The Battle of Red Hill
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)