A powerful gathering of Indigenous leaders and community members from across the Northern Territory marched together in the remote town of Elliott on October 7.
The gathering — Kudij Karrilyi: Stand Strong for Country — pledged to ensure the region’s land, water and culture are kept strong and healthy for future generations to enjoy.
They were there to highlight the underground and surface water connections in the Beetaloo gas basin, an area spanning about one-third of the Northern Territory, which has been targeted for hydraulic fracturing gasfield development.
Aboriginal communities from Elliott, Tennant Creek, Borroloola, Yuendumu, Katherine and elsewhere called for a total, permanent ban on fracking throughout the NT and pledged to ensure the Beetaloo is off limits to dangerous fracking. They sent the NT government a strong message.
Fracking “puts the health of our land, water, communities and culture at risk”, said Eleanor Dixon, a Mudburra Garawa custodian and organiser of the event.
As they gathered, they shared cultural knowledge about the protection of the region's unique waterways and landscapes and shared strategies for defending land and livelihoods from fracking.
This region is ground zero for the fight to save the NT from fracking gasfields. If the NT government decides to lift the fracking moratorium at the end of the fracking inquiry later this year, this region will be first in the fracking industry’s firing line.
The region is being targeted by gas giants Origin, Santos and Pangea. It has been estimated that several thousand fracked gas wells could be drilled to access more than 5.5 trillion cubic metres of gas in what companies are calling the Beetaloo sub-basin.
This gas sits below the drinking water aquifer for tens of thousands of Territorians, from Elliott to Borroloola, and from Mataranka to Katherine. Fracking would mean thousands of potentially leaky gas wells drilled through drinking water, and waste water sitting in open frack pits at risk of flooding during the wet season.