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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

A funny thing happened on the way to being Grandma

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GP Geralyn McCarron in Sacrifice Zone. Photo Tree Faerie

The thing is, when you have daughters, you spend the first 20 years or so trying to stop them getting pregnant, then you spend the next 20 years hoping that they will get pregnant. 

It’s funny how as prospective grandparents we feel we have so much sovereignty over our offsprings’ bodies.

It’s also funny how when we have kids we don’t have enough time for them because we’re busy doing other things and then when we have all the time in the world, we look to the little people in our lives to somehow fill the void left by what we couldn’t provide for our own children.

My children are now in their 20s and I have watched as my friends one-by-one have become grandparents, and I must admit, there has been a little touch of envy for me. I can’t wait to pinch those chubby cheeks and nibble those wiggling toes.

But, something has happened to me in the last couple of years. A sad, terrible tragedy.

At the start of the second decade of the 20th century, in this area we began a fight. A fight against people who are wanting to poison our land for the sake of a few bucks.

It has been a long hard fight, and in some areas that battle has been won, in some areas the war has been lost.

Up to March last year, I spent 14 months making a film to fight for Billiga – the people of that land have been fighting for their future for a couple of hundred years, I was a newcomer helping them with their current battle.

When you make a film, not only do you see the same things over and over in front of your face, when you close your eyes it plays over and over again in the front of your mind’s eye, sometimes for weeks on end. 

Cutting Sacrifice Zone, I heard GP Dr Geralyn McCarron announcing a few hundred times that people are dying from pancreatic cancer (among other cancers and conditions), because of the poisoned land and water in Queensland. It made my heart break every time I heard my own voice ask from the darkness ‘You don’t survive pancreatic cancer do you?’ And her response: ‘No, those people are dead.’

Those few words played a loop again and again during my sleeping hours and my waking hours and I began to see my grandchildren differently. That’s when I said goodbye to them.

Between the government and the mining companies, both local and international, we are slowly destroying this country. Not only did we steal it from the First Nations People, now we are poisoning the land they love so much. The powers that be are breaching the Great Artesian Basin with their chemicals and they are turning our soil into a cesspool. (But that’s ok – we voted for them and they know what they are doing. Right?)

They have also destroyed my hope for grandchildren – not because I don’t think those children will be born, but because I’m terrified that my own children will have to watch those babies die on a planet that can no longer sustain human life.

I know I have no sovereignty over my baby’s bodies, but I would like to at least have had hope of a possible future if they ever chose to reproduce. I have lost hope.

My envy has turned to bitterness and sadness as I see my friends bouncing bubbas on their knees – I wish that they and their children never have to watch those young ones die a horrible death caused by the poison we are constantly injecting into this earth. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch the people I love lose the people they love from pollution and cancer and starvation. I have lost hope.

I had a conversation with one of my children a few weeks ago. It was really hard. I tried to explain, through my tears, that even though I had wanted grandchildren and had dropped quite a few hints about that, I had changed my mind. The future generation was doomed and were no longer on my wish list. For their sake. For hers. I told her I had lost hope. I have never been like this before.

I have had some pretty crappy stuff happen in my life, but I never lost hope. Now I have.

I have lost hope…

Currently I’m working on a new project called Confusing Them With Our Joy – a story of heart and art and music and the positive actions that come from fighting on the right side of history – the joyful side of history. The hopeful side.

I want the sins of Sacrifice Zone to be washed away with a vision of hope for the future, as we hoist a flag of joy in readiness for the final battle which is upon us – a battle that is not only for the land. It’s a battle for life and a fight for my grand-babies.

Hold fast, the time has come.

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  1. Have for several years been falling into deeper and deeper depression anxiety and have been recommended drugs which just make my brain feel dumb.
    I have already grandchildren all over twenty and my spark for love and an end to my sad state was the coming of babies. I too have become disillusioned by the dying of our earth home and our obvious inability to work together to turn the terrifying situation around and start to work together. Thank you for the article it has helped me realise that I have now no choice but the accept the fact that I have failed and it’s ok. Just get back in the garden and take a swim in the ocean and bring the bits of plastic home

  2. Firstly, to address your opening remarks
    You say, in reference to our daughters, we ” spend the first 20 years trying to stop them getting pregnant”. Really? Surely part of that time was changing nappies and playing games etc.
    We spent most of that time loving them and trying to help them become whoever they are. The getting pregnant thing did arise in early puberty as a slight worry but, honestly, it had been dealt with over the years by frank and open and honest discussion. Maybe you were being light hearted, I do hope so otherwise I pity your daughters.
    As to the crux of your article, I can only quote the great Hipshot Percussion of comic book fame. “The only time you don’t have a chance, is when you don’t try”
    I find your defeatist attitude amazing. If we stop having babies we really have lost. Extinction is a certainty. You depress people with your words. Don’t lay down and die, stand up and fight


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