A flotilla of kayaks blocks Newcastle Port

Sixty-six people have been arrested in Newcastle following a large anti-coal protest involving thousands of activists on Sunday.

The Break Free protest was said to involve over 2000 people, and included a flotilla of kayaks on the harbour to stop coal ships entering and leaving. Protestors dressed in white also lay on train tracks that connect coal mines to Newcastle Port.

The protest is part of global civil disobedience actions being taken in 13 countries over the first two weeks of May to protest against continued fossil fuel dominance.

Protestors block train tracks that deliver coal from the Hunter Valley

“It should never have gotten to the point where people all over the world have to fight their governments to protect the future of our planet, but that’s the point we’re at,” protester Amanda Jean said.

“This is the point of desperation. We need to switch to renewable energy before it’s too late. Now an election has been called, we need to see genuine climate leadership from our elected and aspirational leaders.”

The protest also features 150 Pacific Islanders whose homes are at risk of vanishing due to sea level rise.

A contingent of Pacific Island representatives joined the protest

350 Pacific Sydney coordinator Zane Sikulu said Australia as a regional leader should not be investing in the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.

“Climate change is a threat to the lives, culture and land of the Pacific people,” he said. “We will not sit by as countries across the world continue to invest in the expansion of the industry that is contributing so much to the destruction of our homes.”

Police said they respected the right to peaceful protest but some demonstrators had set out to break the law and endanger themselves and others.