WE WERE THERE: Covering the Bentley blockade
WHEN the State Government announced on a Thursday morning in May 2014 they were suspending Metgasco's licence to drill for gas at Bentley, the combined tension of thousands of protesters was released with an almighty shindig.
On the scene as the celebrations unfolded, The Northern Star reported that local Jarrah Keenan had got wind of the news via radio while half-asleep in his car.
When he roamed around excitedly telling his fellow camp members, at first they couldn't believe it.
"Then there was jubilant celebration and cheering broke out across the camp," he said.
Drums played, protesters embraced, and group sing-alongs took place.
The spontaneous party was the culmination of more than two years of snowballing protest against Metgasco and the CSG industry.
What started with a murmur in 2010 with a few people had reached fever pitch by the time the company announced its plans to drill an exploration well at an old dairy property at Bentley, 15km west of Lismore.
Bentley would become the third major blockade against Metgasco's exploration program after Glenugie, north of Grafton, and Doubtful Creek, west of Kyogle.
Protestors drew up sophisticated plans, setting up camp on a neighbouring property to the planned drill site several weeks before the scheduled drilling operation.
"Camp Liberty", as it became known, became a hive of activity as "D-day" in May approached.
Local musicians and elected councillors, and national protest leaders and filmmakers turned out to pay their respects to the anti-gas cause and inspire the masses, and document history.
By the time May rolled around, thousands of people from Kyogle to Byron Bay put their time aside to show up. What began as a protest had become an iconic social movement. A slice of history in the making.
Arguably because the protest movement showed such strength and conviction, the government was forced to pull back from the brink after originally intending to deploy a police force of up to 800 officers.
It was unprecedented stuff.
Of course officially the Minister for Resources Anthony Roberts denied "people power" was a factor in the last minute decision.
But it seemed obvious to those on the ground the government couldn't afford the scandal of spending millions of dollars and thousands of hours of police time clamping down on a democratic protest, not to mention the potential risk to public safety.
Better to lose a court case as they ultimately did by suspending Metgasco's license unlawfully for "inadequate community consultation".
Time will tell if Bentley was the defining battle in the fight against the CSG industry, but whatever the outcome it has already become a landmark feature of Northern Rivers history.