The following documentary forms part of a six-episode series that highlights Indigenous peoples’ struggle to protect their lands from industrial development. Although the Browse LNG Processing Plant will not be developed along the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail and Northern Traditions Song Cycle (songline), the traditional lands of the Goolarabooloo and Jabirr Jabirr people have still been compulsorily acquired by the Western Australian government. The WA government intends on industrialising the monsoonal vine thicket of the Dampier Peninsula, which is now a threatened ecological community and functions as a year-round food and medicinal resource.
The Native Planet documentary was respectfully made with the Goolarabooloo people and gives voice to their fight to protect country and shares the perspectives of others with supporting and divergent viewpoints.
An email I received from the Goolarabooloo community yesterday:
Dear Trail walker – past and future,
The Broome Shire and the West Australian Planning Commission have prepared the latest planning documents with the purpose to set out the long-term (10-15 years) planning directions for the Shire of Broome. It is to our great surprise that the Lurujarri Heritage Trail is not included is these Local Planning Strategy (LPS 6) documents. Instead, they provide for large-scale industrialisation and development along the coast north of Broome.
As most of you would know in 1987, Goolarabooloo elder Paddy Roe initiated the Lurujarri Heritage Trail as a trigger to encourage the members of his community to be walking the Country, as had always been done; to conserve, renew and stay connected with their heritage and traditional skills and to keep the same alive for generations to come. He also sought to awaken non-Aboriginal people to a relationship with the land, to foster trust, friendship and empathy between the indigenous community and the wider Australian and International communities.
Since that day, hundreds of people from all over Australia and the world have walked the Lurujarri Heritage Trail with us and more still are hoping to take part in the future. We believe the continuing success and growing popularity of the Lurujarri Heritage Trail only serves to confirm it’s outstanding heritage values.
Back in the early days the Broome Shire had been very supportive of Lurujarri Heritage Trail. You might have noticed the Shire of Broome logo on all our interpretative signs along the coast. So what is going on? According to the Local Planning Strategy (LPS 6) documentation, the Lurrujarri Heritage Trail does not meet the definition of a Heritage Area and has subsequently failed to be included. How can this happen? The Local Planning Strategy (LPS 6) document’s own definition of heritage area states:
“Heritage Area means an area which is of cultural heritage significance and of such distinctive nature or character that special controls are considered necessary to retain and/or enhance that character, even though each individual place in the area may not itself be of significance.”
Are they serious?
Here is an accompanying map of the proposed planning land use for the Dampier Peninsula.
So when did the Shire of Broome decide that the Lurujarri Heritage/Dreaming Trail ceased to exist? Has the Northern Traditions Song Cycle also been eradicated from the minds of policy makers? The often cruel politics (a legacy of colonisation and land theft) underlying what makes it onto a map and what is left off is blatant in the Broome Shire’s Local Planning Strategy.
Today, finally some justice as Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled that the EPA and W.A. Government’s approvals processes for the gas hub at James Prices Point were unlawful.
I hope the folk walking the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail at the moment are celebrating with Goolarabooloo and country at Wirrar/Barred Creek today. Blessings to this country and the people who held a high feeling of connection throughout the dark times.
I have not the heart to write for long about the incredibly flawed EPA process and the collusion that exists at all levels with the W.A. State Government re: proposed development at Walmadany/James Price Point. The concept of one-person boards/committees still intrigues me. To anyone reading this, please listen to the ABC Kimberley Radio interviews with W.A. Environment Minister Bill Marmion, Paleontologist Dr Steve Salsbury and Ecologist Louise Beams via the link below:
It must be part of every campaign, the ‘reach-out.’ Garnering new support, trying to expand networks so that the collective voice of opposition gets louder. I’ve never stood back from one of these ‘reach-out’ events and sensed whether it achieved its goal, whatever that may be… building awareness, spurring political action, raising money… I wonder if the promise of power and influence through collective action is realised and translated into the discourse of a campaign. Is there a surge of energy experienced by those who are already part of the collective? Or, does the network just grow even if members of it are not conscious of this? Does it even matter? I think it does, knowing that I am connected somehow does give me energy to continue being part of collective action. Then there must be all of those things that emerge from the ‘reach-out’ that were unanticipated. I’m not sure what they are either! We shall wait and see…
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…
I want to write about the collective action that has been emerging amongst people who identify themselves as protectors of country along the Kimberley coast.
One action happened in response to 250 police being sent up from Perth, to prevent people from blocking Woodside equipment being brought back onto country. The police violence that had previously unfolded in July 2011, on what is referred to as ‘Black Tuesday’, was still fresh in people’s minds; this presence was not welcomed. On mothers’ day Broome families converged on the police station in town, offering police officers at the front desk (mainly men) flowers for the special women in their lives. To me this act of ‘love bombing’ tells a story about the nature of collective action that is emerging amongst these ‘protectors’.
Photo: Glen Klatovsky
A few weeks ago a post came up on Facebook about a solidarity event which happened at Walmadany and in places all over Australia yesterday:
Published on Facebook:
AUSTRALIA. The whales in the Kimberly needs you! The country and the sea are calling!!! Grandmother Whale is in danger, it’s time for us all to Wake up and unite! The Elders all around the world are watching! Now our Elders are calling for us all to take up our rightful place and responsibility! Calling all saltwater tribes to unite in our traditional way. Doing smoking ceremonies all around the sea shore of Australia and at the heart of our sacred country “Uluru” at the same time on the same day! In our own ceremonial ways. We call on all our non-traditional brothers and sisters to unite with us. Let Grandmother Spirit light the ceremonial fire. Unite the ancient Song lines. And call upon the Whale Spirit to regain her strength.
Day: 1.9.2012 the day after the full moon. Time: the smoking ceremony will start at 2:00pm at Walmadan “James Price Point” WA. Synchronize your time in your zones so the sacred fires can all be lit at the same time.
Please let us know of your Tribal name and group location in this coastal Whale calling ceremonial unity.
With respect and gratitude to all Lorna KellyHere is a YouTube clip of Lorna Kelly speaking about protecting Walmadany:
Tens of solidarity events were held yesterday uniting the spirit of people-place-country. Messages and images left from people who are being with each other for these gatherings grow my sense that something profound is happening around people-place connections and not only in the Kimberley (https://www.facebook.com/events/458658757499985/).
Each time I get sucked into the vortex of social media, there are endless statements and declarations of frustration, love, anguish, solidarity and visioning being published about people’s being with country – Kimberley coast. While the focus of my research isn’t necessarily based on this connecting to country through social media, I need to reflect and write about it because it is a huge part of how I am staying connected to this country while I am living in Darwin. I find myself wanting to go online and read the posts that are published by people and community pages on FB so that I can ‘tap into’ what is happening… bridge the physical distance that separates me from place. For me right now Broome, Walmadany and the Dampier Peninsula exist as hybrid places, ones that are accessed through a virtual community… through images of country… through people’s words… the sharing, the ‘likes’ and interaction of people that exist in this ‘community’. What would my experience of separation from place/country be like if none of this existed?
The first time I came to Broome I was struck by the semi-arid nature of this country, it is literally on the edge of a desert. The Broome township currently uses between 5 and 6 billion litres of water a year. This is figure does not even include the forecast growth in consumption with the development of Broome North which will increase the population of the township by around 65%. At the moment all of the town’s water comes from the Broome Sandstone Aquifer, a precious resource that is now under threat from industrial interests on the Dampier Peninsula.
Woodside are proposing to use 8 billion litres of water from the Broome aquifer each year, at no financial cost. Even if we overlook this gross inequity about who pays to use the Broome aquifer’s water, the risks involved in protecting the health of this aquifer are too great. Earlier this year the W.A. Department of Water itself recognised in its Groundwater Resources Review for the Dampier Peninsula that salinity risk in the Broome aquifer is high in many areas. The message here is clear, if we overuse the aquifer we risk polluting it with saltwater and lose a secure water supply for Broome.