Networks

Whenever I speak with someone about the campaign to stop the gas hub from being built at Walmadany, I want to talk about the connections that are being made. I haven’t dedicated much thought to the connections that are being broken though… of which I assure there are many. Thinking back to our community campaign to stop a desalination plant from being built on the Bass Coast, I remember just how many networks were formed. People who we had lived amongst for years were unknown to us until we came together with a unifying aim. Although we did not succeed in stopping the desal plant from being built, we had created new social networks and strengthened old ones that make me feel as though the social capital that exists there now is far beyond what existed before. There are also the connections with country that changed over this time. People being kicked off the land on which they lived due to compulsory acquisition, others coming to be with Williamsons Beach and the dunes behind for the first time, and people who had walked that country and the surrounding heathland for decades. The rock pools along that beach are crystal clear in summer. Deep and glistening. I have not been back to this beach since the big water factory went up; it is time to get people back into that place who love and nurture it.

So if I stopped and looked at the connections/networks that are being formed, strengthened, weakened and broken in Broome and along the Lurujarri Songline, what would I see? What/who are the actors that are performing in these networks?

Red pindan cliffs… the naked ebony and mamajin forest… cool south-westerlies… identities of traditional owners… people who call Broome ‘home’… transient folk at the tent embassy and whale research camps… people who’ve been living on and protecting country with Goolarabooloo over the past few years… the graded road… tree sits and lock-ons… painted banners (whale tails)… no gas stickers on cars in town… clouds starting to float across the sky (nearly turtle mating season)… whale watching platforms… the Woodside compound… the gates… the tracks… bilbies… humpack whales… monsoonal vine thickets… the EPA… Woodside… Colin Barnett… protection… ‘the Kimberely’ as an identity… the iconography of the campaign…  whistling kites… white-breasted sea eagles… tensions between people on the ground…

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