Extinction Rebellion is at the iconic ruins of the Port Willunga jetty, hanging up banners.

Climate Truth Now.

Climate Act Now.

A high tide laps around the poles and the banners are lit by a glowing sunset. It looks like the ending of the world, like Venice sinking beneath the waves, a last remnant of civilization. Peaceful but infinitely sad.

Some beach walkers are pleased, some are outraged, though most relax when they realise that the banners will not damage the poles, and that they are only temporary. Photo-opportunity re-usable graffiti.

‘Anyway,’ says Julia, ‘isn’t that the whole point – that our priorities are up the spout? For goodness sake! They’re worrying about damage to a bunch of old poles when we’re about to lose the whole biosphere?’

She has less patience for public relations than Anne.

The grannies are fed up with Australia’s decades-old paralysis on the issue of climate change, with the total failure of political leadership. Does the ever-powerful mining lobby have the entire system in its pocket? Or is it simply that soon-to-be-gazetted psychological disorder called climate denial, in which the sufferer can no longer recognise truth or reality.  Whatever it is, Julia and Anne, like thousands of others around the world, have decided to shove things along by joining the Rebellion. Non-violent civil disobedience. Back to the 1960s.

Making banners is fun, a community activity, the very size of them satisfying in itself. Great big statements. The process is pleasingly low tech – sheets from the op shops, water based paint, stretchy bike tubes at the corners and old carabiners from an ex-mountain climber. They flexed their rusty political muscles by hanging them on the freeway at peak hour, a warm-up for more exciting targets like the jetty.

Occupying Parliament House takes more courage. But by now they’re getting used to the tremble of fear in the belly. And really, what can happen to them? All thirteen, mostly grandparents, sit calmly on the opposition benches, knitting, showing photos of the special children in their lives, taking it in turn to tell moving stories of what brings them there.

Increasingly senior people arrive in succession to tell them to leave. Two of the rebels greet each new arrival and patiently explain the action. The Clerk of the House, the Sergeant at Arms, messages from the Speaker. Anne wants to see the Usher of the Black Rod. She pictures someone in medieval costume, or is that only in England?

Eventually they are removed with varying degrees of force. Some of the security people are responsive to cries like ‘not that shoulder’ or ‘be careful of my knee’. Others are less sympathetic. Being dragged out, Anne finds, is both undignified and painful, since her escort has doubled up her wrist.

But the media like the event, so hopefully a point is made. First point of many to come.

Anne makes a list of everything to remember next time:

–  start with yoga

– glasses case

– driver’s licence in pocket

– wrist splints

– neck brace?

– leave hearing-aids out?

She ponders.

Oh yes.

– Stay-Dry incontinence pads

She sits up straighter, always so strengthening to have a list!

She reads it through and thinks about the long road ahead. She adds a note at the bottom.


jetty 3

[photo Lynn Lobo]