After months of community protest and the gradual build up of fear over possible confrontation, we have witnessed a happy ending for the Bentley Blockade.
In a matter of hours the situation West of Lismore transformed from the threat of up to 900 riot police using force to break up the community blockade, to a suspension of Metgasco’s license and a temporary victory for the thousands of people who put their lives on hold for a cause in which they passionately believed.
And although many in Lennox Head feel that they are somehow removed from the issue, there are also many here who applaud the work of the protestors and their months of sacrifice.
The Lennox Wave caught up with Lennox Head resident Amelia Hicks (pictured fourth from left) at Bentley on the weekend.
Amelia is one of the founding members of Girls Against Gas, which she and friends Gemma Plesman and Merinda Williams founded with a view of injecting a bit of fun into the protest. And with the help of new recruit Tasara Dewhurst, that’s exactly what they have been doing.
Amelia is a passionate anti CSG campaigner who went back and forth between Bentley and Lennox Head, spending an average of one night a week out at the Bentley Blockade over the last two months. She describes it as an ‘amazingly well organised community’ that was deeply connected to the larger support network beyond.
With a total of around 3000 at its peak, the Bentley Blockade had to run like a camp.
‘There were roads and they each had names, like Rocky Road, and there were shifts that you could sign up for during the day. There were Porta-loos and a central meeting place called the Tarp Mahal where the residents met for daily meetings. There was a kid’s space and an art space, which churned out constant signage that was necessary to keep the message strong. And there was a steady stream of visitors and passers-by, who gladly sent simple messages of support through their car horns.’
‘We had amazing donations from people who would turn up with boxes of food and supplies, cakes and fruit and vegetables. And, while everyone was encouraged to be self sustaining during their time there, it was always possible to get help and support from anyone in the camp,’ says Amelia.
‘When we had really bad weather we had people turning up with wood chips and straw bales,’ she says.
Months of living together and sharing a cause will leave a lot of people at a loss for the next couple of weeks, but Amelia continues to campaign, because, as the protestors know too well, this is only a suspension.
‘We are attempting to get the message out to the coastal areas, where a lot of people do feel removed,’ she says. ‘We have just printed some new bumper stickers that say GASFIELD FREE BALLINA SHIRE.
If you would like to buy some of these (at $3 each) you can contact Amelia at email@example.com.