Hundreds of activists are setting up camp for this weekend's Newcastle port blockade, a protest organisers hope will establish the city as the centre of a national climate movement.
Protesters gathered in a large marquee at Camp Shortland on Friday for a welcome briefing while others pitched tents near Horseshoe beach and started cooking in a mess tent.
Police have set up a compound in Foreshore Park, and the offshore patrol vessel Nemesis is moored in the harbour.
A spokesperson for the Hunter-based Rising Tide environmental group, Zack Schofield, said the organisers expected about 3000 people to take part in the 30-hour protest.
"The fact that we've got people from every state here shows that Rising Tide is building a national movement in Newcastle because Newcastle is the world's largest coal port," he said.
"It's a site of national but indeed global significance, so I very much expect as we ramp that campaign up we're going to be making international news and gaining international attention right here in Newcastle."
Protesters on kayaks and boats will attempt to block the shipping channel from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon in a protest authorised by NSW Police.
Federal Greens leader Adam Bandt will be among those paddling out at about 10am on Saturday.
"We're hoping this will be the largest civil disobedience action for climate in Australia's history, and I think we're well on the way," Mr Schofield said.
"Thousands and thousands of people are going to descend on the beach across the weekend, and we're looking forward to continuing that momentum after the blockade into next year.
"The Newcastle turnout is the unknown factor, but we've plastered our materials across the city, and there really is a buzz that we can feel."
Police Minister Yasmin Catley told NBN News that she "applauded people for getting involved" in the protest, prompting an angry reaction from NSW Opposition leader Mark Speakman.
"She's out there encouraging people to be involved in a blockade of the Port of Newcastle ... so it's hard to see how a police minister who is meant to be upholding the law on the one hand seems to be inciting blockades on the other hand," he said.
The NSW Minerals Council said in a statement that coal exports from Newcastle represented less than two per cent of global supply in 2022 but sustained at least 25,000 jobs and thousands more in the supply chain while generating billions in royalties for the NSW government.
"Disrupting coal exports through the Port of Newcastle will have no impact on global coal demand or supply," the Minerals Council said.
Mr Schofield described the Minerals Council's position as the "drug dealer argument".
"We're asking for an export tax now and to ban exports by 2030, which is not tomorrow," he said.
He said Rising Tide wanted to "take the fight directly to the fossil fuel industry, because ultimately they're the ones that are profiting from destroying my generation's future".
"It's up to our government to tax these companies appropriately so that we can transition in Newcastle and the Hunter," he said.
"We're asking for a 75 per cent export tax on fossil fuel profits.
"In 2021-22 almost $100 billion of profit were made by the companies. That money could be going out to Muswellbrook and Singleton to make sure the communities get a fair go out of transition."
Protester Deb King, a grandmother and retired sociologist, has flown from Adelaide to join the blockade as one of about 20 legal observers taking notes and video recordings of police responses to the protest.
"I'm quite excited about having a mass mobilisation," she said.
"It's really hard to get this number of people anywhere in Adelaide, so just seeing a mass mobilisation action around a specific cause, with something that's so well organised, I felt it's a safe place to come and that we'll be doing something useful.
"Newcastle contributes substantially to our exporting of carbon emissions, so I'm passionate about trying to stop climate change."
Ms King said her five grandchildren worried about climate change.
"I was talking to my grandson about it the other day and he said he's worried about what it will mean for when he gets older."
This weekend's protest will be the third time activists have blockaded the harbour in the past decade.
An estimated 2000 people attended a May 2016 harbour blockade, when 66 people were arrested at various points around the port, including at a large protest at the Kooragang rail line.
About 50 people were arrested and charged with various trespass-related offences.
Port of Newcastle said it respected people's right to "undertake a lawful and peaceful protest".
"On a working harbour, safety is paramount, and we encourage all people participating in the protest to comply with directions from authorities, for their safety and those working on and around the port," the port operator said in a statement.