The Bat­tle of Red Hill

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - ‘DAINTREE BLOCKADE’ — EXCERPT II -

Four protesters ran around in front of the dozer. ‘Hey, hey, hey!’ one of them yelled. ‘Hold up. You’re only al­lowed to use rea­son­able force. And us­ing a bull­dozer isn’t rea­son­able. And that will stand up in court.’

As it pushed for­ward, two of the protesters jumped out of the way, while one woman got stuck in front of it. Glen, the last of the four, jumped on the blade and grabbed hold of the spike stick­ing out the top (used for push­ing down trees). Those watch­ing stood trans­fixed as Glen, hold­ing on for his life, was car­ried high into the air, swing­ing wildly, yelling and try­ing to alert the driver about the woman trapped be­low. The po­lice even­tu­ally ran over and stopped the dozer, and the driver low­ered the blade. Ev­ery­one was shocked. Work stopped. The protesters cheered. The bull­dozer, which only mo­ments ago had been so dan­ger­ous, now sat idling. Both protesters es­caped un­in­jured.

‘I thought he was fin­ished,’ one pro­tester said of Glen.

‘That woman cop­per throws a mean right,’ said an­other.

‘Take the day off! It’s too wet to work any­way,’ they called out to the coun­cil work­ers. Then they be­gan to sing and chant, ‘Take your bull­doz­ers away…’ as the work­ers re­treated to their car­a­van.

A tense si­lence reigned, with only the crackle of com­mu­ni­ca­tion equip­ment to be heard, while the po­lice got on their ra­dios. Mike Ber­wick was called over to the po­lice van. He re­turned to the protesters shortly after.

‘They got a mes­sage on their ra­dio from the Shire Coun­cil to pull out all equip­ment and go back to Camelot,’ Mike said. ‘The po­lice used their ra­dio to con­vey the mes­sage. I don’t think they’re try­ing to bluff us out. I don’t think there’s any ques­tion of them not pulling out. I’m quite con­vinced of that.’

‘We prob­a­bly should main­tain the camp for a few days.’

‘I think we should main­tain the camp un­til the road is closed,’ Mike said.

As the news fil­tered through the group that all equip­ment would be re­moved from the na­tional park and the work­ers would leave, there were scenes of ju­bi­la­tion. The protesters, cov­ered head to foot in mud, danced and cried and sang.

Rain­bow’s crutches, his leg still in plas­ter, were use­less in the mud, so he had to rely on his mates to cart him around. For all the mud-soaked wrestling and grap­pling that day, the road in­creased by about 10 me­tres and there were no ar­rests.

David Rain­bow (front) doesn’t let his bro­ken leg get in the way of join­ing the protest. Doug Fer­gu­son watches on. (Wilder­ness Ac­tion Group). The Bat­tle for Red Hill de­scends into a muddy mess. It then be­comes a scene of ju­bi­la­tion. Ru­pert Rus­sell is on the far left. (Wilder­ness Ac­tion Group). Mike Gra­ham reads the peo­ple’s dec­la­ra­tion, that ‘On be­half of all car­ing peo­ple we re-de­clare the Cape Tribu­la­tion Na­tional Park that it shall re­main in­vi­o­late from de­struc­tive development for all time.’ (Peter Mitchell)

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