Beyond Zero - Community

Monday, 5 March 2018 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

Mon 5th March 2018

BULGA to BYLONG- Locking the Gates

This is an audio voyage up the Hunter Valley where brave communities are holding out against climate changing coal expansions.

We meet:
    Wannarua Elder- Pat Hansson
    Ex Miner- Frank Turnbull
    Community Leader – John Krey
    Local Historian – Stewart Mitchell
    Goldman Prize Winner – Wendy Bowman
    Veteran Campaigner – Bev Smiles
    Bylong Grazier – Peter Grieve AO
    Guide at The Drip – Phyllis Setchell
    Environmental Justice- Dr James Whelan
    Lock the Gates Guides – Steve Phillips and Nic Clyde

    The Bulga Community is famous for having taken Rio Tinto to court and won!
    The extension of the mine was prohibited by the Supreme Court. Aboriginal sacred places and significant woodlands were protected. But their victory was short lived as the head of Rio made a special trip from London and the NSW Government promptly changed the law. Pat Hansson told us how sickened she was by the thought of the massive Warkworth Mine swallowing up more land. This area has great significance for Wonnarua People. They used to gather for Bora Ring ceremonies witnessed by European settlers but going back for untold generations. I interviewed these brave people last year when they were out protesting the sale of a road which stands between the Rio mine (now Yancoal) and the next big coal lode. Local Historian Stewart Mitchell explains how this is part of the Great North Road built by convicts and part of our National heritage while John Krey and Frank Turnbull dramatise for us why they are not giving up.
     This local battle has global importance. As fossil fuels are consigned to history the people have Bulga have stood firm, fought fair and must win. This is their finest hour.
     At Camberwell we met a farmer who is recognised internationally. Wendy Bowman tells of their thriving dairy farm which was made impossible by the encroaching coal mine. Despite being offered millions by Yancoal she is the last farm in the path of the mine and determined that her place will be protected. She was recognised by the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2017 You can join Wendy in demanding that politicians stop allowing mining to destroy rural communities.
     The next ghost town was Wollar where only four families are between the mine and its extension. Bev Smiles and two others face seven years jail if tough new anti coal protest laws prevail. She talked to the listening tour as we gazed around at empty houses, a church and school, the services all still intact but most of the residents bought out by Peabody Energy. From Wollar we had a police escort . Maybe they thought we’d stop the bus and riot!
     We bushwalked around the Great Dripping wall which will be at risk if the tunnels under the river are approved. You can join the Save the Drip campaign by contacting Phyllis Setchell at
     The end of the tour was in Bylong Valley. Gag Clauses prevented land owners talking to us about any negotiations with Korean Energy Company Kepco. They have bought up most of the property in this pristine valley but no sod has yet been turned Peter Grieve AO spoke to us of the old days when the Mouse races raised a million dollars for charity. The champion racehorse and sire HEROIC was born here and the land is perfect for high end farming.
      Peter Andrew trialled his natural sequence farming here. His ideas to rehydrate the land and restore it have caught on around the continent but we saw men in high vis vests now in command at Tarwyn park and mine machinery parked in his sheds. It could become part of the National Trust instead of another grand canyon of coal.
     It’s a climate cliff hanger for all of us. We can measure the amount of carbon dioxide pouring into the atmosphere. We can see the effects in the Antarctic, the Arctic and the Ocean but can we stop a new coal mine in a valley that looks like Switzerland? As poet Judith Wright said about the plans to drill for oil in the Barrier Reef and use the coral for limestone. It is like destroying the Taj Mahal for road rubble. But she was vindicated . It is now protected by UNESCO as world heritage.
     Bylong, Wollar,Camberwell and Bulga. They are our call.


05 Mar 2018|Categories: Community Show

Beyond Zero Community Show
Monday 5:00pm to 6:00pm
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