Day 6 in the Forest

Waking up in the mornings to the natural music of the forest can be a bit disorienting – as if you’re camping in a beautiful location. Then you notice the roars of the machines and remember – yes, we are camping in a beautiful location that is under threat from mining corporations.Trucks at Boggabri Idemitsu and Tarrawonga Whitehaven mines Seven different decades ages 6 to 90 are now represented here at camp!

It was our first opportunity last night to sit around the fire for a minute of silence before sharing stories and ideas about what has brought us here to this forest. Nobody is in charge at this camp, but we bring a mix of experiences, thoughts and insights about how this campaign will be won.

Locals have been dropping in and out, but all at different times, so we’ve decided that each Saturday we will have a community lunch at camp. We’re not expecting a huge number of people tomorrow because of the short notice, but of course the camp is always open for people from near and far to come together, ready to take action to protect the community from mine expansions.

We decided to take our lunch up next to the haul road today to count the trucks. The mine is restricted in terms of how many trucks it can send through, but in general they come down the road every seven minutes. Most of the locals have told us they go straight through the haul road intersection – “No way am I stopping for those bloody coal trucks!”. The mine must have been spooked by our presence, because as soon as came within ten metres of the road, the boom gates closed and the trucks started to bank up on either side of the road. A couple of mine workers came along and told us that they didn’t have a problem with our presence but they would be closing the road for our safety, “just in case” we decided to get onto the road.

Since the mine decided to blockade itself in fright, we set up a banner and sat down to have our lunch, truck-counting becoming out of the question. After lunch we wandered down to camp, to catch up with one of our camp’s neighbours, who had seen us in the newspaper but hadn’t had a chance to come down to camp yet. He was shortly followed by two police vehicles, who had been called in by the mine after they’d seen us having lunch near the gate. The police reminded us that trespassing was an offence, and after a bit of chatter, they headed back off to Boggabri and Narrabri.

A little more trouble on the Tinkler front – he’s running around to a dozen banks to try to get a loan to buy the rest of Whitehaven!  Seems to me that hedge funds would be a lower credit risk – not only is Tinkler highly indebted but the Maules Creek mine was also down-valued by a further 6% last week. Apparently the bankers came to the forest to visit the mines – it’s a pity we weren’t already here, or they would have noticed yet another problem with Tinkler’s ambit.

The moon’s gone back to half-full now, so the fire-light and solar-powered lights will have to do.