Queensland gran June Norman has walked 1200km in 80 days to raise awareness to save the Great Barrier Reef. She chats to Sunrise about her initiative. Click here to watch the video.
Reef Walk's parade of colourful banners entered Gladstone streets. The 80 day journey ends with the 72 year old great grandmother arriving in Gladstone. The 1200km walk from Cairns has passed through every town along the Great Barrier Reef coast.
“I started this journey more than a year ago, with planning and contacting other concerned people, tourist operators and fishermen all along the coast. The last few months have been some of the best days of my life. Every day I met wonderful people with passion to protect the Reef”, said June Norman.
“One thing life has taught me is there is nothing more important than family, and this journey (Reef Walk) has been one small thing I can do for my grand children. It's what every mother wants, a good future for their children, and I want my grand kids to enjoy the world and the Great Barrier Reef like I have”, says June.
The Great Barrier Reef is under threat from climate change and from Australia's coal export market and growing coal seam gas (CSG) industry. New major coal ports planned from Gladstone and the Fitzroy Delta, to Abbot Point near Mackay require millions of tonnes of sea bed dredging that is impacting turtles, dugong and dolphins.
“I just don't understand, why are we allowing international companies to come here and destroy this beautiful world heritage reef. The dredging in Gladstone should be a warning to us all, we will see dead dugong and turtles all along the Queensland coast if we don’t stop the new coal and gas ports.”
The cumulative impacts of LNG and coal projects to the reef have not been considered or quantified. The pace of industrialisation is so rapid that marine turtles could disappear before their life cycle is understood. Investigations are rapidly under way to protect Gladstone's Fitzroy Delta Subfin Dolphin before port development begins.
“All I ask is that Mr Newman and Mr Rudd stop for just one day and take a trip to the reef. Stop and feel its beauty. Perhaps then they might consider stopping this madness”,
“The coal companies are packing up and leaving; they know where the money is and it is not in coal and gas any more. I don't know much about energy but I know the future is in wind and solar energy”.
Reef Walk is a message that conveys the hopes of many Australians wanting big steps to be taken to protect the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef is home to countless marine species and the work place of thousands of Queenslanders supporting the tourism sector.
“I just hope people really think about the election. Choose who you want to vote for. Don't just pick the same old party. Look them up, call them and ask them about their policy to protect the reef,” said June Norman.
June Norman is a 72 year old grandmother of 10 and a great grandmother of 8. June and Reef Walk 2013 are asking that steps are taken towards protecting the Great Barrier Reef.
Media liaison and radio interview booking:
Derec Davies, Friends of the Earth 0421 835 587
June Norman 0438 169 414
Images available via Dropbox in request