STOP ADANI CONVOY: Hobart-Central Qld-Melbourne 17 April - 6 May 2019
Tesla cars were the “lead" vehicles on this epic convoy [that is, they were the “leading” vehicles - certainly not the dangerous elemental “lead” kind emitted by older internal combustion engines]. Rapidly travelling up the eastern seaboard, heading off the beaten track in Central Queensland and returning south on an inland route without time to spare, the convoy provided some challenges - read on to find where “Tess" (pictured below) travelled more than once with zero kms of range left “in the tank”!
"Can I come with you on a convoy from Hobart to Queensland to protest the Adani mine proceeding?” asked Anthony Houston from interstate. Anthony had previously accompanied me as co-pilot on an adventure in Tess, finding and trialling new charge points for EVs in Alice Springs and Uluru. I immediately agreed to this next adventure, without knowing the details!
“Tess” dressed & ready after driving over from Melbourne.
Wednesday 17 April: CONVOY BEGINS IN TAS
Breakfast was cancelled when cinematographer Sally Ingleton (http://360degreefilms.com.au/productions/wildthings/) rang early to film Tess & I emerging from my parking station to gather with convoy cars at 7.30am on Salamanca Place. A busy start presaging a hectic 17-day journey of very early starts and late finishes...
On Parliament Lawns, Hobart, our indigenous Welcome to Country (WtC) by Therese Sainty was echoed daily by representatives of indigenous countries as we travelled north and south - emphasising the mutual respect felt amongst all those who seek to honour our land. Global Climate Action Leader Christine Milne spoke to the thronging crowd about the international situation; Anthony Houston about his farming connection to land, his commitment to his children and grandchildren, and his worries for their future. Organisers Jenny & Jasmine from the Bob Brown Foundation (BBF) briefed us on convoy particulars. Bob Brown (BB) gave his first inspiring speech on the threat of climate change to our enjoyment of the planet, to the rising costs of climate events, and the necessity to act. And Hobart singer/songwriter Monique Brumby gave us a rousing musical send-off.
Farmer Anthony Houston gets coverage for his climate action
In a borrowed Tesla, Bob led the cavalcade of four Teslas and some 80 other vehicles.. But I think my friend Ian Broinowski stole a march by leading the convoy for the first 20 metres in his electric wheelchair, bedecked by a “Stop Adani” flag he wrangled from me. En route Anthony & I were interviewed while driving Tess for Sally Ingleton’s doco “Wild Things”. And the BBF film crew took footage as we passed some landmarks on the first leg. At 3pm we gathered at Girdlestone Park, East Devonport, welcomed by locals and farewelling those who travelled the 280kms from Hobart for the first leg of the epic journey – with us in spirit, but not joining the celebration overnight on the Spirit of Tasmania to Melbourne.
Thursday 18 April: MELBOURNE to the VIC-NSW BORDER
Gaining convoyer Heidi from Hobart overnight, we called into my Melbourne abode on the way to Supercharging Tess and the other Teslas in Cremorne, for their first battery re-charge since Hobart 24 hours earlier.
BB was responding to continual media interview requests but, nonetheless, his driver and partner Paul Thomas got him to Birrarung Marr by 11am, where Bob's vocal chords were further employed in a rousing speech. But not before our Wurundjeri (WtC), and speakers including Melbourne-based Tesla Owners Club of Australia (TOCA)’s Mark Tipping & Mark Sandford (who, with wife Sjann, drove their Model X to Hobart to the start and continued the journey throughout!),
Australian Conservation Foundation Campaigns Director Paul Sinclair spoke and motivating entertainment was this time provided by singer Adalita, sometime vocalist in the band Magic Dirt.
Adalita performs anthems in Birrarung Marr
After the lunchtime rally, Tess led the convoy through the Melbourne CBD, and lost the lead in a North Melbourne roundabout! Richard di Natale and his family joined the convoy to Sydney in the early part of the Easter break, before he resumed duties as Greens leader three weeks out from the federal election. Topping up our EVs at Euroa, we proceeded to Albury-Wodonga where Tess (at least) availed herself of free overnight destination charging at a local motel.
Friday 19 April (Good Friday): Albury-Wodonga to SYDNEY
People appeared from the country in droves to greet us at Gateway Lakes (Wodonga). After a WtC, we had another heartfelt plea from one of the Schoolchildren Climate Strikers (SCS) . And "why should they stay in school to listen to their teachers, when their teachers' generation are not listening to them”!
We learnt about local Stop Adani group activities, were called to action by BB, and entertained by Charlie, from Formidable Vegetable, whose red fire truck fuelled by vegetable oil joined the convoy all the way from WA.
Supercharging at Gundagai, we skipped past the Goulburn Supercharger, and met 83 year-old Tesla owner Ross Middleton, while topping up on a NRMA-provided free new fast charger at the Mittagong RSL. I’d met Ross in Alice Springs, when we separately tackled the 180kms of corrugated dirt behind the McDonnell Ranges between Alice Springs and Hall’s Gap in our Teslas and, now, he came to cheer us on our way. Instead, hearing of the Convoy, he joined us for a day, and enthused, he slept in his car overnight to continue to Sydney, and then joined us for a further day north before commitments required his return to Bowral.
Modern motoring powered by renewables
We were invited to visit the nearby studio of renowned artist Ben Quilty, a Tesla owner avoiding the fuel cost of regular and expensive trips to Sydney by using the free Tesla Superchargers. We had to miss seeing his new Stop Adani artwork, pressing on to Sydney, where some of his family awaited Anthony, and friends awaited Dick.
Saturday 20 April: Sydney to Coffs Harbour
Re-fuelling at Tesla HQ at St Leonards, we headed to a noon event at Parramatta Park where, after our Darug Tribal WtC, we heard from Dr Kim Loo from Doctors for Environment and Climate Health Alliance, and Pine Sera (a Pacific Climate Warrior) from Tuvalu, which has recently achieved 100% renewable energy generation with solar panels and batteries - yet powerfully illustrated the disaster befalling Tuvalu and neighbouring Pacific island nations through sea level rise already causing abandonment of some islands.
The growing number of Teslas on Convoy in Sydney
The most powerful speaker was Adrian Burragubba from the Wangan & Jagalingou traditional owners council, who had travelled from his own and forefathers’ country, the site proposed by Adani for their coal mine. After calmly detailing the spiritual connection of his people to their land, one couldn’t walk without thinking this Adani mob had no chance against the determination of the traditional owners of that country!
The afternoon drive north supercharging at Heatherbrae and Port Macquarie (was punctuated by local bands of Stop Adani supporters congregating to wave and cheer us on.
Sunday 21 April (Easter Sunday): Coffs Harbour to Mullumbimby
Another early start at Coffs Harbour Showground where, after a WtC and a surprising supporting Maori Haka among speeches from Coffs Climate Action Group, and the heartwarming yet stirring BB. Total convoy registrants had now grown to 1,000 individuals.
It was then a short leg, supercharging at Knockrow on the Pacific Highway before heading to the coast for an afternoon rally at the Mullumbimby Showgrounds. A warm Bundjalung WtC preceded speeches from Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst and other musos, SCS’s Mia Thom, and speakers from Doctors for the Environment and from Frontline Action on Coal (this group are maintaining a vigil near the Adani site, and will not be moved if the machinery arrives to start the mine)! Over 3,000 turned up to this rally (despite a competing music festival), and traffic chaos leaving the venue so, while waiting, Tess gave a loud rendition of Freddie Mercury’s “We are the Champions” and other anthems.
Mullumbimby turns it on
Mullumbimby provided an opportunity to stay and dine with my cousin Rick Newman who also nourished Tess via a standard 10amp 240V three pin plug (slow but useful top-up).
Monday 22 April (Easter Monday): Mullumbimby to Brisbane
Layla hitched a lift into Queensland, determined to join the Convoy and then travelled with friends all the way north to Airlie Beach and the frontline camp. At an afternoon rally in Brisbane’s Queens Gardens we heard from Pacific Climate Warriors’ Sailoto Livati, SCS’s Sara McKoy and prominent business leader Geoffrey Cousins - who enlightened us with his research into Adani’s shocking corporate reputation in India, its corruption of Indian governments and appalling labour and environmental record.
Puppets ScoMo & Shorten juggle coal at Brisbane’s Adani HQ
Police escorted our street march downtown to the Adani HQ, while a flash mob danced and entertained the marchers and the crowds lining the streets. Media coverage was patchy and, despite BB's unceasing availability, the convoy was largely ignored by the Murdoch Press (a monopoly in Brisbane) with mentions only quoting opponents to our efforts. SBS gave us some coverage, and Anthony conducted a radio interview with an Adelaide Community Radio Station (networked nationally). This was recorded on the Queenslander balcony of my friends Geoffrey & Lizzie, with whom I stayed & availed of their solar power to top up Tess’s batteries.
Poster in my billet’s Brisbane house testament to years of climate action
Tuesday 23 April: Brisbane to Hervey Bay
After the Monday excitement, it was a quiet send-off from Brisbane’s 7th Brigade Park and, making use of the 2017 Queensland government’s $3 million Queensland Electric Superhighway (QES) we charged at Maryborough en route to Hervey Bay. Congratulations to Queensland for installing this major highway network, which remains free to all EV users in the initial year or so. where we topped up at our hotel’s Tesla Destination charger while catching up with Queensland cousin Geoff Friend.
Wednesday 24 April: Hervey Bay to Emu Park
Travelling north, after the Miriam Vale QES, we diverted to the coast at Gladstone, where Dick’s father was raised. Gladstone is now a coal port dominated by oil refineries and gas plants, and our reception was cool at the Harbour Lodge Motel until Anthony got talking and, an hour or so later when fully charged, the proprietors were so “turned”, they wanted photos taken with the Tesla plugged in - and they refused a preferred $20 for the charge.
Bravely flying the flag in the industrial city of Gladstone.
The diversion made us late and, after the Rockhampton QES we proceeded to Emu Park, but missed a lantern parade organised by supportive locals. An angry screaming pro-Adani mob tried to disrupt the event, but a spontaneous singing by the thousand or so peaceful Stop Adani people prevailed. We joined the many campers at the gorgeous Two Churches property, where generous owner Anthony White threw open his sprawling Queenslander and the two churches he’d painstakingly moved to and restored on his property - and in which we ate, danced, slept and celebrated life!
Dick's accomodation & Tess topped-up from a 240-volt 10-amp 3-pin plug
Thursday 25 April: Emu Park to Airlie Beach
Local volunteer Sabrina Burke, from Yeppoon Landcare, expressed interest in Teslas, and we took her from Yeppoon to Rockhampton from where she caught a lift home. After offering her a drive and after a kilometre being the wheel, I was amazed that she was keen to try the hands-free Autonomous Driving mode, and engaged it immediately and calmly operated it - it usually takes a half hour or even days before people use it without hands hovering nervously over the steering wheel!
Brief QES charges at Rockhampton, Marlborough, Carmila and Mackay followed, each while having a necessary loo stop, coffee break or lunch. It was, for us, a protest-free day, with the convoy avoiding any possibility of being confronted by pro-Adani people on Anzac Day - ensuring the Murdoch media couldn’t paint us as disrespectful!
We collected musician Monique Brumby from Mackay airport, who I met on the Saturday- before-departure, at the launch of “Sparkle Pages” - a debut novel written by my niece Meg Bignell (they went to school together). We had arranged to provide transport to Airlie Beach, and so we did.
Coral Sea Resort: chosen just for its Tesla destination charger?
Friday 26 April: Airlie Beach
The Whitsunday Sailing Club lawns were festooned with six stallholders, mermaids & mermen from the Reef, and costumed environmental characters before the morning speeches and concert began. The WtC was followed by speeches from BB, representatives of Reef Action Groups, Frontline Action Groups and Climate Action Coalitions. Entertainment ranged from evocative ballads to rock and folk music as convoyers took a needed break in the sun from the long road trip.
Monique Brumby sings evocatively in the coastal breezes
T-shirts supporting the causes were acquired, and preparations made for the coming trip to the Galilee Basin hinterland. Some managed a quick sail; others sailed in from the Reef to join the protest/celebration (such as David Young and his wife, who had earlier delivered their Tesla from Melbourne to Hobart, lending it for Bob Brown’s use on the convoy).
I wanted a stone-chipped windscreen repair but, being immediately beside the bodywork, it couldn’t be ground out and the expert advice that it would slowly spread across the screen proved accurate, but not before I’d travelled thousands of kilometres back to Melbourne!
Meanwhile Anthony joined Sally Ingleton for more filming en route to, and at, the frontline Camp Binbee some 180kms inland via Bowen, returning that evening inspired by the dedication and organisation of the mainly young activists conducting their vigil there.
Bowen at top, Airlie Beach & Mackay, and inland via Nebo to Clermont
Saturday 27 April: Airlie Beach - Clermont, southern Galilee Basin
At 7am we formed a Convoy at the Airlie Police Station and in formation headed toward Mackay providing film opportunities driving through the sugar plantations.
Early light after convoy departs Airlie in convoy
At Mackay’s Jubilee Park morning tea was provided by the Mackay Conservation Group and, after brief speeches and a QES stop, we ventured into what we were assured was “hostile territory”. Our capable organisers had been in constant contact with Queensland Police who asked that we delay our arrival until late afternoon, and so we paused at Nebo. Meanwhile Clive Palmer, Matt Canavan, Bob Katter and Pauline Hanson gathered in Clermont, along with paid pro-mining provocateurs flown-in by the CFMEU, and free beer courtesy of Clive, determined to send us back to where we came from! (sound familiar!).
Driving without stopping in town to the Clermont Showgrounds via the police-advised route was however, violently interrupted by angry foul-mouthed mobs blocking the road. In the lead of the main convoy, I attempted to turn away from the blockade, only to find my alternative route (according to GMaps) also blocked by Council works. Some cars were stoned, and they terrorised us all, but I felt most for the many single women, many elderly, and the youngest children who bore witness to the vulgarity of these people. The only mild amusement was the beetroot-faced man who yelled at me (and apparently others) –“You hypocrite: driving your large gas-guzzling vehicle all this way polluting the environment” – totally oblivious to the reality that my vehicle was, in fact, a zero emissions EV!
Stopped and surrounded by this baying and lubricated well-oiled pack was frightening, and the police vehicles were only just visible hundreds of metres away. It seemed a long time from phone calls before they came to provide a narrow path onward to the Showgrounds, where the gates were locked behind us by our sympathetic local organisers. What a relief, and not just because loo stops had been seriously delayed, but also because we arrived very low on fuel!
Tess dashboard display shows the Showground power plugged in to taillight socket, with a 3-phase
16-amp supply providing 61km of range/hr from zero to be fully charged before midnight
After being assaulted by obscene “bird” hand gestures from many passing mining vehicles before arriving at Clermont, it was such a contrast to raise our birds (cut-outs of the endangered Black-throated Finch) in solidarity with real local people as we were so warmly welcomed by Adrian Burragubba from the Wangan & Jagalingou traditional owners council.
This is not “coal country”: it is the ancestral country of the Wangan & Jagalingou people. The rally was not characterised by them as a Stop Adani event (an indeed we removed our Stop Adani Convoy t-shirts for the event). Rather it was a celebration of local Aboriginal culture, their dreaming and their connection to their country.
The graciousness of the sharing of their culture extended through the next day with explorations of language, the cleansing of a smoking ceremony, and music, didgeridoos and local dances based on the animals of their country. After a W&J women’s dance our women were invited to join in; then after a men’s hunting dance, the men were invited and joined in; and finally everyone was invited to join in a joyous celebration.
This went unreported in the Queensland media who, rather than show the cultural festival, almost exclusively published photos of the angry Fly-in Fly-out (FiFo) pro-Adani mob. We had intended to dine in town, supporting local businesses, but we couldn’t leave the Showgrounds due to threats of violence. One dinner booking for 60 of us at the local hotel had to be cancelled, and nor could we re-supply with basic necessities, food or refreshments. But genuine local residents came good, and brought out food and equipment and cooked up a storm in the Showgrounds’ field kitchens.
Monique Brumby and other convoyers were also invited to entertain us, and Monique gave a debut performance of a song she wrote in Tess en route to the festival the previous day. “Stop Adani Dirty Coal Mine” - now with backing recorded two days later back in Hobart in my mother’s old drawing room (which now happens to be her recording studio) - can be bought on Apple Music or visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=PvIbHqCPfNk
Organic beef farmer Eddie Shaw was just one of the locals who came to the festival in peace, and by chance I heard how horrified he was by the unlimited water granted to free to Adani by the government for the next 60 years. The rural economy of Queensland is almost totally dependent on the Great Artesian Basin, which supplies 60% of Queensland’s land mass. Every morning Eddie has to wipe coal dust off his kitchen table and worries about the health of locals breathing it in day-in day-out (particularly children whose asthma incidence is spiking) - but this is of less concern to FiFo workers, who are exposed for a few years only, and their families living remotely. Adjoining Eddie’s beef and cropping operation is the Adani site on a 20,000 acre property which includes the Doongmabulla Springs. This 4 sq km wetland is the source of the Rainbow Serpent which emerged to shape the surrounding landscape, and central to the W&J dreaming, identity and spiritual connection to land - far more important than, say, the Vatican to the Christian faithful. Some of the property (currently for sale for $20M) could be farmed, some used for upmarket tourism “Glamping”, and Eddie is offering to train local aboriginal stockmen and famers to manage such an independent operation. I reckon that would be a great investment in the long-term future of the area!
Peaceful concertgoers enjoying an attempt to emulate indigenous dancing!
Meanwhile in beautiful sunshine we enjoyed the festival. Singer/songwriter Neil Murray (sometime solo, sometime Warumpi band from Papunya in the ‘80s, and author of “My Island Home” later made famous by Christine Anu) sang beautifully and calmly, even while a pro-Adani Horseman of the Apocalypse intruded into the campground, yelling and hollering at full gallop around and between the assembled concertgoers, narrowly missing children and adults until, out of control, he crashed a swinging gate which knocked one of our women to the ground, nearly killing her. After attendance by conveyor and anaesthetist Mark Sandford, she was ambulanced to hospital and flown out to Mackay. The horseman escaped, but was later detained and locked up until we all left. He had been “geed-up” by mates who had slipped a horse float through by pretending to use horse-washing facilities adjacent to the showgrounds, then unloading the horse and setting the 42-year-old21 May on his dangerous path. Bob Brown offered him forgiveness (“We all make mistakes”), suggesting it was the pro-Adani pollies who had whipped up the frenzy and who should feel responsible. Adrian Burragubba said it was a chilling reminder of not-so-recent times of colonial horsemen galloping through Aboriginal campsites to terrorise and frighten them away from their lands and livelihoods.
Monday 29 April: HEADING SOUTH
The police had offered safe passage through Clermont, and 200+ vehicles headed either back to the coast or south through the hinterland. Anthony had been procured to drive the Bob Brown media van back to Canberra, as the film crew flew home and convoyers took whatever route to Canberra.
A slow and “expensive" $25 charge at the Springsure Showgrounds
Sydneysiders Sandi, Libby and Hilary took turns in Tess for legs from Emerald to the Springsure Showground, where Tess became the second EV to use their 3-phase power. Unsure what to charge, the Showgrounds manager rang the Council and they decided $25 - the only payment I made for power (ie Fuel) on the entire trip.
On the road to Roma. Libby sang a number of amusing songs she’d composed and collaborated on as part of the campaign to unseat Tony Abbott, and she was headed back to perform them in her electorate of Warringah. With 2.1km to go to our destination charger, our battery indicator suggested we would be -1% on arrival at the Explorer Inn, but we made it. Switching on the power to the charging unit (as usual before connecting to the car) caused a short-circuit puff-and-flash, and 6 of the motel rooms descended into darkness. I moved Tess to where a second destination charger was situated on the other side of the complex but the motel owners (unable to get an electrician that late evening) were risk averse, and didn’t want to power up the second charger. So a top-up on 3-phase was foregone, and a slow 3-pin plug charge begun, while motel guests were re-located from darkened rooms to others still with power! At 6.30am, I was able to power up the charger, and begin 3-phase charging - but it meant we were late leaving Roma.
Tuesday 30 April: Roma to Toowoomba
Adelaide-based Fiona Paterson De Herr was the next cinematographer/producer to come aboard Tess, as we headed on the long inland road via the Charlton QES to the Toowoomba QES on to a motel where the girls shared a room and Anthony arrived to share mine. A lively evening at the golf club ensued, at which Bob Brown swapped roles, obviously awed while interviewing John Williamson, who illustrated his answers with a repertoire of songs - not leaving without performing True Blue.
Wednesday 1 May: Toowoomba to Armidale
Warwick was our first coffee break, before continuing on to Glen Innes, which had recently elected a Green Mayor. While having a late lunch, we used the new charging station, again arriving after having been given a predicted battery level of -1%. With the QES charger in use, we plugged in beside to the Type 2 charger, for the first time - it proved nearly as fast. And so on over the border into NSW, where I noticed my shoulders relax a little. Reaching Armidale, 7 conveyors shared a 3-bedroom house.
Thursday 2 May: Armidale to Bathurst
Breakfast in downtown Curtis Park was kindly provided by local groups keen to hear of the Convoy and tell us of their campaigns. On down the New England Highway we experienced the frightfully denuded dought-stricken grasslands to Tamworth and further inland to Gunnedah on the Bruce Hwy.
Fiona took the wheel on the Black Stump Way, and reached the petrified stump, a recreation of the original !887 blackened stump used by surveyors to fix the position of all the major towns of southern Queensland. Anywhere beyond was considered extraordinarily remote.
Hobartian Jo Savage at the memorial, illustrating the Stop Adani convoy "beyond the Black Stump".
This was a "short-cut”, avoiding the longer route to Dubbo and the comfort of Tesla Supercharging there, but I guessed we’d need just to stop at Peterson Winery in Mudgee for a taste and top up of supplies (wine & batteries). The charge was slow and, impatiently, Dick headed off (too early) on the fastest and scenic route through Sofal and the anything-but-flat Wattle Flat. Slowing to 80kms to conserve fuel, with air-con off (both suggested by the car’s navigation system), and nowhere to re-fuel, the range indicator was showing zero for all of the last 12 kms into Bathurst. Alarmingly for Dick (and all Tesla owners), the usual warning signals had now included one never seen before…
Engine management system threatens it may not re-start the car after charging
Tess was punishing Dick for his ill-treatment when, even being plugged into a Tesla Supercharger, the supply merely trickled in to restore the “bruised’ energy management system at 5 km/hr (still showing available range of 0 km and the “Vehicle may not wake up” alert for 15 mins) before kicking in to Dick’s relief at the usual 600+ kms of range/hour - as recorded on the Tesla phone App from the nearby restaurant where we congregated with other convoyers.
A local Uber driver so loved the aims of the Convoy and, desperate to derail Clive Palmer’s advertising offensive but lacking chutzpah, he brought back spray cans for Libby and Hilary to do his dirty work on a large billboard, before they headed back to Warringah for the last days of supporting Zali in her political debut - they, of course, declined to do his bidding.
Friday 3 May: Bathurst to Canberra
With no time for a circuit of Mt Panorama’s iconic racetrack, with Anthony sidetracked visiting his brother in the Blue Mountains, Fiona and I headed to the Goulburn Supercharger en route to witness an 11am Schoolchildren Climate Strike (SCS) gathering in Canberra. Drenching rain did not deter them, as numbers of kids bravely and confidently spoke of their concern and demands for action.
The last Convoy was a cavalcade of cars from Lake George into Canberra that afternoon...
Photo thru the sunroof of following cars into Canberra; photo through cracked windscreen approaching Parliament
… and a short gathering with speeches and interviews we celebrated the end of such an epic journey. Unaccountably, the ABC had informed us that weren’t going to cover the arrival: have they been cowed into avoiding coverage of non-government agendas, or is it mere budget cuts meaning they don’t have the resources? Either way, surely they would want file footage of such an incredible and historic political event? For Juice Media’s irreverent February 2019 take on the Government’s attitude to the ABC (Warning: foul language) you may visit:
Time to rest, and I was accommodated by cousin Jill and her husband Sean Farrelly in nearby Pearce, but winding down and relaxing took longer than expected and 2am loomed before the problems of the world were put to bed.
Saturday 4 May: Canberra
We’d moved fast from Nth Qld to enable a day of preparation and rest for the big Rally and, in beautiful autumn weather, a visit to the National Library was organised to see an amusing exhibition of Political cartoons since Colonial times. In the afternoon, I caught up with sometime Canberrans Merv Simmons and Paddy & Lou Hodgman. They enjoyed a quick trip up Red Mountain, one of five such educational journeys I provided illustrating the extraordinary advantages of EVs.
Sunday 5 May: Canberra finale
Arriving early to assist the final set-up (and gain a nearby parking spot) I missed the welcome smoking ceremony at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in front to Old Parliament House, but later enjoyed the Welcome to Country. People who had not intended to attend the Rally but, having so enjoyed the camaraderie of participants on earlier legs, appeared from Sydney (Hilary) and Mittagong (Ross) and from Brisbane - yes, it was Adrian Burrugubba who drove through the night to attend and speak after just two hours sleep.
10,000 ears “gather round and listen” to the beautiful protest songs by singer/guitarist/icon Paul Kelly
5,000 people thronged to the Parliament Lawns and were enthralled by a diverse speakers, perhaps most powerfully by prize-winning author Richard Flanagan who hasn’t forgotten growing up in the hardship of a remote mining town. His analytical examination of the Adani offering, the national and international imperatives, and the consequences which demand our action to stop the assault on our health and environment are best read in this account:
And I also commit to returning to the Adani mine site to peacefully protest and hopefully to stop the destruction, along with the thousands of people who also signalled their intent to join in. There is a caveat: this will be done in concert and at the invitation of the indigenous traditional owners, who are currently locked in A High Court case to overturn an agreement obtained by Adani under duress, in which non-Wangan & Jagalingou people were paid $2,500 each to attend and vote to approve the mine in 2017.
This fight has really just begun and YES, we will win it.
I’m 66 years old, it’s not for me: it is for my children and their children. It is for the health of miners and their families who shouldn’t be exposed to Dickensian coal dust, but instead should have employment in sustainable jobs in renewable energy and for creating an export industry in the hydrogen economy. It is for the Pacific Islanders who, in increasing numbers, are being forced off their islands to find higher ground. It is for the people of the Maldives, for Bangladeshis, particularly the many millions from the delta who will forced to relocate to.. where?… Will we take all the economic refugees? Let’s invest in the future, not the dirty industries of the past.
Monday 6 May: return home
A very early start through fog-bound Canberra meant arrival for charging near the Dog-on-the-Tuckerbox before the coffee shops were open, and with subsequent refreshment/charge stops at Wodonga and Euroa, I collected wife Julie at Tullamarine at 1pm. Such a relief to be home, exhausted but happy. Anthony had flown home from Canberra to attend to business. I’m sure we’ll both miss the energy and new friendships made along the way, the reacquaintance with interstate cousins and family, the daily hugs from winemaker Jane from Bruny Island, and meeting Hobart convoyers Andrew & Sandy Nicholson, who I’d “known” for decades but never met.
A measure of success in awareness-raising: some credit to the Stop Adani Convoy
Son Tom sent an SMS: “Bloody good work. Your activism is inspiring”. At a stage when you begin to be known as someone’s father rather than being known in your own right, it is re-affirming for the tables to be turned and have the approval of your children.
Final thanks to:
1) The indefatigable organisers Jasmine & Jenny from the Bob Brown Foundation - a superhuman effort - exceeded only by the energy of BB himself, who made 15 rousing/motivating/informative speeches and was ceaselessly available to media, to local organisations and individuals day and night throughout
2) “Tess" who conveyed Anthony & I and many occasional passengers on continuous long hauls of up to 670kms in a day, all for a fuel cost of $25 - comfort, efficiency, safety & economy in one package. More details available on request. EVs do certainly not mean the “end of the weekend” as claimed by our national “leaders” during the election campaign!