North coast NSW is one of the most celebrated areas of our surfing world. Home to the iconic breaks of Angourie, Lennox Head, Broken Head, The Pass and myriad secret spots. The area stirs sentimental dream images that stem from Albe's Morning Of The Earth film and our personal surfing experiences here. These waves are all within earshot of our great northern rivers that snake down from the rolling hinterland and merge with the currents of our coast. Everyone knows what the clean, clear aqua blue water here looks and feels like, and we all enjoy the fact that it is so healthy.
Right now, all of these elements are under threat as mining industry companies wish to inject themselves into the region via their desire to extract gas. By now most of us are aware of the discussion of 'fracking' and coal seam gas extraction, and most of us know that community fears surround the contamination of water in 'fracked' areas. In response to mining companies Dart and Metgasco requesting permits to work in the northern rivers region all the major towns of the area conducted surveys to quantify the mass opposition to these mining practices. Byron shire responded 97.7% in opposition to CSG , Lismore 87% in opposition, Richmond Valley region 65% and Brunswick Heads 93% opposed.
It is very clear that this region does not want the gas extraction industry among us, or anywhere for that matter. Despite this, Metgasco is still trying to bring their drilling rigs into the area to explore for gas. This action not only risks the health of the region but also the democratic culture in this country that allows people the right to be heard.
Just behind Lismore, in the little town of Bentley, thousands of everyday local people are blocking the trucks from Metgasco and it's working. For weeks their machines have been kept away by the peaceful gathering of farmers, teachers, lawyers, doctors, surfers, artists, indigenous elders, grommets, grandparents and just about every type of person that inhabits our region.
Bentley is near the sources of the Richmond River. Whatever occurs upstream will soon enough come down to meet us, and the waves we live for at the coast. There has already been one exploratory drill site at Glenuggie just south of Angourie. This industry is right on our doorstep and with little help from our governmental representatives it's up to the people to preserve our fresh water and salt water places.
Despite this success people are still needed. If you are interested in experiencing the strong sense of community that is centred at Bentley and helping to preserve the North Coast, please come out and join the blockade. This is an historic event that mainstream media is refusing to pick up, so it is up to us all to pass the news around and realise we have more power than the radios, tv's and news would like us to believe.
To be on the alert system so you know when Bentley is under threat from the machines text this number and they will send you alerts: 0447399535
To follow the blockade and be updated visit gasfieldfreebyronshire.org