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Give Trees a Chance, 50 Years On

In 1979 Hugh and Nan Nicholson spearheaded a movement to stop the destruction of the pristine rainforest on their doorstep, Terania Creek was a landmark environmental protest.

Fast forward 45 years, to Friday night at a hall in Brunswick Heads, Nan sent a message to the more than 200 people gathered together to raise funds for the ongoing Save Wallum campaign.

Hugh and Nan Nicholson's daughter Terri sharing a message from Nan at the Save Wallum fundraiser on Friday night.Image-credit-Beverley Callow

“Dear Wallum mob, I can’t be with you today but I want you to know how excited I am that you are holding fast against further loss of this priceless coastal ecosystem.” 

“We were told at Terania nearly 50 years ago that we couldn’t win and that we should give up. We did hesitate, but then the numbers of people grew and we realised we were not the isolated weirdos that we were constantly told we were.  We had support and we had to at least have a go at saving that rainforest.

“Our learning curve was very steep but when you are keen you learn fast.  Evidence, ideas, energy, skills and even funds (eventually) started to accumulate and we knew we had a chance. 

“After years of grinding work, frustration and, finally, direct action, we won not just Terania Creek but 1000’s of hectares of other rainforest as well.

“Vested interest and governments at all levels will always tell you to give up because they want you to believe that the law and the status quo are monolithic and invincible.  But, when the numbers of defenders are great, and a critical mass is reached, then politicians who were obstructive suddenly change sides and you have won.

“You Wallum mob are now reaching that critical mass that the rainforest protectors and the gasfield free movement reached – that magical moment when people want to join the movement because they know they will be missing out if they don’t.  

“Now more than ever we need to do what you are doing at Wallum – you are working to save an ecosystem with a right to be there, plus you are encouraging countless people to develop the skills that they are going to need so that they can save even more natural places. My admiration for your work so far is immense.  Thanks for leading and inspiring a whole new cohort of people who refuse to let Nature lose.” Nan Nicholson.

The message, read out by her daughter Terri Nicholson, left all in the room with an immense feeling of hope and strength, much needed after 6 months into the campaign to Save Wallum and more than 6 weeks at the front line holding vigil

To learn more about Save Wallum or to donate please visit

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