December 4, 2014

The Bimblebox Alliance

As you may know if you've read this blog this year, in April 40 environmental protectors travelled to the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland to visit landholders impacted by coal expansion. One of those landholders was Paola Cassoni at Bimblebox Nature Refuge. On the Galilee Road Trip* were people from many regions of Australia, of all ages, and from a variety of organisations. All were united in their aim to raise the profile of the threat posed to Australia's landscape and biodiversity by resource development.

For me it was a pilgrimage and an opportunity to see a place 1100 kilometres away from Brisbane that I had been inspired to write about and passionately defend. This trip, organised by 350.org with the help of Lock the Gate, enabled me to visit at last. The woodland was thicker and more beautiful (top of page) than I'd imagined; the heathland – there are six different ecosytems in the Nature Refuge – was a delightful surprise; and Milky Dam's shoreline was a peaceful place in which to linger. 
Our days started and ended with bird watching, if we were so inclined; there was weeding of exotic species to be done; a tour of the property on the back of a ute; and many topics to be worked through, first in small groups, then in larger gatherings. Our discussions didn't end at supper time: we sat around a campfire beneath a star-studded sky. What a tranquil, inspirational experience Bimblebox was for us all, as well as an eye-opener about the hard work required to raise cattle, maintain a nature refuge and fight for its survival.
When Paola Cassoni asked a number of Bimblebox stalwarts what they thought about formalising their support into an organisation, I don't believe many needed long to think it over. And so The Bimblebox Alliance Inc (TBA) came into being a few months ago. It's taken this long to sort out the incorporation and other bureaucratic requirements; clarify our principle purpose and aims; attend a couple of important events – the Beyond Coal and Gas National Gathering (Protecting our heritage. Embracing the future) at Ivory's Rock near Ipswich at the end of October, and the recent IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) World Parks Congress in Sydney – and organise an event ourselves, at the Avid Bookstore in West End in Brisbane.

The campaign to save Bimblebox from a fate at the hands of Waratah Coal and its Galilee ambition has gained much support since I had my epiphany back in March 2012. In the last couple of years in particular, the impact of the reality of climate change, despite the Abbott government's near-denial; uncertain commodity prices that are seriously undermining coal's extraction and export potential; and the embracing of solar energy by Australian citizens who are far, far more clued up than at least half their elected representatives, has gradually led to a groundswell of realisation and ever more audible murmurings about the desire for change to a creaking economic system.

The Australian bush has long been abused; since the first settlers, in fact. In the 21st century, habitat destruction is a highly significant factor in the extinction of fauna and flora across this continent. The loss of biodiversity is not yet as big an issue as it should be. What to do to solve the problem is an enormous challenge that should be debated in all states and territories, around dinner tables, in schools, and by governmental assemblies from local councils to state capitals. 'You don't know what you've got till it's gone' is a line that often goes through my head.

The Bimblebox Alliance would love your support. For more information about the Nature Refuge, visit bimblebox.org, and specifically about TBA, bimblebox.org/tba-inc/. The membership fee is just $10. You can make an additional donation and/or volunteer to help us continue our work. You can purchase the book, Bimblebox: A Nature Refuge under Siege, and Michael O'Connell's documentary, Bimblebox, on dvd.

Finally, to get a glimpse of this beautiful green island in an ocean of brown paddock in Central Queensland, watch this short film made by one of my fellow Galilee trippers, producer Wendy Rogers. I thank her for enabling me to relive one of 2014's most special weeks.
video


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