22 June 2006

The Batcave

G'day from the largest coal port on the planet. Newcastle is home to the Batcave, a cool activist house by the beach. Its a huge old bond storage basement of now yuppie flats half buried into the ground with 'rooms' partitioned off with old banners, and bits of carpet. It means half the rooms, and the 'corridors' are very, very dark. A big population of Crows live in the park outside so there is the constant cackling awww awww to add to the batcave feel.

There's an always busy ping-pong table in the kitchen/lounge, canoes & boats and props from actions stuffed into dark corners, wet-suits hanging by the windows and a stack of surfboards by the front door. And get this.. there is a photocopier sat in the lounge.. and it actully works!

Regular banner making, meetings and cooking up of vast quantities of soup to take out to events means it a busy place. Random activist households around the world are great, used to a transient population, communal food where you chip in, new friends and a place you can chill out and be more than a guest.... you can just be.

I'm rapidly becoming a 'bat', so I better split soon before I need to pay rent!

Newcastle Rising Tide have are still rocking.... check out the latest pics from our Midwinter 'Stroll against Coal' through town.. and take a look at the cop with some serious 'look at the size of my baton' issues. http://www.flickr.com/photos/cookielovescake/sets/ 'Stroll against coal'

Oh, and probably one of the most disgusting websites I have seen for a long time: www.coalcandothat.com

14 June 2006

Bringing Coals to Newcastle - RT flotilla blockade

Its raining and thers is a strong wind blowing us out to sea.. a huge ship laden with coal is headed out of the port as people on brightly colours canoes, boats, surfboards and a raft made from milk crates are paddling out to block its passage...

Before lunch, we'd been out there blocking the narrowest channel with about 70 people while the cop boats jetted about chopping up the water with their wake.

On shore around 100 folks gathered in support, along with the press with telephoto lenses and more cops huddled in groups to the side like wannabes not invited to the party.

We'd come ashore for hot soup and to warm up. Its SO not warm all the time in Australia.. that's a complete myth and its winter now. Then suddenly there was a call out that there a coal ship was on its way and people scrabbled back into wet suits and onto the water.. the cops got to the fastest paddler, who was going to get in front of the ship and capsized him in their wake. I'd just managed to squeeze back into a cold soggy wet-suit and was frantically paddling at the ship which was passing.. steadfastly ignoring the fact that I was never going to catch up with a huge cargo vessel in a kayak...

Newcastle Harbour exports more coal than any other port in the world, it has the capacity for 80 million tonnes a year. The coal is form the Hunter valley, where the sunning Anvill Hill is, and the place Centennial Coal want to turn into an open cast coal mine. The Hunter coal industry want to increase coal exports by 65% over the next 5 years. That's really a poor effort in the reducing climate wrecking carbon emissions..

Out of this hub of carbon shipage, from homes where sat on the sofa you can see giant coal ships go by, Newcastle Rising tide was sprouted. Activists working to stop climate chaos.. The crew here are great, and very much like the RT folks in the UK with similar politics, energy and action. The groups now communicate and network.. but the original concepts for both Rising Tide incarnations came totally independently, some ideas are just too good!

A report of the action can be found on Newcastle rising tides website: risingtide.org.au/

And my pics are, as ever on My Flickr pages