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:
Protecting Broome’s Water
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.
c/o Coconut Wells
In the year 2000 I was amongst the first cohort at RMIT University to walk the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail with the Goolarabooloo traditional owners and gain academic recognition for this learning experience. At the time I was studying a Bachelor of Social Science (Environment) and hoped to move into the profession of Education for Sustainability. Whilst I anticipated that walking the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail would challenge my Western notions of land management and relationship with place, I could not have foreseen how long lasting and profound this experience would be for me on both a personal and professional level.
I completed my undergraduate degree with a complete lack of certainty in anything I had learnt to date. That one experience of being with Goolarabooloo on country made me question everything. It was from that moment that I realised what life-long learning might look like and that listening to Indigenous ways of knowing and being might offer me an opportunity to challenge my worldview and the assumptions I had about ‘reality’.
The generosity and openness with which the Goolarabooloo community receives visitors on their country and the act of walking country as one big mob, creates a powerful context for learning.
Since 2000 I have tried to unpack and quantify what it is about walking Trail that has impacted on me so deeply and indelibly shaped the direction my life has taken. I have practiced as a Sustainability Educator at primary, secondary and tertiary levels over the last decade; underpinning this teaching has been the burning question of, how does our connection to place shape our way of being in the world? The act of collectively walking country on Trail and what is happening at a deeper level, beyond an exploration of practical reconciliation, cannot easily be described. Developing an understanding of what is happening through this collective act has become a major focus for me in my professional life, as I am now undertaking a Masters by Research at Charles Darwin University to explore how being with country is shaping place-making in the 21st Century.
Every few years I return to Goolarabooloo country to walk Trail and keep learning from country and its custodians. I was fortunate to meet past Goolarabooloo custodian Paddy Roe OAM before he passed away. His vision for bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians so that we could walk and care for country together resonates throughout every walking of the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail. On my last visit to this country in July 2012 I spoke with one of Paddy’s great-grandsons about his vision for reconciliation. He told me that Paddy’s vision, “is always alive, it is never dying and never dead; this one man’s vision is everyone’s vision, we’ll keep it going.” For this I am very grateful.
Re: Lack of integrity to EPA process for JPP
I recently found out that only one of the board members appointed to the James Prices Point EPA investigation does not have a conflict of interest with the proposed Gas Hub project. I was shocked and very disappointed that such a huge proposed development, and approval process, could be left so vulnerable and with such little independent scrutiny. I have always upheld the belief that the EPA should be free of bias and a truly independent authority that has the capacity to advise the WA Government from this position of strength.
With such tremendous community opposition to the JPP Gas Hub project, this state of affairs makes a further mockery of the due approvals/planning process that should be followed in order to take into deep consideration the interwoven Indigenous, environmental, economic and social implications.
It clear to me that the EPA’s investigation into the impacts of the proposed gas hub at JPP must process must be carried out again, with a new Board that comprises of members who are all free of a conflict of interest with regards to this project.
c/o Coconut Wells
Coming back to Broome in anticipation of walking the Lurujarri songline with Goolarabooloo, all conversations lead in someway to the No Gas campaign. This year preparations for the Trail (the yearly walk along the songline) seem less tenuous than last year. People have a bit more certainty that we wont get shut out of country by development proponents. So much energy is being invested in defending this country, protecting future generations’ right to maintain connections. Court cases, community actions, meetings, whale monitoring, merging conversations… there is a big groundswell of action to land in. I haven’t really had any role to play in the campaign apart from being a supporter and spreading the message of Goolarabooloo and Broome families that they love their country/place and want to keep it free from industrialisation. Sitting here on Goolarabooloo country now, I feel a sense of guilt, a voice from within telling me I should be ‘doing more’.
Last year I was here for such a short time, I tried to focus my energies on just being fully present here and on loving this place. Is that enough? Does that make any difference? Are there legitimate and illegitimate ways of loving and caring for place/country? I guess that this spin into the dualism of right and wrong comes from a place of comparing.
One thing I am sure of is that walking the songline and action to protect the songline and connections with country are inseparable…