The fight to protect takayna/Tarkine has been ongoing for more than 40 years.
On 27 November 2018, this campaign reached a climax at a community rally on the lawns of Parliament House in Hobart. More than 500 Tasmanians turned out to demand action for takayna. The rally was also a moment of celebration to thank the 254,246 people from 137 countries who signed Patagonia’s petition demanding Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman nominate takayna/Tarkine for World Heritage protection.
Photos: Jarrah Lynch - Campaign supporters' faces were projected on trees
Photos: Jarrah Lynch - screening of takayna
The evening began with a screening of Patagonia’s film takayna while the crowd began to trickle in and populate the lawns of Parliament House. People of all ages brought picnic rugs, their dogs, bicycles and placards and settled in for speeches from Dr Bob Brown, campaigner Scott Jordan, Tasmanian Aboriginal community leaders and a light show that illuminated the trees and Parliament House.
Heather Sculthorpe, CEO of the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre, opened with a Welcome to Country. She paid tribute to her community’s elders and spoke of the historical invasion, genocide, colonisation and ongoing dispossession of the Tasmanian Aboriginal people. Sharnie Read, an Aboriginal educator, also joined her on stage explaining why she has become involved in the campaign to protect takayna.
Photos: Jarrah Lynch -Scott Jordan from the Bob Brown Foundation
“I’m not a political activist or anything… but when you see the impact that politics can have on the importance of Country, and the lack of understanding of that importance, there are times when you do have to step into that political realm… The takayna isn’t just a beautiful coastline that we don’t want wrecked by 4WDs, it actually tells the story, the history of this island, of lutruwita [Tasmania].”
Scott Jordan, a campaigner for the Bob Brown Foundation, spoke of the forest defenders who man the blockade camp in the Sumac region of the Tarkine to protect the forests from logging. “We have got a new generation of heroes right now, camping in the forests of the Tarkine, defending them from this State Government that wants to go ahead and destroy those areas.”
Photos: Jarrah Lynch - Sharnie Read from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
As the sun began to set, Dr Bob Brown climbed onto the stage to round out the speeches for the evening.
“What a great privilege it is to be alive in 2018 pursuing the defence of this environment, of this Tarkine… We are on the move! It will be protected. Tasmanians, Australians, people around the world, are coming to the defence of the Tarkine. The question of whether the Tarkine will be protected, be World Heritage, be back in the hands of the Aboriginal people, is not a question of if, but when. And the more we get active, the sooner that will be. So, let’s save the Tarkine!”
The trees surrounding the lawns of Parliament lit up with faces of Tarkine campaign supporters. The footage included people from 16 different countries explaining in their own language why they feel the Tarkine should be protected. Some wanted protection for the rich Aboriginal cultural heritage along takayna’s coastline, while others wanted it protected for the Tasmanian devils, the giant freshwater crayfish and the Wedge-tailed eagles that call the Tarkine home.
The final act for the evening was a light projection onto Parliament House demonstrating the global support for this campaign. The skies broke, and rain began to fall but the crowd rallied and cheered as the words “254,246 for takayna” were projected onto the building where elected representatives daily make decisions to ensure the destruction of some of the most globally significant natural and cultural heritage values in the world. This rally sent a clear message to those who have a duty to protect wilderness on our behalf.
Photo: Jarrah Lynch -Dr Bob Brown
Since the release of Patagonia’s film takayna in June 2018, there has been a crescendo of voices from around the world who are demanding that the Tasmanian State Government take action and nominate takayna/Tarkine for World Heritage protection – 254,246 to be precise. For decades, this campaign has largely been confined to Tasmania. But this is no longer a local issue, it is a global movement to protect this ancient, wild and threatened place.
The day after the rally, the Leader of the Tasmanian Greens, Cassy O’Connor tabled the petition in Parliament. According to Parliamentary records, this is the largest environmental petition ever in Australia’s history. In her speech, Ms O’Connor threw her support behind the rally stating, “… I acknowledge the Tarkine defenders gathered in their hundreds on the lawns of Parliament last night. I congratulate them and thank them for bringing their protest and their campaign back to the lawns of Parliament.”
Exactly one week later, Federal Greens Senators Nick McKim and Peter Whish-Wilson presented the petition to the Australian Senate, by which stage more than 270,000 people had signed it. “…270,000 people signing this petition shows the depth of feeling and the desire around the world for this beautiful part of Tasmania to be protected under World Heritage listing on behalf of all humanity.”
Photos: Jarrah Lynch - Screening of takayna
The fight is not over, and Patagonia will continue to support the Bob Brown Foundation, the campaigners, the frontline forest defenders and the Tasmanian Aboriginal community in demanding action and world heritage protection for takayna, one of the last wild places on Earth.