More than 55,000 ha will be added to the national tally of land declared Gasfield Free by local communities when the residents of Wandobah, near Gunnedah in NSW make their community declaration today, Sunday, August 31.
The occasion will be marked with an official ceremony at a hut in the Goran State Forest that according to local folklore was used by bush balladeer Banjo Paterson more than a century ago.
Lock the Gate north-west NSW regional coordinator Megan Kuhn said it was fitting that the ceremony take place at a hut once used by one the nation’s best loved poets and a champion of the bush.
Banjo Paterson’s famous Geebung Polo Club poem is understood to have been inspired by the Quirindi Polo Club which was keenly supported by locals from Wandobah.
“Banjo Patterson would turn in his grave if he could see the damage to land, water, country and community that the unconventional gas invasion is wreaking across rural Australia,” Ms Kuhn said.
“The community of Wandobah is fighting back against the invasion with a public declaration that the gas industry is not welcome here.
“The declaration follows months of door knocking, conversations and a comprehensive community survey that found more than 94 per cent of people in the area do not want to live in a gasfield.”
Wandobah resident Kelly Mason said she feared for the future of her district with Santos already planning to set up a workers camp in the forest near the historic hut.
“My husband and I had wanted to settle in the area, because we love it, but now we aren’t so sure because we don’t want to bring up a family in the middle of a gasfield,” Mrs Mason said.
Local farmers and graziers Rob and Judy Frend said they feared for the future of agriculture in the region if the area became a gasfield.
“The promise of short term monetary windfalls should not outweigh possible long term consequences,” Mr Frend said.
Gasfield Free Communities is a social movement that started in Northern NSW two years ago and has since spread virally around Australia, with more than 2.6 million hectares of productive agricultural land so far declared off limits in the north west region alone, to the unconventional gas industry by local communities.
Further information: Megan Kuhn 0427 476 232