Day 4 in the Forest

It was an early start today – the frost was still formed on the cooking pans as we started to fuel the fire. Our camping fire hasn’t gone out since we arrived here last Sunday, and neither has our drive.

A bunch of us headed down to Gunnedah to meet Kamilaroi elder Mick Horne, of the Baanbaa clan. Mining companies don’t just like to play divide and conquer with farmers, as we mentioned yesterday, but they also do the same with Aboriginal people who are put between a rock and a hard place – either knock back funding for keeping culture and projects alive or consent to the destructive impacts of mining on sacred and ceremonial sites, tool sites and country.

Uncle Mick didn’t hold back his feelings about the mine. He’s stayed around these mountains which form part of his ancestral lands, and told us that the mining companies were blowing up country, sites and killing animals. He suggested we should put Aboriginal flags around the entire forest to show that Kamilaroi people are ready to oppose the mines. After loading us up with fruit and camping equipment, he said goodbye, until next week (we’ll keep you posted).

Back at camp, we ran into one of the locals who has been supporting us the most, who had brought us a letterbox! Mail can be addressed to Front Line Action on Coal Camp, Leard Forest Road, Boggabri NSW 2382. We also ran into our newest campers, Bill and Colin Ryan, from the Sutherland Shire.

Bill is a 90-year-old Kokoda war veteran, and Colin is his son. They are totally opposed to further expansion of the coal industry.

“We’re here to support you, and it’s wrong what the mines are doing,” Bill told us. “If the government won’t take action, then people will. We need to phase out coal and bring in renewable energies.”

Having met up with locals, Colin was appalled at the way that they were treated by the mines and was spurred to offer support. It’s a good thing too – so many communities are now affected by the rapid expansion of extractive industries that it has become much easier for target communities like Maules Creek to receive support from elsewhere.

I’m running out of charge so I’ll leave you with this galling footage of the Tarrawonga mine (currently this would only be considered a small mine, but its extension is pending). The mine is less than a kilometre from camp.