Community unites against CSG
THOUSANDS of people took to the streets of Lismore on Saturday for what Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell described as a fantastic display of community unity in opposition to coal-seam gas mining.
The Rock The Gate rally and concert attracted a crowd estimated at between 6500 and 7000, delighting event organiser Amanda Doran.
"Our official count was 7000, which was more than we'd expected," Ms Doran said while the concert played on.
"There were 3000 in Murwillumbah and we thought we might get 5000, so this really is wonderful.
"It's such a beautiful day and most people are still here enjoying the music."
The street march started in Riverside Park and snaked through the Lismore CBD for nearly an hour and a half from 10am.
A number of speakers addressed the crowd, then the concert heated up with a line-up that included Dubmarine, Round Mountain Girls, Renee Simon featuring Raz Bin Sam, Mick McHugh and Many Nolan.
"Xavier Rudd has just turned up," Ms Doran said.
"A friend had called and told him he just had to be here.
"We're delighted. For me, it's about education and information for people on this issue as well as celebrating our community coming together."
Ms Doran said CSG Free Northern Rivers had a strategic plan that emphasised non-violent direct action.
"The police know what we do," she said.
"This is one of a number of events on the Northern Rivers.
"Nine weeks ago I was sitting across a table from people I've never met (on the Lismore CSG-free committee) and in that time we've pulled this off.
"And I've had such a good time. There's a lot of thinking and planning but you get energy from all the support."
Cr Dowell, front and centre under the lead banner at the head of the march, said it had been a fantastic turnout.
"This really was spectacular," she said.
"So many people took part even though there was so much else on with Saturday sport and the university race day.
"The march almost looped around on itself through the three main blocks.
"The event was blessed by wonderful weather but with this issue there would have been a big turnout even if it was pouring."
Had the event confirmed her view that there was a groundswell of opposition to CSG mining across diverse sections of the community?
"Definitely," she said.
"That became obvious to me at a meeting at Goolmangar where I saw multi-generation farmers saying they didn't want it, standing alongside people who have been involved in environmental protection on other issues in a more active way."
The police were also happy with how the event proceeded.
"We estimated the crowd in the march at 6500," a spokesman said.