Block­ade re­union shap­ing up

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE -

NOVEM­BER marks 30 years since the Daintree Block­ade, the protest ac­tion that sits large in the an­nals of the en­vi­ron­men­tal move­ment and which helped put ‘‘green’’ pol­i­tics into the main­stream of the Aus­tralian con­scious­ness.

The con­struc­tion of a road link­ing Cape Tribu­la­tion to the north in 1983 and 1984 led to protests which re­main sec­ond only to the Franklin River cam­paign.

A ded­i­cated group of lo­cals and con­ser­va­tion­ists from around the coun­try caused a mas­sive stir in the me­dia.

As pro­test­ers buried them­selves in the ground and chained t hem­selves to ma­chin­ery – one even tied him­self to a cross – graphic im­ages of con­fronta­tion played to the pub­lic here and abroad.

Plans for a road be­tween Daintree Vil­lage and Cooktown had been in the works for more than 40 years be­fore the con­struc­tion of the Bloom­field road in the 1980s.

The then Dou­glas Shire coun­cil was set to pro­ceed in 1983 with grand plans when on Novem­ber 30 a group of around 60 peo­ple banded to­gether for a peace­ful protest, in­form­ing the coun­cil work­ers of their in­ten­tions.

To mark the oc­ca­sion a re­union has been or­gan­ised for the Novem­ber 30 at 6pm with a bar­be­cue at the Fern­tree Re­sort Cape Tribu­la­tion to re­unite any­one who was in­volved in the block­ade.

So far around 50 peo­ple are con­firmed to be at­tend­ing, com­ing from all over Aus­tralia to join in the com­mem­o­ra­tion.

Ac­tiv­i­ties will in­clude a trip to the block­ade site and a bar­be­cue din­ner in Cape Tribu­la­tion.

For­mer pro­tester and one of the or­gan­is­ers for the re­union, Dawn Gray, said peo­ple from both sides of the ar­gu­ment are at­tend­ing – those who protested, the po­lice of­fi­cers who made ar­rests, the le­gal coun­sel who rep­re­sented the pro­tes­tors, and some mem­bers of the press at the time. ‘‘It has been in­ter­est­ing to see that many jour­nal­ists, pho­tog­ra­phers, sci­en­tists who were here in 1983-84 are still work­ing in the field of en­vi­ron­men­tal/ sci­en­tific oc­cu­pa­tions,’’ she said.

‘‘ We have ex- politi­cians at­tend­ing, ex- res­i­dents and some of the block­aders who are now in their 50s and 60s. It is a time for all pol­i­tics to be put aside and folk at­tend­ing will have the op­por­tu­nity to catch up with friends, ob­serve the his­toric dis­plays and at­tend the un­veil­ing of the plaque and morn­ing tea on the Sun­day morn­ing.’’

To book for the din­ner: 4098 0070 or 4098 0042.

Pic­ture: JCU DAINTREE SE­RIES

AN­NIVER­SARY: A block­ader in the thick of it

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