1. A unique community: The Kimberley region is a truly unique part of Australia. A melting-pot of histories and cultures, the character of this place is not replicated anywhere else on earth. The proposal to build a giant gas factory at James Price Point sparked such widespread and determined local opposition that the proponents of this project couldn't ignore it. Eventually, after five years campaigning, the James Price Point development was canned by Woodside Petroleum. But the Kimberley isn't out of the woods just yet...
2. Precious Indigenous Heritage: The Kimberley region holds immense cultural value for its Traditional Custodians. Many Indigenous leaders – including those from the Goolarabooloo mob – are fiercely opposed to the gas hub as it will threaten numerous Aboriginal heritage sites including part of a famous Walmadan ‘songline’ – a continuous dreaming track that has remained intact for thousands of years.
3. Threatened wildlife: The Kimberley’s wild and stunning landscapes are home to an incredible array of plants and animals including threatened bilbies, five species of turtle, the Gouldian Finch, sawfish and a recently discovered miniature dolphin species. The Kimberley coast is also a nursery for the world’s largest Humpback whale populations. The northern Kimberley is the only place in Australia where all original native mammals have survived without extinction.
The Canning Basin in the south-western Kimberley is one of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see. At the heart of the Canning, the Fitzroy River meanders through incredible scenery featuring imposing cliffs and gorges and vast savannah woodlands into a sprawling river delta and King Sound. In the wet season, the Fitzroy floods to such a level that it is one of the largest rivers in the world, replenishing a parched landscape and underground aquifers.
Unfortunately, it also sits on top of one of the richest reserves of oil, gas and coal on Earth - a fact not lost on mining companies and the Western Australian government.
A group of the world’s biggest resource companies, including Mitsubishi, Hess, Buru and Conoco Phillips, are gearing up to exploit the Canning Basin and open it up to decades of mining – including large scale fracking - changing the landscape forever. Threatened species like the Northern quoll, Greater bilby, Gouldian finch, and the Freshwater sawfish are all in the firing line.
After the historic victory against Woodside's gas hub and the jubilant celebrations that followed, our attention quickly turned to the fate of the mighty Fitzroy River.
And so did the WA government’s! Premier Barnett wasted little time in talking up the potential for huge onshore, unconventional shale gas extraction from the Canning Basin and the Fitzroy catchment. Legislation was quickly passed through state parliament to pave the way for the construction of a gas pipeline.
The government and fossil fuel companies are lining up for a new fossil fuel frenzy in the Kimberley, this time onshore.
And to make matters worse, the Abbott Coalition government in Canberra is proposing to build dams on the Fitzroy – something that was rejected by the local community over a decade ago.
Together with other environmental groups, we have presented a clear and detailed vision for the Kimberley based on protecting the environment and investing in clean, sustainable ‘conservation economy’ industries, including arts and culture, small scale agriculture, tourism and land management.
In the meantime, we’re working to raise public awareness about the threats posed by the Fitzroy River and Canning Basin projects and to promote protection of the Kimberley region in general. We’re also supporting local people – including Traditional Owners – to build a structured, factual and passionate campaign to oppose industrialisation of this beautiful corner of our country.
Things are just getting started in the Canning Basin and Fitzroy River, so watch this space for more information.
Our vision for the Kimberley covers a number of bases.
Industrialisation of the Kimberley would place the sorts of development pressures on its ecological systems that make so many other Australian ecosystems so vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The Kimberley is known as one of the most ecologically important regions in Australia. It has some 65 species of native animals found nowhere else in the world. In fact, the North Kimberley region is one of only two regions in Australia likely to have retained all of its native mammal fauna, making protecting this region even more imperative.
Indigenous culture and heritage is the lifeblood of the Kimberley, but it is threatened by industrialisation.
We don’t believe that Indigenous people should be forced to sign away their land and culture to secure the kind of healthcare, education and training opportunities that other Australians take for granted.
We believe that the Kimberley is worth more to the people of Western Australia intact than trashed – a notion supported by state government figures showing that the Kimberley coastal tourism industry is growing at 500% per year and is already worth $250 million annually for the local economy.
You can help us protect the Kimberley and its environmental and cultural values. Donate to the Wilderness Society today and be a part of something incredible for Australia.