It was the day the Council was to vote on the sale of 21 hectares of land at Mt Whitfield to a Chinese corporation for developing into an "Executive Training and Retreat" complex, featuring a hotel with 3,000 rooms, several restaurants, swimming pools, tennis court, mini golf course, squash courts and small shopping centre. It was to be one of the biggest single complexes ever built in Cairns and Cush and Horsey were to receive a substantial "fee" each for the transaction.
Cush had never anticipated the people of Cairns would react to the sale of pristine land on Mt Whitfield. As he watched the crowd growing larger by the minute, Cush thought sourly how everyone claimed to be against the greenies, but in reality supported the greenies when their own properties were threatened. Oh, yes, it was a different story then!
In fact, there were many Cairns people who really couldn't care less. The mountains around Cairns had been largely undeveloped while urban growth had been centred on the narrow coastal plain. Perhaps they thought, it was time for the mountains to be developed?
However others looked at the range of blue green mountains enveloping the city, and in their minds eye could see a huge red and yellow flag looking back at them. They enjoyed their Red Arrow and Blue Arrow walks, and the thought of those tracks being filled with thousands of Chinese executives made them angry. Oh, they were not against the Chinese mind you, but the mountains of Cairns and the Red Arrow and Blue Arrow walking tracks were part of what made living in Cairns so good.
The people of Cairns had come out, in force, in their thousands to protest. Galvanised into action by an unprecedented social media campaign. Mrs Angela Warrington-Mather, whom Cush had belitted on the radio shock jock's program two days before, had been very busy. She had made a list of all the people she knew in Cairns, obtained their phone numbers, and had spent almost an entire day and two evenings phoning all three hundred of them. Also she had SMS texted her daughter, Samantha, a student at the local James Cook University. Samantha had the same communication skills as her mother, and within an hour the entire population at the James Cook University knew Cush was going to sell Mt Whitfield to the Chinese.
The university students in turn SMS texted their friends, and within hours, people all over Cairns and the surrounds, from shopping centres, to restaurants, to loading docks, to sugar cane farms, to the Base Hospital, to schools and to day care centres, and wherever people worked or gathered, received the news. Tens of thousands of people. Cush is going to sell Mt Whitfield to the Chinese. We have to stop him!
Traffic banked up along Ray Jones Drive, and many people simply parked their cars beside the road and walked to the Cairns Regional Council offices. Traffic jams occurred along Sheridan Street and Spence Street. The police were called in to direct traffic along both Mulgrave Road and Spence Street.
It was the biggest public protest in Cairns since October 1989 when over 7,000 people attended a rally on the Cairns Esplanade to object to a huge development at Trnity Point. On that occasion, the Mayor of Cairns, Keith Goodwin, had supported the protestors and the project was scuttled.
A heavily pregnant Heather was there, holding Monsoon's hand. Ky and David from her Same Sex Parental Support Group were also there, as were the Reverend Matthew Harmon, his mother and father, Mrs Angela Warrington-Mather and all the members of her womens community service club and Siobhan, the fashion editor at "The Cairns Post", was there with her partner, Zane.
"I hope the Editor doesn't see me here," fretted Siobhan nervously. "He thinks only hippies and ratbags and mentally deranged people protest against develoments."
"He wouldn't recognise you with those huge sunnies on and that floppy hat," reassured Zane, who was proud that Siobhan had decided to make a stand and try to save the mountain.
Siobhan smiled nervously and handed Zane the Editorial from the mornings newspaper. She had torn it out and put it in her shoulder bag purposefully for him to read.