Last year I wrote about plans by Equinor to drill for oil in the Great Australian Bight.
The companies own modeling shows that if there was an accident, oil could be spread from the Bight along the coasts of South Australia, Victoria and possibly into New South Wales as far up as Port Macquarie.
The prospect of some of our most beautiful and iconic surf locations being covered in black sludge has united coastal communities from one end of the country to then other.
Sunday 3rd March will go down in history as the day almost 7,000 surfers around Australia paddled out at 12 beaches to protest against Equinor’s plans.
One of the biggest rallies was held in Torquay which has a history of punching well above its weight when it comes to a good old community march. In 2009 over 2,500 people came together for the infamous Red Rally where the community expressed their outrage at plans by the local council to develop the entire Spring Creek Valley from Torquay to Bellbrae. A few years back over 1,000 people attended a rally at Fisherman’s Beach in support of sharks who were getting a heap of poor press at the time (attacking surfers will do that to your image).
Sunday 3rd was the big one. The weather was hot but not too hot and cloud cover provided relief from the sun. From 10.30am people started to descend on Torquay Front Beach with every kind of surfboard imaginable under their arms. Whole families could be seen walking to the beach carrying surfboard, longboards, paddle boards, boogie boards… anything that could float.
By mid-day there were an estimated 3,000 people on the beach and grassed areas as local surfer Damien Cole stepped up with a megaphone to inform and inspire the local community.
And then suddenly people on surfboards started to hit the water for the paddle out.
First ten, twenty, fifty and finally hundreds of surfers hit the water and headed east… following a large mock up of an oil rig strapped to an even bigger stand up paddle board. It was amazing sight…. this huge number of people hitting the water and paddling as one to a fixed point in the middle of the bay. Hundreds and hundreds of surfers young and old… coming together with a common cause and strong sense of community.
After the paddleout a few of us stood on the beach and tried to make sense of the numbers. 1,000, 2,000 how many had paddled out? After looking back over the photos and drone footage we settled on 2,000+.
That’s a lot of people in a coastal town telling a Norwegian oil company… to shove it!
Photo by Ed Sloane Photography.