forest blockade, 1982
Image: © Don Sharpe
In the Wattle Creek kitchen it was an enchanted evening. No one wanted
to formalise the process or get down to the business at hand. Some people
had come across from Terania Creek and the conversation flowed, a thousand
rivulets flowing into the stream. The overall sound was like the roar
of a river, but no one was aware of it.
I had noticed this little gnome of a fellow with a deadly serious face,
except when something amused him and then his face lit up with a beautiful
smile, which showed the gap between his two front teeth. His shoulders
were bowed, and he had a scruffy beard and long curly hair. In the middle
of all the commotion he started to dress himself in theatrical garb.
First he donned a pair of black leotards, followed by a tight-fitting
black body-costume over which he hung a black apron, which reached,
to his knees. Written on the apron in bold white lettering were the
WORK - CONSUME - BE SILENT - DIE!
Next he put on a gas mask, and that almost completed the costume. He
had transformed himself into a sinister figure. He then picked up his
wand. It had a large square end with a gold dollar sign on it. Here
was Death the Reaper in his modern-day apparel. He stood up in the middle
of the room holding his scythe aloft. As though this were a pre-arranged
signal, everybody fell silent. The Reaper plucked off his mask and smiled
at everybody. ‘I was on my way down south, but I heard that you
people were up to something,’ he announced with a merry twinkle
in his eye.
Gummy stepped up, ‘Welcome, Benny Zable!’ The latter performed
a cute little bow and proceeded to take off his garb. This accomplished,
he sat demurely on the floor. Gummy continued, ‘Well, we all know
why we are here. We’re here for the forests.’
Everybody cheered. Then we heard the delicate plunking of a mandolin,
and Brenda began to sing in a strong, sweet voice. ‘A new song,’
was all the preamble she gave.
We are here for the forests,
We are here for the children,
We are here for the future,
And the land of our birth.
We are here for the forests,
We are not an illusion.
We’ll never allow them
To kill Mother Earth.
By the end of the song, all voices were in unison, singing this refrain.
After the song there was complete silence until Gummy asked, a soft,
still voice in the silence, ‘What are we going to do people? You
all see the logging trucks every day like an insult to everything we
stand for. What are we going to do, people?’
The silence continued. Then a clear simple voice spoke up, ‘Tomorrow
will be full moon. We can go down to Greers Gate over the other side
of the forest and spend the night. When the trucks come in the morning,
we will block them. We can take it from there. If we don’t physically
We know the politicians will never do anything. The Forestry Commission
can say anything they want in this environmental impact statement. While
they are not logging Terania, they are taking everything else. When
that’s gone they will put out their Impact Statement, they will
say it is all right, and then take Terania. A ton of papers to rubber
stamp the lies. You all know what you are dealing with here. The only
choice we have is to put our bodies on the line.’
Ferguson, environmental activist, from Wild Place Within