Thursday, 1 December 2016


A group of Knitting Nannas Against Gas from the Clarence Valley travelled to Chinchilla in the Queensland gasfields for the second annual Knitting Nanna (KNAG) conference which was held from September 26-28.

Three of the Grafton Nannas heading north
Nannas from NSW and Queensland as well as some from further afield (e.g. Alice Springs) assembled for the conference and the gasfield tour on the last day. Nanna Lynette was deeply affected by the experience.  Her report of the Nannas’ tour of the Kenya Gasfield (one of a number of gasfields close to Chinchilla) is below.

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Nanna Lynette's Report on the Gasfield Tour

I found that although I’d seen many photos and movies of gasfields and had heard people talk about them, nothing prepared me for visiting a gasfield and walking around the infrastructure and hearing the massive amount of noise. The size of the Kenya gasfield and the amount of infrastructure was mind-blowing. 

The gas from the field is piped to the Kenya processing plant and after processing is piped to Gladstone. The processing plant, which covers an area of a couple of acres, consists of three massive metal structures about five storeys high.  The noise coming from this was horrendous. We were standing about a kilometre away and where we were the noise was deafening.

Gas well
The next part of the tour was a visit to the State Forest where some of the actual Kenya gaswells are. Initially they were about a kilometre apart but when production slowed they drilled other wells in between the existing ones so that the wells were then 500 metres apart.  Each well sits in a cleared pad of at least a quarter of an acre.  This means you’ve a fractured environment because the ground is bare except for some gravel over it.  And each well makes a horrific noise as well.

The whole area is massively noisy and dusty because of all the clearing. 

Nannas in cleared corridor infested with fireweed

The cleared pipeline corridors are about 100 metres wide and have been taken over by weeds like fireweed.  Along the main pipeline there are vents – high point vents and low point vents about 400 metres apart. 

The high point vents vent raw gas 24 hours a day. Of course this smells.  It just goes straight into the atmosphere. The low point vents expel moisture which is collected in troughs and presumably evaporates if it doesn’t overflow.

We spent between four and five hours on the gasfield tour with gas company officials following us around the whole time.

During the tour my eyes started stinging and I started to get a headache.  Nearly everyone had these symptoms.  A couple of people had nose bleeds.  I can’t even begin to think of what the people who are surrounded by gasfields are going through.  The side effects of living close to a gasfield are very real.  These unfortunate people are not making it up.

The trip and the tour was a good thing to do. I am left feeling really thankful that we have kept it away from the NSW North Coast.

Knitting Nannas at the Conference

Tuesday, 14 June 2016


The Grafton Loop's Nanna Verse-Smith, Dorothy,  was so incensed when she heard about NSW Premier Mike Baird's draconian anti-protester laws, that she rushed into nannerly print.

Please Send Back My Nanna Mr Baird
I miss my Nanna very bad
Mum says she’s gone away
And now I’m feeling very sad,
Hope she’ll come back some day.
I asked my Dad if she was dead
Just like my friend’s old Pop.
Dad just sighed and shook his head
Said, “Go and ask the cop.”
That’s when I knew she’d gone to gaol
And she did it just for me.
Nanna couldn’t pay the bail,
She’s on the pension, see.
But she wants us kids to grow up well
In a land that’s clean and green
Not in a dead polluted hell
Or a poisoned-water scene.
For coalmines spoil the farmers’ land
And coal gas poisons water.
My Nanna doesn’t want to hand
This mess to son or daughter
So, Mr Baird, please listen to a little grandchild’s sorrow
Change back the law today, please do, and let Nan come home tomorrow.

 - Dorothy Hillis

Friday, 10 June 2016


The Grafton Nannas are well and truly back into their regular weekly flashing of the pointed sticks.  They now knit on a Thursday afternoon.

At each knit-in now they brandish their knitted chains - a symbol of outrage at Premier Baird's draconian protester laws.  (Interestingly, while these chains may not be much use for chaining Nannas together  - other than symbolically - they are quite useful as scarves.)

Last week the Nannas had a change of venue - moving up Prince Street to station themselves outside the Grafton office of federal MP Kevin Hogan, Member for Page.  The Nannas really enjoyed knitting in this pleasant spot and chatting to the passers-by.  It's not the proximity to the federal MP that makes this spot so appealing to these doughty women.  It's the space, the tropical palms, the seating -  and the proximity to the pedestrian crossing.

A pleasant spacious area for a knit-in

Nannas pose outside Mr Hogan's office

This week the Nannas returned to their old haunt outside the office of our state MP, Chris Gulaptis, Member for Clarence.

This week we were delighted to welcome back three Nannas who had not been at knit-ins for some time.  So we had lots of catching up to do.  We nattered non-stop and discussed all sorts of nannerly subjects including patterns and yarns, the best way to make chains, and the oh-so exciting federal election campaign.

This Nanna loves the old-style crochet patterns   

This Nanna is knitting a square for "wrap with love"
This Nanna is knitting for her grandson

Sunday, 15 May 2016


The Grafton Nannas delivered their letter objecting to the draconian anti-protester laws to the office of Chris Gulaptis, Member for Clarence, during their knit-in on Wednesday  11 May.  The text of the letter is printed below.

NSW Government Laws Against Protesters

Members of the Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas are very concerned at your Government's new laws imposing heavy penalties on protesters.

These are aimed particularly at the concerned citizens who protest against coal and gas-mining companies.  They were obviously introduced at the behest of the mining industry which we, along with many other community members, believe has far too much influence on governments.

The Nannas regard these draconian laws as an infringement of civil rights.

We understand that protesters may face fines of $5500 (an increase from $550) for trespass and could face up to 7 years jail for interfering with mining operations.

While penalties have been increased dramatically for protesters, the penalties for serious breaches by mining companies have been drastically reduced so that they are a mere "slap on the wrist".  For example, mining without authority, which under the former laws was a $1.1 million fine plus $110,000 a day for a company if successfully prosecuted in court, is now "punished" with a $5000 penalty notice.

Furthermore the Nannas are appalled that these new laws give police the unprecedented powers to search vehicles and confiscate equipment which in their opinion may be used for a lock on.

It appears that NSW is heading in the direction of becoming a police state where civil rights are trashed.

Favouring mining companies has long been a policy of NSW governments but your Government is certainly outdoing the pro-mining bias of previous governments.

It's very obvious to the Nannas that your Government's priorities lie with the big polluting end of town.  While Minister Roberts and the Premier may think that these harsh laws will stifle community opposition, we assure you that you are mistaken.

The Nannas, along with other members of the community, have a right to object to developments which threaten the environment and human health and will continue to do so.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016


After a long rest the Grafton Nannas have returned to the street fired up about the draconian laws Premier Mike Baird and Resources Minister Anthony Roberts have legislated.  These laws are designed to discourage the community from protesting against mining - particularly CSG and unconventional gas mining.

The Nannas met today at the usual spot outside the office of local MP, Chris Gulaptis, Member for Clarence.

To emphasise their point about the threat these laws pose to civil liberties in NSW, the Nannas chained themselves together using knitted chains.  As one tired Nanna pointed out, "It's not easy knitting these chains.  I've been so busy the last few days that I haven't had any time for nanna naps.  I'm tuckered out and just want to get back to some straight knitting!!"

Part way through the knit-in the Nannas were greeted by a very unusual visitor who claimed his name was Neville Bogan.  Neville, who claimed to be an "old mate" of our local member (which the Nannas doubted),  kept the rather astounded Nannas entertained with some unlikely tales and cheeky banter before he  disappeared around the corner.

Neville Bogan, itinerant entertainer!

Some time later the Nannas were joined by a visitor from The Daily Examiner who was interested to hear why we had returned to knit outside Mr Gulaptis' office.  As well as discussing their concerns, the Nannas told him that they were delivering a letter to Mr Gulaptis which clearly stated why they were there.

The Nannas enjoyed the  outing and decided that the government's attack on civil liberties meant that they needed to return to regular knit-ins.  As one Nanna said sadly as they packed up before heading to the coffee shop, "These politicians are really very slow learners.  You'd think they would have worked out by now that gas-mining was a no-go because of community opposition.  But here they are introducing fascist-type laws to stop protesters.  Shows they still think they can foist gas-mining on us."


Friday, 11 March 2016


The Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas recently wrote to their local member of State Parliament, Chris Gulaptis, about his Government's plans to re-start CSG/unconventional gas mining in NSW.
The text of the letter is printed below:

The Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas were delighted when the NSW Government bought back the petroleum export licences covering the Northern Rivers.  We thought, "At last we have a gasfield free Northern Rivers!"

We note that in your February "Clarence Valley Newsletter" you reiterate that there will be no coal seam gas industry on the North Coast.  The Nannas presume that by "coal seam gas" you mean all forms of unconventional gas.

We are concerned, however, at a report which appeared in The Northern Star on February 9th.  Mining Minister Anthony Roberts was reported as having a plan to unlock new coal seam gas reserves to local mining companies that will supply to the local markets rather than for export.  Since that rather astounding revelation all has been quiet.

What exactly did the Minister mean?  Has your Government plans to issue further PELs for gas companies in this state?  If so, what areas are to be targeted?

You are well aware, Mr Gulaptis, of the concerns of the Nannas and will appreciate that we are anxious to learn exactly what the Government intends.

The Nannas are looking forward to our local MP's response.

Sunday, 6 March 2016


On Thursday March 3 a loop of relaxed Grafton Nannas met to enjoy each others' company and indulge in a sumptuous celebratory morning tea.  Although it was somewhat delayed because of the festive season and associated nannerly duties, the Nannas finally gave Metgasco a send-off from the Northern Rivers.  And Nanna Lynette's cake said it all.

The only knitting needles in sight were the huge ones that had had their outing months ago in Grafton's Market Square.  This was a day for eating and laughing and nattering and plotting for the future rather than for knitting.

However we Nannas fully expect that there will be much more knitting to be done in the future.

And there was some serious discussion

And the big surprise was the unexpected guest at our morning tea!! 

And the chook came too!!