The Battle for Alexandra Parade

More than three decades ago, a 23-year-old Tony Murphy was unceremoniously dragged across Alexandra Parade with a bicycle horn on his pocket.

2012 – 2014 – East West Link

Image: Police clash with protesters on the site of the F19 (Eastern Freeway) in November 1977

The Age : Old-time protesters return to fight construction of east-west link. (December 20, 2013.  Aisha Dow)

More than three decades ago, a 23-year-old Tony Murphy was unceremoniously dragged across Alexandra Parade with a bicycle horn on his pocket.

It was November 1977 and he and other young demonstrators had turned out in their hundreds to protest against the construction of the Eastern Freeway.

The group barricaded Alexandra Parade with car carcasses, old furniture and broken fridges, until they were overpowered by police. A photographer from The Age captured Mr Murphy being hauled away by his legs.

”It was pretty close to the last stand,” he remembers. ”We had just linked arms across the road before we were dragged off.”

While police had their measure that day, it seems the old-time demonstrators are back for the second round, 36 years later, over the freeway’s extension, the east-west link.

On Wednesday Mr Murphy was back in Fitzroy perched on the top of a hydraulic drill. Wearing a cycling helmet ”for safety reasons”, the handyman had stormed the worksite with three others. ”Then and now the issue was the same. It was deciding between [roads] and Doncaster rail,” the 59-year-old said.

Mr Murphy is not the only old-time public transport advocate who has re-emerged and dusted themselves off for another fight.

Fitzroy retiree Ian Hall still remembers watching the mayor of Fitzroy, Bill Peterson, being dragged off the road in all his mayoral finery when he attended the Alexandra Parade blockade in 1977.

On Wednesday – sporting a golf-ball sized lump on his arm care of the police – Mr Hall, 63, said he has also rallied against the Vietnam War and more recently, for the protection of Melbourne’s heritage buildings

”I don’t know what a professional protester is,” he said. ”But I like the word serial pest just because in definition, Nelson Mandela would have been a serial pest.”

East West Link story on ABC 7.30 Victoria, Friday 22 August 2014, with Margaret Paul, Keith Fitzgerald, Cathy Drummond, Andrew Herington, Brian Negus. Includes 2014 State Election, Compulsory Acquisitions in Collingwood, A Brush With the Law Exhibition supporting tunnel picket, Moreland & Yarra Council Supreme Court Challenge, Anthony Murphy Supreme Court Challenge, FOI Request, Planning concerns, RACV & 1970s F19 protests.

East West Link: A history of protests against its construction: Michael Naismith, a long time activist against the East West Link, outlines the genesis of opposition to its construction, including the story of the ‘Tunnel Picketers’, a group of people involved in direct action to prevent the road project going ahead. This is his complete speech, delivered at a public meeting organised by MCAT (Moreland Community Against the East West Tunnel)

9 thoughts on “The Battle for Alexandra Parade”

  1. Cory says:

    Such a *modern*, progressive-thinking solution this tunnel is eh?

  2. Susanna says:

    By golly I remember this campaign well.

    A couple of incidents stand out as amusing (if any part of this could possibly be called amusing)

    1. The police spokesmen on the news condemned the ‘rubbish’ ‘health hazard’ of the barricade we had erected. Meanwhile, outside of their caravan were piles and piles of used tea-bags and boxes of kentucky fried chicken

    2. The first car to come down the new freeway (with a police escort) was a Mercedes. Driven by Bob Jane.

    I can laugh now

  3. David Collins says:

    We should also remember the battle in the early 1990s to stop the widening of Alexandra Pde. The Coalition Against Freeway Extensions (CAFE) fought this “upgrade” knowing that the resulting increased traffic volumes would inevitably bring us to the current situation. Many 1977 protesters were involved in the 1994 campaign.

  4. admin says:

    These pages have been updated to now include Citizens Against the Freeway Action (CAF) and Coalition Against Freeway Extensions (CAFE) history, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any additional photos or stories.

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