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Lake Eyre Basin

The rivers of the Lake Eyre Basin in Queensland are some of the last free-flowing desert rivers on earth. The Cooper Creek in particular forms extensive braided channels, known as the Channel Country, and flows into Kati Thanda/Lake Eyre in major flood events.

Lake Eyre Basin rivers and floodplains

The rivers and floodplains have extraordinary cultural significance for First Nations peoples who have cared for these landscapes for thousands and thousands of years. 

You can read statements from the Lake Eyre Basin Traditional Owner Alliance about the significance of the region here.

Watch what Mithaka Traditional Owner George Gorringe has to say:

Floodplains burst into life

The river and floodplains burst into life after rains upstream in a boom-bust cycle that is a spectacular natural phenomenon.

The chemical free beef export industry in the region depends on the floodplains and the incredible natural cycles that sustain them.

The rivers and floodplains are home to plants and animals that require flooding and undisturbed water flows to survive, like the Grey Grasswren and Painted Snipe.

Oil + gas and floodplains don’t mix

Fracking puts at risk the future of the rivers and floodplains. 

Fracking oil and gasfields involve thousands of gas wells, roads and pipelines and vast numbers of vehicle movements, they require billions of litres of water, use vast amounts of chemicals and produce substantial volumes of waste. 

It is an industry that would spread out across our floodplains and change them forever.   Any infrastructure or development on the floodplain diverts flood flows and starves areas of life-giving water.

Read more about the risks of oil and gas extraction on the floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin.

Image: Raised road infrastructure in conventional gas operations in the Lake Eyre Basin

What’s the difference between conventional and unconventional oil and gas?

Conventional oil and gas extraction has existed in the Lake Eyre Basin since the 1960s, but in terms of scale, intensity and impacts, it is completely different from the unconventional oil and gas development that is now planned for the region.

Unconventional gas uses unconventional methods including high pressure hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, and requires large numbers of wells that spread out across the landscape.

Late last year Origin Energy was granted petroleum production leases over 250,000 hectares of land on the Cooper Ck floodplain, putting this precious place at risk.

See more about Origin Energy’s plans to frack northern Australia.

Blowing Queensland’s climate targets

The carbon dioxide content of unconventional gas resources being targeted in the region is so great (30-35%) that they will be some of the most polluting gasfields in Australia.

This means that fracking gasfields in the region will put 2030 emissions reduction target beyond reach

A recent expert report by Professor Ian Lowe estimated the likely carbon emissions of two export gas development scenarios in Queensland’s Lake Eyre Basin.

Emissions from even a low export scenario, calculated over a 20-year period, would result in greenhouse emissions that would make it impossible to meet Qld’s 2030 targets (see graph below).

If the fracking projects were allowed to proceed, other sectors in Queensland, including agriculture and transport would have to cut their emissions even further to offset the impact from gas.

Don’t let them frack Queensland's outback rivers

At the last three elections, the Queensland Government promised to protect the mighty floodplains of the Channel Country in the Lake Eyre Basin.  

But they haven’t delivered, and there are approvals to frack for oil and gas across 11 leases covering over 225,000 hectares of land. 

New expert research shows these gasfields would be the most polluting gasfields in Australia, and would blow our greenhouse gas reduction targets out of the water.

Stop gas companies destroying the last free-flowing desert rivers in the world. Tell the Premier not to frack with our rivers and floodplains.

To learn more see 'Living heart of Australia: fracking plans threaten fragile Channel Country' by The Guardian


Angus Emmott, Lake Eyre Basin grazier and lifelong naturalist.

Dear Premier,

I support our outback farmers, Traditional Owners and communities and ask that you do the same.

Please support the clean green beef industry and thriving tourism sector in the Channel Country and safeguard cultural heritage. 

Protect the rivers and floodplains from fracking, and associated roads and pipelines, for good.

15,000 Signatures

10,231 Signatures

Will you sign?