Kindness in Kyogle
a report of the Cyanide Watch action
outside the Kyogle Shire Council Chambers
Kyogle NSW Australia, 11 August 2006 captain, Graeme Dunstan, spruiks at the Kyogle Cyanide Watch Speak Out outside the Kyogle Shire Council Chamber, 11 August 2000

What distinguished the Kyogle Cyanide Watch action of 11 August 2006 was the respect and gratitude Kyogle people expressed for it.

"Thanks for coming to town," said Cr Peter Lewis on the PA winding up a public address in which he committed to getting the State Government to reveal the tonnage of cyanide approved for transport through Kyogle - an estimated 30,000 tonnes a year - on the rail line that goes through the centre of town.

Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Kyogle Emergency Services Committee, Cr Peter Lewis, commits to seeking answers about cyanide transport through Kyogle Shire

Likewise the three local police, Snr Constables Mick1, Mick2 and Sgt Rob, who showed up to listen, thanked me. Four mourners passing by from a funeral looked up at the display of flags and banners in the park were heard to exclaim: "Oh, the Peacebus is in town. Isn't it lovely!"

But to the hearts of all the Cyanide Watchers who showed up that day (about 12, mainly Kyogle Shire rural residents associated with the Nimbin Environment Centre) most gratifying was the gift of boomerangs which came at the end.

The PA was off, the action over and we were sitting in a circle on the grass between the Kyogle Shire Council Chambers and the Library, an uncontested presence, occupying public place with grace and confidence, taking chai, debriefing and sharing food.

We had done well. Visible in public place we had spoken our truth and gotten noticed and created some movement. Kyogle Shire Council, thanks to the commitment of Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Kyogle Emergency Services Committee, Cr Peter Lewis, is now on Cyanide Watch. ABC North Coast Radio 2NR had run the story as news.

Cultural movement without manifest friction: to the contrary we had been thanked.

A joint had just circled, but except for the old timer pot heads like me, there were few tokers. Bliss enough it was just being there, sitting in the sun with friends who are fearless about speaking out for the Earth and clean water rights of future generations.

It was then that we noticed an Aboriginal lad shyly approaching with two painted boomerangs.

"My mother has told me to give you these," he said standing at the edge of our circle holding out the boomerangs.

We learned his name was Peter Robinson and that he had done the beautiful brush work himself to designs shown him by his grandmother: one of Goanna and Platypus Dreaming and the other of Kangaroo Dreaming.

Peter had come from an upstairs flat of a near by the fibro building and as I had spruiked, I had seen through parted curtains, black faces and white teeth smiling down on me. Evidently the family had loved the koori/green flags in the park and loved what they were hearing over the PA which must of been loud in their apartment.

When starting up the Speak Out, I had been remiss in not inviting a welcome to country and now our welcome was being recognized with gifts.

And so shyly proffered! Peter so hesitant and unsure and his mother and sister hanging back at the door of the apartment watching, smiling but not wanting to come near.

Our hearts melted as one. We called the women over but only the sister would join us for an embrace of group photos.

From left, John Peace of, ?, Phil of Nimbin Environment Centre, Peter Robinson, Cliff Salaun of Eco Drums and ?

Later we stood holding each other in a circle and, after a parting Om, we counted our blessings and all agreed that this "out of the blue gift giving" was the most beautiful moment of a most beautiful day.

For me it was a sign that like a ship under sail, the Cyanide Watch campaign goes forth in favorable breeze, the blessings of the Dreamtime ancestors of this land breath in its sails.

For the Earth!

May all beings be well and happy.

Graeme Dunstan
27 June 2006


Kyogle is the first major town through which the cyanide transports pass after they come over the Border Ranges from Queensland into New South Wales; the headwaters of the Richmond River is the first NSW to bear the hazard of a spill.

To prepare for the Kyogle action advertised to start at 11 am, captain, Graeme Dunstan, and Peacebus webmaster, Max Stone, had arrived together at about 9.15 am in order to secure the parking places at the end of Stratheden St nearest the Council Chamber.

Graeme worked to array flags and banners; Max set about getting on line and webcam-casting. Yes folks, we were streaming live to the world wide web.

It was a leisurely set up and while we became aware of a funeral gathering outside the near byUniting Church. A council officer came out to us and also made us aware of it. He told us there was no objection to our presence or the flags and banners, but he requested that we respect the funeral: the deceased was a long time Kyogle resident who had lived to 107 years.

"Happy to do so," we replied. "We are in no hurry."

Three days earlier, I had gone to the Kyogle Police Station and introduced myself to two of the local police (Mick1 and Mick2) and briefed them about the event. When they arrived with their Sergeant, I explained the situation and Mick2 kindly approached the funeral director and confirmed that the funeral would be over by 12.10 pm.

The car pooled Nimbin Environment Centre crew arrived about this time. We agreed on a 12.10 pm start, the police departed and we sat about in the park supping tea and chatting. Some took the opportunity for a bit of iop shopping

At 12.10 pm I took for a rolling spruik down the main street of Kyogle, announcing the Cyanide Speak Out and inviting attendence. Just one pass up and own the business precinct then returning to park in front of the flag and banner array.

Not every day a van with painted signage and speaker horns goes through Kyogle. The Toa amp and horns of have excellent sound quality and throw. Our spruik made all the business houses of Kyogle aware of our presence and of the cyanide hazard.

Bearing witness for means first of all, getting noticed. It is not important that a street spruik like this attracts few or no attendees at the following Speak Out. It is enough that it raises passing interest and sparks curiousity and conversation. This way information from other media (print and radio) will get taken up more readily later.

Graeme opened the Speak Out, the speakers facing back up Stratheden Street and away from the Council Chambers and Library, speaking as though to an empty street but conscious that people 100 metres away can hear his words clearly and presence is everything.

First up Graeme introduced and handed the microphone over to Cr Peter Lewis.

Cr Peter Lewis is both Deputy Mayor and Chair of the Kyogle Shire Emergency Services Committee, a monthly gathering of the manangers of the disrict's emergency services providers, fireman, ambulance drivers, SES, police, medial and welfare workers. He had been referred to me by Lisa, Kyogle resident and secretary of the Nimbin Environment Centre. That's the lovely Lisa holding the koori/green flag nearest to Peter.

Peter is as near as the ultra conservative Kyogle Shire Council have to a Green and I met for the first time three days earlier when he took time off from building renovations to talk to me. Peter lives on an M.O. (multiple occupancy, land zoned for hippie hamlet development) to the west of Kyogle and so he was familiar M.O.s in the east of the Shire and closer to Nimbin (eg Nmbngee where Max Stone abides) and sympathetic with the concerns of their residents.

Peter invited me to address the meeting of the Emergency Serives committee that took place in the Kyogle Council Chamber 7 pm Wedsday 9 August; just five minutes including time for questions.

About 12 attended the meeting - all the emergency services only the police were unrepresented. My words were received with interest and respect as I explained my cyanide mission and how in an effort to determine the route of the cyanide bound for the Lake Cowal gold mine, 6000 tonnes a year, I had come to understand that this was just a portion of the mountain of cyanide approved by the NSW government to be shipped down the rail from Gladstone to Brisbane, Brisbane to Sydney, and Sydney west.

I mentioned the 1992 Condobolin derailment and cyanide spill and was supported by the Fire Chief who had briefed on the events. Before leaving the meeting, I asked that help me in determining the answers to three questions:

"How much?
How safe?
Who benefits?"

The next day while doing emails I met Peter again, this time at the Community Technology Centre in Kyogle. It is an active community centre in the town and Peter's wife, Judy, is its manager. Previously I had met a woman named Cloud there and she, a long time resident and political activist, pointed me in all the right directions in terms of local media and community contacts.

Peter reported that after I left the meeting, the Condobolin spill was discussed and the question asked: what if the derailment had happened in Kyogle when the flood rains were beating down? The economic ruin of agriculture and farmers depending on the Richmond River for water was contemplated.

As a starting point for getting a better understanding of the scale of the cyanide hazard, Peter told me that he had the support of the Emergency Serives Committee to recommend to the next meeting of the Kyogle Shire Council that the NSW Minister for Planning be asked to reveal the quantity of cyanide it had approved for shipment through the Shire.

He also agreed to me putting out a media release to that effect. This was timely because the Cyanide Watch campaign needed a news development. I emailed a media release that afternoon and the Lismore based Northern Star, both ABC Radio 2NR and Radio 2LM-ZZZ ran with it the next day.

Cr Peter Lewis used the street mike to confirm his commitment to get the facts. He was warmly applauded for his stand. He in turn warmly thanked and friends for coming to town.

Like all Cyanide Watch Speak Outs, it was an open mike occasion and a few stepped up to practice their oratory. These included Rusty Harris, Kyogle Shire resident and hero of the campaign that closed down the Timbarra gold mine at Timbarra, near Tentafield. See

Phil, another Kyogle Shire resident and also the chair of the Nimbin Environment Centre Management committee also took the mike.

Webmaster, Max Stone also took the mike to explain the web-casting of the event, image and sound. People in Cananda were plugged in watching and listening. And see how at ease and attentive the police are in the background of that top photo.

Max's speech was also the public speaking debut for Graeme's 4 and half year old godson. "Cyanide spills. Cyanide kills," he said into the mike, bravely at first then with diminishing voice, barely audible as he finished with a prayer. "Peace." he whispered. The Earth Reggae track, STOP THE CYANIDE! got a few runs that day playing out on the PA.

To download STOP THE CYANIDE!, Click here

And this is a bunch of hard core Cyanide Watch persons.

After was packed, Max, Journey and I headed to Nimbin by way of Kyogle High School just up the road. Kyogle is built along the rail line which passes close by the Kyogle Hospital and the High School - in fact students cross the line to get to the sports field. Here is what it looks like.

And here is what cyanide freight looks like departing Gladstone where Orica makes about 80,000 tonnes a year of the stuff. Each shipping container holds 20 tonnes and, at one gram per lethal dose, enough to kill every human in Australia ten times over.

Cyanide Watch needs the help of train spotters. Please send information about cyanide freight trains to

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