21 December 2006

Carry on up the Flozza.. Adventures in the Florintine Forest

Little 4 min movie I made in the flozza up some very big trees!:

The Upper Florentine Forests

Every step you take in the upper Florentine forest presents you with another ridiculously beautiful scene, and I constantly am grinning wide-eyed and grabbing for my camera.

When Peter Jackson filmed the Loth lorian forest scenes in The Fellowship of the Ring he found some amazing NZ forests, but then had to mock up the bases of giant trees to crate the forest he pictured..

These are the forests he was looking for - these are the forests of Loth lorien.. as you weave your way through moss covered myrtles & sassafras's you come across the basses of giant trees then looking up their massive trunks they disappear off into the canopy.

Waking up in the spongy moss under dappled light streaming through the canopy & man-ferns is like waking into more beautiful a dream than you could have ever been having - then rubbing your eyes again and again to really believe what you are seeing.

If forestry get their way this would soon be a road an the stunning giants around us will be falling.

- But the people are resisting!

There are several tree sits up and more on the way the forest kids here really know their stuff.. many are trained arborists and industrial climbers. I've been learning different climbing techniques and how to rig things up.

Plans are afoot for an Ewok village in the treetops with rope bridges connection the different homes. Soon cries of 'Bechawawa' will fill the forest along with the cackling kookaburras.

I soon find myself high above one of the tree-sits sat astride a branch hauling up thick polyprop lines to connect up traverses in the trees around, trying out the newly learned 'donkeys bollox' knot which unfurls itself when looped over a branch - then trying to hurl it over a branch of an adjacent tree. After more tree fishing more trees are 'caught' and traverses put up.

There is an amazing aerial photo of the tree-sit I slept in here on Green Senator Bob Brown's website.

With bountifully dumpsters, kind grennies & locals we eat well in the forest, even campfire baked bread & banana cakes from dumpstered goodies!

Both the Florentine and the Weld are due to be logged any day now.. tree-sits need climbers, so anyone who can get down here do - January is all on!

There are different groups involved in protecting the Upper Florentine... check out:

Forest Defence Unit

The Derwent Forest Alliance

The Wilderness Society

Blockade over the weld river

1 min clip of my first day in the tree sit:

Later that night...

It starts in the distance, a deep roar. It comes closer, the pressure changes and its suddenly much colder. The branches of the eucalyptus tree start swaying & rustling.

You can hear it coming with the directional certainty of an oncoming car.. or juggernaut.

Then the roar hits and everything is swaying, the platform swings and the rudimentary tarp shelter rattles & whips nosily in the wind.

With it it brings rain and I curl up further away from the cold shower encroaching further and farther in the open end of the shelter.

30 Meters below the rumbles and splashes of the weld river churn on in the darkness, the when light comes I watch the river rise and rise with all the rainfall.

I'm up in a blue tarp world above a logging road reaching into the weld valley. A few weeks ago, while I was at the G20 in Melbourne they busted the ongoing camp I lived at over the winter, felled some of the trees with tree-sits, pushed through a new road and destroyed the pirate ship.

But now we have re-taken the valley.

The tree-sit I am in is made from 4 poles in a rectangle with a net tied in between with a small tarp on top like an open ended tent.

So essentially I am floating up in the tree tops with no floor.

The sit is attached to a rope hooked over a branch leading down to the logging road, there its attached to a monopod (single upright pole) lashed to a logging gate.

The idea is if they try to take down the sit.. the sit will fall.

The idea is that they don't.

At first I stayed in the tarp bubble getting used to being up there.. and eventually I grew more confident and started exploring. climing higher, exploring, reading books sat astride branches 30 up in the tree tops..

Most of the rest of the 'down below' time at camp, when others are up the sits, is spent on the road.. oftern getting up at 4 am incase foresty arrive with the cops to bust us. Daily wash swims in the frezzing Weld river, so pure you can gulp down the water while swimming..

Sometimes its cold and we are huddled around the fire, then a day, or somtines hours later it is burning hot and we are sweltering and dreaming of the river again. Never again will I call England 'changable'!

Its hard to believe they will come in and destroy this amazing forest, but after taking a numbing walk back to the old camp and seeing the new road they have put through the danger is all to real and immidate.

Keep up to date with happenings in the weld on huon.org and Melbourne Indymedia.

14 December 2006

Causing trouble in Victoria - The G20 & Gippy Forests

Wow so life has descended into another crazy blur.. a house, home & bed seem like a hazy luxurious dream and it seems like forever since I slept somewhere where we weren't on full alert for an early morning bust.

5 new photo sets on my flicker!

First it was down to Melbourne for the G20 madness. A crazy week of squatted social centers, spoke councils, rebel clowning, snatch squads, vegan yumminess, tram jumping, dumpsters, police violence & paranoia. Sounds like a summit to me! Lots of photos here

Oh and somehow (..I blame that Irish boy) ended up as climate speaker at the 'big rally' which was pretty intense as there were thousands of folks around and a wall of press.. I NEVER go and listen to speakers at rallies! But there I was.. and how a copy of it can be found here - Most of it plagiarised from London Rising Tide.

So with post summit snatch squads circling and paranoia heating up a crew of us head out to the victorian forests where we hear of a coupe being logged that might be saved after the upcoming elections...

"A three hour drive".. "leave at 3pm"... Hmm, there in time for tea then. Marvelous.

My first trip with the veggie oil van dumpster crew is a fantastic initiation to the true power of faff as we finally rock up to East Gippsland at dawn the next day after a mammoth tangental all night drive. However fun and dumpsterfull! And when we get to business we are a newly bonded tight crew - it was the most cuddly blockade ever.. Check out the really ace photos

We stopped logging in a coupe near Goonerah. There were four big machines there all put out of action, two by lock ons and two by being ties off to a tree-sit hanging of a branch. We went in after dark and spent the night setting up..

I headed up the road with a few folks to 'scrub' (pulling lots of stuff onto the road to slow the loggers & down when they arrive and buy us some time).

A frantic mission searching around with head torches and hauling logs & stones - whip a clove hitch around a log then haul on the rope.. oftern with many of us hauling & pushing with improvised leavers.. 1..2...3.. urrrragh...1...2...3.. urrragh...

Then the sky starts to lighten.. not long till the contractors show up for work and soon we can see without head-torches... and such an essential never leave your side item becomes redundant for the next 17 hours. Everythig is ready and now we wait... we huddle round the fire in the pre-dawn chill.

I buddy for a friend locked on to a 'Logmate' AKA 'Forest Fucker' a huge beast with clamping jaws thats grab tree trunks as a automated chain-saw cuts them down than then the jaws attached to an articulated arm to stack the cut trees in a pile.

The contractors show up, grumble a bit, take photos and leave. Later the cops show up and do the same thing. Then the forest is ours. I fInd a sense triumph sitting on the machinery, so do it a lot. Big hunk of metal not destroying the forest today..

Later Reinforcements arrived so Red & I hit the road for more forest blockades across the bass straight., via a look-see around the Sea Shepherd's Farly Mowat, and onto the overnight ferry away from the mainland and back to Tasmania...