From an Inner-City Day Job to the Front Line: My Journey With the Adani Blockades

From an Inner-City Day Job to the Front Line: My Journey With the Adani Blockades

The sky was sun-soaked when the gong sung out at eight, rustling the big gum and alerting the kookaburras. We trudged from our sleeping spaces and cereal bowls to gather at the meeting space. It was like every other morning at Binbee, but August brought an uncharacteristic anxiety to our staunchly empowering home.

“Blockade Adani campaign updates?”

Tension crept through the seated circle, our stiff bodies deflecting the heaviness in the air.

“Adani has started clearing the minesite.”

Hands gripped each other in support, fending off terrifying thoughts about the destruction of native habitat: the threat of losing sacred land to an ‘economically prosperous’ toxic wasteland.

“They’re hoping to flog 450 hectares in 80 days. 40 already gone. We need masses of people up here now, and we need to be out there blockading. We’re calling a red alert!”

We worked through the grief, planning our next moves. I scarcely blinked because when I closed my eyes, I saw wildlife dying. The mother emu we found guarding an egg and her four chicks. The fluttering swarms of butterflies that call those trees home. The wallabies, the kangaroos, the snakes, the wedge-tailed eagles that feast on their remains. Every day behind my eyelids, they flee their homes before the bulldozers get them.

#BlockadeAdani Base at Binbee. In hard times – and good times – we make music!

Six months ago, I was not an activist. I spammed social media about consumerism and waste, but then I went back to my Fremantle day-job where we used copious amounts of plastic. I worked weekends and missed out on rallies and beach-cleans. I avoided opening conversation around my veganism. Like a stale loaf of plastic-wrapped bread, my ‘environmentalist’ facade reached its expiration date.

I packed up and headed for Tasmania, where I first heard about #BlockadeAdani at Newkind Festival. This utopian zero-waste, cruelty-free “master-class for social change” empowered me to step into activism, fuelling my involvement with Anonymous for the Voiceless and Extinction Rebellion throughout my east-coast journey. Finally, at a Stop Adani rally in Brisbane, I made the choice to head to the frontlines. I’d previously hesitated, not knowing what to expect: what if I didn’t have the necessary skills? What if I’d be expected to get arrested without feeling ready?

I’ve been with #BlockadeAdani for three months now. Contrary to my fears, the environment is fiercely inspiring and growth-fostering. There’s a contagious air of initiative, comradery and courage — a thirst for justice. We won’t stand idly by while native animals scramble for safety and the Carmichael mine moves one step closer to reality. Hell no Adani, not on our watch.

Why, and how, do we stop Adani?

The Galilee basin in northern central Queensland is heading for ecological collapse due to Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine. If built, the megamine will permanently destroy native habitat, damage Queensland’s water table and contribute to irreversible climate change. Of course, climate catastrophe won’t deter the notoriously tyrannical Gautam Adani. Apparently, neither will our government: frontline activists are the last line of defence for the Galilee basin. The Carmichael mine is planned to be one of the largest coalmines in the world. Fittingly, the fight to defend the Galilee has grown into Australia’s largest environmental campaign – and after almost nine years, it’s still far from over.

#BlockadeAdani is a movement powered by Frontline Action on Coal for non-violent direct action against Adani’s Carmichael mine. After nearly a decade of campaigning, FLAC have just announced a red alert. This is an urgent callout for activists – new and experienced – to make their way to our base to blockade Adani. Now that land clearing has officially started, mass civil disobedience is needed to stop this mine from going ahead.

RED ALERT monopole action: 7 August 2019

Our vibrant community based at Binbee, between the minesite and Abbot Point coal terminal, is passionately committed to stopping this project. In the last month, two people blocked a railway to stop coal trains by locking themselves to a concrete barrel. Several people locked themselves to drill rigs on site. Two people were suspended from nine-metre poles tied to bulldozers, immobilising 17 machines. For up to nine hours, they each endured the harsh sun, the discomfort of immobility and police coercion to defend the safety of our collective future.

Why frontline action? Because “it is our moral duty to disobey unjust laws”, and because it works. Many Australian environmental campaigns have won, including the Franklin River, Jabiluka and Bentley blockades. The #BlockadeAdani activists stopped works for the day, costing Adani contractor partnerships and millions of dollars. These individuals continue to prove that every person can make a difference.

We can stop Adani, but we urgently need your help. At least 140ha of native habitat on Wangan and Jagalingou country has already been cleared. Currently, up to 10Ha is being cleared daily, including the endangered Black Throated Finch territory.

What is Binbee?

The #BlockadeAdani base is Binbee on Birri country. Binbee means ‘good’ in the language of the Birri people. Nestled between eucalypts and banana circles, frontline activists sustain the campaign and our diverse, intelligent and self-motivated community. We grow food which we cook, eat, compost and clean-up together as part of our focus on regenerative culture.

Plenty of ‘jobs and growth’ in the permaculture gardens at Binbee!

Our vision for Binbee is to provide a safe space for learning, and empowering individuals with the skills and confidence to take NVDA – non-violent direct action. Climate activists working with #BlockadeAdani are taking action locally and Australia-wide, with the objectives of:

  • Sharing the facts behind why defending the Galilee is so crucial in addressing the climate emergency
  • Mobilising people to the frontlines, and providing info nights and relevant trainings such as NVDA and legal briefings
  • Working to normalise direct action and emphasising the necessity for frontline activism at this crucial stage of the campaign
  • Taking NVDA to stop works as well as raising awareness and building our movement. Involvement in direct action at Binbee is voluntary
  • Empowering people to take action in their local areas

Binbee culture prioritises relationships with traditional custodians and local community members. #BlockadeAdani acknowledges indigenous sovereignty and strives to harmoniously support traditional custodians’ efforts to protect country.
Central Queensland is proudly ‘Coal Country’ and locals have been largely won over by the ‘jobs and growth’ narrative, despite Adani’s lack of commitment to providing ongoing employment. Binbee’s community engagement team often travel to support anti-Adani locals and affinity groups in “reframing the narrative around how best to protect the reef, local businesses and communities”.

The Binbee community consists of all ages, cultural and professional backgrounds, gender identities and walks of life. Many choose to stay long-term; however, commitments such as work, family and study often require a more transient involvement. Time constraints should not be a barrier to participation: your off-site efforts and short/infrequent visits will be welcomed with a cuddle-puddle of open arms!

How can you help #BlockadeAdani?

Join us at Binbee! It’s a RED ALERT. Now is the time. Pack your bags, break it to your boss and hightail it to the frontlines. FLAC hosts info nights and NVDA trainings across major east-coast cities, or head straight to the website for all the necessary info.

If you can’t leave home just yet, there are plenty of opportunities to help mobilise others by assisting at FLAC events – and just spreading the word. Share our red alert resources and action media on your socials: if you can’t make it, recruit some mates that can!

Support Friends of the Galilee Basin’s crowdfunder. Leading this fight for our future requires a safe learning space for climate activists on the frontline. Without financial help, this space cannot exist and our chance at a safe and sustainable future will be lost.

This is a call to action! This movement is built by everyday people like you, finding the courage within themselves to stand on the frontlines. Our support could be the difference between a healthy waterway and a planet-destroying crater. Our voices and actions DO affect change.

Stand with us and #BlockadeAdani

Photos provided by the author

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