Pyrmont Republic

The Pyrmont Republic, declared on 23 August 1992, was the most spectacular of several protests against the State Government’s heavy-handed redevelopment of the precinct. The closure of heavy industries in the 1980s, especially CSR, prompted the State government’s “urban renewal”, transforming Pyrmont from low-rise, low-income cottages into high-rise, up-market apartments. The Republic’s stirring manifesto did not reject development, but denounced the displacement of residents and the destruction of their familiar habitat.

On the day of Pyrmont’s secession, road barriers halted traffic and volunteers issued free passports to people passing through.

The opening of ANZAC bridge and an international conference brought more people than usual to Pyrmont that day, creating a great opportunity to ventilate residents’ grievances.

The organisers of the protests and the writers of the manifesto avoided narrow-minded NIMBYism, expanded their critique to demand that people everywhere be consulted in matters that affected them, savaged the vandalism of the Department of Main Roads, and rejected the theory of terra nullius.

At the end of a peaceful and good-humoured day the barriers were dismantled. Like many other Pyrmont protests, this fell one deaf ears.