Wednesday, August 16, 2023

community clothes swap

Our annual Community Clothes Swap is our celebration of National Recycling Week, and it's now our 12th year 💚

Everyone's welcome to come and join in. The event will be held at the Boonah Cultural Centre on Saturday 4 November between 9am and 1pm.

Bring along some clothes, shoes or accessories (men's, women's and children's) and it's free to swap, or it will cost just a gold coin donation to buy.

Upcycled bags will be available to purchase, as well as our battery recycling collection cans, and there'll be innovative displays and demonstrations on different ways to mend and upcycle textiles, as well as a fabric destash spot to supplement your supplies.

It's also the perfect place to ask questions about recycling, and bring along items for recycling like blister packs, disposable masks, coffee bags, water and air filters, corks (natural and synthetic), pens and markers, old plastic store cards - use our guitar pick punch to punch a pick from yours, sturdy fabric, old sheets and curtains, and bras and swimmers for collaborative recycling initiatives.

Many new recycling initiatives have been added to our recycling register, and info on these will be available, or check online for our recycling register which continues to be updated.

Right next door to the Cultural Foundation's Book Fest, another great recycling week event with thousands of low cost books.

With thanks always to the support of the Scenic Rim Regional Council.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

MOVING MOUNTAINS scenic rim CSG blockade arrests

The 2012 Honour Roll

January 12 Kerry 
Charged at Beaudesert 
Luke Reade 
Steve Ross 
Innes Larkin 
Raphael Wakim 
Richard Zoomers 
Justin Hills 
Asher Zoomers 
Tracey Larkin 
Brad Beaverson 

January 13 Kerry 
Charged at Beaudesert 
Piers Shapely 
Juanita Wanda Halden 
Alan Roberts 

January 14 Kerry 
Charged at Beenleigh 
Daniel Robins 

January 18 Kerry 
Charged at Beaudesert 
Gary Wilson 

January 19 Silverdale 
Charged at Ipswich 
Linda Weston

MOVING MOUNTAINS linda weston - mosquito in a bucket

Reclusive and insular - the words that best described my lifestyle up until 2011

The first I knew of the proposed Mintovale open-cut coal mine at Croftby was a front-page newspaper headline. Subsequent searches provided me with information that left me horrified. A boundary for the Mintovale MDL was a mere 280 metres from our back deck and I also found that our property was covered by a CSG exploration permit. A double whammy.

At first, I felt nothing but a sense of numbness, soon giving way to episodes of tears on the back deck while I looked around me.

Was I guilty of ignorance regarding what had been going on? Yes! Would crying over it achieve anything? No! Could I do something about it? I wanted to, but what?

I had heard the opinion that one person, a mere drop in a bucket, could achieve nothing. All my life I have held on to the belief that, if drops keep going into a bucket, the bucket will eventually fill. How could I help fill the bucket?

Word of the pending Kerry Blockade reached me in early January 2012. People were getting arrested, and I was ready for action. Never having received so much as a parking ticket in my life, I had always found the idea of doing anything against the law abhorrent – something to be feared. The law was meant to protect us. But I could see increasing injustices. I decided I would stand. My son, Cameron, elected to stand beside me.

The morning of 19 January 2012 dawned clear and cloudless. Along with the blockade at Kerry, a flash protest at the drill site at Silverdale on the Cunningham Highway was about to happen. This time I was not going to move aside when asked.

There are instances when time seems to stand still. For a brief stretch of time, everything seemed to stop when I realised that Cameron was inside the compound and running to the drill rig.

After clambering up, he sat in the baking summer sun, proudly waving a triangular yellow Lock the Gate sign at passing traffic.

The police, when they did arrive, made a deal with Cameron. If he climbed down and left the compound with them, he would not be arrested or charged. Relief. I could have cheerfully throttled him as he exited the compound, grinning like a Cheshire cat. Instead, I told him he'd done enough for one day. I would stand alone.

We stood in position, roughly 20 of us, in a line in front of the locked gate. The senior sergeant gave the warning and asked us to move. Fellow protesters gradually moved aside. I stood my ground and, after being given three chances to move, I was arrested.

No drama. No circus. Just a peaceful, grey-haired, middle-aged protester strolling between two police officers to the police vehicle and then taken to Ipswich watchhouse. On arrival I was put into a chilly cell and there was no telling how long I was likely to be there. Wanting to put the time to some use, I settled, relaxed, meditated, and began to formulate a song from my heart that eventually became SOS - Save our Scenic Rim. Time passed.

When I was finally charged and released, the nature of my charges didn't sink in. I was tired - dazed, almost. The whole experience had become surreal. At first, I didn't realise the severity of being charged under the Petroleum and Gas Act, charges that carried a maximum penalty of $50,000. I was the second person to be charged under the Act, Drew Hutton being the first.

The words of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet came to mind: “If you think you're too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito”. They had decided to try to slap a mosquito with a sledgehammer.

During the next few weeks, legal processes and procedures were explained to me and I was given options: plead guilty at the first mention and get things over and done with, or seek an adjournment and take this thing to trial. I believed that pleading guilty would likely leave the way open for similar charges being thrown at peaceful protesters. If I saw this through, then perhaps a precedent would be 
set to discourage future instances of this happening. Could I do this?

Weeks turned to months. During those months I rode an emotional roller coaster, ranging from steely determination and thoughts of a positive outcome to feelings of helplessness.

A welcome distraction came in July when New South Wales woman Lesley McQueen put out the call for a Scenic Rim person to meet her at the Queensland - New South Wales border to continue an awareness-raising walk against the proposed Metgasgo CSG pipeline. Lesley would walk from Casino to the border, carrying a bottle of pristine water taken from the Richmond River. The water would be handed over to Queensland and carried to Swanbank Power Station. I volunteered.

Planning for the walk was well underway but my hearing date was approaching. When the day finally came at Ipswich Courthouse, it all happened so quickly. The police prosecutor tendered ‘insufficient evidence’ and the charges were dropped. Case dismissed! The court room erupted into cheers and applause. I would commence the Queensland leg of the Walk Against Gas in a week's time with an infinitely lighter load.

Cameron had elected to join me for the 125 kilometre walk and my husband, Rob. had no hesitation in volunteering to drive the support vehicle. We had become a family team of three.

Support during the Walk Against Gas came in many forms and was always welcome. Rounding a bend to see the Green Eureka flag flying above a boiling billy as we approached a rest stop is a sight I will never forget.

Mostly we walked alone. Rob, always in the near distance behind us in the support vehicle, was fondly dubbed 'The Walker Stalker'.

No matter how small a part any of us thinks we are playing, we can all contribute in our own way. And still, to this date, no other protestor has been charged under the Petroleum and Gas Act.

Will I continue to be an annoying mosquito? Absolutely! A drop in a bucket? Definitely! I might even be a mosquito in a bucket.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

MOVING MOUNTAINS rod anderson's story

I knew I might get arrested but I was p….d off. I wanted them to hear me out.

The first I knew of gas drilling in Kerry Valley was when Michael Undery said he was worried. I trusted him and he wasn’t a radical person. Michael and Sally also employed some of my family, put food on my table and gave my kids a start in life. If their business was going to be at threat, it was going to threaten my construction business and it could threaten the valley.

So on the first day I turned up for Michael. And on the second day I turned up because there were people from everywhere coming in to help - they’d made the effort to be there and I wanted to know why everyone thought it was so important. I knew I also had to make my own decisions. That’s why I stood there for ten days, stewing very quietly by the strainer post, but saying nothing.

It was about sticking up for people who were getting the raw end of the deal. It was so unfair on so many levels. There was no regard given to people who had built a beautiful community of not only lovely people, lovely families, but also little farms that had made a difference in everyone’s lives. There was absolutely no regard given to that. And the thing that annoyed me more than anything was that the people representing the State Government, and more so Beaudesert, had their heads so far up their own arses that they didn’t stick up for us.

I kept things close to my chest because I didn’t want to be seen to be a fruit loop and because that's not the way you do things in the bush. Our way is to talk things over. But they refused to talk to us so I felt suspicious and pretty much backed into a corner.

At the start I believed I couldn’t get myself arrested because I had a business to run. Then all of a sudden we heard the drill rig was leaving. I remember saying: "What about if we threw all the hats on the ground and let’s just see if they’re dumb enough to drive over the top of them?" For me, the hats represented people, so essentially I felt they were driving over people just like they were driving over our dreams and our community.

From the time I put those hats down, I knew in my heart a lot of those police officers felt that we really we weren’t being treated properly. I thought that would be a really brave police officer to start kicking the hats out of the way. I knew I might get arrested, but I was angry and I wanted them to hear me out. 

I said: "I’ve got something to say here and I’m not gonna let you stop me. Has anyone really told you what it’s like? Why we’re here? We are genuinely good people. And we have been forced to come down here and bark like mongrel dogs." I really felt no-one was listening.

As I spoke, everything poured out. I remember not feeling in the slightest bit of ‘what do I say now?' I meant everything I said.

When the blockade ended, I went into a bit of a personal crisis. I was still consumed, but I was very, very, mindful that it could mess my business up something ferocious. I was scared I was going to completely ruin everything that I’ve ever worked for.

I was also worried people would think I was misrepresenting things because I was actually a builder first and a farmer second. It was too much attention. At first I didn’t realise what I had created but I did know I didn’t want to be any kind of frontman.

I also went through this big anxious thing of 'who is this guy?' 'What right does he have to be talking and throwing hats on the ground on behalf of the Kerry Valley?' Now I know - because I’ve been told - that was the right thing. And I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m so glad that I did it because no one else was going to.

I know if everyone had said ‘she’ll be right’, it would not have been right. Look at Tara now, look at the farms on the Darling Downs now with messed up water and subsidence where they drilled.

I’m still riding the ups and downs of the construction industry and getting my hands in the dirt whenever I can.

MOVING MOUNTAINS michael and sally undery's stories

Michael's story

Driving down the road wondering 'What is this going to do?, 'What is actually happening?' and 'How will all this end up?' This is how I remember the first day of the Kerry Blockade.

We parked the cars, took the chairs out of the back and sat them down in front of the entrance gate to the drill rig, ready to blockade the workers' entry.

The workers turned up, rang the police and so it started.

Sometime earlier we had found out that an Arrow Energy exploration well was happening on the Nindooinbah Estate Road next to Kerry Creek.

There was unanimous support for CSG not to happen. Landholders were concerned about contaminants in water and water levels in ground water dropping if coal seam gas mining were allowed in the Kerry Valley.

As is being proven now on the Darling Downs, soil subsidence due to large volumes of water extraction was another reason not to have coal seam gas mining in Kerry or the Scenic Rim as a whole.

Each day on the blockade was different. It is all a bit of a blur and I don’t remember all the comings and goings. Politicians came and went, promising this and that. What I do remember was all the neighbours turning up, coming and going with food and chatting. I was heartened by the local support. Not everyone could be on the blockade all the time but they would drop in when they could and lend support.

We were lucky it was school holidays. It had rained so we didn’t have to irrigate and, despite it being summer, it wasn’t too hot. I do remember bringing home guests for a bed and shower after they got wet on a rainy day.

The day Bob Irwin turned up was an emotional time. I was moved that he would take his time to come and support us. I felt the meeting Bob joined us for in the demountable office with Arrow on site showed them our determination, that we were serious about protecting our Kerry Valley. I don’t know what it achieved but they left soon after!

I was dairying at the time and supplying Norco Co-operative. Norco was very supportive of what we were doing. So much so that Norco developed a policy on coal seam gas extraction.

I feel the blockade increased the knowledge base of the risks of CSG and the people of the Scenic Rim have given others a template on how to fight CSG.

Sally's story

The Kerry Blockade was a life-changing event. I am ever grateful for Heidi Ross and the role she played encouraging people like me who knew the dangers but were just too busy to act until it was too late!

I can remember slowly becoming aware of CSG, hearing of lack of due diligence and the lack of baseline data to prove the damage was done by fracking. I had a cousin whose place became difficult to work with a pipeline running through it. It was the little things that just kept filtering through.

As a dairy farmer who is responsible for quality assurance – the backbone of Australia’s food safety and quality records - this lack of accountability was making me feel uncomfortable.

Discovering that the Scenic Rim had petroleum exploration licences covering it was overwhelming at the time and, when combined with managing a family and busy dairy, I was tempted to ‘just accept what I can’t change’. A communicator and leader, it was Heidi’s indignant verbal throwing up of her arms to my negative thoughts that rerouted me away from my apathy. I decided to 'at least let others know about the exploration licences'.

Public meetings juggling computers and dongles for internet access followed. It was surprising how many people I knew and didn’t know came along to find out if their properties came under these exploration licences. Shockingly, most properties in the Scenic Rim were under one type of exploration licence or another.

The meetings were followed by a Protestors on Peaks national day of action. People from all over the Scenic Rim climbed to the top of mountains and unfurled home-made banners. We were personally involved in the banner on top of The Lost World (Mt Razorback) in the Lamington National Park – STOP CSG in the LOST WORLD VALLEY. Those who were unable to climb stretched out their own banners in the paddocks and cultivations.

It was with horror we then found a drill rig in our area at Kerry. With the relevant companies holding the licences unable to produce plans for thorough, relevant baseline testing before exploration, we wondered how we should approach this new situation.

After much deliberation and local consultation, Michael and I decided that we would support a coordinated resistance to the drilling. We weighed up all the facts. The resource company (Arrow at the time) was drilling with the intent of fracking without having done the science to prove it would not affect our limited underground water and without comprehensive relevant baseline testing. Without the baseline testing, we would be unable to prove their actions caused damage. ……. but wait ………..without the science to prove it wouldn't damage our water they shouldn’t even be starting it!

And so, the thought process went on……

We discussed it all with other locals. I can remember sitting in the office watching the emails and seeing a note come in from John Shirley. It had a simple message and I can’t remember the exact words but it was along the lines of 'if you blockade you can use our property beside it to camp on'. I printed it out and placed it under Michael’s eyes. He was sitting beside Heidi Ross, who had Innes Larkin by her side.

And so, the blockade began.

Early on the morning of 12 January 2012, locals gathered at our place, chairs at hand, twitching nervously and chattering quietly. Michael and the kids scooped up our chairs into the back of the ute and bravely drove off while I stayed home and milked.

To say we were out of our comfort zone would be a massive understatement. We were confident though, that we had the right to defend our land, our water and our right to produce clean, healthy food that would pass every quality assurance test. We were confident we had the right to say: “Do the science first! You don’t have the right to damage our ability to produce food or damage the world we live in irreversibly." We had the right to say that there was evidence from landholders that all has not gone to plan in western Queensland. We were confident we needed to demand comprehensive baseline testing, so in the event of problems it could be proven the damage had been caused by the resource company.

And so, our mantra – science first and comprehensive relevant baseline testing!

As the locals flowed in, Heidi and Innes carried the frontline supported by Cassie McMahon. People were arrested, meals were made, delivered and shared. Comfort zones were pushed and kids played while their parents chatted.

After a couple of days, ‘outsiders’ appeared. At first, they were treated with mistrust but, as we got to know each other, a lovely thing happened, realisation that we were all on the same side and that we could all work together – and work together we did. Locals came and went, providing food and facilities, while visitors camped (on John and Annette Shirley’s property) and kept vigil at night. An outsider climbed the rig in dramatic fashion and a local threw down his hat in the most moving of closing speeches.

That we managed to hold this blockade for 10 days and successfully disrupt the resource company’s drilling was not a miracle. It was the result of wonderful genuine leadership from Heidi, Innes and Michael combined with locals who were prepared to stand up for their basic rights supported by visitors who were prepared to put their money where their mouth was.

We still, to this day, do not have the science to prove that fracking won’t damage underground water. To my knowledge, there is not yet comprehensive and fully relevant baseline testing of every parameter that CSG extraction can affect.

While we may not have been able to convince the government or the resource industry of the need for due diligence, the incredible achievement of removing CSG exploration or extraction from not only Kerry but also the whole of the Scenic Rim is one we should all be proud of!

Congratulations to all the people who were part of this amazing piece of history!

MOVING MOUNTAINS heidi ross' story

I just went to war … to make it impossible for them.

There was a time when stopping coal and coal seam gas in the Scenic Rim dominated my life. For close to two years I put everything aside and just worked to make sure it didn’t happen.

I couldn’t believe that miners could legally drill within 200 metres of our houses and tourism retreats. And, if they found enough gas or coal (which lots of test bores apparently did), they could turn our homelands into dusty coal mines, gas fields and hills criss-crossed with access roads with trucks and mining vehicles dominating it all.

I just went to war. More than 80 per cent of our region was covered with exploration permits. Other communities taken over by mining said we needed to fight… and fast. We needed to make sure miners and the government knew we would do anything and everything to make it impossible for them to set up here. So we did.

I was inspired by the energy and passion of Innes and Tracey Larkin from Mt Barney Lodge and we quickly became the key organising team for Keep The Scenic Rim Scenic. We were fiercely determined to spread the word and make sure everyone understood the urgency. It was relentless.

Looking back, I feel sick to the stomach to realise how much we gave up to do this. My photo timeline reflects little periods of life interspersed with gas, gas, gas (and a bit of coal). Crowded public meetings, yellow triangles everywhere, the breathtaking banners on our magnificent Scenic Rim peaks and, of course, the blockade.

My dogged determination wasn’t healthy but it was how I lived it. In retrospect, it took a big toll on my personal life, mental health, marriage, family, health and business. I have huge gratitude for my husband at the time, Steve Ross, who somehow held together our lives while I was deep in the trenches of our war.

I put a lot of energy into getting media coverage. Surely the State Government and others would see they’d made a mistake.

Regional communities across Australia were also running resistance campaigns. In Gloucester, they’d got results by physically standing in front of a worksite to stop mining activity and force dialogue. That seemed extreme, but our letter writing and requests for consultation weren’t getting big results. We needed to force Arrow Energy to see the Scenic Rim community did not accept their plans. This was the tipping point. We were blockade virgins and terrified but we felt we had nothing to lose.

Charged with adrenaline, we went head-to-head blocking access to Arrow’s Kerry Valley drill rig. I stood that first day and every day after, glued to my phone co-ordinating media and also part of the key team holding our blockade together. When Daniel Robins climbed the rig, Arrow Energy was suddenly willing to talk. At first they said our requests seemed fair and reasonable, but they quickly recanted. It was harrowing but we were steadfast and strong.

More and more people were willing to get involved and to be arrested. I believe Arrow Energy realised they were losing the PR battle and the delays from our blockade were bleeding them financially. On radio, soon-to-be Queensland Premier Campbell Newman told Arrow they were not welcome in the Scenic Rim and they ‘should pack their bags and go home’.

Some time later, drilling records submitted to the Mining department proved the company pulled out of the region before their drill rig reached the full depth of the coal seam.

Arrow taunted the Scenic Rim community for a few years, renewing permits and announcing viable reserves of gas. It’s a spectre that haunted us and I notice an element of fight and flight still lives in my body. Arrow might be gone, but the State Government still hasn’t committed to a permanent ban on coal and gas mining in the region.

In 2016, I moved away from the Scenic Rim. I’m now owner-building a house on Coochiemudlo Island, but I’m never far away if the bastards try to come back.

Heidi's book Mongrel Dogs of the Scenic Rim packed with photos, paintings and personal accounts, is a celebration of human connection and a fierce desire to protect what we love. 

The printed coffee table book is available from The Centre in Beaudesert, or you can buy it direct from Heidi online for $24.99 including postage. 

MOVING MOUNTAINS paul coyne's story

I’m a great believer in Sun Tzu’s strategy of “Win first, then go to war”. My goal was to find a fatal flaw in the ambition of Allegiance Coal.

In 2002, my role as an IT Consultant allowed me to work remotely, leading me to purchase a 49 hectare property at Croftby. By 2005 I had established a home there, taking advantage of the stunning views across to Mt Moon and the Great Dividing Range.

I had long held concerns about the impacts of mining on the unique and ancient landscapes of this amazing country, and I was fortunate enough to travel widely where I was able to see these impacts first hand. Along the way I visited the Argyle Diamond Mine and the Mount Whaleback iron ore mine in Western Australia, and the massive Leigh Creek Coal Mine in South Australia.

Arriving home from travels in late August 2011, I saw an article in the Fassifern Guardian about the ambitions of Allegiance Coal to progress a Mineral Development Licence over an area of 244 hectares at Croftby to a Mining Lease. A five-million tonne open-cut coal mine with a life of 15 years was planned.

This led to me working with neighbours to establish the Croftby Community Group - another BOSS subcommittee - where I was able to help coordinate and communicate community objections to the proposed mine. Croftby was also being targeted for CSG, so in early September the group aligned its efforts with KTSRS. Over time, the Croftby Community Group evolved to become a collective of some 120 people who were desperate to ensure the unique values of the Scenic Rim were protected.

It was a challenging time and required significant effort from a lot of people but, in the end, Allegiance Coal surrendered its Mineral Development Licence on 27 November 2014.

After retiring, using what I had learnt living at Croftby, I transitioned to part-time work providing environment consultancy services. In 2019, I moved to the Redlands to be closer to my children and grandchildren, and remain involved in environmental projects.

Paul prepared a detailed report - a personal perspective on the community fight against the proposed Mintovale open-cut coal mine at Croftby and Arrow Energy’s Coal Seam Gas ambitions across the Scenic Rim.