go back to where you came from.”

We then have our rally and our hero: Bob of the Bush, gives yet another rousing speech, peppered with insightful interjections by our mining friends like: “Bullshit!”, and “What a load of crap”. At least they are here and they are listening. We then have a lantern parade. We invite the miners to join in but they soon get bored. A bridge too far, maybe?

As the miners leave they let us know they will be waiting for us when we get to Clermont, the little town in the Galilee Basin that is our destination. They warn us we will be shunned by the town, but our friend and comrade Adrian Burragubba assures us his mob will welcome us with open arms. His family has lived in Clermont for generations, and countless generations before it was called Clermont..

As the setting sun sets we gather for a gathering. Up till now we have all gone our separate ways to find whatever shelter we could on the long and winding road. But tonight for the first time we are having a party: Singing, dancing, and drinking of wine to nourish our sense of solidarity, for soon we must leave this idyllic coast behind and head out west, into the belly of the beast.

Finally, after 10 days on the road, we arrive at our destination: The little town of Clermont, in the heart of what the local white folks like to call coal country, but it is actually Wagan and Jagalingou country. We run a gauntlet of coal miners yelling abuse ant us, but the cops are there to protect us. A welcome change to be on the other side of the barricades for once. Apparently the local pub has given them all free beer to give them courage. I would have said ‘dutch courage’ but we don’t say that sort of thing anymore do we? The Hotel has some distinguished guests: Bob Katter, Pauline Hanson, Clive Palmer and the local LNP Rep. are all sleeping in one big bed apparently, working out their ‘preferences’. The miners are actually getting quite inventive, making placards saying ‘Start Adani’ and ‘The only wilderness is between Bob’s ears’. Bob Brown says that is quite disrespectful to Bob Katter.

The Convoy is finishing up in Canberra for a humungus rally on the 5th of May.

Bob has invited Bill up onto the podium. An opportunity for a ‘Bob Hawke moment’ where Bill declares unequivocally that the Adani mine will never go ahead. If that does not happen Bob has vowed to return to The Galillee basin with more troops and not leave until Mr. Adani leaves town and never returns.

The battle lines are drawn.

No turning back!                                                                            Ben Laycock April 28 2019

Next exciting instalment coming soon,

Direct from FLAC Headquarters near Abbot Point.

More info and daily updates:

https://www.facebook.com/Bob.Brown.Foundation/

The idea of the convoy is to make sure Adani and climate change is at the centre of the election campaign, so please share the updates on the Facebook page.

Thanks heaps, Ben

 Adani Jobs

The Guardian has published a study by The Australia Institute showing that development of the Adani mine will cost 14,000 jobs in other coal mines.

To read the article Click Here

 

Bob Brown’s Convoy to Adani

Scott No Brains-The Whore of Bable-on, our much abused Opposition Leader in Waiting, has sold his soul to the highest bidder yet again, as is his want. Bill the Dill-The Gutless Wonder, has sold his arse to the C.F.M.E.U. as per usual.

It is left to our only true leader: Saint Bob of The Bush, and his legion of ever faithful devotees to do the dirty work: Stop Adani!

On the 17th of April in the Year of Our Lord 2019, Saint Bob will be leading a crusade, sorry a convoy, to The Galilee Basin: the very basin that Mary Magdalene washed the filthy, leprosy infected feet of Jesus Christ himself, in. A holy site if ever there was one, threatened with defilement by The Heathen Hindu Blasphemer, Guatum Adani, no less!

We begin our pilgrimage in Hobart and arrive 10 days and 5,000ks later, weary and footsore.

After dealing with the Adani problem we shall then march on Canberra, or as we like to call it: Sodom & Gomorra,

to annoy the beJesus out of The Powers that Be untill The Day of Judgement.

 

All Welcome! A Family Friendly Event

https://www.bobbrown.org.au/stopadaniconvoy

What actually took place on the 26th January in the year of our Lord 1788?

 

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, when we have a barney about Australia Day. So in order to avoid any misunderstandings, let us delve deep into our bosoms and ask ourselves, what exactly are we commemorating?

Some of our most venerable leaders are of the misguided belief that January 26th 1788 is the day Captain Cook arrived on these fair shores.

But alas, they are sorely mistaken, for it states most clearly in Wikipedia, for all to see, that Mr. Cook arrived some 18 years earlier in the year of our lord 1770. Others are of the opinion that the 26th of January is the day The First Fleet set eyes on our dusty continent. But that was actually a couple of days earlier, on January 19th, when they entered Botany Bay, but being quite dissatisfied with the camping facilities provided, they decamped. (no BBQ Area apparently).

Yet others believe for some reason known only to themselves, that the 26th of January is the day Governor Philip proclaimed the establishment of a penal colony on these fair shores, but who wants to commemorate that? January 26th is actually the day The First Fleet entered Sydney Cove. After securing the BBQ Area, their very first act of barbarism, (but surely not their last) was to run up the nearest hill, plant the Union Jack in the ground and claim the entire continent in the name of King George III. So what we are so boisterously celebrating to this day, is the very moment the country was stolen from its rightful owners.

After that task was accomplished the convicts were allowed to disembark from the ships. Bear in mind, they had not set foot on dry land for 8 months. Naturally they set about getting to know each other,(in the biblical sense) According to Robert Hughes, author of The Fatal Shore –‘The convicts had an orgy! If that wasn’t enough, the sailors then proceeded to get drunk and join them in their licentious cavorting.’

Maybe it is this convivial display of ‘mateship’ that we commemorate today, in a somewhat less exuberant fashion?

Whatever it is, this act of commemoration we indulge in, is certainly no ancient tradition. It was only made a National Public Holiday in 1994, by one Paul Bloody Keeting no less, who should have known better.

Remember that the historic Mabo decision was handed down just two years before, in1992. That legally binding decision completely dismissing the extravagant claim shouted from that hilltop by those enthusiastic young men on that odd and fateful day so long ago.

 

Ben Boyang 2019

The Queen Must Die!

The Queen Must Die!

-An Australia Day Reflection

(as in looking in the mirror)

 

l don’t celebrate Australia Day, because l am a traditionalist.

The blackfellas have a long tradition of not celebrating Australia Day, dating back many thousands of years. It is this ancient tradition that l uphold.

As you may well know, one of our venerable Prime Ministers was an avowed republican, but he vowed to wait for our venerable queen to die of old age before he set about the long and arduous task of establishing The Republic of Australia. While this was very sensitive of him, it could mean we are in for a long wait. Apart from the occasional sniffle she is in rude good health. Many of us may die of old age ourselves before our cherished republic comes to fruition. She could do us all a favor and abdicate, but she is a bit worried about her darling Prince Charles. Rumor has it he is a bit flakey, always banging on about organic vegetables and renewable energy and hippy shit like that. He could very well declare a republic himself if we’re not careful.

But when she dies, as surely she eventually must, we must be ready to grasp the nettle.

Let’s face it, this place needs a total makeover, root and branch.

 

  1. A new date for Oz Day, that doesn’t offend the blackfellas.

(l suggest May 8 – pronounced ‘maaate’, or even better, the day we declare a bloody republic)

  1. A new National Anthem that at least mentions the said blackfellas

(l would suggest Waltzing Matilda, but standing on the podium at the Olympics and breaking into a song about a vagabond committing suicide because he was caught inflagranto dilecto with his favourite sheep would make us the laughing stock of the entire world, if we are not already)

  1. A new National Flag that includes a blackfella and a kelpie and no union jacks
  2. A strong constitution, because you need a very strong constitution to stomach some of the shenanigans of our national parliament.
  3. A Republic – Based on true Australian values like barracking for the underdog, because let’s face it, we are a nation of losers and proud of it:
  • The Blackfellas were decimated
  • The convicts were flogged
  • The Eureka Stockade was a massacre
  • Ned Kelly was hung
  • Gallipoli was a disaster
  • The Tazzy Tiger was exterminated
  • Phar Lap was poisoned
  • Gough Whitlam was sacked

But we’re still rooting for them all, aren’t we? You bet we are!

 

We are like an old FJ Holden, limping along on 3 cylinders and spewing out black smoke. We don’t just need a grease lube and oil change, we need to recondition the entire engine, and bog up all the rust, and give her a new paint job.

(green and gold of course, or should that be black & gold)

 

So if Oz Day is destined to be more than an excuse for a piss up and a piss take, it is timely to nail down just what it is Australian Culture? Does it even exist? And while we are at it, what is culture anyway? Maybe it’s easier to define what isn’t culture. Bar-B-Qs, fishing, surfing, taking the piss, wearing thongs on your feet instead of your crotch, playing sport, this is a way of life, but it isn’t culture. In fact it could be argued that playing sport is what you do when you have no culture. The Greeks don’t run around all weekend getting skin cancer and acquired brain injuries, do they? No, they have weddings, really big weddings where they sit around inventing democracy and philosophy and shit like that. The Italians, ditto, more weddings, where they sit around eating pasta made with tomatoes grown in polystyrene boxes in the front yard. The Lebanese have endless weddings, where they sit around inventing cumbers with edible skins.

Culture grows out of the land we live in, much like yogurt. Most of us here in this nascent nation haven’t been here long enough to create a culture, so maybe we should look to those who have, the local blackfellas. We may just find we have a lot more in common than we thought, such as camping. According to the stats, we are the most urbanized society ever invented, huddled together like ginea pigs, clinging as close to the edge of this vast continent as we can possibly get, starring longingly out to sea. But we do love the great outdoors, don’t we? You bet we do! Learned anthropologists have postulated that this is quite possibly due in large part to the influence of the locals, they call them ‘aborigines’. These so-called Aborigines love nothing better than going camping, in fact their entire ‘life-style-choice’ is designed around the ability to pull up stumps and ‘go walk about’. No need to work overtime all year round to afford the airfare and the hotel and the restaurants and the exotic trinkets. Imagine the freedom of waking up one morning, any morning, grabbing your hunting gear and heading out on an adventure. No 20 kilo packs to lug, food and lodging provided as need be, and when you arrive your relies cook up a mouth-watering feast and put on a real song and dance to knock your socks off.

So we can see that the vagaries of the local climate dictate a nomadic lifestyle, including a life of feast & famine. None of this toiling all season and salting it away for the winter, to be nibbled one morsel at a time. When there was food you ate it all, when there was none, you went hungry. This life of feast & famine is yet another custom adopted and adapted from the locals. With the subtle difference that we have forgone the traditional famine bit, preferring instead, to feast pretty well constantly. In turn we have taught this recent adaptation to the blackfellas, with obvious consequences.

We can see that all true culture is shaped by our surroundings, and the elements of our surroundings that are unique is what will make us, in time unique. The unique climate created by the oscillations of El Nino have created a culture based on camping and partying (safe in the knowledge that it probably wont rain much for at least another few years.)

So what are some other unique aspects of the nature of our nature that is nurturing the unique nature of us?

Well, the place is very flat and very dry and very empty, (having decimated what few inhabitants there were) hence we have large cow farms that sport drovers with RM Williams boots and hats and a kelpie by their side, and feisty women who can ride a bloody horse and crack a whip.

We have more beaches per head than anywhere else except Canada, but most of theirs are frozen solid all year round (know anyone going on a surfing trip to Canada? No, l didn’t think so) Thus has given birth to the surfing lifestyle – driving old Volvos, smoking bongs and eating junk food, getting up early to check the waves before going back to bed, roaming around the country in semi-nomadic fashion (just like the locals)

Fishing – Many of you may remember that oft quoted saying from the great Mao Tse Tung himself, that was drummed into us all throughout grade 3 Political History: “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day- teach a man to fish and he will spend every second weekend with his mate, sitting in a dingy in the middle of a lake, getting quietly sozzled. It is a well kept secret that the fish are of secondary importance and it is actually all about contemplating the awesome beauty of the natural world. (the Japanese have a special word for this; ‘shinrinyoku’ – forest bathing)

Alas and alak, these embryonic cultural practices have begun to die out before they are fully formed. As we speak they are being guzzumped by new cultural practices like Instagram. (my friend Alex says we should start Consider-a-gram, where every comment has a 24 hour delay before it can be posted. In Consider-a-gram it is a real no-no to boast about the great fun you are having, as it tends to have a deleterious effect on those not having an orgasmic experience every five minutes. In Consider-A-Gram we like to post about the truly boring time we are having so no one gets jealous.)

Yet another unique aspect of our way of life generated by the vast emptiness that engulfs us (literally as well as metaphorically) is immigration, immigration on a vast scale. We currently import more people per head than any other country on earth. (not counting refugees of course, because they don’t count). We may not be the most multi-cultural nation on the planet but we can argue that we are the most successful at it. (Just look at The U.S.A. – now referred to as the D.S.A.) We may be lacking in culture but we are not lacking in cultural choice. This has made us a nation of foodies. A whole new growth industry of people who get very well paid to eat food and talk about it while we watch.

(Back In my day if we uttered a single syllable at the dinner table we got a whack in the earhole.)

So to be an Australian is to be into eating food, strange, exotic food.

We are big eaters, now officially the biggest in the world.

 

The more we look, the more aspects of our way of life we find that are really quite unique and special, and the deeper we look, we see that these things have sprung from our unique geography. So to sum up l would venture to say that culture is a product of the interaction between geography and time, but most of us have not yet spent enough time here to acquire culture, nor have we spent enough time interacting with our geography or learning from those who have.

 

Ben Laycock 2016

 

 

Report from the Coalface

Have you ever thought about closing down the biggest coal port in the world?

Well we did, and we did!

A group of enthusiastic activists young and old, calling themselves F.L.A.C. (Front Line Action on Coal), put out the call around the country to come and join them in Newcastle, where the coal from the Hunter Valley is loaded onto ships and sent all around the world to be converted into black soot and pumped into the sky.

A mob of us from Castlemaine heed the call and spring into action. I come to realize I have languished somewhere between a clicktivist and a slacktivist for far to long. It is time to become an Activist!

We set off at first light for the long and boring trip. Driving over Mount Alexander as the sun rises, a pink ball shimmering in the fog, the thrill of adventure pulsing in our veins (plus a dose of black coffee). The rest of the day is uneventful; the constant threat of being crushed to death by a Mack truck keeping one from nodding off, till at last we see the sun setting on the Hunter River at the other end of a long day.

After dark we arrive at the rendezvous, to a warm welcome, complete with hot soup and fresh baked bread, mm, starting to feel at home already. There are over a hundred of us, from crusty old veterans of past battles; Roxby Downs, The Franklin River, The Vietnam War, to baby faced innocents on their first mission, all as keen as mustard. No one seems to be in charge, but we all lend a hand and things get done with a minimum of fuss. The next three days are a whirlwind of meetings and workshops and N.V.D.A. training (Non Violent Direct Action) for the upcoming events, in between eating our fill of delicious vegan food (plus some kangaroo) and getting to know a hundred strangers all at once.

We divide into groups to hammer out the details.

Like filming a remake of Gone with the Wind, where the evil Scommo ditches his long and passionate love affair with Coalene (or was it Coalette) and ends up tying the knot with the mercurial Wendy Turbine.

Shot in an hour and a half with no rehearsal; no mucking about, this mob!

My group hive off to plan our actions:

We go straight into NVDA training: lining up in two rows, face to face, and practing the art of de-escalation. We feel what it feels like to have someone yell in our faces, and learn not to get aggressive in response, but not to shrink away either. We hold our ground, then we swap roles.

Once we are fully versed in the philosophy and practice of N.V.D.A. we get to plan our actions. Over the last few days there have been sporadic actions targeting the coal trains, including a brave young teenager locking-on to a locomotive. Looking around at all these people ready to put their bodies on the line, there are people from all up and down the east coast. Proudly, there are more of us from Castlemaine than from Sydney. Altogether there are enough people to bring the whole God damn port to a stand still. Yeah!

The coal comes rolling in on freight trains over a kilometer long from all over the Hunter valley. It is stacked neatly in 5 huge piles about 15m high and as long as a coal train.(see above) Next to each stack runs a conveyer belt and a rail. On the rail runs the biggest moving machine I have ever encountered in my entire life; the stacker reclaimer: A behemoth with a giant arm that wheels about, scooping up coal and loading it onto ships. There are 9 berths for 9 ships. There is always a ship being loaded, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The loaders never stop loading, the ships never stop shipping; 100,000 tons a day, 40 million tons a year, the juggernaut rolls on relentlessly, keeping the coal fires burning, add infinitum till the coal runs out (in about 500 years, unless they find some more, or unless someone puts a proverbial spanner in the works. That’s where we come in.) After much tooing and frowing we are all agreed that the best course of action is to target the stacker reclaimer, bringing the entire juggernaut to a grinding halt. All decisions are consensual, of course. We use hand signals to communicate, showing our approval by raising our hands and twiddling our fingers. For disapproval we do the same thing but upside down. This is part of an elaborate sign language that means we can communicate without talking over each other. Very democratic, very harmonious. Very fun!

D-Day – Saturday morning, early. We finish our porridge, synchronize our watches. Water bottle-check! Hat-check! Sandwiches-check! Nappies-check! (we could be there all day)

We hit the road, heading off into the unknown. Rumour has it there are 60 cops lurking in the shadows, ready to pounce the moment we show our faces. The entire police force is represented; The Dog Squad, the Riot squad, Search and Rescue, the Mounted Police on their magnificent steeds, there are frogmen in zodiacs zooming up and down the river, choppers buzzing overhead, scanning ever inch for suspicious activity; the whole menagerie: Basically anyone who wants to get away from the office and get a piece of the action.

The Street Theatre Group head off first and create a noisy and colourful event in the park, attracting a big crowd of curious onlookers. Naturally the Dog squad and the Horse Squad and the Riot Squad rush over there to see what all the fuss is about. The frogmen want to come too but are ordered to stay put as they would look ridiculous and put the Police Force in disrepute.

Our number one recruit Bill Ryan, a crusty old war veteran who survived the Kokoda trail (impeccable credentials wouldn’t you say?) sets off on his zimmer frame (he is 92 years old) with his faithful partner-in-crime, to lock-on to the railway track, yet again! Last time the magistrate said:

“Bill, couldn’t you take up another hobby, like fishing.”

So this time he brings his fishing rod.

Bill is quite possibly the oldest person in Australia to be arrested.

Meanwhile our gang is waiting for the call, hiding in plain sight. We sit in silence, a bit edgy, a bit anxious, just waiting till the coast is clear. Someone jumps up and heads for the nearest shrub to do a bit of ‘live streaming.’ Pretty soon there is a stampede in all directions. An old lady across the road is clearly amazed by the sight of so many bare bottoms. She picks up her mobile. Oh no, we are sprung. Quick, everyone let’s get out of here!

As luck would have it, we all manage to cross the entire city of Newcastle undetected by the best and brightest of the NSW Police Force. We all manage to scrabble under the fence of the facility and make a mad dash for the Stacker Reclaimer humming away in the distance, scooping up truckloads of coal in every mouthful.

We decend on the machine like ants looking for honey, searching for the perfect place to lock-on. Ideally a shady spot, not too windy and not too dirty. But the whole thing is covered in a blanket of black soot, so we all end up looking like coal miners anyway. Our affinity group heads for the highest point. It has a commanding view of the endless mountains of coal and a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, perfect for selfies.

Once everyone is comfortable, we stop behaving like a colony of ants and start behaving like a flock of cockatoos. Whooping and howling and singing and chanting, asserting our territorial rights over our new home. One sprightly young fellow has managed to find a cozy spot dangling from a rope at the far end of the gantry that scoops up the coal in its giant maw, looking for all the world like a giant tea bag. He immediately launches into ‘live streaming’ on Facebook; describing the situation in graphic detail while slowly panning over the mountains of coal, every minute or two encouraging the viewers to share the stream. After a couple of hours of non-stop streaming there are over seventy thousand viewers. Wow, these young people really know how to use social media!

After a while, just when we are starting to get bored, the cops arrive, en mass; lights flashing, sirens wailing, a convoy of black SUVs with tinted windows, crammed with men in black uniforms wearing tinted sunglasses. Quite a spectacle! Eventually, after much coming up and going down and huddling together and gesticulating and talking authoritatively, they make their move. The first onslaught is the crack team of negotiators specially trained in the art of psychological warfare, flown in by chopper from the latest global hot-spot. But they are no match for our crack team of trouble makers; everyone from young ingénues fresh out of high school, to a phalanx ofcrusty old grandparents anxious about the future of their many grandchildren; a formidable combination!

The next wave is the riot squad, six burly blokes, all in black, boots polished, shirts ironed, bristling with the latest high tech gadgets. They don’t actually have much to say, preferring to mill about scowling menacingly. No results. Time to deploy Search and Rescue; six burly blokes all in white (to match the riot squad, no doubt.) An angle grinder is produced. It is turned on. It makes a load noise.(that should scare the living daylights out of them) Their leader explains in graphic detail how painful the procedure can be. Safety cannot be guaranteed. Permanent disfigurement is a real possibility. Our brave captives do not flinch, their resolve does not waver for a moment, knowing full well it is all bluff and bluster. The Grinder must be deployed. Sparks fly, metal heats up. It is getting scary. We are covered in blankets, strapped down so we can’t move. We can’t see the grinder just centimetres from our fingers, we can’t feel the sparks cascading down the blanket, but we are getting sprayed with water so we don’t get burnt. Despite all that bluff and bluster the rescue team are actually trained not to hurt anyone, which they manage to do by and large, with a couple of painful exceptions. (Their adversaries are not after all, hardened criminals, but harmless protesters.)

Search and Rescue have brought only one small angle grinder. Maybe only one person is trained to use an angle grinder. (They can be dangerous if handled inappropriately) Or maybe they have pretty strict fiscal restraints in their department, what with the budget deficit and all. There are 26 people locked on, so the entire operation ends up taking all bloody day, which suits us fine.

Eventually we are hauled off to the cop shop to be processed, like cheese. The poor staff have to spend hours filling out boring paper work, all generated by their colleagues, outside all day having fun, except for the Riot Squad who seemed palpably chagrined at the extreme lack of riots.

We manage to keep our spirits up in the cells by singing silly songs and playing silly games, and then it is all over. A day well spent, a job well done. Yeah team!

All the 26 activists charged, including my daughter, were released on bail to appear in front of the crusty old Magistrate in early October, so stay tuned for the next exciting episode.

Ben Laycock, crusty old activist 2018

If you want to join Central Victoria Climate Action click Here

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If you want to see the live stream from Max, doing ‘the teabag’ click Here