Monday 13 March 2023





One of the Grafton’s longest running protest groups, The Knitting Nanna Agains Gas, couldn’t let the opening of Nationals Clarence candidate Richie Williamson’s campaign office go without comment.

On balance they have been pleased to see current Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis take a stand against coal seam gas mining in the region.

Spokesperson Leonie Blain said Mr Gulaptis was on the record calling for a CSG ban in the Clarence Valley, but not everyone in the Coalition was on board.

“We came here today to remind the Nationals candidate that the Clarence Valley expects a similar stance from Mr Gulaptis’s successor before we go to the polls,” Ms Blain said.

After the 2015 State election, where Ballina fell to the Greens and the Lismore and Tweed results caused heart tremors for the party, CSG, the Nationals read the tea leaves.

”It’s the biggest issue of concern coming out of the election,” he said. “It would be wrong to ignore it – the community want a gas-field free Northern Rivers,” Mr Gulaptis said at the time.

But others in the party were less supportive, notably outgoing leader Andrew Stoner, who, in his valedictory speech, supported the industry and berated its opponents.

He said they were running “the mother of all scare campaigns, driven and funded by individuals and groups ideologically opposed to the use of any fossil fuels.”

Ms Blain said getting away from all fossil fuel was vital and CSG also remained a threat to farming and food production.

Ms Blain feared the so-called “energy crisis” in Australia and the controversy over gas prices could encourage people to rethink their opposition to CSG mining.

Last week four of the group put up signs outside the Nationals candidate Richie Williamson’s campaign offce in Prince St Grafton.

Four of the Knitting Nannas, Ms Blain, Sarah Fletcher, Diane Dadswell and Nancy Eggins stayed for a couple of hours while the Nationals faithful launched their Clarence Valley election HQ.


The Northern Rivers Times.  March 9, 2023.

Tuesday 28 February 2023


In an article published in "The Echo" on February 13 this year David Lowe remembers Deb  Whitley who died late last year.


 On Saturday a large group of friends and family gathered to remember ‘eco-warrior’ Deb Whitley at her beautiful property in Glenugie, south of Grafton.

A keen swimmer and lover of nature, Ms Whitley became well-known across the Northern Rivers when she became the first woman to lock on to a Metgasco truck, in an effort to stop the company from establishing an unconventional gas field in the region.

On 4 December 2012, the non-violent blockade of the Avenue, then a sleepy rural lane through a spotted gum forest (now the road to a new prison, bisected by the new freeway), had attracted concerned citizens from across the Northern Rivers, and beyond.

Following Davey Bob Ramsey’s example at the Shannonbrook CSG Ponds, Deb Whitley locked herself under a truck which was attempting to enter the Glenugie site and had been stopped by protesters.

She was accompanied by buddy Philippe Dupuy (later to be arrested for tunnelling under the Metgasco site entrance at Doubtful Creek).

The truck driver refused to turn off his engine, leading to a tense situation, which ended when police arrived to arrest and remove Ms Whitley.

Defying her conditions, she later returned to the blockade site, becoming a key participant in the events of Bloody Monday (7 January 2013), when riot police violently removed peaceful protectors who were blockading the road.

Local legend

The 2012-13 Glenugie blockade was close to Ms Whitley’s property on Aerodrome Road. She achieved prominence for the fact that she was motivated by a desire to protect her home, the water and her neighbours, as she stated in numerous media interviews, which significantly raised the profile of the gas issue.

Unlike the media stereotype of the typical protester, Deb Whitley worked locally, didn’t have dreadlocks and wasn’t a blow-in. At the time she was described as an ‘ordinary person’, but her courage was far from ordinary.

Her action inspired numerous other people to take a similar stand, initially at Glenugie, then at Doubtful Creek, and finally at Bentley, where Metgasco was ultimately forced to leave the region after all local gas exploration licences were suspended.

Originally from Manly in Sydney, Deb Whitley’s joyful approach to life belied the fact that she experienced great tragedy in her life even before she took her stand at Glenugie, losing her partner, two sons and a sister over a short period.

She overcame cancer once, but after she broke her hip, the cancer returned, and she died late last year.

The Northern Rivers remains in Deb Whitley’s debt.

Audiences will be able to celebrate Ms Whitley’s courage again in the forthcoming film Confusing Them With Our Joy, which tells the epic story of the Northern Rivers’ fight against unconventional gas.


 Deb giving a media interview at Glenugie 2012
Photo: David Lowe


When the Grafton Knitting Nannas against Gas were formed later 

in the Glenugie  campaign, Deb joined the Knitting Nanna Grafton Loop.

Friday 9 December 2022


The Grafton Nannas were urged to get active again before the end of the year by that feisty, opinionated anti-gas campaigner, Nanna Kerry.  Her last outing with her compatriots was on June 30 in Lismore at the celebration of 10 years of nannering campaigning.  According to Nanna K it was well past time they took her to a knit-in outside the office of the Member for Clarence, Chris Gulaptis.



So the Nannas set up in the heat and enjoyed a short knit-in before heading off to lunch.  They were all disappointed that the local member did not venture out for a chat as they wanted to raise two very serious concerns with him.

The first was to say how horrified they were at the State Government's plans for a waste to energy incinerator at Casino.  They know that this will be grossly polluting and are astounded that the Government - after its experience with the local community during the Metgasco coal seam gas fiasco - thought that they could impose another polluting industry on the area.

The second was their concern about the gas pipeline from Santos' Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga to Newcastle which will pass through a prime agricultural area.

As Mr Gulaptis is retiring at the election in March next year, Nanna Kerry would have enjoyed meeting him again.  That is rather surprising as the last time she met him, he was far from complimentary to her.  However, despite this disappointment, she greatly enjoyed her interaction with her Grafton colleagues who showed her how much they enjoyed her company.



Saturday 14 May 2022


The Grafton Nannas' election wish list, which was published in the 

"Clarence Valley Independent" on May 4, is printed below.


The Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas is hoping that the upcoming federal election will result in a parliament that deals effectively and in a cooperative manner with the major issues facing our nation.  We want a Government that is firmly focused on our long-term national interest.

The Nannas have quite an extensive wish-list for our next Government.  At the top of this list is effective government action on climate change.

We need to cut emissions much more drastically by 2030 to have any chance of limiting the disastrous impacts of climate change that we are now experiencing so regularly. 

As gas is as dirty a fossil fuel as coal, we want the folly of the “gas-led recovery” ditched and government subsidies (taxpayer grants!) to gas projects such as the Beetaloo Basin dropped pronto.  Instead of encouraging the development of new gas or coal projects or the expansion of existing ones, our government should be developing with industry a just transition plan for those workers whose jobs will be lost as the world decarbonises. 

Obviously it also needs to expedite the expansion of renewable energy and encourage the development of new renewable technologies.  But it should not waste any more money on that “pie in the sky” nonsense of carbon capture and storage so beloved of the fossil fuel dinosaurs.  And that’s just a few of our hopes on the climate front. 

Also close to the top of our list is the need for an effective federal integrity commission which has very sharp teeth.  In the interest of the health of our democracy, this body needs to be able to investigate public servants AND politicians and to hold open hearings.  We need a Government that is much more open to scrutiny and answerable to the community. 

And there’s more on our wish-list. We’d like to see reform of political donations laws, improvements to health, education, aged care, and unemployed support.  But I won’t enlarge on these matters now.


Leonie Blain 

On behalf of the Grafton Nannas


Thursday 18 November 2021


After beginning the year very quietly the Grafton Loop of the Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed have managed to hold a number of  knit-ins despite the wet weather and floods. 

The second 2021  knit-in was held on April 8 outside the Prince Street premises of our state member, Chris Gulaptis.  This dealt once again with the plight of koalas and the NSW Government’s failure to ensure their protection. Sadly Mr Gulaptis has been one of the prime movers in the National party for weakening koala protection.

 Nannas knitting for koalas outside the office of MP Chris Gulaptis April 8


 At the next knit-in on Thursday 22nd April the Nannas joined in a community campaign – Fund Our Future Not Gas – in the lead-up to the 11th May Federal Budget. 

Those participating in this campaign included Nannas from around the state, and GetUp.  The aim was to raise awareness about the folly of the federal government’s gas led recovery and highlight what budget money should be spent on to improve the lot of all Australians – not just the polluting fossil fuel companies which the Government plans to shower with largesse.

Surveying passers-by about budget funding (22 April)

Interested passers-by were asked what they thought should be in the budget.  Among the suggestions were improved funding for aged care, hospitals and health, education, the NDIS, public housing, Closing the Gap, the ABC, renewable energy, and climate action. 

The Nannas wrote to Kevin Hogan about these suggestions and other comments they received as well as calls for an effective Federal ICAC.

The Federal Budget did not take the issue of climate change seriously and was the focus of the next knit-in - also outside Mr Hogan's unattended Prince Street office - on May 27.

May 27 Knit-in

Following the May 27 meeting the Nannas  hibernated for over five months.
The climate crisis and the approaching federal election (likely to be held in March or May next year)  have stirred them into action again with a knit-in being held outside Hogan's office on November 18.