Aboriginal Elders led nearly 100 people on the now annual Walkatjurra Walk to highlight the need to protect Country from uranium mining. This year’s Walk came just months after the Federal Government gave a conditional approval for the proposed Wiluna uranium mine – the first project to get this level of approval in Western Australia.
The Walkers, which included twelve Aboriginal Rangers from Leonora, completed a three week walk from Yeelirrie to Leonora in opposition to uranium mining in the Goldfields regions. During the Walk first-timers learned about Country while those who had done the Walk before celebrated Culture.
Yeelirie Traditional Owner and chairperson of the Aboriginal-led Western Australia Nuclear Free Alliance, Kado Muir said that his peoples have been fighting for years the prospect of uranium-mining on their Country.
“We will not surrender the future and the legacy that we need to leave our children and their children by sitting idly by while uranium is mined.”
“It’s toxic, it’s dangers cannot be guaranteed against. The only safe place for uranium is to stay where it is.”
“This Walk has been about building alliances with the green movement, with the union movement and with Aboriginal communities. Each step we take is a step towards a nuclear free future for our communities,” said Mr Muir.
State Secretary of the Australian Manufacturers Workers Union (AMWU), Steve McCartney joined the Walkers on their arrival at Leonora.
“Today is the beginning of building a compact agreement between the union and the community in Leonora,” said Mr McCartney.
“We will not be walking away from this fight against uranium mining,”
The Walk’s organiser Marcus Atkinson said that there is a “growing resistance” to uranium mining across Australia and from around the world.
“People from France, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, Scotland and Germany joined in this Walk as part of a growing and united international campaign against the whole nuclear industry,” said Mr Atkinson.
The three week Walk finished in Leonora on May 26.
During the Walk they endured the dry and the wet, and for several days walked through rain. Rain had hit early from near the onset of the Walk. On the third day they set up camp at Poison Creek “as people recovered overnight” from rain, but “the overnight rain meant everything was wet” according to Mr Atkinson.
“Those with stronger constitutions walked in the wind and rain the 18kms we had planned that day.”
Nearing Kalgoorlie, Wongi Pastor Geoffrey Stokes came out to the meet the Walkers, as he does every year.
“Uncle Geoffrey brought his friend Henry up from Kalgoorlie, and we enjoyed their great company and entertaining stories, not to mention the Kangaroo tails.”
“The camp that night was in an amazing location and a stunned sunset heralded a peaceful night under the stars. As the moon was growing, our destination was getting closer to us, we were told and as Kado introduced us to a Traditional way of looking at the moon.”
The final camp on the Walk was at Kutunatu Ngurra, grounds which were established by Mr Muir’s parents “as a place for bush people to continue living on the land as they grew older.”
“Kutunatu Ngurra is a beautiful place, like a garden paradise that has been landscaped by some divine force.”
The Walkatjurra Walk continues to grow and is now part of the international calendar of the anti-uranium movement. Mr Muir will soon be leaving for three weeks in France to join the French anti-nuclear movement for their Walk against uranium-mining which likewise they believe threatens their way of life and the future too.