The franklin river campaign - 25 years on

This post was inspired by a rendition Shane Howard gave of his song Let the Franklin Flow at the Blue Mountains Blues Festival a few months ago.

25 years since the Franklin River Campaign
In July 1983 the Australian High Court ruled the Franklin Dam could be stopped by the new Federal Labour Government against the wishes of the Tasmanian State government.
Prior to this over 1000 people from all over Australia and the world had travelled down to the river site camps and been arrested in a mass act of civil disobedience.
I was there with a number of friends and it was one of the defining experiences of my life.
We camped in the rainforest near Strahan for a week or two and among the many wonderful experiences I remember meeting Bob Brown who so impressed me with his integrity that I have voted for him and the Greens ever since.
In the action where I took part we walked down a logging track ("the Crotty Road") which had been ruled Hydro Electric Commission land, meaning we were trespassing. There was some media interest as the novelist James McQueen was part of our group and the TV cameras were there. This caused some consternation at my grandparents house when their nephew appeared briefly on the Channel 7 news for his 15 seconds of fame.

Bob Brown getting ready to address the Crotty Road protest in 1983. Photo from the National Gallery Collection - Bob Brown Collection 1.

The action was well planned and we were duly arrested and bundled off to Risdon jail. Expecting to be held in the remand block we were surprised to find that it was full of "greenies" so we were put into the maximum security wing with some unsavoury characters. Those few days in a cell and an enclosed exercise area confirmed for me the wisdom of staying on the "straight and narrow". Our arrest was eventually ruled illegal and we were free to go.
The Wilderness Society has some videos on YouTube that will transport anyone who was there back 25 years to another world.

[![Franklin River Campaign Video 1][youtube]][youtube 2]
[![Franklin River Campaign Video 2][youtube 3]][youtube 4]

Franklin River Campaign Video 3


Resurgence slow sundays

The latest issue of Resurgence has arrived and it looks a beauty. At quick skim reveals the usual combination of thoughtful articles and fabulous images.

In the spirit of Ghandi's use of spinning as an act of defiance, Resurgence have chosen baking bread as the theme of their first Slow Sunday.
In each issue of the magazine we will nominate one Sunday when we invite our members to take part in simple actions that symbolise a rejection of commercialism, a passion for the planet and a desire for change.

We will take part here at Slowlane, I will have another go at the dutch oven technique that seems to have worked for many people whose previous bread making efforts produced worthy but not particularly appetising loaves. My two efforts have been ok, plenty of room for improvement though. Its not the fact that this is a no knead recipe that attracts me, rather that it promises to produce a loaf that is crusty yet chewy on the inside.


Shakuhachi festival world masters concert

Just returned from a concert that was the major public event of the 5th World Shakuhachi Festival. This gathering was a rare opportunity to see and hear some of the worlds foremost players and was an extraordinary experience.  Tonights concert featured pieces played on Shakuhachi, Koto, Shamisen and harp. A musical and accomplished Australian Aboriginal welcome ceremony was performed by Matthew Doyle. A mass playing of Temuke by the festival participants was a highlight.

All the performances were excellent, Riley Lee was superb however it was the Ajikan (meditation on the letter A) played by Living National Treasure Reibo Aoki that was the most absorbing. He had a powerful presence that brought a deep stillness to the auditorium.


Visit to hepburn springs

We're just back from a few days at Hepburn Springs in the Victorian Spa country. Its a beautiful area, quite cold at this time of year but still a rewarding place to stay and unwind.

We wanted to stay in Australia's only Ryokan (a traditional Japanese Inn) - Shizuka. It was extremely peaceful and served beautiful Japanese food, although the futon was starting to feel a bit hard towards the end of our stay!.

Hepburn Springs has a lively cafe, the Red Star, an eclectic general store and an excellent gallery, the Chameleon. I was particularly taken by some subversive prints by Nick Mau and Carole Porter, eg one work sent up the absurdity of carbon offsets for such crazy things as tourist flights to the moon, in the colour palette of soviet era propaganda.
We also ate at a funky restaurant called Cliffy's that was into slow food, most of the nights offering being variants of mediterranean slow cooked meat and veg combinations. Apparently the menu varies according to what the farmer brings in which is just how we like it. Very nice, especially washed down with the local organic pinot noir from the Captains Creek winery.

In nearby Trentham is the delicious Red Beard bakery which we visited a few times for their beautiful sourdough bread cooked in one of the few Scotch ovens remaining in Australia.


Chilly chook

While browsing the website of designer Zach Debord (found via a Make RSS post) I came across this great picture of a chook in the snow with a jumper on, she looks very cosy. Head over to their site to see more of these pictures in a slideshow.
Their blog has quite a few posts about their chickens and burgeoning interest in Permaculture.
Worth a look.

For the those with a technical bent Zach's beam robots are stunning works that merge art and electronics.

They remind me this work by Robert Klippel which featured 87 small painted objects.


Biodynamic wine in the news

Michelle Gadd of has a good summary of recent coverage of biodynamic wine in the Australia media.

With lots of recent media interest in biodynamic wine producers the rest of the world is starting to discover the absolute quality of biodynamic wines.

She is offering some excellent mixed cases of Australian biodynamic wines including the Krinklewood Vordelho mentioned here on Slowlane recently.

Her new Catalog also has a special on a mixed box of Tamburlaine organic wine. I ordered one of these a few months ago and was very pleased with the value for money.



Guerrilla bagging

Horrified to discover the damage that plastic bags were causing to our marine environment, Claire Morsman devised a plan for action - 'sociable guerrilla bagging'.

The idea is that people make reusable bags from recycled material and then give them away to friends and family or sometimes during mass handouts.
Since it began in January 2007, hundreds of people working alone or in "pods" who work together on the bags have made over 20,000 bags. Its taken off in the UK, US, New Zealand, Spain, Japan, Morocco and France.

The bags are known as Morsbags.

Check out the website here


Healing power of chooks

This post has been in my mind since I saw a wonderful program ABC TV. The program “Rare Chicken Rescue” has two themes, one is depression and the other is about rescuing rare chicken breeds. Both subjects are interesting however it was the role that keeping chickens played in rescuing Mark Tully from depression that really struck a chord.

When we lived on the North Coast of NSW we kept about 20 odd chickens and 3 ducks. Watching this mob of birds going about their daily activities was a source of endless fascination for us. If you slow down and observe with curiosity their individual characters become more apparent. Chickens have an astonishing range of movements and noises when they allowed to follow their natural patterns. I can easily understand how watching the birds can bring someone out of a downward spiral and gradually lead to some relief from symptoms of depression.

As anyone who has allowed chooks to free range around their garden will know, they have an uncanny sense of which beds to head for to disperse carefully mulched delicate plants. Roosters also seem to be able to get over just about any fence and into a vege garden.

One of the experiments we trialled was the use of “Chook Tractors”. This is an idea popularised by Bill Mollison in the Permaculture books. The version we used was a chook dome made of poly pipe and chicken wire, that was rotated over half a dozen circular vege beds (as described by Linda Woodrow in The Permaculture Home Garden). One additional benefit of the dome was that it was easy to sit next to and watch the chickens go about their business.


Finding Optimism - an award winning blog aimed at helping depression suffers and their helpers, also links to their excellent software package for the Mac that provides an easy way to maintain a daily record of your mental health symptoms and the various triggers that are associated with with them.


Frightened by voluntary simplicity

An article in the New York Times here tells of a couple who are shedding their possessions prior to starting a new life as organic farmers. What I found interesting was that they have had some hostile reactions on the blog they are keeping to document the journey. I suspect that many people find the idea of others who are stepping outside the norm and “letting it all go by” to be threatening.

As a Subaru owner and former city escapee currently back in corporate life, the cover of this book appealed to me instantly. It was brought to my attention by this review at Cool Tools. It seems an increasing number of people are setting up alternative lives and documenting their efforts in blogs and books. No complaints from me as I enjoy this genre, as long as the accounts retain an authentic feeling. Some of my favourites include Urban Dreams, Rural Realities and the Nearings classic The Good Life. More on these another time.