SMH: Neo-Nazis go bush: Grampians gathering highlights rise of Australia’s far right

In his 2017 book Making Sense of the Alt Right, academic George Hawley wrote: “I am not implying that the Alt-Right is a terrorist movement. At the time of this writing, I am aware of no acts of physical violence directly connected to the Alt-Right.”

From the Sydney Morning Herald, Jan. 27, 2021:

The first thing hiker Nathaniel Maxwell noticed as he trudged towards an ancient rock cavern in the Grampians National Park last Saturday was the sound of dozens of voices singing Waltzing Matilda.

It was the Australia Day long weekend and as Mr Maxwell peered into the cave-like formation known as the Cool Chamber in central Victoria, he noticed that many of the men were wearing black T-shirts bearing a distinctive Celtic-style symbol. Others were wearing army fatigues. Some raised their arm in a Nazi salute. As Mr Maxwell walked away, he heard shouts of “white power!”

Other hikers and residents of nearby Halls Gap watched members of the same group marching through the small tourist town on Sunday and Monday. They assembled around the local barbecue area, some shirtless with Nazi tattoos, and sipped coffee outside the Black Panther Cafe, which is staffed and owned by an Indian family.

“We are the Ku Klux Klan,” one of them belligerently told a local, who declined to be named for fear of repercussions. Another heard the group screaming racist slogans as they got drunk on Sunday night while camping illegally at Lake Bellfield, a beautiful body of water at the foot of the Grampians’ granite peaks and ridges.

When Halls Gap resident James passed the group on his mountain bike on Sunday afternoon in town, he was addressed with a Sieg Heil.

“There were 40 white males, many with skinheads, some chanting ‘white power’. That is intimidating for anyone, let alone the young Asian families sharing the barbecue space,” he says…

The decision of Halls Gap locals to call the police and the immediate law enforcement response is indicative of a change in the way authorities, and many in the general public, are viewing extreme right-wing groups.

They were once widely dismissed as little more than disorganised attention-seeking misfits spruiking racist political manifestos, but Australia’s policing and security agencies are increasingly concerned about the capacity of a group adherent or lone wolf feeding off social media posts to commit an act of domestic terrorism.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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