I didn’t want to go. I really didn’t. As a bit of an introvert who is sometimes socially awkward with occasional anxiety issues the prospect of driving hours to Canberra so I could sleep in my car and then walk around in the hot sun for hours with a bunch of strangers didn’t seem like it’d be a lot of fun for me. Yet deep down in my inner self I was feeling compelled by my conscience. The freedom movement in Australia had been putting the call out for a week or so to support the Convoy to Canberra and I knew that the march on Saturday 12th February 2022 was potentially going to be a big moment, maybe even a pivotal moment in the Australian struggle for freedom. All week I had been asking myself – “What if this is our big shot and nothing comes of it?” - Well, I’ll regret not going. I can’t be unhappy about people sitting on their couches doing nothing, if when the time came I did nothing too. Then I was asking myself – “What if this is our big shot and it changes everything?” - Well, I’ll regret not going. A pivotal moment in history passing me by and I’ll have missed it. Eventually I realised that no matter what came of the Convoy to Canberra, I was going to regret not going. I simply had to go....
The drive for me was just under 3 hours. A decent trip that I thought needed an overnight stay and I was intrigued by the reports coming out of the Freedom Camp set up at EPIC (Exhibition Park in Canberra) so if I was going I wanted to stay in the camp and see it all for myself first hand. I got on my way on Friday morning, hoping to get ahead of the evening flood of traffic and I was just 1 guy in 1 car rocking out to Metallicas “...And Justice for All” album for the first hour or so of the trip. It was after a rest stop outside of Goulburn that I was passed by a couple of big cars with flags and freedom messages scrawled on their windows. I soon realised there were a couple more passing me – a convoy of 5 cars was humming down the Hume Highway together. I knew they were going where I was going so without hesitation I tailed on to make it a convoy of 6. That’s when I first really felt it. I was part of it.
Arriving at EPIC was amazing. At the entrance was a guy in a hi-vis vest so I stopped and called out the window “Is there any room in there mate?” and his response was “I dunno, you’ll have to go have a look”. At the time I thought it was strange because I thought he’d be some kind of traffic marshal for the camp but later it made sense – there was nobody in charge here. It was kind of a beautiful chaos. People were wandering around everywhere, lining the dirt back roads of the camp and they were all smiling, laughing, clapping and cheering the new arrivals. I eventually got to the back of the camp, found an empty bay and parked. Within a couple of hours that bay would be full of campers and not long after that the whole camp had hit capacity. I’d made the right call in leaving home early.
Whenever I go somewhere new the first thing I always like to do is reconnaissance. So I chucked on the backpack and headed out into the camp proper to get my bearings and check things out. The camp was massive and I don’t even know how long I spent walking around talking to people. Nearly every car had signs and messages scrawled on them, nearly every person had a message on their shirt (including me) and there were flags EVERYWHERE. I walked past one lady who seemed to be cheerily directing and advising new arrivals and I asked if she was the welcome wagon for this area. She said she was just camping nearby and decided to help out because she saw a need. It was another clue for me, but the penny still hadn’t really dropped yet. I met another guy from Victoria who had lost his job and had been at the camp for over a week. I was asking him for directions to the camp HQ and afterwards he was almost in tears as he thanked me for being there. That was the thing that really grabbed me - Everyone seemed to just be so happy to be there, and even MORE happy that you, a complete stranger, were there with them. The vibe was really quite amazing and difficult to describe. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it.
I made my way down to what I thought was the camp HQ, but in many ways it didn’t really exist. There was a meeting place, first aid area, a kitchen, a message board and a couple of pop up stalls selling wood fire pizza and printed t-shirts. I’d been told there was usually a daily meeting and todays would be at 6pm, so I took up a great position nearby to grab a couple of photos and waited. It was possibly the 2nd girl who took the microphone during the “Housekeeping” part of the meeting who mentioned “Self-Governance” while going through a few camp issues, asking for people to be aware and explaining that we all had responsibility to make things work….and finally the penny dropped. This was a glimpse into what a functioning Anarchy might look like. It hit me like a slap to the forehead. Of course! This is part of The Great Awakening – The realisation that we need to find solutions ourselves instead of always looking for leaders to do things for us and tell us what to do.
There were a few speakers to address the crowd but one of the standouts for me was Bruce Paix – a former Military Doctor who had been arrested and jailed on an alleged minor traffic offence earlier in the week. I had thought he was still in jail so I was pretty happy to see him at the camp and he went on to explain how he had been released that morning after spending 6 days in solitary confinement because he refused to sign the unreasonable bail terms that police had put to him. I had thought after Monica Smit the Australian police had stopped using this tactic to try and silence dissenters but I was wrong. They had also denied him access to his medications until the last day, which I personally find abhorrent, even criminal, but knowing what we are up against none of these dirty tactics really surprise me any more. I stayed to hear a few speakers and then headed back to my car to try and get an early night. I knew it was going to be a big day tomorrow and I would need whatever sleep I could manage. My plan was to get up at the crack of dawn and try to get another head start on the crowd…
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