A trickle of environmentalists and local farmers soon grew to a torrent of concerned citizens from all walks of life - business people, activists, grandmothers, teachers, musicians, nurses, local indigenous mob – and through this unlikely alliance, a wide-scale social movement was born.
Following a series of increasingly dramatic blockades, Metgasco, an unconventional gas exploration company, threw down the gauntlet. They announced their plans to commence drilling a “conventional gas” well on a farmland property in Bentley, a peaceful stretch of country, just 12 minutes’ drive from the township of Lismore.
The community’s response has now become the stuff of legends. From out of this cow paddock rose a highly organised, self-governing tent city – complete with meeting halls, kitchens, cafes, toilets, nurseries and strict codes of non-violent conduct. But with an undertaking of this scale, and in such an energy-charged environment, conflict and drama was inevitable, and there were many challenges as strong personalities clashed, cultures collided and emotional strains were pulled to breaking point.
Labelled by the government as ‘radical extremists’, these people, however, were not your usual suspects. Here at Bentley stood an army of mainly once conservative, every-day Australians uniting with their entire community to fend off the mining threat and protect their land, air and water. They felt they had no choice.
The bravest locked themselves onto cement fixtures blocking the way into the site. Each morning they gathered before dawn at ‘Gate A’ to rally together, set themselves to the tasks of the day and sing the songs that would become their protest anthems. High-profile musicians gave regular pop-up concerts to the delight of the campers, “Simmos” and day-trippers alike. Metgasco and their political supporters rallied too and a growing police force waited in Lismore for orders to break up the blockade. A daily sms message was sent out with the latest intelligence and the community showed up in droves, time and time again, to face the music. The stage was set and over 850 riot police with horses were on standby in Sydney, with orders to remove the protectors.
Told through the eyes of the protectors over a four-year period and intercut with fresh insight from some of the world’s leading social commentators, this now famous standoff at Bentley forces us to ask the question- what is truly valuable? [https://www.facebook.com/thebentleyeffectmovie]