Local Pastoralists and Traditional Owners celebrate decision to protect the Lake Eyre Basin’s Rivers and Floodplains

Traditional Owners and local pastoralists from Queensland’s Lake Eyre Basin have today won their eight-year-long battle to protect the Basin’s rivers and Channel Country floodplains from gas fracking. 

Today, the Queensland Government announced they will strengthen river protections in the region, ruling out any future oil and gas on rivers and floodplains and prohibiting existing operations from expanding into unconventional gas extraction. 

The rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin, which run most of their course through Queensland, are of global significance being among the last free flowing desert river in the world.

Pastoralists and Traditional Owners across Queensland’s Channel Country have welcomed the news:

Dalene Wray, General Manager of OBE Organic:

“I welcome this decision to protect this incredible river system for future generations and commend the Queensland government for their leadership. 

These protections will provide security to local graziers and business owners whose livelihoods depend on the healthy flow of the rivers across the floodplains and ensure the future of one of the world’s greatest natural assets.  

These strengthened regulations strike the right balance, between protecting the rivers and floodplains while allowing industry to coexist outside of riverine areas.

I’m lucky to have called Birdsville home and my connection to the Lake Eyre Basin goes back generations. This is a truly remarkable part of the world where the great pristine rivers and their Channel Country floodplains create a unique and globally important environment. 

OBE Organic’s certified organic livestock are sourced from this pristine environment – the naturally irrigated floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin’s free-flowing rivers. These rivers flow south into Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre.” 

George Gorringe, Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owner Alliance, Mithaka Elder, and Windorah resident:

“I said all I wanted for Christmas was to see our river country protected for future generations, and now that dream has come true.

These rivers are more than just a resource for making money. They are as significant to this country as its birds and animals – our traditional stories follow the course of these rivers, and our culture is inseparable from the water that brings life. 

I’ve seen the damage a single road can do to our country – cutting off water flows and choking the floodplains. Opening the rivers and floodplains to unconventional oil and gas fields would be devastating for our country and our people. 

We want to grow economic opportunities for our people, but we also need to make sure that our rivers and our cultural heritage is protected. This decision achieves the right balance. Protecting the Channel Country from industrial mining opens new opportunities for us, we wish to invite people to experience this unique environment and learn about our rich cultural heritage. 

I thank the Queensland Government for listening to us local people, to the Traditional Owners, and protecting what is sacred to us.”

Riley Rocco from the Western Rivers Alliance:

“I cannot overemphasise how important this decision is to the local community members who have been fighting for this for years. People’s livelihoods, their way of life, and their culture depend on the health and uninterrupted flow of these great rivers and their Channel Country floodplains. 

But this is not just a decision that matters locally, here in Queensland we have just protected one of the world’s most significant natural places for future generations. The Kati-Thanda-Lake Eyre Basin’s rivers and Channel Country floodplains support an extraordinary amount of birds and wildlife, a unique ecology seen nowhere else on Earth. 

Local communities, graziers, Traditional Owners, scientists, and thousands of Queenslanders have all been calling for these great rivers to be protected. Today’s announcement will allow many residents to breathe a sigh of relief. It will be a very merry Christmas indeed.”

All Australians should be proud to know that finally, we will see protection for the rivers and floodplains of the Channel Country – a truly spectacular global landscape that is host to some of the last remaining free-flowing desert rivers left on Earth.”

The Western Rivers Alliance includes graziers, Traditional Owners, conservation organisations and scientists advocating for the protection of rivers and floodplains of the Channel Country.