Sinister theory emerges after cars parked along Aussie tourist road 'sabotaged'

The group believe their stance on a controversial issue prompted the action against them while visiting a popular state forest.

A still shows two cars at night with their tyres let down, parked next to the Tarkine.
The drivers believe men that confronted them at the edge of the forest let down their tyres. Source: Bob Brown Foundation

Parked at the edge of a remote Aussie forest in the middle of the night, a convoy of drivers were left “spooked” after their tyres were intentionally let down. They believe their cars were targeted because of the controversial reason they'd entered the wilderness.

The group had stopped on a popular tourist route through the Tarkine forest, a once pristine ancient wilderness that’s now being logged for native timber.

“It was pitch dark and cold when we found two cars had been tampered with,” Dr Colleen Harmsen told Yahoo News from Tasmania.

"We could have been stranded there. If there was an emergency we wouldn’t have had transport," another person in the convoy added.

Many in the group were environmental campaigners with non-profit Bob Brown Foundation and they were in the forest to protest against the Tasmanian Government’s clear-felling of native trees. Around 49 per cent of Tasmania is forested and the issue of whether to protect or log remains is a hot-button issue across the state.

Group members claim they were targeted by men dressed in security uniforms, who they allege were engaged by government-owned logging agency Sustainable Timber Tasmania.

Related: Tourists visiting Aussie World Heritage site face restrictions after controversial act

Before discovering the tyres had been let down, the small group was involved in an altercation with two men in high-vis. “Both security guards came over to us. One said: You're greenies, aren't you? You should get back in your car and f*** off,” one of the protesters claimed.

Although Harmsen's group managed to send for help and inflate their tyres within two hours, they’ve remained in the forest since the incident which occurred on Friday at around 3am.

Harmsen, a veterinarian, has been actively campaigning against logging in her state for over 12 years, and was sentenced to three months jail in 2023 for trespass after a series of protests.

“I’m not going until [the loggers] go and I hope that’s sooner rather than later. They’ve been sending log trucks in on weekends, on the public holiday yesterday. I think they’re desperate to finish logging and get rid of us," Harmsen said.

An aerial shot of the Tarkine, with a place in the middle where logging is occurring.
The protesters are calling for native forest logging to stop inside the Tarkine. Source: Bob Brown Foundation

Yahoo News has been requesting comment from STT since Friday afternoon, but on Tuesday it said in an email it was “not placed” to provide comment.

Bob Brown Foundation has claimed the men who confronted the protesters were not licensed security guards and has issued a complaint to police and the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services.

"This cowboy approach against peaceful protestors is irresponsible and dangerous. It is thuggery," the Bob Brown Foundation’s Scott Jordan claimed.

Yahoo News does not allege the security guards were unlicensed, abused the protesters, or let down their tyres. It is seeking more information from STT about whether it contracted the security guards.

Native timber logging remains a controversial practice as it's linked to biodiversity loss, extinction and climate change.

Western Australia and South Australia have ceased native forest logging, and Victoria claims to have done the same. But the NSW Labor Government and Tasmanian Liberal Government both remain firm in their commitment to the industry.

In 2023, footage of an ancient tree on the back of a truck sparked international condemnation. But the Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff was reelected in March after promising to log an extra 40,000 hectares of native forest.

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