Knitting Nanna Sharyn O’Dell attached herself to the main gates of the Heron’s Creek sawmill, the biggest native forest mill in New South Wales, just before dawn on January 19.
O’Dell’s family stood beside her as she settled in waiting to be cut from the gate and arrested.
“It’s not okay for companies like this to be profiting from the plunder of our forests,” O’Dell said. “More than half the wood that comes in, leaves as woodchips. Some gets turned into floorboards … Sustainably managed plantations have to be the way forward.”
The community of the Bulga Plateau, west of Port Macquarie, has been protesting the logging in Bulga State Forest since January 9.
“I live near Bulga Forest. I’ve seen the destruction with my own eyes. I moved to the area because I loved the forest greens and I also loved the people who were prepared to stand up for what they believe in,” O’Dell said.
O’Dell’s son, daughters-in-law and grandchildren are proud of her taking action.
“I heard Mayor Pinson on the radio yesterday saying she was running for election and supported harsher penalties for protesters,” O’Dell said. “I’d like to remind her she wouldn’t be running for election or even be able to vote if it hadn’t been for those hardcore protesters — the suffragettes.
“There was plenty of the ruling elite wanted to shut down those protesters too. But, just as women won the vote, we will stop the logging of our native forests. It’s just a matter of time: governments know it; the loggers know it and we know it.
“It’s a matter of minimising the damage between now and then,” O’Dell said.
The sawmill is owned by Pentarch, which also owns the Eden chip mill. While it promotes its export of plantation softwood pine, it is still one of the biggest native forest loggers.
“When these little kids grow up and ask me what did I to try and pass on a healthy planet for future generations, with tall forests and clear flowing streams and koalas and gliders, I’ll be able to look them in the eye and say I tried.”