The Coral Battleground: New Edition


Publication Date: 1 May 2014
Format: Paperback / softback

ISBN 9781742199061

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    Reviews and Awards

    "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

    It's a rousing, David and Goliath story about a grassroots campaign up against the might of multinational oil companies and the government, and a timely reminder that the battle is yet to be won.

    —Fiona Capp, The Age


    The book documents the fight that was put up by a group of poets, artists and ecologists to save the Great Barrier Reef from oil drilling. It's a remarkable story being re-published in the midst of another attack on the Reef as oil tankers and an increasing number of coal freighters are plying its waters in the newly-built super ports.

    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’.