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First Study in the Series 'Undermining Australia- Fracturing the code of silence'


This ongoing documentary project aims to document different stakeholder perspectives impacted by shale gas exploration and production through hydraulic fracturing (also known as "fracking") in Australia. This first study documents a 5th generation pastoral family in central west Queensland facing their leasehold land being reclaimed for exploration and fracking. 


Making a living on the land demands courage, resilience and persistence to push through adversity. Nature often dictates success or failure in these extreme environments. Drought has always been the fiercest enemy of the Australian farmer. Its impacts on agricultural communities have been diverse and far reaching. 


In the last fifteen years, however, one of the increasing challenges for these pastoral families and their communities is the exploration for shale gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Various types of gas exploration and mining (coal, shale) methodologies have a range of impacts on the environment, communities, and industries, including local farmers and farming communities. Some of the issues raised by areas of the agricultural and pastoral communities in regards to gas exploration and mining in Australia include:

  • water impacts: extraction requires large amounts of water, which can put pressure on local water supplies and impact water quality. There are concerns that some activities can lead to contamination of groundwater and surface water, which can have significant impacts on the health of livestock and crops, and reduce the availability of water for irrigation on local farmers;

  • land use impacts: extraction activities require the clearing of land, construction of infrastructure, and disruption of farming operations. This can result in loss of prime agricultural land, soil compaction, changes to land use patterns, reduced productivity and crop yields, reduced grazing capacity, and reduced income for farmers;

  • air impacts: extraction activities can release methane and other gases into the atmosphere, contributing to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. This can impact the health and wellbeing of local communities, including farmers and their families who may potentially be exposed to air pollution and other environmental hazards associated with activities;

  • social impacts: extraction activities can lead to social and economic impacts on local communities, changes in social structures including the displacement of farmers, loss of livelihoods, and changes to local land use patterns.


While there are many potential and significant negative impacts of exploration and mining on farming communities in Australia, there are also some potential benefits:

  • exploration and mining can potentially bring economic benefits to farming communities, including broader employment opportunities, increased revenue for local businesses, and royalties paid to landowners;

  • Infrastructure development: companies may invest in local infrastructure, such as roads and telecommunications, which can benefit the broader community, including farmers;

  • Improved land management: in some cases it has been reported that activities and supporting infrastructure  have led to improvements in land management practices, including soil and water management, which can lead to improved productivity and sustainability;

  • Increased access to water: In some cases, companies have worked with farmers to provide access to water resources, including treatment and reuse of produced water, which can benefit farmers in areas with limited water availability.


Many of the potential and probable impacts of exploration and mining on local farmers and farming communities in Australia hold significant risk and need to be carefully considered in any decision-making process. It is important to ensure that appropriate regulations and safeguards are in place to protect the environment, communities, and industries affected by activities. It is important to note that the potential benefits of exploration and mining must be weighed against the potential negative impacts on farming communities, including impacts on water quality and availability, loss of prime agricultural land, and impacts on social and cultural values. Any decision to pursue activities must be made in a consultative,  transparent and accountable manner, with appropriate regulatory frameworks and safeguards in place to ensure that the interests of farmers and the many other stakeholders are protected.

Images from a series photographed of a fifth generation livestock farming family in central west Queensland who have farmed their land for over 100 years & are under threat of facing their leasehold land being reclaimed for gas exploration, and mining. The potential uncertainty of the loss of their family history and legacy, as well as the only place they've ever called home is a painful reality they have had to learn to live with.

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