It was the work of NSW farmers that alerted Bega’s Francine Dessaix to the possible environmental impacts of the process of hydraulic fracturing, or as it is more commonly known fracking.
“The northern NSW farmers action group, Lock the Gate, through their actions and information, created an awareness for me of the seriousness of the impact of the fracking method of gas extraction,” Ms Dessaix said.
During a recent trip to the Kimberley region of Western Australia, Ms Dessaix crossed paths with a man that would change her life forever – Micklo Corpus.
‘Micklo has devoted his life to protecting his country and I am in awe of his commitment to do this 24/7 while keeping a sense of humour and a positive mindset throughout his vigil,” Ms Dessaix said after returning from the Wilderness Society organised trip.
Ms Dessaix met the Yawuru man just off the Great Northern Highway, 70km from Broome, where he had set up camp to watch the movements of WA-based oil and gas company Buru Energy, and make sure the company upheld their promise to contact traditional owners every time a visit to its Yulleroo site was made.
“Beside the road made by Buru Energy and Mitsubishi, Micklo Corpus set up a camp two years ago after the four exploratory wells were dug without proper consultation with the Yawuru people,” Ms Dessaix said.
“He erected a gate across the road to prevent further access by the company’s machinery onto Yawuru country, and has endured continual harassment and threats of eviction since.”
Amazed by what she was witnessing on some of the most beautiful Australian countryside she had ever seen, Ms Dessaix was moved to do something about the issue herself.
“I wondered in what way I could help apart from donations and signing petitions,” she said.
“I guess a lot of people wonder this.”
While the industry is still in early exploration stages in the Kimberley, if full production goes ahead as many as 40,000 wells could be drilled if full production were to take place.
“It is admitted that there is not very much information or understanding about any long-term continuing effects and consequences of the deep underground breaking up of the rock,” she said.
“The toxic consequences, both environmentally and on communities in the areas around the fracking wells, are not well publicised.”
During her Kimberley trip Ms Dessaix said she heard stories from locals about a dingo becoming violently ill and dying after drinking from waste water holding ponds.