Wednesday, 26 July 2017


      Grenfell's "Knit, Natter and Nibble" ladies are part of an army of Australians who knit and crochet ten inch squares throughout the year to make wraps for distribution by the Wrap With Love charity to people here and overseas who need a little extra warmth. During the month of July for the last seven years they have met in the library every Wednesday morning to work on squares and enjoy a friendly 'natter' and morning tea. Numbers have fluctuated but a core of interested people have returned every year, with our unofficial patron being Dot Lamkin.
      Wrap With Love began in 1992 when Sonia Gidley-King was moved by the plight of Mozambiquan refugees portrayed in a TV documentary to use up old wool in making blankets to provide warmth for 'cold humanity'. She and her friends sent thirty-eight wraps that first year. 2017 is the 25th anniversary of that first consignment and now some 400,000 wraps in total have been distributed. In 2016 28,587 wraps and 37,415 squares were received and wraps were sent to Syria, Cambodia, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Australia. A particular size and shape has been chosen as being the most practical to give warmth to an adult.
      Public libraries have long been associated with Wrap With Love, firstly as collection points and later as knitting locations. This library was first involved in 2010. In 2011 440 squares including five completed wraps were sent away. In 2012 this climbed to 638 squares including nine completed wraps and in 2013 741 square equivalents including seventeen completed wraps. By now the tradition of having Brooke Daniels, breakfast presenter with radio 2CR, as special guest on the last morning was well established, ABC radio also being a strong supporter of Wrap With Love. Brooke also took the wraps and squares back to Orange for us.

One of the 2016's colourful wraps displayed by Jenny, Lola,
Jeanie, Dot, Shirley and Roma
     2014 was our peak year with 884 square equivalents including thirty-two completed wraps. This dropped slightly in 2015 to 853 and 28 respectively. In 2016 illness prevented Brooke from attending the final session so the output was not taken to Orange until well into August and also the decision was taken to no longer send unjoined squares so direct comparison with previous years is not possible, but at the final 'Knit, Natter and Nibble' session 522 square equivalents were noted including thirteen completed wraps. The late Nancy Jones deserves special mention for her incredible 140 squares.

Week 3, 2017, and Sandra, Sonia, Jan, Virginia, Cathy, Jenny
and Roma displaying two different styles of wrap.
      At this morning's final session for 2017 there were twenty-six completed wraps and a myriad of squares - well over a hundred -  awaiting assembly. ( A special thank you to Jenny Wells and Pat Verney who both brought in six completed crochet wraps.) So there is a lot of people who will be the warmer for our efforts and at the same time we have been left with a warm feeling from having done something to help other people. Even one contributed square helps make a wrap when combined with others and those who have donated wool over the years have also made a great contribution.

      Congratulations to all who have been involved. It is expected that "Knit, Natter and Nibble" will continue next year in some form so the knitting needles and crochet hooks certainly won't go into retirement!!

That's what twenty-six completed wraps look like!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


      Library Week had a strong puppet flavour at the Grenfell Library this year.

      The first event was the traditional Summer Reading Club Awards Afternoon Tea on Monday, 22nd May. Guest entertainers were the Sydney Puppet Theatre with Sue and Steve presenting the play "Things With Wings"  about Stumpy the caterpillar who dreams of flying and after many adventures including dodging hungry birds and involvement with a garden gnome achieves his ambition when he turns into a butterfly.
      This was followed by the presentation of certificates to members of the 2016/7 Summer Reading Club and then afternoon tea courtesy of those consummate caterers, the Friends of Grenfell Library.

      The following morning Sue and Steve performed "O Rats!" for children from St Josephs School and the Infants department of Grenfell Public School. This show had the children (and the teachers who came with them!!) in gales of laughter with such highlights as dancing sausages and a dismembered duck (think of the parrot in the Monty Python sketch). After the show Sue and Steven invited questions from the children and were very impressed with the quality of the questions asked.

Totally enthralled .....

      Then after school nineteen children made their very own rod puppet under Sue and Steve's tutelage. There was much excitement as the puppets developed and I am sure that they will be treasured possessions for quite some time. One child returned for her third puppet-making workshop and still has the two she made previously.

      Sue and Steve are very skilled at their craft - they do perform internationally - and also very good at helping children create and use their own puppets. This was their third visit to Grenfell and they say that they enjoy coming to the town as much as we enjoy having them.



Monday, 20 March 2017


        The Grenfell launch of the Skywriters Project took place yesterday at Grenfell Public Library. Eight local writers met with programme convenor Dr Merrill Lindsay from Forbes in an informal 'getting to know you' session and introduction to the Project, and all left with an idea in mind for a piece of writing relating to the stars or sky. This is the linking theme because participants' works will be published on the Big Skies Collaboration website and potentially in a Skywriters anthology to be published in 2019, the fiftieth anniversary of humanity's first steps on the moon.
        The value of working within a group was very much in evidence as those present exchanged ideas which led to 'light bulb' moments for several.

Members of the group exchanging ideas over a 'working' lunch.
         Experience within the group ranges from novices who would "like to try my hand at writing" to published writers and at least two people are currently writing a novel. But the project suits everyone because there is plenty of editorial guidance and support available. Registration forms are available at the library and another meeting will be held in a few months' time - it's certainly not too late to get involved!

         Skywriter launches have already been held in Condobolin and Bathurst and launches in nine more towns are scheduled for the next fortnight. Feedback from the launches will assist in future planning. See also the Skywriters Facebook page at for the latest news.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017


      .. or these days that maybe should be keyboard ...

      The Grenfell launch of the Skywriters Project will be held in the Grenfell Library on Monday, 20th March, from 12 noon. Attendees will be able to interact informally over lunch (supplied) before an introductory session about the Project from convenor Dr Merrill Findlay.

       What is the Skywriters Project? Essentially its purpose is to promote the art of writing and support writers working in central New South Wales. Writers and aspiring writers in towns across the target area will work on stories or poems in any genre that relate in some way to celestial phenomena in the Southern Sky - and with a bit of creativity you can weave that link into most plots or lines of thought! Those involved will be guided through the process of writing from initial concept to published work through a series of free writing workshops and support from professional editors including online support. And as a byproduct relationships between writers will develop which will ensure there is ongoing encouragement and support for what can be a difficult, even lonely, endeavour.
         Finished works of us to 3,000 words - fiction, nonfiction, prose or poetry - will be published on the Big Skies Collaboration website and may also be included in a Skywriters Anthology to be published in 2019, the fiftieth anniversary of humanity's first steps on the moon. The project is funded through the NSW Regional Arts Fund and hosted by Arts OutWest although local libraries will be the settings for the actual meetings and workshops.
        The Skywriters Project is part of a larger initiative, the Big Skies Collaboration, a creative coming together of arts practitioners, astronomers and local communities to celebrate millennia of astronomies on the inland plains and share their stories about their own or other people’s relationships with the cosmos in rural NSW from Cowra to Narrabri, Condo to Bathurst to Orange, Cowra and Forbes. Hence 'Skywriters' - writers who take their inspiration from the sky.

        More information about the project can be found at

         There is also a facebook site with current information at
(there's a good picture/post based on Merrill's visit to Grenfell a fortnight or so ago!)

          To find out more come to the launch with your questions and find out whether Skywriters is for you. And remember ....
                             When you write of what's out there
                             Let your mind run where it will -
                             Pen adventure, romance, thrill;
                             Makes no difference what your skill -
                             Creative pride is what you'll share!.


     Grenfell Public Library in association with the Friends of Grenfell Library held a very successful Seniors Morning Tea yesterday (7th). Sixty people attended (twice as many as last year!) and enjoyed the traditional mix of entertainment, food and friendship.

     The morning commenced with a reminder that while being a senior has its drawbacks -
for example your back goes out more than you do, your knees buckle but your belt won't, you and your teeth no longer sleep together - there are advantages - the older you get the better you realize you were and being 'over the hill' is much better than being under it. (The jokes didn't improve much as the morning progressed .....)

      Interspersed with all sorts of culinary goodies were three entertainment items. The first came from the two Year 12 Music students from The Henry Lawson High School, Shannon Best and Kira Gibson, who each sang a number accompanied by music teacher Brodie McKnight on guitar to a great reception from the audience.
Kira Gibson performing accompanied by Brodie McKnight
with Shannon Best waiting in the wings to perform.
      John Hetherington has entertained with his recitations at almost every Seniors Morning Tea and all enjoyed his rendition of a comic Henry Lawson poem.

       The third item was a bracket of three songs from locals Gordon and Naomi Steninhardt. This was a first appearance for Gordon and Naomi but they were a great hit with the audience and have already been invited back next year. They sang "Che Sara, Sara" with everyone joining in the choruses, that great Australian song "We've Done Us Proud", and an original song of social comment written by Gordon, "I Would Love to See Australia the Way it Used to Be", which made a great impact and had many of us suggesting he seek to have it recorded.
Impressive local duo Gordon and Naomi Steinhardt
      Each of the entertainers selected winners of the lucky door prizes and some dozen attendees won prizes including chocolates, mugs, biscuits, even a small recipe book.

      During the morning "Happy Birthday" was sung to Gloria Stien (we never did find out how many years were being celebrated....). Gloria and husband Allan have been regular attendees at the Senior Morning Teas over the years.

      Events like the Senior Morning Teas don't happen without a lot of work behind the scenes and many thanks go to the hard-working members of the Friends of Grenfell Library.

Some of the lucky door prize winners .. and they are grinners!!
Workers on the day were Agnes Besant, Barbara O'Meally, JennyG, Elaine Keys and Margaret Whitty, while Geoff Earl helped set up the hall on Monday afternoon. Patricia Smith was also once again a great volunteer addition to the team. The willingness of the entertainers to perform gratis is also much appreciated.
       The final thought of the morning - wrinkles are the road map of life. The more you've got the further you've travelled.

Thursday, 3 November 2016


            Grenfell is justly proud of Henry Lawson, Stan McCabe and Jan Lehane but one sportsman of local origin and international stature, Reggie McNamara, is often overlooked.  Reggie “Iron Man” McNamara was a hero of the professional cycling circuit in the United States in the early 1900s and one of the highest paid athletes in the world in his day. Some of his triumphs are recounted in a recently published book, “Iron Mac: the legend of roughhouse cyclist Reggie McNamara”.

            Reggie McNamara was born in the Morangarell area in 1887, the ninth of fourteen children. He and his brothers enjoyed cycling from an early age and it seems Reggie may have had his first professional ride at the age of eighteen, in a series of races to support the local hospital in Dubbo where the family moved when Reggie was ten. From an early age his strength and endurance stood out.

            The heart of professional cycling at the time was six-day racing and here it was that Reggie starred. He arrived in the United States in 1913 and during a thirty year career won seventeen six-day races plus many shorter events. One famous race in which he competed was over 2,700 miles done in seven days – the Tour de France is 3,300 miles in fifteen days!

            The book is really more about the professional cycling of the age than the life of Reggie, but it does give a fascinating insight into the ‘tricks of the trade’. The aim was to maximize the number of spectators and so it was a bit like professional wrestling in more modern times, an entertainment event as much as an athletic competition. Unfortunately the pressure to perform and a high injury toll led Reggie into alcoholism, destroying his family life. However, showing the same determination he had on a bike he finally overcame his addiction, becoming one of the earliest successes of the Alcoholics Anonymous movement. He died in the U.S. in 1971.
            This book is now available at the library. It is part of next week's New Material's display - reservations are invited ......

Wednesday, 5 October 2016


        Highlighted this week are two books with a positive message to share, a pleasant change from the 'doom and gloom' which seems to permeate our media and sometimes spills over into daily life.
        "Catharine with an A" is the biography of Catharine Keir who grew up in the Bribbaree district and may even be known to some of you. Catharine was the youngest child of Noel and Edna Keir, born with Down Syndrome at a time when there was minimal support for families raising such a child. Indeed the parents were initially told it would be best if Catharine died. But supported by her loving and courageous parents and a bevy of brothers and sisters she learnt to read and write, took part in all the family activities, gave as well as received from those around her and eventually lived independently in Canberra. It's a great cameo of a real family and also an insight into rural life in the mid-twentieth century.

        Events in the Middle East as reported in the media become blacker by the day but to balance that is "I Shall Not Hate", a book by Gaza doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish. In 2009 his wife died of natural causes and three months later an Israeli shell killed his three eldest daughters and a niece. Despite these events he continued to treat Arabs and Jews, making a conscious decision to not hate. His memoir has no bitterness and isn't even a call for sympathy but rather stresses the need for reconciliation. It too is an inspiring book and the Middle East needs many more people of his quality!
           Both these books are available for immediate borrowing ......