One stop from a 20-date tour: The people of Yamba gathered to watch Never Town screen on the side of the town’s water tower and to discuss the future of the Clarence River. Pic Jarrah Lynch
31 August 18
Report from Dave Rastovich: Good news can be hard to find. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Good people doing good work can also be hard to hear about. They are often too busy doing the work to be out beating their chests about it and demanding attention. There are a lot of uplifting stories and inspiring people living on the edge of this big brown land who deserve a tip of the hat and much more support.
This is where the idea for the surf activism movie Never Town came from. To help pockets of motivated coastal people know they belong to a larger movement that cares for this land and the ocean that surrounds it. To feel bolstered by seeing other folk, in other parts of Australia, working to protect their own ecology from threats that could undermine their way of life, and the health of their local environment.
At the same time as shining a light on grassroots activists, we wanted to celebrate what we are all striving to protect. We surf alongside great migrations of humpback whales (perhaps the greatest recovery story of any threatened species), we can all go dive or throw a line in to catch clean food for our families between surfs. We breathe clean air and can grow clean vegies. We enjoy vast sea and landscapes without human interruption. We can walk within old growth forests. We can surf while it rains at celebrated river mouths and not fear for our health. We can get lost in wilderness that puts us in our place in very real terms.
We aimed at making a movie that people would want to come and see at the local community hall in the same way we used to when any surf flick would come to town before the internet age divided us into our homes, staring at our own personal screens. Part of surfing’s heritage is the surf movie night where we all get together to hoot at the waves on the big screen, laugh and cringe at the wipeouts and talk about how we have our own local version of the waves on screen… except way bigger and better of course!
The characters in NeverTown, like Charlie Stubbs in King Island, Anna Taylor in South Australia and surfing icon Wayne Lynch are very much aware of the bigger picture in the world, but they are rightly focussed on their immediate surroundings. They know their daily world in a way only a local person can, and so who better to speak for these places, and who better to protect them? With this in mind, us surfers and coastal folk are crucial in the effort to save our environment, and the current wave of people doing so is proof that a grassroots movement of coastal custodians is surfacing all along the edge of this wild country.
As legendary author, conservationist and anarchist Edward Abbey said, “It’s not enough to understand the natural world. The point is to defend and preserve it.”