Greening 2, Bob Brown, April 30

Bob Brown in Bellingen

Strangler figs in Maam Gaduying (Meeting Place park) Bellingen

Bob Brown has been a key actor in Australian environmental activism for the past fifty years (since a rafting trip down the Franklin River and the campaign to save Lake Pedder). Yesterday, he was at a screening of The Giants (a 2023 film by Laurence Billiet and Rachael Antony), a tremendous tale of his life and the forests he loves, and at 78 is still battling to protect. I didn’t know his father was a police sergeant in Bellingen when he was a teenager. He reminisced about canoeing up the Bellinger and joining the surf club at North Beach aged 14. Where he has just been for a paddle, ‘Boy the water’s warmer here than it is in Tassie, I can tell you that.’

In the film he says ‘I’ve had shots fired in my direction . . . I came out of jail on day, the next day I was elected into Parliament.’

Bob Brown, SWIFF film festival, Mem Hall, Bello

When asked at the Q&A for his advice on what to do about the environmental issues, Bob said. ‘Yes, the world is in trouble but you have to look after yourself. And look, above all, if you are going to be a campaigner, have fun.’
‘Don’t get too anxious. Look after yourself. Find good companions. Finish your degree or your certificate. Travel. Go to parties to make sure you’re enjoying life. And if the going gets too tough, go shopping.’

Enjoyment – reminding me of something the anarchist environmentalist Edward Abbey wrote in 1976: ‘One final paragraph of advice . . . It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there . . . ramble out yonder and explore the forests.’

Bob also said, if you are going to do something about the environment, ‘now is the time to do it.’
He is now working to save the Tarkine, the world’s second-largest temperate rainforest and invited the audience to visit for a holiday, saying, ‘I have my tent packed and am ready to go.’
‘If thoughtful people who otherwise feel hopeless about the plight of nature come away thinking, ‘I’m going to take action’ or ‘I’m going to start funding action or change my vote’, then it will have been worthwhile.’

The film – and Bob – got a standing ovation which drowned out the last words of the film. I asked Bob what they were, he took his microphone and walked over to his partner Paul in the audience, who said something like, it was about Bob planting a seed that was going to grow bigger and bigger.

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