Surfbeat: Surfers protest at Bells Beach

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Surfbeat: Surfers protest at Bells Beach

Last column I wrote about surfers coming together 50 years ago to protect Bells Beach. Last weekend surfers came together again at Bells Beach to protest against proposals by the Adani Company to mine coal in Northern Queensland and then ship it out through the Great Barrier Reef (with $1 billion of taxpayer funds to help kick things along).

The surfing community takes issues around protecting the environment very seriously and this wasn’t the first time surfers had protested about environmental issues.

In 1986 a number of surfers were pretty annoyed about the Cold War and nuclear powered US ships sailing into Sydney Harbour. Enter surfer Ian Cohen who gained international media attention when he paddled in front of the US destroyer USS Oldendorf before grabbing onto the front of the ships bow as it sailed into Sydney Harbour.

Around the same time surfers around Australia were unhappy with the amount of raw sewage being pumped into the waters around Australia. Plans to build a huge ocean outfall in Coffs Harbour were thwarted by surfers who constructed a large three metre long ‘poo’ out of chicken wire and paper and then rammed it into the front doors of the local Coffs Harbour Shire… That got the attention of the politicians and the outfall was knocked back (and the giant poo stayed jammed in the doors of the council building for three days).

Locally members of the Surfrider Foundation took to floating their own large poo made from recycled surfboards down the Yarra River and out into the sea off Lorne.. once again protesting against ocean pollution. The Lorne ‘poo’ affectionately known as ‘Terry The Turd’ would appear at numerous rallies along the Surf Coast over the next five years.

In the mid nineties members of Surfers Appreciating the Natural Environment unfurled a large banner down the cliffs at Bells Beach denouncing uranium mining in Australia.

Also in the mid nineties a number crazy surfers from Surfrider Foundation painted their butts in the colours of the French flag and bared all to protest against nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

And so on Sunday 8th October over 300 surfers and beach lovers gathered at Bells Beach to protest against the Adani Company. Surfers might seem like a pretty laid back group of individuals… but threaten the ocean, threaten the land and they will soon gather to make their opinions loud and clear!

By John Foss