Direct action saved Terania
MT NARDI resident Neil Pike stars in the most enduring photo taken at the Terania Creek protest.
The image of Neil being dragged by the arms by two policemen was the first photo of the event in the national media.
Two of his vertebrae were fractured as a result and he was one of the first people to be arrested but his action helped spark huge public interest in the protests, leading to the rainforest being saved.
“Some time during 1975 there were signs up around Nimbin about the logging plans for Terania Creek,” he said.
“By 1979, when the loggers were due to arrive in the valley, a lot of discussion was going on at The Channon Markets.”
A market fell on a clear and warm Sunday, August 12, the day before the logging trucks were due to arrive in the valley.
Neil had a band that was booked to play at the market that day.
“There was a big rally and the protest organisers asked if they could use my PA,” he said.
“They called for people to blockade and a lot of people went straight from the market to the Nicholson property which bordered the rainforest.
“We camped there for more than a month.”
Most of the protesters advocated non-violent tactics but Neil was among a group that believed in direct action tactics used in Vietnam War demonstrations.
“Everyone was up at the bulldozer, blocking its way into the rainforest - there were cops everywhere,” he said.
“A cop told one of the protest organisers to get everyone to move down the track but I stayed where I was as most people moved off.
“That's when the two cops grabbed me and dragged me down the track to the paddy wagon - it was at least a few minutes and they fractured two of my vertebrae.”
He was taken to Lismore Police Station and was charged with 'behaving in such a manner as to cause alarm and affront to a reasonable person' and 'obstructing the free passage of a bulldozer.'
He was released on bail and returned to the forest to join the other protesters, including his sister Linnet.
The blockade was the catalyst for the NSW Government to gazette the remaining rainforest in the state, including Terania Creek, as National Park.
The effects of the blockade were far reaching. Terania was a significant regional event that had national consequences, helping to foster a growing green consciousness and an example down the years to conservationists of the power of direct action to alter government and public opinion.