Robyn Marshall

Activists from all over Australia converged at Pine Gap, the US spy base, 50 years since it was first established for a series of protests. Robyn Marshall reports.

The Pine Gap military spy base was established 50 years ago on the traditional lands of the Arrernte people, about 20 kilometres outside of Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory.

Pine Gap is supposedly a joint US-Australian defence facility, but very little of it is “joint” or “defence” related.

It was with great sadness I heard of the death of David Page, one of the greatest entertainers Australia has produced in recent times. He was a famous child singer at the age of 14, an actor, musician, composer, dancer, playwright and story teller.

He was also a proud Nunukul and Munaldjali man from south-east Queensland. He was not afraid to admit his homosexuality. He was also the brother of Stephen and Russell Page of the Bangarra Dance Theatre, where he had enjoyed a long and rich artistic career.

About 3000 people, young and old, women, men and children, kayaked from Horseshoe Beach and blocked Newcastle Harbour to stop the coal ships on May 8. Organised by 350.org and other climate change campaigners, the Break Free event was a great success and also fun.

There was a large contingent of First Nations people from all around Australia and internationally, from Samoa and other Pacific islands that could disappear due to rising sea levels.

About 100 protesters, adorned in yellow and black berets, skirts, scarves, blouses, dresses and umbrellas gathered outside the Santos HQ near Circular Quay on May 4 to tell Santos to frack off from the Pilliga, near Narrabri. With them, sitting in a nearby tree, was a huge koala — symbolising one the endangered species whose habitat is being destroyed.

Protests were also held in Brisbane, Newcastle and at the company’s headquarters in Adelaide where the new CEO was fronting his first AGM. Santos has lost more than $1 billion on its coal seam gas (CSG) project at Narrabri.

We arrived at twilight and put up our tents using the headlights from the car. A young man at the camp helped us with threading those damned rods with elastic bits through the tape slots on the tent. We had just got it up when we heard a bell ring for the evening meal. The meal was delicious, catering for both vegetarians and meat eaters.

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