Monday, 20 November 2023 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Gomeroi People Welcome Pacific Climate Warriors



PRODUCED BY Vivien Langford





Aunty Rhonda Dixon-Madden - Welcome to country

Tamika Sadler and Larissa Baldwin-Roberts - Get Up

Milima May -Larrakia TO and Bradley Frarrar- Alawa Beetaloo TO who travelled from NT to this AGM of Tamboran

Dr Emma Skowronski - Doctors for the Environment

Thanks to organisers from 350.org, AYCC and Get Up!

Pacific Climate Warriors 

Gabriel Veigaunavinaka in Fiji

Jacybnta Fa'Amau in Australia


In early November, Gomeroi and Gamilaraay traditional owners, Pacific Climate Warriors and activists, school strikers, local farmers, Move Beyond Coal community members and more came together on Gomeroi country in north-west NSW. Together, we shared stories of resistance and resilience, built deeper relationships and stood in solidarity with Gomeroi & Gamilaraay custodians - whose land is being exploited by fossil fuel companies such as Whitehaven Coal and Santos.

This is a recount of what happened over the course of that special weekend - the stories that were told, the fights that were shared, and the solidarity built between communities. (Thanks to Move Beyond Coal)

When country expands beyond what your eyes can comprehend, melting into the horizon, it’s beyond beautiful, and quite indescribable. This is what I experienced as I watched the landscapes change towards our destination, the colours of the trees and land changing every so often. I knew from this point, that the trip to Narrabri on Gomeroi country, where devastating coal and gas extraction projects are widespread, would be one to remember. 

Image Credit: The Roving Rovas

On arrival, we were welcomed by Gomeroi custodian Karra Kinchela and her family, by the Namoi river, as the wind rustled through the trees and soon after, embraced the young dancers and Karra’s cousin, Clinton Lamb, who led the welcome to country. The stars eventually dressed the night sky as the night crept in, whilst the Pacific Climate Warriors thanked those who welcomed us with their own traditional fijian kava ceremony. Joy and laughter filled the campsite of our initial meeting place, which would reflect the real essence of the people who were fighting for Gomeroi country in Narrabri.

Our second day on Gomeroi country, Karra showed us around, first at a site in the Pilliga Forest where water is filtered through to the underground water and finds its way to sea. She talked about how even on country that is considered freshwater, it is still connected to saltwater, and that whatever happens on her country is inherently connected to all countries. This lit up the fire in many people and for some, only added wood to the fire. There were direct connections being made between the effects coal and gas companies like Whitehaven Coal and Santos had on Narrabri and those close by, but also to the ocean and the Pacific Islands.

Karra continued the tour by taking us to the front gates of Santos’ Lee Wood gas facility.. She described how mining companies enjoy interacting with communities in order to claim, through social licensing, that those communities support their plans. Karra explained that continuing to participate in rallies and actions for Gomeroi country is one of the best ways to combat these false claims of support. She went on to explain how Whitehaven Coal, with numerous coal mines in the area with plans to expand, has eaten a lot of their country. Whitehaven promises all of these jobs and benefits to the community and Indigenous peoples, but these promises are only fallacies, with only a select few hired; their attempt to divert everyone's attention away from the reality that they are not only destroying country, but endangering the lives of those who live in the towns where they mine.

We then headed to Maules Creek for lunch, where we were joined by one of the local Gamilaraay elders, Uncle Neville Sampson, who alongside a few other locals who have been fighting fossil fuel projects in their community for decades  explained the history of their fights. Uncle Neville talked about his resilience, and the resilience of those who continue to ensure a future for his people.

After lunch, there was an opportunity to visit one of the local farms, and I put my hand up straight away. Being from a small village myself, from a remote island, I wanted to explore what life looked like right next to a coal mine. I remember most of my childhood in my village of Bauz, on Mer Island, in what is colonially known as the Torres Strait. Being from somewhere so remote, with a close knit community, I wondered if I could see a reflection of home amongst the tour, whether in the landscapes or the people. On the tour, we stopped every so often, learning what it takes to farm in Narrabri, about pink slugs and the houses and lands that were sold due to people getting extremely sick from not just the dust in the air from the mines but the gas released from the explosions. One of the farms belonged to a elderly woman, who was constantly sick due to the fumes, and had eventually sold her land and house, which now remains empty. Mining giants seem to have every right to not only harm the environment, but even the people who live within the environment it wants to destroy. After visiting the farm, and patting horses whilst learning about how climate change has even affected what farmers choose to grow now, we returned to Maules Creek renewed and even more passionate about stopping Whitehaven Coal.

On our last day, we held an action at  sunrise - in front of Whitehaven Coal’s Tarrawonga coal mine. When we arrived at the mine, what was in front of me was not only confronting, but made me feel both physically and spiritually ill. How could anyone devour a land and make it so baron, how could anyone harm country in such a vicious and heartless way, knowing that this land is so inherently connected to Gomeroi people? The trauma that the land experiences translates into real trauma for those who descend from these lands. When you kill or harm a land, you kill or harm it’s people. 

Comprehending this tragedy, one that is paid for, that seeks the destruction of this country to gain profit, was difficult, but it was a reality that had to be acknowledged. It is our reality, and thus our responsibility to ensure that Karra, her family, her people, are able to live, not just survive, on their country, safe and sound. We shared stories, songs and dances in front of the mine, whilst mining security guards watched us as they patrolled the parameters. I couldn’t help but mourn for country, but I could also feel the strength of everyone in this space, especially the Gomeroi mob who were so kind and gracious in inviting us to their country to see the truth of this place with our own eyes. 

Together, in times of crisis, when politicians let us down, we must rally together, allowing our communities to speak for themselves. We can see hope in the First Nations communities fighting to protect the country from new coal and gas projects. We see it in the global demands from Pacific leaders for no new coal and gas, phase out plans and renewables expansion. 

I remember some of my last words with Uncle Neville, he told me to keep fighting, but to also remember, that I am stronger, and that no matter what, Gomeroi country is who he is, and he will always know and be a part of its land, water and sky. In solidarity, we can protect this country.

With Kindness and Au Esuau,

Meleika on behalf of Move Beyond Coal

P.S. Now more than ever, we need to all stand together and show our politicians that we are building a movement that will outmatch the power of coal and gas corporations like Whitehaven Coal and Santos, who are destroying Gomeroi sacred country and willingly contributing to devastating climate impacts in the Pacific and more.

Join Move Beyond Coal teams and grassroots climate groups across the country for a Week of Action from 4-12 December, to take action in our communities to Turn Up the Heat on Labor.

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