22.1 C
Byron Shire
March 29, 2023

Remembering Deb Whitley

Latest News

Call for Labor government to reinstate logging moratorium – now

North East Forest Alliance’s Dailan Pugh has pointed out that a Minns NSW Labor government has given no commitment to quick and decisive action on behalf of our forests – but we need action 'now' he says.

Other News

NEFA welcomes the election of a new government

The North East Forest Alliance welcomes the election of the Minns Labor government with their promise to create a Great Koala National Park, and calls for a moratorium on logging within the park proposal until the promised assessment is complete.

Janelle Saffin holds the seat of Lismore

Janelle Saffin is in the lead for the seat of Lismore after yesterday's state election. Although preroll and postal votes are yet to be counted, it’s hard to imagine Saffin’s position changing.

Local skateboarders ready for Ballina contest and NCAS tryouts

The Fair Go skate competition will take place at the Ballina Skate Park from this Friday March 31 and...

No dog problem – really?!

David Heilpern was recently roasted here by P. Lawrence, who sees ‘no problem’ with the issue of dogs on...

Arson Squad extradite a man from Qld over alleged arson attack – Casino

Arson Squad detectives have extradited a man from Queensland and charged him over an alleged arson attack in the state’s Far North Coast earlier this month.

The dog thing

I have to acknowledge the eloquent detail of David Heilpern’s description concerning the issues around recalcitrant dog ownership in...

Deb Whitley with her Glenugie buddy, Philippe Dupuy, shortly after her release from custody on 4 December 2012. Photo David Lowe.

On Saturday a large group of friends and family gathered to remember ‘eco-warrior’ Deb Whitley at her beautiful property in Glenugie, south of Grafton.

A keen swimmer and lover of nature, Ms Whitley became well-known across the Northern Rivers when she became the first woman to lock on to a Metgasco truck, in an effort to stop the company from establishing an unconventional gas field in the region.

On 4 December 2012, the non-violent blockade of the Avenue, then a sleepy rural lane through a spotted gum forest (now the road to a new prison, bisected by the new freeway), had attracted concerned citizens from across the Northern Rivers, and beyond.

Following Davey Bob Ramsey’s example at the Shannonbrook CSG Ponds, Deb Whitley locked herself under a truck which was attempting to enter the Glenugie site and had been stopped by protesters.

Deb Whitley giving a media interview at the Glenugie blockade, in 2012. Photo David Lowe.

She was accompanied by buddy Philippe Dupuy (later to be arrested for tunnelling under the Metgasco site entrance at Doubtful Creek).

The truck driver refused to turn off his engine, leading to a tense situation, which ended when police arrived to arrest and remove Ms Whitley.

Defying her conditions, she later returned to the blockade site, becoming a key participant in the events of Bloody Monday (7 January 2013), when riot police violently removed peaceful protectors who were blockading the road.

Local legend

The 2012-13 Glenugie blockade was close to Ms Whitley’s property on Aerodrome Road. She achieved prominence for the fact that she was motivated by a desire to protect her home, the water and her neighbours, as she stated in numerous media interviews, which significantly raised the profile of the gas issue.

Unlike the media stereotype of the typical protester, Deb Whitley worked locally, didn’t have dreadlocks and wasn’t a blow-in. At the time she was described as an ‘ordinary person’, but her courage was far from ordinary.

Her action inspired numerous other people to take a similar stand, initially at Glenugie, then at Doubtful Creek, and finally at Bentley, where Metgasco was ultimately forced to leave the region after all local gas exploration licences were suspended.

Deb Whitley with her friend Trinette Reimer, who spoke at the memorial gathering. Photo David Lowe.

Originally from Manly in Sydney, Deb Whitley’s joyful approach to life belied the fact that she experienced great tragedy in her life even before she took her stand at Glenugie, losing her partner, two sons and a sister over a short period.

She overcame cancer once, but after she broke her hip, the cancer returned, and she died late last year.

The Northern Rivers remains in Deb Whitley’s debt.

Audiences will be able to celebrate Ms Whitley’s courage again in the forthcoming film Confusing Them With Our Joy, which tells the epic story of the Northern Rivers’ fight against unconventional gas.

Previous articleDoesn’t hold water
Next articleLessons not learnt

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

‘Bees they’re fucking awesome!’ so why are we introducing flies?

The little varroa mite is leading to the eradication of many beehives in NSW. Researchers will be releasing pollinator flies in the Coffs Harbour biosecurity Red Zone to help pollinate berry crops.

Two to appear in Tweed Court after alleged import of ‘ice’ and cocaine

Two people have been extradited from Queensland and charged following an 18-month investigation into an alleged attempted importation of six kilograms of methylamphetamine and cocaine into NSW.

Goodbye to an inspiring scientist, activist and friend

Mary’s influence on me as a local activist, and later councillor, was profound – she opened my eyes to how water courses through and shapes this place.

Missing woman located – Tweed Heads

A woman reported missing from Tweed Heads on Tuesday, 21 March, 2023 has been located safe and well.