24.3 C
Byron Shire
September 25, 2022

Here & Now #49

Latest News

West Byron flooding

All east coast communities are now daily regularly warned by the ABC radio/TV, by the Bureau of Meteorology, to...

Other News

Resilience NSW provides redacted, inaccurate docs

A Mullumbimby resident, who used FOI to seek the information that Resilience NSW relied upon to justify creating emergency housing on flood-prone land in Prince Street, was supplied with heavily redacted documents.

Lismore Council September wrap

The last Lismore City Council meeting was a pretty short one, by Lismore standards, but they still managed to argue about quite a few issues, and agree on a few more.

Drop-in info sessions tomorrow re Ballina temporary housing

Anyone with questions about the second state government temporary housing village for flood and landslide survivors in the Ballina Shire can attend a drop-in information session on Wednesday.

Explore the macabre at Museum Up Late

The intriguing history of health, medicine and death will be the focus of a free, unique cultural experience at the Tweed Regional Museum on Saturday, complete with live music, a pop-up food stall and bar.

Rail trail concerns 

People are astonished that Byron Shire Councillors have voted to spend ratepayers’ resources exploring the rail trail option on...

Were you affected by the floods or landslides? 

What were the effects of the February floods on you, your home, your property, your neighbours and your community? How could the response have been more effective and better assisted you and those around you to recover?

Image S Sorrensen
Image S Sorrensen

S Sorrensen

Somewhere near Gunnedah. Sunday, 11.15am

I’m the driver. Standing next to my car parked on the shoulder of a long straight road, I hear another vehicle approaching.

It’s quiet out here among the fields of sorghum that flood these fertile flatlands. Occasional hills dot this broadacre sea like islands. Here and there, a farmhouse marks its turf with a shade tree and sheds. It’s lovely.

But there’s a coal mine, so farmers are being forced to move off their land as the mines grow. Coal dust is dangerous.

I have a video camera clamped to my eye. As well as being the driver, I’m the video bloke, recording the mission for the records. Driver and video bloke. Big responsibilities. I’m a bit nervous; not afraid, of course, but – let’s just say – apprehensive. Anything can happen on a mission.

Zooming out, I see a mountain of slag. Slag is what a coal mine turns country into. The slag mountain is a huge white tombstone glinting in the autumn sun, marking the grave where lies the Liverpool Plains, once a great food bowl, now a casualty in the war against Earth.

Zooming in, I see Ash attacking the first and most fierce of the mine’s defences – a barbed-wire fence. Will the mines stop at nothing to protect their dirty business?

Luckily Ash is wearing a wetsuit, which may provide some protection against the pricks. He also uses his surfboard to negotiate fence. (Well done, Ash. Improvisation is the hallmark of a guerrilla surfer.)

I pan across the slag ridge; there may be security guards. I must be vigilant, because as well as being driver and video bloke, I’m also the lookout.

Holding camera to eye with one hand, I check my pocket for my phone with the other. If there’s trouble, I’ll alert Ash and his support team.

Yes, I have important roles. Dangerous too. Well, maybe not dangerous, but eye-strain, sunburn and the possibility of police interrogation take their toll. Every muscle is poised; senses heightened. I’m a trained professional (not that English teaching is all that helpful here…) and totally focused on the job.

The approaching vehicle is close. I can’t turn to see it because I must keep my camera on Ash. But the vehicle sounds like it’s slowing down. Oh no…

Ash is through the fence! He scampers across no-man’s land towards the great white wave of rock. His team follows, flitting like ninjas behind enemy lines, cameras on hips.

The vehicle sounds like a V6 (which cops drive). It’s taking ages to pass – must be stopping. A shiver of panic races up my spine, but I keep my camera on Ash as he reaches the slag wall. A bead of sweat blurs my vision as Ash dons his gas mask. (Coal dust is dangerous.)

What will I say to the cops? ‘Just filming your lovely slag.’ Maybe I should phone Ash now: ‘Abort! Abort!’

We should have worked out a plan B for this. I don’t know what to say to cops. I’m just the driver. I don’t want to go to jail in Gunnedah. I have plants to water…

Under pressure, people’s real strength shows. So, despite a car probably filled with big angry cops probably stopping behind me and despite my propensity for anxiety attacks, I grit my teeth, gird my loins (I have a free hand) and keep filming: Ash jumps on his board and surfs the tsunami of inappropriate mining that threatens Australia. Cameras shoot. Team Surfer punches the air.

Mission accomplished! So what if I go to jail? Sometimes you just have to do what’s right.

I turn to face my destiny. An old V6 Commodore rumbles by, its driver giving me the thumbs up.

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.


  1. We no longer get S’s comments here in Casino since the Echo went into the ‘paid for’ variety. Yep. Fifty cents a copy. And, no longer delivered to all of the shops etc in the CBD. I guess that the 50 cents per copy makes the ‘Echo’ somewhat of an collectable’ or more readable item. If you can find it!
    We have a serious problem in this area and the Northern Star and its children seem to be ignoring this pain.
    Metgasco are raping the region for dollars.
    It saddens me to see the lack of Government concern in this horrible cancer that is about to overtake our region.
    Local (Lismore) member has family interest in getting the CSG mining off the ground. His son is employed by Metgasco.

    • Thanks Brian, ‘S’ no longer writes for the ‘Northern Rivers Echo’, who sold out to APN years ago and are now owned by the same multinational that owns the ‘Northern Star’. Here at the independent Byron Shire Echo (and Echonetdaily), we believe that what makes a paper (or online service) readable is excellent content, not the cover price, so our newspapers and S’s online columns can be read for free. If you’ve missed a copy of our paper, or S’s column, the archives are all collected on this site and can be viewed for free.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Odd row of lights

Just following up the letter from Sarah Smith in the August 31 issue. It was a Starlink satellite train. My webcam captured the scene. Michael...

Trampling of the graves of the murdered: reply to Will Liley

As I read Will Liley’s response to my article in dedication to my late uncle, I recalled the poem in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel Clandestine in Chile:

Murwillumbah mega-school merger public meeting on Monday

Opposition to the merger of the four Murwillumbah Schools, which includes two primary and two high schools, remains strong. Monday will see Leader of the NSW opposition MP Chris Minns and local MP Janelle Saffin joining concerned parents, students and community members at a town hall meeting in Murwillumbah on Monday at 5.30pm.

Byron Council looking at rain damage

Byron Shire Council says they have staff out and about across the Shire today assessing damage from the rain.