8. Prophets of Doom
If anything, the Sydney media were smarting even more than they had been when the Christians first shook off the dust of their shoes as a testimony against Sydney in 1984. The group had, through the Nullarbor walk, not only succeeded in getting the media to cover them, but they had unwittingly used the media to make the walk succeed. So if the group was going to succeed in getting further coverage, they would have to come up with something entirely different.
They decided that the appearance of a weird religious group in North Queensland, with a completely different modus operandi would hardly suggest a connection with the Rappville Christians. So seven male members grew long hair and beards, dressed themselves in rough hessian robes, covered their faces with ashes, put shackles on their ankles and chained themselves together, before marching, unannounced, into shopping centers between Brisbane and Cairns. They would stand silently for hours at a time, without speaking a word. They held long parchment-like scrolls with prophetic passages from the Old Testament written on them. The public would gather to read all the scrolls, and usually be handed a slip of paper that explained that they called themselves "Voices in the Wilderness", that they had taken a vow of silence, and that they wanted people to concentrate on their message rather than concern themselves about the identity of the people standing in front of them.
The group got more publicity than they had bargained for in Rockhampton. The city fathers reacted like Br'er Rabbit to the Tar Baby when the "prophets" refused to strike up a conversation. The city mall management had the men arrested, in an attempt to get them to talk. In court the prophets still said nothing, and they were jailed indefinitely for contempt of court. Day after day went by without police even learning so much as their names.
And as their incarceration dragged on, media interest grew in this strange group of seven prophets who had strolled into Rockhampton, apparently out of nowhere. Finally, the magistrate gave up, after holding the men in prison for 26 days. They were released without police ever knowing who they were; and they immediately returned to their mission.
The media was waiting for them by this time, and each town wanted to have its chance to gawk at the "secret seven". When they arrived in Sydney, the media there dutifully reported their presence, although there were hints that some reporters could sense a connection.