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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Musos Rock The Gate for the Bentley Blockade

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Bunna Lawrie, Songman of the White Whale and lawman of the Mirning tribe from the Nullabor, presents a Black Cockatoo feather to headline act Nahko, of Nahko and Medicene for the People. Photo The Tree Faerie.
Bunna Lawrie, songman of the White Whale and lawman of the Mirning tribe from the Nullabor, presents a black cockatoo feather to Nahko, of headline act Nahko and Medicine for the People. Photo The Tree Faerie.

Hundreds were turned away at the door as the seams stretched to accommodate punters at the Rock The Gate concert held at the Byron Brewery last night.

‘This incredible turnout is further evidence of just how wide spread the support for the Bentley protectors is and how great the level of opposition is to unconventional gas mining in the Northern Rivers region’, said  Rock The Gate’s Amanda Shoebridge.

‘The cause is attracting international attention from a broad spectrum of people.’

Bluesfest sensation from the US Nahko and Medicine for the People headlined the gig, which was a collaboration between the Uplift Festival and Rock The Gate’s Nick Hanlon and Amanda Shoebridge.

Over $20,000  was raised for Lock the Gate to help with the organisation and infrastructure of the Bentley Blockade.

Just as artists began hitting the two stages, crowds were lined up around the block and the show had sold out. An estimated 500 people were turned away from the door. ‘We have such deep gratitude for the community support for this show and regret we could not fit everybody into the venue, stay tuned for the next event’, said delighted Uplift festival producer Chris Dekker. 

‘The momentum is building and as more of these wonderful musicians come out in support of the Bentley protectors, more and more people join the fight to prevent the gross industrialisation of our region.’

After a Welcome to Country by Bundjalung custodians Uncle Lewis Walker and Ray Buchanan, speakers included Aidan Ricketts, Jarmbi, Holley Sommerville and Iain Gaillard from Gasfield Free Northern Rivers. 

The musical program began with performances by Miss Renee Simone, Luka Lesson, Dustin Thomas and Bunna Lawrie.

Bunna, well known for his work with Indigenous band Coloured Stone in the 80s, is also songman of the White Whale and lawman of the Mirning tribe from the Nullabor.

Bunna presented a black cockatoo feather to Nahko, of headline act Nahko and Medicine for the People.

The black cockatoo arrives with the coming of the rain and is a powerful symbol of water in the northern rivers.

Nahko, who is a proud Native American, is travelling to Israel after Australia and promised to pass the feather on, sending the message around the world of the sanctity of water and the re-emergence of the Indigenous peoples as leaders in the non-violent struggle against environmental destruction.

‘The same thing is happening in my country and I felt inspired by the people of Bentley’, said Nahko. ‘I want to take what I see here and take it back to my people –we are warriors across the seas.’

‘Nahko and Medicine for the People embodies the zeitgeist of this movement at this exact moment’, said Nick Hanlon of Rock the Gate. ‘Reconciliation is the silver lining of the blight of CSG. We are coming together as a community to stop them destroying this beautiful country that we feel we do not own, but must protect. We will not back down.’

The crowd was reminded that red alerts at the Bentley Blockade can happen at any time and the next is expected soon. Anyone who is interested in signing up to the red alert system can text 0447 399 535.

Photos ~ The Tree Faerie 




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  1. The other action complementing the Bentley Protection is Divestment of funds from finance institutions supporting CSG and other fossil fuel industries. To quote the Echo editorial this week: this movement “is growing faster than the historic movements against tobacco and apartheid.”

    If you are supporting Bentley action, check that your money is actually helping not hindering the effort. The Big 4 Banks, super funds and investment groups loan your money to the fossil fuel industries. Ask your financial institutions how they invest your funds. They are required to reply. Small accounts or large — they all count. If you are unhappy about the answers from your financial institutions, there are many positive alternative institutions you can consider.

    More info on Facebook at Fossil Free Northern Rivers and also at the major website gofossilfree.org/australia/
    A national day of divestment action is 3 May and in Byron Day on 2 May.

    People who divest do so for many ethical reasons. But, increasingly, there are also practical reasons. As the world begins to respond to challenges raised by climate change, fossil fuel companies are at risk to become bad investments and their works stranded assets.


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