As I was walking near Station Pier in Port Melbourne recently, I noticed a set of oddly placed tall masts. On closer inspection they belonged to an unusual ship, docked at Station Pier where no ship has moored for decades. Brightly painted rainbow colours stood out accross the bow, proudly spelling out the iconic name: Rainbow Warrior.
First visit to Australia
During my accidental visit to the mooring of the Rainbow Warrior , I spoke with a member of the crew named Jason. He explained that they were here for a few days to raise awareness of what was happening on the Great Barrier Reef. The ship had just sailed from New Zealand for a six-week tour with a large banner flying off one side, saying Save The Reef. When I asked what that meant, Jason told me about the coal mining in Queensland and what was planned for other areas along the coast.
They have already killed many dugongs and other sealife with one port being built, he said,
and there are eight more planned. The risks to the coral are enormous. He then gave me some brochures to read.
Interested, I asked about Greenpeace, saying,
Most of the time when we hear about Greenpeace it alway seems to be when they are in trouble with some authority. It is always negative news. We don't hear about the good things.
Jason nodded and said,
Yes I know, but we are trying to help our planet for the future.
Later I read the brochures he gave me. Greenpeace was started in 1971 by a team of activists who sailed in an old fishing boat from Vancouver. They used their little boat to protest against nuclear testing by the US Government off the Alaskan coast. Their actions generated so much media attention that the momentum of protests that followed stopped the destructive nuclear testing in it's tracks. Thus a new, mobile form of environmental activism was born.
Over the several days that the ship was moored at Station Pier, Greenpeace issued invitations to board the ship. There were marquees set up on the pier, where you could get brochures and other items promoting and supporting their cause.
The new Rainbow Warrior
This trip was the first time this new Rainbow Warrior had come to Australia. It is the third Greenpeace ship to be named Rainbow Warrior, the first making international headlines in 1985 when it was bombed by the French whilst moored in New Zealand. The second ship to hold that name was decommissioned from active service by Greenpeace in 2011. Both of these ships were existing vessels that were refitted for the purpose of environmental activism. This third Rainbow Warrior is, however, a purpose-built campaign ship and was launched in October 2011.
The Rainbow Warrior III is a fast vessel with its own helicopter landing pad. She can carry heavy specialised scientific research equipment so that scientists can work on board and has a sophisticated on-board satellite communications system. In true Greenpeace style she is an environmentally 'green' ship, sailing primarily by wind power and utilising those 55m tall A-frame masts to full advantage. Grey and black water can be stored on board and a special biological filtering system helps clean and recycle it for continued, sustainable use.
When asked where they were off to next, Jason replied that they were going to Indonesia to help raise awareness about the chronic de-forestation issues there.
Oh, that is for palm oil isn't it? I said. Proof positive that the Rainbow Warrior is still spreading her message, almost 30 years on.
There is more information on the different Rainbow Warrior ships at
and more information on Greenpeace at