'The countryside grieves'
THERE'S no shortage of opinions on fracking and unconventional gas, in Chinchilla more than most.
It makes the town a perfect stop for those wanting to learn more about the industry. And, after a moratorium on fracking in the Northern Territory was lifted earlier this year, a group of concerned NT residents has stopped in Chinchilla to do exactly that.
Co-owner of tourism company Ethical Adventures, Robert Woods, stopped in town last Thursday to meet with locals and discuss the unconventional gas industry, as he and others headed to Canberra to lobby against the reintroduction of fracking in their home state.
Mr Woods said he had a background in environmental engineering science and has worked for a mining company, university and council in the past before setting up Ethical Adventures.
"I realised that they're compromised and I don't want to compromise,” he said.
"So I thought 'I'm going to work in tourism' and I thought 'well here's a perfect forum to educate people and to reach a broader audience' so the end game for us was to do something like this, is to become a proactive company.”
The tour group had been driving for almost a week before reaching Chinchilla, pulling up in different towns to hear the experiences of those who've lived with the industry in Queensland.
Mr Woods said in that time he'd had a shift of thinking, seeing many perspectives on the controversial topic.
"It's not black and white as far as good and evil, there's a lot of people in that middle zone that are just dead-set grey,” he said.
"I'm talking about people who are just worn out, there's a sense of inevitable doom, the machine's going to roll over the top of them and they knowingly suck it up and go 'yep we're going to be affected but what do you do' and the level of push-back, it just gets wiped away to the point that some people are really scared to come forward.”
Jingili traditional owner and tour participant Janita Sandy said seeing the industry first-hand was like entering a "different dimension”.
"We could feel the countryside was grieving, and the sorrows, it impacted us. We could feel it,” she said.
Fellow tour participant and Aboriginal woman Mary James agreed.
"I felt spiritually sad, it was so moving to be quite honest. How can anybody live like that? Gaspipes on their land and yet people don't have a say? My spirit was crying out, mother nature, the environment, our spirit.”
The group reached Canberra on Tuesday where they met with federal MPs and Senators during the final sittings of parliament.