Lizard Bites Back: a photo essay

Lizard Bites Back: a photo essay

Words and images by ANDY CALLER.

Protestors set up camp on Kokatha country for Lizard Bites Back

Roxby Downs Protestival – The Lizard Bites Back! – saw activists use non-violent direct action to raise awareness of: the expansion of pre-existing mine at Roxby Downs, the significant impacts of the exposed waste in tailings dams (contaminated water containing radioactive material that is a by-product of mining), and the continued occupation of the First Nations people of Kokatha county and surrounds.

Protestors face off with police at Lizard Bites Back

Willing to confront the mouth of the beast at the “gates of hell”, Olympic Dam uranium mine, the activists, environmentalists and concerned citizens present were not deterred by the threat of a high police presence – armed as they were with defection stickers, horses and a stone-cold resentment for being there.

There has been criticism in response to the use of the non-violent direct actions at The Lizard Bites Back. Some have called out the aspects of white privilege present, with activists not taking into account of the use of mutated white babies as props, when it was not white children that were buried by their mothers after the fallout at Maralinga. Still, the bombs dropped there were remembered and named as a long list of global radioactive spills, disasters, plants & bomb tests was recited for the crowd, after which bodies collapsed in a die-in to commemorate the fallen.

Die-in at Olympic Dam mine gates for Lizard Bites Back

The high police presence was intrusive and blunt through the use of drones and stationary cameras on the camp and at the gate. Continuous patrols operated along the border of the camp, which doubled as the parameter of the exclusion zone in which police had enhanced powers of authority by application of anti-protest laws. In this zone, unprovoked searches are the norm, and a refusal to present identification would result in arrest.

March to the gates of hell at Lizard Bites Back
Although the police were relatively placid in their dealing with protesters, the use of a sacred fire as a road blockade on the third day caused an aggressive and frustrated response to the delivery of more firewood, as well as stretching the patience of the police and stretching the composition of the hardline regiment. Allegedly, questions of the validity of the force’s presence in such numbers caused infighting through the ranks of officers.

Police scuffle with protestors at Lizard Bites Back


Proposal to dump on SA

There was also an aim to raise awareness of the placement of 3 high-level radioactive waste dumps in South Australia, one of which is set to be positioned on the first thoroughly recorded Songline northwest of so-called Hawker. This is recognised as a significant cultural route of the Adnyamathanha People, and the site has been nominated without their consent.

The other two proposed locations are bordering Pinkawillinie conservation park, posing a threat to the area’s unique biodiversity and likely impacting the economic contribution of the Flinders Ranges as a financial asset to South Australia’s tourism industry. (Between 2013-14, The Flinders Rangers contributed an estimated $281 million to the tourism industry in South Australia’s regional income).

A group gathers to learn about the proposal for multiple nuclear waste dumps at Lizard Bites Back.
The news that South Australia may become a nuclear waste dump for the world comes despite a lack of consultation with First Nations elders and communities. It represents a spit in the face to the significance of land and connection to country that traditional owners maintain, and further depicts the continued reach of colonial dominance through economic forces.

A workshop on the second day saw activists forming affinity groups around the country to raise awareness of the dump proposals, networking to establish a national resistance (pictured above).

Together, we say: wanti, uranium, keep it in the ground.


sean at climate camp

Climate Camp was great. We had a neighbourhood bursting with cake and two grand affinity groups! – if you want to see how hott everyone is in the media check out these links compiled by James of the CC media crew:

October 12

New Matilda – And now for a healthy emission

Crickey – Greens talk common sense on climate bill

Illawarra Mercury – Climate Camp slideshow

Illawarra Mercury – Editorial: Any changes in climate must be aired above

St George & Sutherland Leader – 13 Arrested at Helensburgh climate change protest

2SER (the wire) – Activists lose patience with politicians

October 11

Sydney Morning Herald – Activists arrested at NSW coal mine

Daily Telegraph – Activists chained to coal mine conveyor belt

Courier Mail – Climate Change activists chain themselves to coal conveyor

ABC – Protestors lock down coal mine

Channels Ten and SBS : News here

And also- see this rad little film of SEAN people halting conveyor belts for four hours and pulling off a sweet banner drop at Dendrobrium Mine in Mount Kembla, Wollongong.

Join us next week at Climate Camp '09

We hope to see you next weekend at Climate Camp ’09 at Australia’s oldest coal mine: where actions speak louder than words.

From Friday October 9 – Sunday 11th, pitch your tent alongside hundreds of others at Climate Camp ’09 – or stroll in for an afternoon – for great workshops, music, art, food and positive climate action.



When is it? Friday October 9th (set up from 9am, Welcome to Country at 12 midday); to Sunday October 11th.  You can also check out the Facebook event.

How do I get there?
Helensburgh Park, Helensburgh (40 mins south of Sydney).  Check out the map at here.  It’s easily accessible by train and car, see here for details and directions.  We’ll have huge marquees, toilets, showers, decorations, kitchens, tents, solar panels galore, and a whole lot more.

How much? Anyone is welcome to come to Climate Camp ’09, and entry is by donation.  We’re suggesting a range of $5 per day (for low-income folks / students, incl. some food) to $20 a day (for waged folks, incl. food all meals).  For more details, see here.  Kids are free.

Can I bring the kids? It’s school holidays, and we’re ready for a flood of kids at Climate Camp.  Bring them along!  We’re preparing a big Art Space and a Kids’ Tent, with great volunteers co-ordinating heaps of hands-on activities, crafts, and fun learning about climate change and sustainability.

What’s on? There is an exciting and packed program for Climate Camp ’09.  Kicking off with a Welcome to Country from Uncle Dootch (Dharawal Traditional Owner and Chairperson of the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council), then workshops on new media, climate justice and coal expansion. On Saturday, there’ll be practical workshops about taking action and learning your legal rights, great forums on political donations, sustainable transport, and planning for a vibrant community action on Sunday.  Download the Climate Camp Program here.

Check out the Get Ready for Climate Camp page for more details, such as:

  • What you need to bring
  • Food at Climate Camp (bring your own or eat ours)
  • Options for folks who can’t camp (billeting and local accomodation)
  • Who will I camp with?  Neighbourhoods at Climate Camp
  • Frequently Asked Questions, and
  • Climate Camp’s Participants’ Agreements



Join the Climate Camp ’09 community rally and walk-on at Australia’s oldest coal mine

Join hundreds of parents, youths, locals and workers in a community rally and peaceful walk-on to the site of Australia’s oldest coal mine in Helensburgh.

The Climate Camp ’09 action is on Sunday 11 October starting 11am at Charles Harper Park (cnr Walker and Parkes St, Helensburgh). Please wear blue and be creative around the theme of water, climate and jobs.

The NSW Government has recently approved an extension of the Metropolitan Colliery coal mine for a further 23 years. The mine uses a process of ‘longwall’ mining that involves removing coal from long shafts, then allowing the earth above it to collapse. The Metropolitan expansion will mine directly underneath southern Sydney’s main drinking water supply, threatening Woronora Dam, and polluting more than 10 million tonnes of CO2 every year.
Speakers at this climate justice action include Uncle Dootch Kennedy (Traditional Owner of Dharawal land, Chairperson of the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council), Graham Brown (retired coal miner), Julie Sheppard (Rivers SoS) and Lee Rhiannon (NSW Greens MP). There will also be a number of entertaining performers supporting this powerful community action.
Don’t miss this important opportunity to wear blue and be part of the flood for climate justice. When it comes to water, climate and jobs, actions speak louder than words.


How can I help? You can invite your friends with the Facebook event; organise with other parents to bring along the kids for a school holiday treat; get together with a bunch of your mates to camp together; or just come along for the powerful and peaceful community action at Australia’s oldest coal mine on Sunday October 11th.  For the keen beans, we’d love help setting up on Thursday Oct 8th (packing down on Monday Oct 12th) in Helensburgh from 9am.

Follow us around: Drop an email, follow us on Twitter, and check out our website for updates throughout Climate Camp ’09.

Donate: You can make a donation to Climate Camp ’09, by sending a cheque (to 19 Eve St, Erskineville NSW 2043), pay online via our website, or deposit directly into the bank account (Climate Camp Australia, Account Number: 984525802, BSB: 650 000).

Check out exciting news from Climate Camps around the world.  When we pitch our tents next week we will not be alone. We will be part of a global movement of tens of thousands of people attending Climate Camps to push for change and climate justice.

Last week, North Americans at the West Coast Climate Convergence took on Chevron and big oil; 1500 people in Copenhagen taking action to shut down a coal-fired power station; and South Australians staged their first Climate Camp, taking community action against coal-fired power.  For information about the flood of community climate action, check out the links at or listen to this great radio/podcast series Camping all the Way to Copenhagen.


Climate Camp is for all of us – because when it comes to water, climate and jobs; actions speak louder than words. We hope you’ll join us at Climate Camp ’09 – with our kids and parents, our neighbours and friends – so we can begin building solutions together.

For climate justice and a kick-arse Climate Camp,

Holly and James

For the Climate Camp ’09 Organising Collective

P.S. Check out and join hundreds of folks next weekend from October 9 – 11th at Climate Camp ’09: three days of sustainable living and community action in Helensburgh, at Australia’s oldest coal mine.

Can’t make it for the whole weekend?
Just come along to the Climate Camp ’09 action at 11am on Sunday October 11th, at Australia’s oldest coal mine, for water, good jobs, and climate justice.

SEAN weekend report-back (Sept 09)

So, this last weekend saw the second SEAN weekend of 2009 bring together a bunch of SEAN folk from different collectives to camp at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy on Dharawal land in Wollongong. We set up on Friday and spent the weekend cooking deliciousness on a fire, going for chilly swims at the beach and watching a pretty brilliant moonrise over the ocean. Oh and we also chatted and did some workshops and had a SEAN meeting over breakfast and stuff.

On Friday we heard from Uncle Dootch about the campaign to save the land and indigenous burial site from Stockland- developer of ugly beachfront houses. On Saturday we did a Non-Violent Direct Action workshop, talked about affinity groups and a potential SEAN neighbourhood for Climate Camp 09 and in the afternoon heard from Caroline of Rivers SOS on local coal happenings and government/industry dodginess (see photo). On Sunday we chilled out a bit, had a deep ecology workshop and a SEAN meeting with our breakfast tea.

SEAN crew at Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy- Sept 09

Of which here are the minutes if you wanna read them: Continue reading →

Crackdown on climate protests

Lateline ran a story on February 2nd on moves by State and Federal Governments to legislate tougher penalties for climate change protesters. It features footage from many actions student climate justice activists were part of in 2007 and 2008.

You can download the story here: 20090202-late-climate_video4.wmv


Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 02/02/2009

Reporter: Margot O’Neill

More than 150 climate change groups have opposed passage of the Government’s carbon trading scheme through Parliament, saying the targets are dangerously low.

TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Well, the Federal Government has lost the support of most of the Green lobby, including influential Australian Conservation Foundation for its key response to climate change. More than 150 climate change groups which met in Canberra over the weekend, announced today they would oppose the passage of the Government’s Carbon Emissions Trading Scheme through Parliament.

They say the Rudd Government’s targets are disastrously low and overly compensate the biggest carbon polluters.

Meanwhile State and Federal Governments are considering tougher penalties for climate change protesters, and tomorrow a major protest march is planned for Parliament House in Canberra.

Margot O’Neill reports.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: Australia is set to see more protests like this, about 160 people were arrested last year with some climate change activists chaining themselves to railway tracks to block coal exports and to conveyer belts to disrupt power stations, others climbed smoke stacks.

After meeting in Canberra this weekend activists say there’s more to come.

JOHN HEPBURN, GREENPEACE: We’ll also see a lot more big protests at particularly the brown coal power stations in Victoria, some of the most polluting power stations on this earth, they need to be closed very quickly, and replaced with renewable energy.

We can do that now, we can create adjust transitions for workers in coal communities, and if the Government is not going to take that action then it’s up to the community to do it for them.

Because we simply cannot wait any longer, climate change is too urgent.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: Federal and State Governments are reviewing the laws dealing with such disruptions after a request from the country’s State and Federal Energy Ministers.

GEOFF WILSON, QLD MINES AND ENERGY MINISTER: That shows you how seriously all Energy Ministers around Australia, including the Federal Minister see this action that was taken last year in various places.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: In 2007 activists shut down Victoria’s Loy Yang Power Station for five hours.

GEOFF WILSON, QLD MINES AND ENERGY MINISTER: This action, they described as being peaceful. Only has the veneer of being peaceful, when indeed the outcome of the action has the high risk that electricity supply will be cut off to large communities with harmful impacts on those large communities.

JOHN HEPBURN, GREENPEACE: The kind of protests that we have seen at coal power stations have not resulted in any of those sorts of problems.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: Protesters in the United Kingdom were last year acquitted of criminal damage charges after one of the world’s leading climate change scientists James Hansen from NASA testified that coal fired power stations were causing greater damage to the public good through dangerous global warming.

Now two of Australia’s internationally renowned climate change scientists, health expert Professor Tony McMichael, and climate expert Professor David Karoly say many climate change activists in Australia are unsung heroes, and they’d be prepared to testify in court on their behalf about the urgency of global warming and its impacts.

DAVID KAROLY, MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY: I would be prepared to provide support to provide, if you like, defence, testimony, that says that these activists are providing justifiable responses given the imminent danger associated with climate change.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: In a political blow for the Government it’s formerly lost the support of much of the green lobby for its Emissions Trading Scheme, known as the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme due to start next year.

One of Australia’s most influential environmental groups, the Australian Conservation Foundation, as well as other groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth will now actively oppose Government policy unless it toughens up.

TONY MOHR, AUSTRALIAN CONSERVATION FOUNDATION: The two biggest flaws with the proposed Carbon Pollution Scheme is that it will lock in unacceptably weak targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions for many years.

It will also see billions of dollars going to big polluters.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: But the New South Wales Minerals Council says the scheme’s targets are already steep enough.

NIKKI WILLIAMS, NSW MINERALS COUNCIL: It is a very tough target and there is no other county in the world that has one.

MARGOT O’NEILL, REPORTER: A draft of the legislation will be released publicly later this month.

Margot O’Neill, Lateline.

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