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Byron Shire
April 19, 2024

Big Scrub best conservation festival on the planet

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Sydney lad four-year-old Ethan was very happy to snuggle up to a giant koala at Sunay's Big Scrub event. Photo Tree Faerie.
Sydney lad four-year-old Ethan was very happy to snuggle up to a giant koala at Sunday’s Big Scrub event. Photo Tree Faerie.

Eve Jeffery & Luis Feliu

The main tent at Sunday’s Big Scrub Rainforest Day was filled to absolute capacity with half of the audience spilling out into the parklands at Rocky Creek Dam. On what was a glorious sunny day, the 18th annual event was a huge success.

Uncle Roy Gordon with 'senior management', daughter Waylard. Photo Tree Faerie.
Uncle Roy Gordon with ‘senior management’, daughter Waylard. Photo Tree Faerie.

After a heart stirring Welcome to Country calling all of us to look after country by Bundjalung man Uncle Roy Gordon and his ‘senior management’, (young daughter Waylard), the official keynote speaker and much loved ex-senator and former leader of the Greens Bob Brown took the stage.

Brown started his speech by saying he wanted to speak about the idea of just getting things done.

‘I want to talk today on the line of: don’t get depressed, get active’, he said.

‘It’s a pretty simple dictum, but as I have said on many occasions, I take my leaf from the philosopher of the last century, Bertrand Russell, who said, “the trouble with the world is that, the stupid are cocksure, but the intelligent are full of self doubt’.

‘My answer to that is: “Well, get over it”.

As usual Bob Brown had everyone feeling warm and fuzzy, particularly when he said he felt that if there is a festival on planet earth that is doing more to help rainforests, then he doesn't know about it. Photo Tree Faerie.
As usual Bob Brown had everyone feeling warm and fuzzy, particularly when he said he felt that if there is a festival on planet earth that is doing more to help rainforests than the Big Scrub, then he doesn’t know about it. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘We are in a world in which, whoever designed life on this little planet, had a ladder of power in human affairs, in which the stupid and cocksure more readily climbed that ladder and with no trouble at all, trod on the fingers and heads of the sensitive, intelligent, more-caring people, who drop off as a result.

‘Now I am not sure what category I come in to but what I do know is that I have 30 years in politics and it was a very privileged time, but I never became minister for anything.

‘Not even minister for the “westerly wind”, because I had this bonding with our planet that I couldn’t set aside.

‘And that’s why it’s such a terrific pleasure to be here today with some thousands of people who are committed to restoration rather than destruction.’

A day of great activities, speeches and demonstrations turned into a wonderful afternoon and the “more-caring” people left armed with much knowledge to ponder.

Adani mine protest

Brown urged northern rivers locals to join him in protest actions to stop the bulldozers if the proposed Adani coal mine gets the green light from the Queensland government.

He told hundreds of people gathered at the Big Scrub Rainforest Day yesterday that he would take a bus load of retirees from his home state in Tasmania to the mine site for direct action sit-ins, and called for others to organise similar actions.

It was a repeat of his call at the recent Byron Bay Writers Festival against the mine, which he said would be ‘the biggest hole on earth’ if approved.

Major banks have already backed off funding the controversial mine project, but he said the Queensland government was still fast-tracking it, and had recently approved a giant coal terminal at Abbot Point.

Brown said if the mine was approved, he would organise a bus-load of fellow retirees to sit in the way, egging others of his generation around Australia to do the same.

The popular Greens statesman has also taken action in the High Court against the Tasmanian government’s controversial anti-protest laws, similar to ones also opposed in NSW and Western Australia.

The new laws target environmental protesters with big fines and even jail terms, while penalties for corporations for destroying the environment have been dramatically cut back.

Brown said that charges against him and a fellow Tasmanian protester arrested trying to defend old-growth forest in Tasmania were dropped when the state government realised the two had challenged the law in the High Court.

He said the northern rivers was the epicentre of activism in Australia and said locals should take action to protect their constitutional right for peaceful protest.

Photos Tree Faerie


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