Go to


Bottom of Page

Go to

The Motley Expeditions

Views from the Other Side

Strolls in the Bush

Travels round my Family

My Life as an Engineer

Barraba Red Hatters

Go on the Web to

Eco-Camping Australia

The Highway Wanderers Chapter of the CMCA

The Australian Skeptics

My Daughter's Blog

Jan 2011

A Film about some problems in the USA

I went to the cinema in the Playhouse Hotel this afternoon to watch a film called GASLAND.

The introductory film was a ballet at the Covent Garden theatre in London. I was really taken by the wonderful music but my initial response to the ballet was less enthusiastic. Later on I was really taken by the ballet dancers who were interpreting the music wonderfully and I became very emotional.

The documentary, GASLAND, was about the very bad effects on the people in the USA resulting from the improper behaviour of the Natural Gas industry.

In 2005 the Bush government responded to advice from Dick Cheney, the Vice President, who was earlier the CEO of Halliburton, one of the firms involved in the Natural Gas industry, who suggested that the industry needed to be denied any need to meet the requirements of the health and safety laws.

The documentary maker had been offered a significant payment for permission for a company to put a natural gas well on his property. He decided to do a bit of research and toured the country visiting people who believed they had suffered from contamination of their water supply as a result of the introduction of natural gas wells on and around their properties.

He interviewed many people who had suffered very severe health effects and some who had animals suffering from health effects. He also interviewed a doctor who explained that many people had suffered severe health effects from the wells. He had people demonstrate that water from their taps could be ignited. He took film shots of the condensate tanks at some of the wells using an infrared camera which revealed that the tanks were emitting clouds of gas into the atmosphere. People had complained about the awful smells and had reported the occurrence of asthma in their children.

He also took a water sample and had it analysed by a professional laboratory. The results were very bad.

He also discovered that the companies refused to reveal what chemicals they were using in their rock fracturing water. The companies had claimed that there was no bad effects from the wells but the victims did not believe this.

He also showed a map of the USA with all the natural gas well marked by small red dots. The map was incredible because there were many tens of thousands of dots. When he set out to return home, he hoped to avoid any more contact with natural gas wells but he found that there we wells visible fro all the highways he traversed.

I understand that most of these reports are anecdotal evidence which does not necessarily prove that the industry was causing damage to the environment and the people. The doctor's report and the existence of the law which exempted the industry from the health, safety, and water quality laws, are not anecdotal so they prove that there is a real problem in the USA because the government removed the control of the companies in regard to health and safety. One of the reports was that the Environment Protection Agency has had its budget reduced and had to reduce its staffing by a large number. This seems to confirm that the government is not concerned about the fundamental protection of the population.

My response was that the modern right wing economic theories support the making of lots of money but do not require and protection of the people. My understanding is that the purpose of government is to establish all the services the population need which can only provided by the government. Health and safety are clearly services which should be included.

Posted: 23/1/11 7:44 PM

Barraba Artisans and Farmers Market

On Wednesday evening, Dave Drummond, the organiser of the Barraba Artisans and Farmers Market had a second information meeting. About a dozen people attended because ha had only invited earlier contacts without a public notice.

His presentation was most impressive. He focussed primarily on his objective; to make the market day attractive to visitors from the region. He would like to have lots of support from the people and businesses in town to make the market part of the promotion of the town.

In the question time some of the audience complained about the proposed fees for market stalls and for membership of Barraba Community Inc which is the management organisation but he made the point that the necessary publicity will need funding to ensure the success of the market.

I was fascinated by the DVD about the Adelaide Showground Market and the Willunga Market which are very suitable models for us to follow because they have been very successful.

I responded to the stuff about Willunga because "I've been there". It is a small town in the McLaren Vale south of Adelaide and we used to go there when we were grey nomads to visit one of Jean's friends from Avon. When we were there the town was a lot like Barraba, A village near bigger towns and cities. The film showed how much the town, including the shops in the town, had benefited from the market because it attracted a significant number of visitors to the town on every market day.

I agree with Dave's ambitions and hope that there are achieved.

One of the points he made was that a website would be an expensive thing so I offered to help overcome that problem. The new Barraba.com.au website run by the Chamber of Commerce is an expensive thing but there are alternative ways of establishing new websites which are not expensive but rather simply depend on volunteer efforts and the contribution of a cheap or free server.

Posted: 21/1/11 3:49 PM

Another demonstration of the lack of good principles in the Anglican Church

I read in yesterday's paper that the Anglican Diocese of Sydney told the organisers of the annual International Women's Day March that they must find a new site for the start of their march. They claim that Sydney Square which has been the starting point of the march for many years belongs to the church. It is in reality a part of the open space in the centre of the CBD next to the town hall and the fact that the church is of the view that it can deny citizens access to the Square reveals their patriachal philosophy even when this action does not seem to me to align with their claimed Christian principles.

The newspaper report made the point that the Sydney Diocese prescribes that women must submit to the "headship" of men in the church and in their marriage. I believe that this arrises from a male interpretation of the Bible which latches onto a personal view expressed by Saint Paul about "headship". Of course St Paul was a founder of the church but his leader, Jesus Christ, didn't express this view and Christian principles of equity and fairness do not support this patriachal stuff.

I remember years ago visiting Chester Cathedral when I lived in England and being ejected by a priest because there was some specific event in progress. I was taught to understand that the Church of England had no right to tell people that they couldn't enter the church because the law required that all Church of England churches are accessible to all people. This law seemed to be appropriate as the Church of England was the official national church and was permitted to have representative in the House of Lords, the second house of the parliament of the nation.

We also visited Salisbury Cathedral when we visited England in the 1994 and were horrified to be required to pay fees for our visit. We later visited Beverly Minster and were impressed with the very pleasant welcome we received from the people in there which demonstrated to me that some Anglicans actually behave in a very Christian manner.

Of course we did have problems with the Anglican Church in Forestville when our children were in the congregation and the fellowship because the vicar turned out to be a sinner and his wife who ran the women's fellowship supported the "headship" thing.

Posted: 18/1/11 8:41 AM

The lovely visitor is back in the back yard

This afternoon, I was trimming a lot of tall weed in the back yard with my new brush cutter.

As I was nearing the end of the job, i was just topping some small weeds near Elsie May's fence when the beautiful blue tongue lizard ran away from the machine into the next door garden. I was so glad I didn't hurt it and I was astounded that it is still resident in our place.

Yesterday, Elsie May and a friend asked if they could trim the privet hedge and I, of course, said "Of course, and thank you very much for offering". I left them to it and was amazed when they took to the hedge with a chain saw and left lots of stumps which they think will grow again next season. The guy had a ute and trailer which he used to take all the cuttings to the tip.

I thanked them very much for the good work they had done, saving me from some very physically demanding tasks.

Posted: 8/1/11 4:26 PM

Some very useful information about the Woodsreef Mine Site

When we were looking at the tailings heap at the mine site I thought we needed to know how much asbestos was left in the tailings. As an engineer, I thought that the mine process would have extracted as much of the asbestos as possible so the amount remaining in the tailing could be quite small.

I recently received copy of an email from the MD of Imcor which contained some information about the proposed project to process the tailing to recover large quantities on Magnesium and Silica.

When I was discussing the email with my colleague, the Secretary of the CDC, she told me that he had told her that the tailing contained only a small %age of asbestos.

The information probably needs confirming from the technical reports on the analysis of the tailings. But if we can get copies of the reports, we can make the point that the tailings heap is much less dangerous than the original mining process which is thought to have cause only a small number of cases of asbestosis and therefore people should not consider the mine site a significant health hazard.

This would be a useful piece of information when we make efforts to attract people to Barraba.

Posted: 8/1/11 2:35 PM

Another Adventure

Today. Ian took Jeremy, Rachel, and me, on another adventure. See below for the previous adventure.

We went to Split Rock Dam via a back road through some beautiful countryside.

When we arrived at the dam we found the dam wall closed to visitors which was a pity. The viewing platform had a sign with all the characteristics of the dam quantified. It didn't include the current level of water in the dam.

We drove round to the camping area and the boating site and we saw lots and lots of water. The current level is about 20%.. We discussed what it would look like at 100% and the conversation included the thought that the surface area would increase dramatically and the depth would only increase a bit.

When we left the dam, Ian headed for the Crow Mountain road to take us to the Woodsreef Mine. The road was quite rough and quite windy. The country side was pretty impressive with lots and lots of big healthy trees.

The Mine site which used to produce white asbestos and has been closed since 1983 was pretty impressive. The tailings heap was very large but quite compact and not producing any dust so the idea that it is dangerous because of the risk of inhaling asbestos is almost zero. The mine building is very large but very dilapidated. The mine pit is very, very big and presently has a lake in the bottom because of the recent rainfall.

Posted: 1/1/11 5:40 PM

A Wonderful Adventure

Last Wednesday, Rachel and Jeremy wanted to visit the CSIRO Radio Telescope at Culgoora, 25 km out of Narrabri. None of the kids wanted to come so just the three of set out after breakfast.

I decided to go via Cobadah and Upper Horton to minimise the distance we had to drive. We had a marvellous drive through a lot of beautiful countryside of mountains and bushland.

When we got into the Mount Kaputar National Park we stopped to visit Sawn Rocks. We were most happy to be there. On the way to the viewing platform we met a little Water Monitor lizard on the walkway. It wasn't afraid of us but it did want to get off the walkway back into the bush.

When we got to the Sawn Rocks we were impressed by the visible geology of the remnants of a very ancient lava flow which had solidified in a very crystalline manner into a huge array of many many vertical pillars of rock about ten to thirty centimetres across adjacent to one another.

On the way from Narrabri to the observatory we came across a road killed monitor lizard on the road which I moved to the road reserve to save the carrion eaters from being at risk of road kill themselves. Rachel saw a dead crow on the road a few metres behind the lizard so she moved it off the road too thinking that it had probably been killed by a vehicle while it was eating the dead lizard.

Went to the Visitor Centre at the observatory and saw lots of posters about what the radio telescope does. We were attracted to one of the six radio telescope dishes nearest the centre because it was moving to aim at the new target and it made a great mechanical noise because it is such a big machine.

We went back to Narrabri for lunch and then headed south to Boggabri to return to Barraba up a back road through some different beautiful countryside. We crossed the Namoi River where it had flooded several adjoining fields. We also saw lots of beautiful birds.

It was a wonderful adventure for all three of us.

Posted: 1/1/11 5:24 PM
Revised: 2/1/11 4:02 PM


Mar 2014

Feb 2014

Jan 2014

Dec 2013

Nov 2013

Oct 2013

Sept 2013

Aug 2013

Jul 2013

Jun 2013

May 2013

Apr 2013

Mar 2013

Feb 2013

Jan 2013

Dec 2012

Nov 2012

Oct 2012

Sep 2012

Aug 2012

Jul 2012

Jun 2012

May 2012

Apr 2012

Mar 2012

Feb 2012

Jan 2012

Dec 2011

Nov 2011

Oct 2011

Sep 2011

Aug 2011

Jul 2011

Jun 2011

May 2011

Apr 2011

Mar 2011

Feb 2011

Dec 2010

Nov 2010

Oct 2010

Sep 2010

Aug 2010

Jul 2010

Jun 2010

May 2010

Apr 2010

Mar 2010

Feb 2010

Jan 2010

Dec 2009

Nov 2009

Oct 2009

Sep 2009

Aug 2009

Jul 2009

Jun 2009

May 2009

Apr 2009

Mar 2009

Feb 2009

Jan 2009

Dec 2008

Nov 2008

Oct 2008

Sep 2008

Aug 2008

Jul 2008

Jun 2008

May 2008

Apr 2008

Top of Page - Next Month

Created: 1/01/11 and last revised 30/03/2014
Author: Robin Chalmers - Copyright in all the material on this site is asserted by the author.
Contact the webmaster