Protesters move in town, VicRoads locks its doors

Protesters camped beside the Western Highway between Ararat and Buangor are calling for more time and discussion as supporters flock from across the state.

UPDATE 4:30PM:

A group of about 50 protesters have held a “sit-in” in front of VicRoads Ararat, causing staff to lock the office’s doors.

They arrived at about 3pm, also blocking access to other businesses surrounding the VicRoads office before they left when VicRoads closed at 4:30pm.

Mortimer Chiropractor – located next door – had to post a message on Facebook informing customers of the situation.

“Unfortunately, our entry is blocked by protesters. If you are booked in but do not feel comfortable entering through the crowd, please contact the clinic to reschedule,” the post said.

Former Greens MP Lidia Thorpe was helping organise the “peaceful sit-in” and spoke to AC News.

“It’s to bring attention to the issue of protection of Djab Wurrung trees and the landscape around that area,” she said.

“We’re sitting-in outside the VicRoads office, being a department of the Victorian Government who aren’t listening to the traditional owners. They’re going ahead with plans to destroy the landscape around our trees and they’re not talking to us.

“They’re only choosing to talk with a corporation that doesn’t represent us. So, we want to bring to light what is going on, show the community that we have a number of supporters with us and to put pressure on the government to do the right thing and talk to us.

“They want to talk about a treaty but you can’t talk about a treaty knowing you’re about to destroy significant trees and an area that is very special to the Djab Wurrung people.

“My message to the Ararat community is to learn the truth. Be apart of this beautiful site that is very significant to the traditional owners and embrace that connection. Learn about it, be a part of it, don’t be frightened of it.

“We want the people of Ararat to understand they can be proud of this beautiful significant site. We want them on board to feel what we feel and learn what we know about this area so that they can tell their children’s children.”

“Major Roads need to give us more time, for the Djab Wurrung women particularly, to sit with the government and find a way forward.

“We want to be able to sit down and negotiate a way forward that everyone can be happy with and that we can protect and maintain this beautiful site for the people of Ararat to enjoy and be proud of.”

EARLIER:

Protesters camped beside the Western Highway between Ararat and Buangor are preparing for their eviction as supporters flock from across the state.

An eviction notice was delivered to the camp on August 8, giving camped protesters 14 days to leave the site. Tonight, the eviction order expires, but no one is moving anytime soon.

PHOTO: Djab Wurrung Heritage Protection Embassy (Facebook)

“Old and new supporters, solidarities from everywhere. Come join us defend country, eviction order in effect as of tonight,” the Djab Wurrung Embassy shared on Facebook.