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Main : Australia, Australian history, ecology, history, non-fiction


ISBN: 9781742199061
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The Coral Battleground
Judith Wright
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… the Great Barrier Reef is still the closest most people will come to Eden.

–Judith Wright


The Great Barrier Reef lies off the coast of Queensland: 2000 kilometres of spectacular coral reefs, sand cays and islands, Australia’s most precious marine possession. Teeming with life, it covers 350,000 square kilometres.

In the late 1960s the Reef was threatened with limestone mining and oil drilling. A small group of dedicated conservationists in Queensland – John Büsst, Judith Wright, Len Webb and others – battled to save the Ellison Reef from coral-limestone mining and the Swain Reefs from oil exploration. The group later swelled to encompass scientists, trade unionists and politicians throughout Australia, and led in 1976 to the establishment of a guardian body: the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

That it still survives is a legacy of activists, artists, poets, ecologists and students.  In 1967 they were branded as ‘cranks’; now they should be recognised as ‘visionaries’. 

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"Where is the fire in their belly?" Judith Wright asked me of the millions who claim to be environmentalists but do nothing or, worse still, vote for the wreckers. Her Coral Battleground is a call to action from last century to save the Great Barrier Reef from ending up as a barren ruin this century. This book is a classic of ecological literature.

Bob Brown, Environmentalist and former Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens
It will come as a surprise to most people that so many of the issues confronted in the 1960s by the doughty campaigners against drilling for oil on the barrier reef are still alive. We will have to be as determined and as persistent as they if we are to protect what is now a World Heritage Site from pollution, dredging, dumping, coral bleaching and pest species.
Germaine Greer, author of 'White Beech'

Just as Rachel Carson's Silent Spring inspired a generation to protect the natural environment from destructive practice, so another generation in Australia was galvanised by the first major conservation campaign to save the Great Barrier Reef. Judith Wright, one of the key participants in the battle, comprehensively documents this campaign in The Coral Battleground.

Suzie Smith, Secretary, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland Cassowary Coast - Hinchinbrook branch

Table of Contents

Publishers’ Preface xi

Foreword, 2014 by Margaret Thorsborne, AO xvii

Foreword, 1996 by Judith Wright xxi

Foreword, 1977 by Judith Wright xxiii

Introduction xxv

1 The First Manoeuvres 1

2 The Government, Science and the Reef 15

3 Move and Counter-move 27

4 Tragedy Abroad 43

5 Geologists versus Biologists 56

6 People Take a Hand 74

7 The Unions Move In 94

8 A Halt, and a Surrender 109

9 Quarrels and a Victory 120

10 From Torres Strait to Canberra 134

11 We Get Reinforcements 149

12 The Fight That Should Not Have Been Needed 162

13 Four Years of Looting 181

14 Finale Without an Ending 187

Postscript 191

References, Sources and Bibliography 197

Index 200

Acknowledgements 205

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