By John Stapleton. Photography by John Napper.
With numbers now in their tens of thousands at the rallying point for Convoy to Canberra, the atmosphere at the heart of Australia’s Camp Freedom is both chaotic and glorious, jubilant, exultant.
And all participants say one thing: “This is history in the making.”
Crowds line the streets of the campsite cheering the arrival of every new truck and car. “Welcome, welcome,” goes the shout.
There’s no QR codes, no masks, and signs everywhere crying “Freedom, freedom”.
Crowd estimates range between 20,000 and 100,000, with hundreds of more vehicles arriving every hour.
In the jubilant atmosphere, people spontaneously start singing:
We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come
We’ll share a dream and sing with one voice
“I am, you are, we are Australian.”
Daniel, 45, a farmer from Kempsey on the NSW mid-North Coast, said:
“Just the sheer magnitude of the gathering of the people, the smile, the loves, the togetherness of everybody. Everyone helping each other.
“I came here, I just saw the inequality in everything around me and just knew in my soul that something was wrong and needed to be brought to light. That everyone needed to gather to put light on this.
“Everybody here wants freedom from the medical tyranny and segregation. They want to have elections that are untainted. And they need stop jabbing kids, because of their level of natural immunity they don’t need to be jabbed.”
There are signs everywhere, “Hands Of My Kids”.
“You come together, and people are able to sit down and talk without the fear of being alienated, vilified, outcast from the group, because everybody is accepted.”
“To find the words to describe what I’m experiencing is quite difficult but I’ll try my best. I’ve cried the most joyful tears from being so overwhelmed in the best way possible, the love and the energy is so beautifully electric. I feel at home here surrounded by like minded souls who have now become family, the community we’ve created continues to blow my mind as I’ve watched it all organically grow and come together.
“This is what they fear the most, from strategically dividing us for many many years to now we the people bringing everyone back together, restoring the love, compassion, empathy, connection, we the people have the power to create a new world for our generations to come.”
Janaya Markwell, 25, Gold Coast.
Exhibition Park lies on the outskirts of Canberra and is a sprawling patchwork of campsites built around a racecourse.
Notices have just gone up around the site telling everyone to depart by Midday Sunday 13 February, 2022.
When asked how long they are going to stay, many of those caught up in the Convoy movement say tongue in cheek: “I’m just staying two weeks to flatten the curve.”
It was the nation’s politicians who placed millions of Australians under curfew or the equivalent of house arrest but refused to produce the medical evidence to justify their actions.
It was politicians who sent tens of thousands of businesses broke and destroyed the lives of millions of people.
What did they think was going to happen?
Below are some further scenes from inside Australia’s historic Camp Freedom by one of Australia’s leading photographers John Napper.