The first Drug War Freedom Ride


Journeys for justice are as perennial as the seasons of injustice.

The first Drug War Freedom Ride, which toured the jails of New South Wales, Australia, during July, August and September 2000 was another in that fine and ancient tradition.

Its aim was to bear witness to the inexorably rising prisoner population that is a consequence of the drug prohibition policies into which our governments federal, state and local, had been locked by the US alliance.

The Freedom Ride was a collaboration between the Sydney based prisoner action group, Justice Action, and the Nimbin based, Australian Cannabis Law Reform Movement. Its vehicle was and its crew was Graeme Dunstan ('The Captain' or alternatively 'Batman'), John Peninton ('St John'), Peter Laurence ('Jab') and David Carroll ('Cannabis Dave').

The Freedom Ride was announced at the 2000 Nimbin 'Good Medicine' Mardi Grass and Cannabis Law Reform Rally 4 May 2000 and set off from Nimbin on 30 June.

The itinerary of its protest actions was as follows:

  • Friday 30 June 2002 Depart Nimbin
  • Saturday 1 July advocacy in Railway Park, Byron Bay
  • Sunday 2 July advocacy at Bryon Market
  • Friday 7 July advocacy outside Grafton Races
  • Sunday July 9 Jericho at Grafton jail
  • Friday 14 July roadshow and evening meeting at the Glen Innes Town Hall
  • Sunday July 16 Picnic at Glen Innes jail
  • Friday 20 street protest outside Tamworth Civic Centre
  • Sunday July 23 Picnic at Tamworth jail
  • Sunday July 30 Picnic at Cessnock jail
  • Friday 4 August Jail burning outside Bathurst courthouse
  • Sunday Aug 6 Picnic at Bathurst jail
  • Wednesday Aug 10 jail burning outside US Embassy in Canberra
  • Sunday Aug 13 Picnic at Junee jail
  • Sunday Aug 20 Picnic at Goulburn jail
  • Sunday Aug 27 Picnic at Lithgow jail
  • Friday 1 September Picnic outside the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre, Silverwater
  • Sunday Sep 3 FatherÕs day picnic outside Long Bay jail
  • Friday 8 September Big Joint on Sydney Harbour
  • Sunday 10 September Sydney 2000 HEMP Olympix Victoria Park, Glebe
  • Monday 11 Š13 September Peacebus takes the Big Joint to the blockade of the World Economic Forum at Crown Casino, Melbourne

    The account that follows is assembled from photos and text written by Graeme Dunstan on the road within two days of actions and posted raw to, the mission website being maintained by Gary Grey, alias Max Stone, of the Cybershack in the back hills of Nimbin.

    The text was edited and reworked by Graeme in December and January 2002.

    Here are the journal entries.

    A Call to Freedom

    Leaving Nimbin

    Carried as if by a River on a Tide of Blessings and Goodwill

    A Day at the Grafton Cup

    Getting Noticed in Grafton

    Rapping and Rolling Around Grafton Jail

    The Good News in Glen Innes

    The Founding of the Glen Innes Chapter of the Australian Cannabis Law Reform Movement

    Talking Justice in the Drug Free City of Tamworth

    High Noon in Tamworth

    Refuge on a Hemp Farm

    Justice Action at Cessnock

    Accommodated in Bathurst

    Taking it up to the US Embassy

    Bearing Witness to the Colonisation of Corrections

    Cautioned in Goulburn

    Lithgow - the Drug War amongst Industrial Ruins

    The Big Joint in the Big Smoke

    Father's Day at Long Bay Jail

    The Sydney 2000 HEMP Olympix

    S11 Melbourne World Economic Forum Blockade Victory to the People

    A Poem and Three Wind Up Letters

    May the witness of the First Drug War Freedom Ride serve to reduce jail building and incarceration in New South Wales. May the courage and determination of the Peacebus crew be an inspiration to future generations of Freedom Riders.

    For peace! For justice! For the Earth!

    Graeme Dunstan


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