Sunday, August 01, 2010

Middle Head protest, 1980

I hope the photographer doesn't mind me using this photo. In 1980 my co-editor and I put it on the the cover of 'Maggie's Farm' magazine. It exemplified the months-long battle of Middle Head, a small, pristine beach on the Mid-North Coast of NSW. Hundreds of environmentalists dug in, formed a large camp, and tried to stop Middle Head Beach from having its frontal dune forest bulldozed, in search of rutile (titanium oxide). The 'greens' created kitchens, laundries, even a school. The cops and the workers opposed 'the hippies', week after week. Eventually the ancient forest was stripped bare by big bulldozers. About six months later, the TNC (transnational corporation), Mineral Deposits (a subsidiary of Utah (Australia), closely linked to Utah International and General Electric (the USA military contractor), said there was insufficient titanium there -- closed the operation and fired the same workers who had so opposed us. It was a lost battle which many of us who sat in front of bulldozers will never forget. In 2005 we gathered there for a 25th anniversary reunion.

Gumbainjiri people tradionally believe that the world was created at Middle Head. In a letter to the NSW Premier months earlier, the Aboriginal Elders had stated "We, the people of the Gumbainjiri Tribal Elders Council, are not happy with the mining at Middle Head Beach. This area is part of the sacred tribal lands, and for the Gumbainjiri and Dunghatti tribes, it is our birthplace. It is vitally important that this entire section of beach be preserved with the headland for us to retain our cultural heritage." 

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