In early December 1983 far north Queensland was the lead story on the news just about every night. The Douglas Shire Council, with the support of the Queensland Government, began to push a road through pristine rainforest in the Daintree, north of Cairns.
The road had been proposed a number of times over three decades, but the sudden move to begin construction caught many by surprise and set off almost a year of protest in the Daintree rainforest. At its peak, there were confrontations between police and protestors, environmentalists maintaining vigils high up in the trees or buried up to their necks in soil, trying to block bulldozers.
This weekend, the blockade will be remembered at a 30th anniversary event at Ferntree Rainforest Lodge and many of the original protestors will be there.
While it ultimately failed to prevent the construction of the road, the blockade gave the Daintree a national, even an international profile that gave birth to the now lucrative tourism industry locals couldn’t begin to imagine back then. And it eventually led to the region getting a world heritage listing.
LISTEN to the story of the Daintree blockade here