Climate and Extinction Rally at Lakes Entrance by Tony Peck

In early November, nearly 100 people rallied in Lakes Entrance. The rally’s goal was to highlight the rising numbers of threatened species caused by logging, global warming, and other human actions against habitat: affecting our forests, swamps, lakes, oceans and plains. The rally expressed anger, fear, and frustration that even though we are in a climate emergency our governments are asleep at the wheel.

Local groups Extinction Rebellion Gippsland and East Gippsland Climate Action Network organised the rally. Fantastic support came from activists across Gippsland, Melbourne, Warrnambool, and elsewhere. Blinky, the giant fire-ravaged koala joined the rally after also being a feature in amazingly graphic climate actions in the Latrobe valley.

Blinky, 4-metres-tall and with smoke drifting from its fur and a blood-curdling cry of anguish delivered an unmissable message to onlookers, equally repelled, intrigued, and emotionally affected as they watched the rally pass. Blinky was led by a funeral director, complete with the mournful sounds of a bell tolling our disappearing native species, a walking tombstone, a greater glider, bogong moth, spotted quoll and the Sybil Disobedients representing the voices of Gippsland calling for real climate action. Signs read ‘Doing nothing risks everything’, ‘Protect native forests Stop Logging’, ‘There is No Planet B’, ‘Stand up for life on Earth’, ‘Logging fuels climate catastrophe’, ‘Climate change is a burning issue’ and ‘Albo Stop funding killer industries’.

Blinky was created in response to images of fire-affected animals, including koalas during the massive 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires that threatened the homes of many of the rally participants. More than a billion native animals as well as reptiles and birds are estimated to have died during these massive fires. As the rally travelled along the Lakes Entrance waterfront, many passers-by stopped, sharing the event via their phones. Many engaged with activists, listening to explanations of the rally and taking information sheets.

Large booming drums set the rhythm for the march, slogans called for climate action and these were interspersed with Blinky’s emotionally charged roar. The march was a truly poignant and emotional occasion, but participants came away with hope that we will still able to act as though we are in an emergency and limit warming and the existential threat.

Once the rally reached the foreshore by the footbridge there were short and powerful speeches following the acknowledgement of country. Species extinction, an end to logging, and the urgency of climate action were the key focus. A drumming workshop was the finale, with wonderful rhythmic sounds.

*the author is a member of EGCAN and XR Gippsland. Image provided by author.