SUBJECT: The Colton Coal mine
An equally unusual 2nd interview with GILBO the DUGONG,
by JASON MAKEIG ... fr late 2017
It was 12 years ago that I received a message to meet a Dugong regarding the state of the Mary River and the proposed Traveston Dam. There was an urgency regarding the plight of ‘his’ species and that of the Mary River and many of his other animal mates who lived there. At the time, of course, I thought the email was a hoax but to my surprise on meeting up with the said messenger, I did find myself in the presence of an actual dugong - standing on a rock - in the bay opposite Fraser Island.
That interview did go ahead and can be found at Dugong Speaks Out
Gilbo the Dugong caught up with me again in 2017 with new thoughts and concerns regarding a new subject, the New Colton Coal Mine in the ecologically sensitive area of his home, the Great Sandy Strait. We caught up again on that same rock where our first interview was held.
Jason: Hullo Gilbo, I am truly surprised!
Dugong; Hullo Jason
A big hug ensued with a shudder of goodwill between us. That Dugong grin was surreal
I knew we would meet again one day. I’m stoked to be talking with you here today on this same rock. Sooo much water under the bridge (bay – LOL)
As a local resident of the waters of Hervey Bay, you say you have a new important message to tell me extending from the information you gave me from our last interview about the proposed Mary River Dam. WE-the-people won that battle for you so you must be pretty happy about that?!
(Gilbo clenched his flipper/fist and raised it high in the air as a sign of solidarity and collaborative success)
Thanks for that, big-time! You activist humans did an awesome job for us and all the Great Sandy Strait underwater folk … Some Total legend, passionate minister and not-so-ex-eco-rocker in parliament gave it the thumbs down I hear … … so anyway, yeah the possibility of another potential ‘extinction event’ of our species was definitely a major fear then … Phew what a story! … but moving on we have this new threat looming now, I just can’t believe it!!!
(Gilbo was quite forlorn looking all of a sudden and developed a few wrinkles on his forehead)
I’m all ears?
Well there’s a coal mine planned for the Great Sandy Strait. (GSS) and simultaneously there is talk of extending the World Heritage area to encapsulate the Great Sandy Strait …at the same time. Can you believe it?!
Human: I am aware of this but, please, tell me more?
Well then as you may know, a company called New Hope has successfully put in a 2nd application to the State Government to dig up coal from the Susan River Catchment area near the town of Aldershot, which flows directly into the Mary River and then into the Great Sandy Strait. The company has claimed that it has made sufficient ecological considerations in its ‘lukewarm’ Environmental Impact Statement. But has it?!
Our problem is in major rain events with the discharging of the mining waste into the planned holding reservoirs and the lack of overall water management. There are a whole lot of other issues to think about as well with the plight of us dugongs and our dolphin, whale, manta-ray, turtle and shark mates and all those guys up the Mary River we discussed all those years ago. A thousand hectares of land to be cleared too – well, its on again!!!
Gilbo became a little theatrical in a body/eye-movement wiggle so as to emphasise his point …
I hear there has been a lot of activism already with many groups on the Sunshine Coast to Bundy. Had you heard?
Well yes… we live in Cooran and know a few people in those groups - they are all quite passionate about a lot of mining threats.
GIlbo looked a bit sheepish and puppy-like at the thought of a lot of people being already up-and–at ‘em on his behalf and for all the rest of his mates.
Ok I hear you ‘brud’… There’s going to be a ‘flash-point’ before too long. I can just feel it!!
Gilbo clenched his flipper and bent over in a seemingly forward arched expression of passion with flipper curled and clenched, then continued talking.
By the way, has anybody consulted with the Butchulla Indigenous People on the mine?
Gilbo stared pensively into the great yonder across to Fraser Island then looked back to the mouth of the Mary before speaking.
Ok so we’re both on the same page. Let’s look at where we think this has to go.
Gilbo returned from his deep-thoughts on pending conflict.
The issue of our plight with the seagrass will come up no doubt, with the potential silt clouds from the surface mining runoff, now poisoned and then blocking sunlight to the seagrass. We faced extinction 26 years ago due to siltation alone, so with added poison payload?!… That’s us, gone!!!
Gilbos eyes rolled around in horror … he shuddered at the thought but managed to maintain his composure although I detected a tear in his eyes as he paused at this point in silence for several more awkward seconds. He continued…
So here are some quick surmises, then I’ve gotta go so …
1. There’ll be another government announcement declaring that the mine can go ahead maybe?
2. There’ll be more activism, potential court action and street marches, concerts and rallies.
Gilbo exclaimed in the air with a little mini jig and flipper rhythm. (I felt happy he had recovered from that minor anxiety attack!) More empowered he continued.
3. There’ll be people coming out of the woodwork making a stand as the heat gets turned up.
4. There’ll be stories popping up in your media.
5.There’ll be coverage of the violations against our internationally recognised Ramsar Wetland Area; The Fraser Island World Heritage area and The Great Sandy Marine Park.
6. Your United Nations may even step in and make a statement too especially in light of their new plans for World Heritage listing?! So there you go!
Gilbo shuddered again.
He continued slowly: It’s all a waiting game at this stage and it seems that being active at whatever stage is the way ahead, keeping the spirit alive as the campaigns spread far and wide! I’ll be talking more with my seagoing mates to get each of their personal impacts as they see it.
Do you think the mine will go ahead?
Gilbo quoted from our last interview 12 yrs ago. (It seemed he knew exactly what he was talking about regarding assessing things on-the-ground.)
Dugong: As with the DAM, that will depend on the groundswell of your public education and passion, the attention that your science will get in corridors of power and how all your people will be most effective in spreading the word and getting communities together such as letter writing to ALL the Pollies, MP’s and media…
Gilbo paused in introspection thinking of such implications.
I hear there’s a great new initiative being played out as we speak i.e. the idea of whole-community declarations against CSG and COAL. Seems like there are human communities far and wide out there doin’ it, and shutting their local areas to the fossil fuel industries, and being successful. How amazing is that?! The governments have no ability to stop people making such declarations. This is very exciting and reassuring from our point of view!!!
Well, guess what? That’s what we’re doin’ in Cooran right now as we speak, and it’s all happening and so far, it’s been incredibly positive and successful.
Gilbo’s eyes lit up with a deep joy and visible signs of appreciation … his flipper waved rhythmically at the thought and it seemed to pick up his spirits.
So it’s all on for young and old! ‘May the force be with us’ as I hear them say in their warrior empowerment quote.
Gilbo was getting to the end of his oration. I could see all he wanted was to get back into the water and do Dugong stuff. Anyway I could see the sun was starting to heat and dry up his skin, so I concluded quickly.
Ok mate, we can meet again soon for a shared update. Good ‘onyu’ for catching up and sharing your feelings. I’ll let a few people in on our discussion. Cheers! And “keep your spirit alive”, I said in parting.
Dugong: Ok thanks for listening!
Gilbo gave me a big hug with his flippers and then quickly did a dive off the rock and was gone into the depths without much of a splash, just a funny ‘gluoop’ noise and then nothing … the silence was thick with all of Gilbo’s thoughts running full-tilt around my mind and the water continued to gently ‘guloop’ at my feet. I rock-hopped back to the beach and also, was away.
With the Fraser Island waterways presence all around me and in the air, it felt good to catch up with Gilbo. Once again, I felt I had just been goaded by an extra-ordinary fish...