22.6 C
Byron Shire
March 20, 2023

Here & Now 39

Latest News

Main Arm road works update

Further to last week’s Echo newspaper story Main Arm Road repairs grant unsuccessful, Council’s General Manager, Mark Arnold, told...

Other News

Ballina’s surprise ghost candidate declines Meet the Candidates invite

Ballina voters had a surprise fifth candidate appear when the electorate’s ballot paper was drawn last week: Peter Jenkins for the Sustainable Australia Party (ASP).

Jeremy Buckingham back to legalise cannabis

Former NSW Greens MLC Jeremy Buckingham is back on the hustings as the lead upper house candidate for the Legalise Cannabis Party in the NSW state election.

Roller Derby returns to Byron, March 18-19

The Northern Rivers Revolt Roller Derby tournament is returning after the covid hiatus to Byron Bay on March 18–19, with six teams competing at the Cavanbah Centre. 

The ghost who talks – then doesn’t

At last night’s Lismore Council meeting, Councillor Andrew Bing moved a motion that Lismore City Council begins the process to reduce the number of councillors from 11 to 9 as soon as practicable.

Nats candidate for Ballina responds to pork barrelling claims

The Nationals’ candidate for the seat of Ballina in this month’s state election has defended practices labelled ‘pork-barrelling’ in the lead-up to a Meet the Candidates forum in Byron.

Election 2023 – Lismore: Ross Honniball Sustainable Australia Party

Ross Honniball is preparing for the upcoming election and is running for the Sustainable Australia Party What is your big...

Image S Sorrensen
Image S Sorrensen

S Sorrensen

Leard Forest, NSW. Tuesday, 5.30pm

I’m crying.

Tears are welling. One has escaped and bolted south. I can feel it galloping down my cheek. In a sort of nonchalant, fly-chasing way, I swipe it away. I don’t want anyone to notice. Luckily, I have my sunnies on, and my Akubra casts a deep shadow over my face.

The sun is hanging like a ripe lemon over the western horizon. I can’t actually see the horizon because a white cypress pine blocks the view. Under the pine are people from the protest camp up the road.

Leard Forest provides some shady relief against a sun that still burns like an open fire despite the late hour. The sunlight fingers the forest and the green drips gold. Australia.

In the opposite direction is hell: a treeless mountain of mined rock, a flat-topped mega-monument to the stupidity of men, an altar to the dollar deity where life itself is sacrificed. Oi oi oi.

Huge trucks zigzag up and down the artificial mountain’s face, white dust clouds clinging to the gigantic wheels for a moment and then letting go.

The coal mine is buzzing, gearing up for an expansion that will turn this forest into another hole that will stuff the wallets of a few fat blokes and stuff an already stuffed atmosphere.

The sun is setting on Leard Forest.

Here, at the very boundary between what has been and what will be, we stand.

In front of the barbed wire and prickly warning signs, Davey Bob is singing: ‘Tell them no, leave it in the ground…’ Three other musos back him.

One of the two mine security guards who have just turned up is talking to the woman filming the song. She explains the obvious – ‘we’re making a film’ – smiles, and keeps filming.

The other guard is a Tongan. He’s a big bloke and doesn’t look like someone you’d want to mess with. Grim, dangerous. They’re tough, Tongans.

But they have a weakness. Oh yeah.

Like kryptonite to Superman is a guitar to a Tongan. While his mate combats a woman’s smile, the big bloke is pulled to the music like a bee to honey.

As he nears the players, the professional grimace is replaced by a grin which blooms into a smile when Davey Bob smiles at him: ‘We got to stop this now, tomorrow’ll be too late…

The guard sidles through the band. He stands behind Davey Bob, beaming. Behind him the new mountain shimmers in the heat: ‘After the horse has bolted, it’s no use to lock the gate…

It’s the perfect shot: four musicians, a protest song and a smiling security guard (who now cannot help but groove to the beat) backdropped by the coal mine blight. The woman films. Behind her the protesters dance. Behind them, I cry.

‘Tell them no, leave it in the ground…

I don’t know if I’m sad because of what has been lost: the bountiful country of the Kamilaroi people who lived in huts beside the Namoi River feasting on eels, crayfish, tortoises and freshwater mussels. (There are middens near here.)

Maybe I’m sad about what will be lost: this last bit of forest, the aquifer which made this land a farmer’s wet dream, a reliable climate.

Maybe I’m crying for all the sadness in the world.

Or maybe I’m happy. Happy to stand here with people who care; people who feel the pain but respond with love. There should be an award for these true-blue Australians. I care nothing for Triple J’s hottest 100 or who wins the cricket.

I care for these people and respect what they do. Oi oi oi.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

NSW Greens MP defends Nats smear

NSW MP Tamara Smith (Greens) has defended a political post on Facebook by Nationals candidate Josh Booyens. Booyens claims Smith was dishonest with her response...

Green support SSF and free parking at Tweed Valley Hospital

Protecting State Significant Farmland (SSF) and committing to free parking at the new Tweed Valley Hospital are issues Green candidates for Tweed, Ciara Denham,...

 Uki Refugee Project and Mt St Pat’s join forces for refugees

The Mount Saint Patrick College in Murwillumbah held an assembly of 850 students, teaching staff and members of the Uki Refugee Project to officially open their new sports house called Romero House – in honour of Saint Romero.

Scientists call for urgent groundwater management

Groundwater provides almost one-third of the nation’s water and is worth more than $34 billion to the economy, but results from a recent major review have prompted scientists to call for urgent and better appraisal of groundwater and how we manage it.