Three months have passed since we launched from Birraranga/Narrm in May and a lot has happened for us and in the world in that time. The very start of our journey was not easy, as Kindred Spirit, one of the dedicated flotilla boats travelling with us, was destroyed in a car accident. We needed to adapt to the new circumstances and continue partly as land convoy on our way up. We weren’t going to give up no matter what! On election day we paid a visit to the illegal government in Kirribili House in Warrang to serve them an eviction notice. An important part of our message is that we don’t accept the colonial power as legitimate governing power on this continent. Joined by South Coast Yuin Elder, Lyle Davis, we sent a clear message against the ongoing occupation of this land. The results of the elections were a major blow to the men, women and children on Manus, Nauru and in onshore detention centres. Immediately after the elections, a wave of suicide attempts and self harm swept Manus, reaching over a hundred. With Liberals and their racist policies, refugees everywhere struggle to hold onto hope. But this government is bad news for everyone, because their politics are geared at supporting the rich and powerful elite, not the future of our planet or those is need. Environmentally destructive projects such as the Adani mine became so much closer to reality and the urgent need to address climate change, for the sake of this continent as well as all of the Pacific, isn’t going to be addressed by this government’s term.
As sad as this turn to conservative right wing politics is, it necessarily gives us a further push to take direct action, to organise from the bottom up, to work in solidarity with each other and to strengthen our communities so that we can affect positive change despite of “our government” heading in the opposite direction. As such we felt the need to go to Manus more than ever before. We continued our land journey through Brunswick Heads, where we’ve brought a Disco Boat out on the river and connected with the local community. We followed onwards to Meanjin, where we paid a visit to Potatohead’s office with a creative SOS Manus message in the bottle and connected with Seed Mob to protest the APPEA conference. We then caught up with Lazy Jack in Hervey Bay and began to work on getting it ready for the mission. Since then, this beautiful boat became our flagship. The Gimuy crew on the ground visited Border Force for World Refugee Day as the rest of us sailed up to meet them. On our way we visited Emu Park, the Adani blockade camp and sailed past the Shoalwater war-games grounds.
Since Lazy Jack’s arrival in Gimuy, we’ve connected with the West Papuan community for the Biak massacre anniversary vigil and the 1st of July celebrations; we organised a gig on the wharf and a ‘meet the boat’ event; participated in the #6YearsTooLong Manus vigil, climate justice protests and other local events; we’ve been collecting donations and supplies for the journey; continued to improve the vessel to ensure its safety on the ocean; and we’ve been working on important connections and networks in PNG and beyond.
Some of us are currently working on a new addition to the flotilla, while a couple of other boats are already quietly on-route. We learnt and continue to be reminded that the nature of sailing is to depend on the powers beyond any of our control – the ocean and the weather. Many unexpected and unforeseen circumstances meant that our journey is prolonged, but we are not going to stop.
We want to thank everyone who donated their time and their money as well as everyone who sent messages to the men on Manus and supported us along the way! With your financial support we travelled a huge 3463 km, we have all the safety equipment necessary for the journey, hundreds of Aboriginal Passports, donations of electronics and all the necessities for boats. We still need your help to support the final stretch of our journey through Papua New Guinea!
Some of the costs involved (estimated amounts):
Medical and other donations for refugees on Manus ~ $2000
Material support and travel costs for activists and refugees that we are meeting in PNG ~ $6500
Further travel costs and accommodation for Indigenous Elders to participate in cultural exchange with Indigenous chiefs in PNG ~ $3200
Upkeep of satellite phones for communication between flotilla vessels and land crew ~ $1000
Emergency fund for boat repairs and maintenance ~ $10000
Gifts for the communities in PNG ~ $800
We are continuing to fundraise here, please support by visiting Chuffed, sharing with your friends and via social media!