Friends of the Earth podcast history series made in collaboration with 3CR 855 AM community radio show Acting Up!    Monday 2.00pm.  Ratbags, peaceniks and agents of change, resistance radio that explores the movements that made us. 

45 years of Acting Up!  Friends of the Earth Radioactive Tours audio episode

Listen up mp3
Presenter: Em Gayfer.
Guests: Ila Marks, Linda Marks, Jemila Rushton, and Meryl Yusef interviewed by Phil Evans.

RAD tour Lake EyreRAD Tour Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre, South Australia

Travel with Friends of the Earth’s Radioactive Exposure Tours (RAD Tours*) to discover how nuclear testing, uranium mining and radioactive waste affects Aboriginal Traditional Owners and communities across Australia, and how solidarity wins.  The first Nuclear Exposure tour hit the road in 1990, with RAD tours continuing into 2018.  RAD Tour participants hear Traditional Owners share stories and knowledge, witness the social and environmental impacts the nuclear industry has on communities and country, building alliances and educating people along the way.  Read a brief history, listen to more podcasts and learn how we can end radioactive racism and live nuclear-free.  
*RAD Tours are not available in 2020 due to coronavirus travel restrictions.


Key moments: Friends of the Earth Radioactive Tours

1972 The first Friends of the Earth group in Australia forms at Adelaide University, campaigning on issues including French nuclear tests in the Pacific.

1974 First meeting of FOE Australia held on proposed site of a nuclear reactor on French Island in Westernport Bay, VIC, since defeated!

1975 FOE Adelaide is involved in discussions with the Australia Party and the Plumbers and Gasfitters Union, establishing the Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE).

1975-1978 Uranium moratorium era, FOE is involved in mass demonstrations Australia-wide to oppose uranium mining and nuclear energy.

1977 The Campaign Against Nuclear Energy (CANE) national bike ride protests. 

Late 1970s Indigenous land rights and uranium mining protests ramp up.  Trade Unions and activists win ALP no new mines policy.  Then three mines policy change for Kakadu, Northern Territory with Ranger, Jabiluka and Koongarra mines imposed on Mirarr people. 

1980 National movement against uranium mining grows across Australia.  In Sydney, FOE sets up a Nuclear Free Embassy in a small park near Lucas Heights.  After a brick is thrown at a tent, the Embassy moves to Glebe Island at the invitation of wharfies.
FOE Melbourne starts Musicians Against Nuclear Energy (MANE) including bands such as Redgum, Australian Crawl, The Angels, Jo Jo Zep and the Falcons, Atilla and the Panel Beaters, and the Incredible Shambles Band.

1981 20,000 people march in Melbourne against uranium mining and anti-nuclear.

1982 Victoria goes nuclear-free and FOE helps to establish the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Australia.  The world bike-ride for peace, from Canberra to Darwin, highlights Australia's involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle.

1983 – 1984 FOE plays a leading role in blockades at Honeymoon and Roxby Downs uranium mines in South Australia organised by an umbrella group, the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Australia, concentrating on hindering work on Olympic Dam operations and raising community awareness. Roxby Downs uranium mine blockades form alliances with Traditional Owners, Indigenous protesters and affinity groups, including non-violence training and women’s actions. 

1985 FOE Sydney discovers radioactive waste from a CSIRO complex in drains in a recreation park in Sydney.  Campaigns against uranium mining in Kakadu, NT continue.

1987 Friends of the Earth Anti-Uranium collective visit the Mound Springs area, northern South Australia.  Working with the Marree-Arabunna community, 120 km’s north of the Olympic Dam uranium mine, the collective take a round trip to the town at Roxby Downs to see the mine and tailings dam and learn about drastic water reduction in the Great Artesian Basin due to mining.  At Roxby Downs, the collective organises public meetings on radiation exposure levels, leaflets the entire town on worker and community health issues, organises awareness stalls with local environmentalists, and produces a performance at the Woomera Primary School involving the activists and the students.

Late 1980s Tours head to Beverley uranium mine and the Honeymoon Project, and at the invitation of Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta Traditional Owners, the tour camps at Ten Mile Creek outside of Coober Pedy, SA.  Later tours focus on stopping a nuclear waste dump proposed for the far north SA region of Woomera.  Against the backdrop of the cold war and nuclear proliferation, peace and disarmament are the focus of FOE campaigns.

1990 FOE’s Anti-Uranium collective organises the first Nuclear Exposure Tour to South Australia for people to experience the social and environmental impacts of the nuclear industry first hand, to support and learn from Aboriginal communities, and to educate people to play a role in the anti-nuclear movement.

1990s Uranium shipments from Roxby Downs blockaded in Adelaide, South Australia.

1992 FOE collaborates with the Arabunna People's Committee for a World Heritage listing of the Lake Eyre Basin. The SA Liberal government offers to host a national radioactive waste dump in the region if the federal Labor government drops the World Heritage proposal.

1995 FOE plays a key role in community mobilisations against French nuclear tests in the Pacific.

1996 FOE lobbies for the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty.

1997 Nuclear Exposure Tour participants form a collective and hold the Roxstop Action and Music Festival with over 300 people gathering at Roxby to protest against mine expansion.  Roxstop includes paintings by the Melbourne artist Lyn Hovey in the Roxby Library, and a public meeting with US epidemiologist Dr David Richardson speaking to over 120 people on the effects of low-level radiation on nuclear workers.  After three days at Roxby, protestors move to Alberrie Creek on Finnis Springs Station for a music festival held over three nights. During the day members of the Arrabunna community, including Reg Dodd and Kevin Buzzacott, hold cultural workshops and tours.  Aboriginal-led resistance rises in Alice Springs, NT, forming the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.  FOE provides ANFA secretariat support for many years organising annual meetings and other ANFA projects.  First action camp held at Jabiluka, NT.

1998 The Roxstop collective receive a fax from the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta senior Aboriginal women. “We’re trying hard about this rubbish – the radio-active waste dump. We don’t want that… We want your help! We want you to come up here to Coober Pedy and have a meeting with Aboriginal people (and any whitefellas from here who want to come)”. In September, over a dozen Roxstop activists travel from Melbourne to Coober Pedy to hold a public meeting with the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta to stop the dump. 

1999 FOE connects with senior Aboriginal women of Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, the Kungkas, who are fighting the Federal government's plan to build a national radioactive waste dump.  FOE launches the Nuclear Freeways Project to raise awareness of proposed radioactive waste transport through NSW and SA.  18 councils along the route oppose the transport of radioactive waste leading to a NSW Parliamentary inquiry report.

2000 FOE is involved in a nuclear non-proliferation review conference.

2003 FOE nominates the Kungkas for the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award, commonly referred to as the 'green Nobel prize'.  The senior Aboriginal women from northern South Australia win the major international environment prize for their efforts to stop radioactive waste dumping on their traditional lands.  Rio Tinto / ERA closes Jabiluka uranium mine and site rehabilitation begins.

2004 FOE's Radioactive Exposure Tour meets up with Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta senior Aboriginal women days after the Howard government abandons plans to impose a nuclear waste dump in South Australia.

2006 – 2014 RAD Tour articles and photos

2007 FOE's Nuclear Freeways campaign visits Canberra, Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Lithgow in NSW.

2010 Nuclear Freeways campaigners travel from Sydney and Melbourne through northern Victoria and SA, ending up at the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance meeting in Alice Springs.

2014 The Radioactive Exposure Tour travels from Melbourne to Muckaty, north of Tennant Creek NT, to the site of a proposed national radioactive waste dump.  Tour participants from Australia, India, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, England, New Zealand and France, and FOE activists celebrate with Muckaty Traditional Owners after the Federal government abandons plans to impose the radioactive waste dump after a seven year campaign.

2018 RAD Tour article and photos

2020 Friends of the Earth Melbourne: mobilise - resist – transform

Stop the nuclear waste dump at Kimba, South Australia
The Federal Government is trying to impose a nuclear waste dump on farming land in South Australia, despite the clear opposition of Barngarla Traditional Owners, many farmers and a majority of South Australians. Right now, they are trying to pass legislation which would strip Traditional Owners of their right to a judicial review. Take action with our online letter here, telling SA Premier Steven Marshall to speak up for the communities under threat and to stop the nuclear dump.

Join Friends of the Earth Melbourne’s ACE nuclear free collective

Volunteer with Friends of the Earth Melbourne

The Radioactive Exposure Tour was to depart in April 2020 but we’re staying put because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.  Instead, here are two more 3CR radio podcasts to learn about Friends of the Earth’s active history of RAD Tours and we’ll keep you posted.

3CR Earth Matters show: Roadtrip to Nuclear Australia podcast

3CR Radioactive show: History of the Radioactive Exposure Tour podcast

Women against nuclear energy