Social Licence. Flow of Voices 3: Jack Green, Stuart Hoosan, Nancy McDinny with Miriam Charlie — 29 October to 26 November 2016

29 October to 26 November 2016

Conversation 1: Dr Seán Kerins, Saturday 29 October at 3pm

Conversation 2: artists Nancy McDinny and Stewart Hoosan with Jason De Santolo, Saturday 19 November at 3 pm


Jack Green, Killin’ him poor bugger, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 56 x 56 cm.

Jack Green Artist Statement (Telstra NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, Darwin, 2016): Outsiders are still trying to push us off our Country, this time through open-cut mining and gas extraction. Our fish, creeks and waters are slowly being poisoned by mining companies. Some creeks in the Gulf Country, mile after mile, got water like battery acid. In other places fish and livestock been testing positive with lead. We losing our food, our way of life. Our river been diverted when the mining company dug a huge open-cut pit on our sacred site. They made huge waste rock pile too. And that’s full of toxic waste that’s gonna slowly leak acid into our waterways. On top of this we got the fracking mob turn up and start drilling to suck all the gas out of our country. It’s not just us blackfellas that are real worried, but white fellas too. We all gotta be lined-up together, black and white, to protect our country. It’s what gives us life.


Story for painting: In our Law us Aboriginal people we don’t just own the top of the land like the white-man says, we own all the way down to the places where the ancestral beings rest. All things tie up under the ground. The whiteman he doesn’t understand this yet. The old snake (Rainbow Serpent) is there under the ground. He’s there with all his power coiled up. When the gas companies drill down past our rivers and streams they not only put our water at risk but they wounding the old snake. They will wake him up as they take suck his spirit away in pipes. The big bright flare at the top of the pipe that’s not really gas, that’s the old snakes spirit they stealing as they killin’ him, poor bugger.

The exhibition Social Licence brings the realism of dispossession to life: the power imbalance between mining companies and Aboriginal peoples on whose country the minerals and natural gas are extracted while they remain in poverty. Miriam Charlie's ironic photographs show how the ‘social licence’ promised by those who imposed unwanted mining, has taken the community nowhere. The social contract has failed the patient town of Borroloola.

Garrwa and Yanyuwa artists Jacky Green,Stewart Hoosan, Nancy McDinny and photographer Miriam Charlie collaborate to show what happens when the voices and authority of traditional owners and managers are not heard. Their art inspires us to look beyond the myth of dams, open cut mines and fracking. In their view, the future is carbon abatement, Indigenous Protected Areas and caring for country.

They are traditional owners (Minggirringi) and managers (Junggayi) who manage and maintain the lands traveled by ancestral beings creating and singing the kujka (song-lines) and the environment. They challenge the Great North development narrative that excludes indigenous voices. They know their colonial and post-colonial history well. They remember when the killings started in the 1870s with the pastoral development of the Northern Territory. They remember the massacre sites where about 600 people died. They remind us that Aboriginal people continue to fight against the violence, sexual abuse, and dispossession.

Borroloola residents have been betrayed by McArthur River Mine and federal and state governments. The controversial mining period began in 2006 with the expansion of McArthur River Mine (owned by Glencore / Swiss giant Xtrata) from an underground to an open cut operation. The government approved the diversion of a major tropical river 5.5 Km causing deep wounds to significant sacred sites. Now, ten years down the track and despite multiple complaints, the McArthur River faces an enormous toxic waste problem with no solution in sight.

Paintings by Stewart Hoosan, Nancy McDinny show the new horror of the industrial grid of natural gas extraction and the emblematic death flare that marks extraction sites. Many of the Northern Territory’s iconic natural and cultural areas are not protected from shale gas fracking and extraction activities. Left unprotected are important recreational fishing and groundwater recharge zones for the Mataranka Hot Springs and most of the Roper and McArthur River Catchments, areas already approved for shale gas exploration fracking. These remarkable abstracted works bring the horror and frustration powerfully to life.

Jack Green is renowned for paintings that carefully document the dispossession of indigenous owners by Australia’s ’thumbs-up, everything is good to go’ world of government agreement and the hard corruption of money. Often his narratives centre on an Aboriginal man with ceremonial boomerangs representing the Junggayi (Boss) for the country, powerless to stop the destruction of sacred sites.

Jack Green says: ‘I want to show people what is happening to our country and to Aboriginal people. No one is listening to us. What we want. How we want to live. What we want in the future for our children. It’s for these reasons that I started to paint. I want government to listen to Aboriginal people. I want people in the cities to know what’s happening to us and our country.’'

In 2015 Jack Green won the Australian Conservation Foundation's Award. The presenter Marnie Rawlinson, said: "Some of Jack’s important achievements were regaining ownership of land, the forming of ranger groups, implementing management practices to avoid more vast wildfires and bringing about environmental and social changes in a remote part of Australia. Jacky has used his talent as an artist to express his concerns for the land and culture, especially at McArthur River where the mining is polluting the water and land, and also damaging sacred sites. It has taken bravery and sustained personal effort to speak out and to question government legislation affecting the region. Jacky has truly made an outstanding contribution."

A small selection of Miriam Charlie's photographs from her recent project My Country No Home series, speak to housing issues in Borroloola. (The full project will be shown at The Cross Art Projects mid-2017.) Miriam Charlie photographs and interviews her community living in patched ’temporary housing’ installed after a cyclone in the 1980s. The signs of ‘home’ — potted plants and calendars — are contrasted with the precarious tarpaulin and tin shelters that they adorn. Borroloola today remains a place where 5 or more houses share a tap or toilet.

Miriam Charlie's photographs are accompanied by interviews. She records Jack Green discussing the waiting game he has played with government officials. Kathy Jupiter says: “I find it a good little house, you know? Easy to clean, easy to keep things packed.” Miriam asks: “What about the things you don’t have, like water, a toilet?” “Well, the one thing we’re missing is electricity … and for the toilet you gotta walk, it’s four hundred metres away … we all share.”

Jack Green, Stewart Hoosan, Nancy McDinny and Miriam Charlie and their art centre colleagues won’t give settlers the comfort of Dreamtime paintings. ‘Dreamtime paintings, we don’t do them’ says McDinny, ‘because the old people didn’t let us. We can only tell history story.’ Their art is deployed as Sean Kerins says: ‘like a weapon, to wound settler society by making the ongoing miseries of dispossession recognisable’. (Seán Kerins, 'Challenging Conspiracies of Silence with Art: Waralungku Arts, Borroloola, Northern Territory', Art Monthly Australia, 266, 2013/14.)

Flow of Voices is a unique set of exhibitions on contemporary art, settler colonialism and mining and social justice in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria in the Northern Territory of Australia. In the first and second iterations Jack Green, Stewart Hoosan and Nancy McDinny, compared the brutality of the colonial frontier with ongoing settler colonialism and large-scale developments such as mining. Without proper respect for people and country, racial hierarchies and imperialist attitudes persist.

Flow of Voices 1 -

Flow of Voices 2 -


Jack Green, Kingplates—Sell-out,  2016. Acrylic on linen, 56 x 76 cm.

Story: This painting is about McArthur River Mine in the Gulf of Carpentaria, where they diverted the river to get to the lead, zinc and silver under the river. There’s a huge open-cut pit been dug right where the old snake rests. The tree marks the place where the snake stood up before when went back down underground and the tree grew there. That’s all that is protected. The old snake brought the turtle down with him. He’s still resting nearby. The three men in a line are part of our families, they all sold out to the mine for money. They all wear kingplates, just like the whitefellas did in the past when they picked us off one-by-one. They’ve been dug up too, their cultural roots have been cut and just like a tree they will wither and die.

Jack Green, Blowfly at the Shops, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 56 x 67 cm.

Story: As Aboriginal people we got the right to organise and decide who speaks for Country. That’s our Law. Even though the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples says this, and that the Australian Government agreed when it signed-up, we find it real hard to do this around Borroloola. Here, we got some companies who got their people to pick us off, one-by-one. They tryin’ to smash our voice, smash our Law. That’s what this painting is about.

Jack Green, Rusty Nail,  2016. Acrylic on linen, 42 x 62 cm. $1200

Story: On the right you can see a line of five people, three white fellas and two blackfellas. This represents how mining companies are choosing our people as their representatives. They take our people away from us. The mining company is playin’ with our law and custom. They playing with the things that are at the heart of our native title. Things that are very important to us as Aboriginal people of this land. Next to the Blackfella on the right is a tree. It’s got no life in it. That tree, its dead just like the Blackfella standing next to it. He’s been taken away from his people by the mining company. Told he’s got talk for them, say what a good thing the mining company doing. But he’s dead. He got no law, no ceremony. He just as well be dead now. Below the blackfellas who sold out, there‘re a group of Aboriginal people. Standing together, strong with their law and custom. Above them there’s another tree. This one’s alive and next to it is a waterhole with a creek that flows out from it around the feet of Aboriginal people. This represents how the land nurtures us when we look after it though our law and ceremony. It give us life. On the left you can see a fella hammering a nail in. One of the nails is white and the other one, its black. This represents us. It doesn’t matter how hard you hammer us Blackfellas down you can never hold Blackfellas down he always be comin’ back up like a Rusty Nail. We’ll always be back. It doesn’t matter what white people try to do to us to take our law and culture we’ll be back. We might stay down for a while but we’ll be back.

Jack Green, Untitled, 2016.

Jack Green, Fracking whitefellas, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 46 x 72 cm.

Story: Whitefellas always been coming into our country and trying to take it from us, or push us off. Today, they come with their fracking trucks looking to drill down into our land. They pump all kinds of chemicals into the earth and make huge cracks, opening up the earth beneath. When you have an earth-crack things can go bad, maybe worse when all the country already cracked up. All my family we tied into the lines (Dreaming tracks) through the country right where they want to frack. They will damage our Country and damage our Dreaming tracks. Fracking whitefellas!

Jack Green, Wound the Serpent; Wound Us, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 56 x 76 cm.

Story: This painting is about the old snake (Rainbow Serpent) underneath the earth. When the Gas mob drill down into the earth they drill into his back and suck the gas out and then pump it away in a pipeline. The gas is part of his spirit and they are taking his spirit away. You gotta be careful with that old snake. He’s powerful, you wake him up and he’ll cause trouble, big cyclones, strong wind and that kind of thing. Us Aboriginal people, we hurt inside when they drilling him. Me, and all my kids, we all connected with that snake, his spirit is in inside all of us. They are damaging the country. That’s where our spirit comes from.

Jack Green, One, Two, Three, Jacky Green, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 56 x 56 cm (frame). 

Story: This painting is about how miners get into our country. They don’t come and sit and talk with us. They fly over, one, two, three times. The first time they fly over to have a look at our land. They say “that looks like good country, there’s got to be something out there”. Second time, they come with the radar thing that tells them there’re minerals in our country. Third time, they come in a chopper, and start taking samples. They don’t care about us Aboriginal people. They don’t care about how we want to live or how we want to look after our country. For the miners it’s all about the money. But you can’t eat money, can you?

Jack Green, Spirit Country, 2016.

Story: The painting is about how miners are destroying our country. The miners just think that they are digging up the land, but what the miners are really doing is digging up our ancestral beings that are resting in country. In the centre of the painting is a big goanna. He’s one of the ancestral beings, but he’s got none of his guts left. The miners have dug-up his guts and shipped them away to make money. How can you live with no guts? On the boomerang are miners, they got their paper work and are trying to get in to our land, but we not letting them. We bailed-up on them and saying: “no, you can’t come in this country, you’ll get speared”. We are protecting our country just like our ancestors did when whitefellas first came to the Gulf. The two fish bones in the painting symbolise waste; whitefella waste of our country. When we hunt and eat the animals we always put the animal’s bones back into the fire. This is a sign of respect. It also means that when we want to go back and hunt on that country that the animals will be fat and plentiful. If you leave the bones lying around like whitefellas do you won’t catch anything.  The feather that sits above the goanna symbolises the ceremony of country and how we use feathers in our ceremonies. It might be white cockatoo, or black cockatoo. These come from our country, but miners are pushing the animals out of the country by damaging our water.

Jack Green, Unlicensed, Unregistered, Prison, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 46 x 56 cm.

Story: Our motorcars take a hammering on the dirt roads and getting them fixed-up costs a big mob of money. Its big mob of money to get the motorcar registered too; money us Aboriginal people just don’t have. On top of this a lot of people don’t have a licence, it’s just too hard to get a licence in remote places. But we gotta travel for work, ceremony, for funerals, health and visiting family. This painting shows everyday life, how the police stop all us mob in our old motorcars trying to get in to town. They stop us and next thing you find yourself in a cage or might even be prison.

Jack Green, Boomerang story 1. Acrylic on linen, 36 x 36 cm.

Story: This painting is about Alex Doomadgee. Alex is a Waanyi fella. He was travelling on a Qantas plane and carrying two boomerangs. They wouldn’t let Alex on the plane with his boomerangs. Crazy really. They weren’t fightin’ boomerangs, but ceremonial boomerangs. You can tell ceremonial boomerangs as they are small and the edges aren’t sharp. We use them like a musical instrument to sing with. In this painting you can see the two big fighting boomerangs above the plane. They’d let fella on the plane carrying a guitar, but not an Aboriginal fella with his ceremonial boomerangs. Alex tried to explain the difference but they didn’t listen and took them from him. The story hit the media and this painting tells the story how we see it.

The funny things is the Qantas planes carry a Kangaroo symbol on their tail. The Kangaroo, he’s in our songs and ceremonies. We proud he spoke up, that’s why I painted him riding a kangaroo on the plane, holding the boomerangs and an Aboriginal flag. He’s flying over his country and all his family down at Dry Creek and Fish River are with him holding their ceremonial boomerangs and singing with him. Just a shame he couldn’t just ride the kangaroo through the sky as they’d both be singing to the clap of the boomerangs.

Stewart Hoosan, Calvert Hills Country, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 53 x 53 cm.

Stewart Hoosan, Industrial Landscape, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 82 cm x 117 cm.

Stewart Hoosan, Industrial Grid with Two Rivers (Black), 2016. Acrylic on linen, 82 cm x 117 cm.

Nancy McDinny, Industrial Landscape, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 82 cm x 117 cm.

Nancy McDinny, Gas prospectors, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 53 cm x 53 cm.

Nancy McDinny, Right Way: Four Great Rivers, 2016. Acrylic on linen, 82 cm x 117 cm.

The main rivers flowing into the Gulf of Carpentaria from the Northern Territory are the Calvert and McArthur Rivers which flow from the escarpment country (Bukalara Range) and the Foelsche and Robinson Rivers. Nancy McDinny shows two bioregions, the Gulf Fall and Uplands, and Gulf Coastal. The Gulf Fall and Uplands bioregion is the second largest in the Northern Territory stretching from the Arnhem Land Plateau into western Queensland. Wetlands of national importance in the bioregion include part of the Port McArthur tidal wetlands system. Significant seabird breeding, feeding and roosting sites and significant shorebird feeding and roosting sites are located in the bioregion’s coastal margins. These ecosystems are now endangered by open cut mining and a potential expansion of natural gas extraction.

Jack Green, installation view, The Cross Art Projects, 2016.

Nancy McDinny, installation view The Cross Art Projects, 2016.

Miriam Charlie, My Country No Home: Jack Green and Josie Davey and family, Two Dollar Creek outstation 2015. C-type print, 60 x 100 cm.

Miriam Charlie, My Country No Home: Dinah Norman, Yanyuwa Camp 2015. C-type print. 60 x 100 cm.

Jack Green, Frack Off 1 (prospecting for samples), 2016. Etching, 37 x 41 cm. Printed by Jacqueline Gribbin

Jack Green, Frack Off II (gas extraction), 2016. Etching, 37 x 41 cm. Printed by Jacqueline Gribbin.

Left to right: Jacky Green, Stewart Hoosan and Nancy McDinny at Macarthur River. Photo by Miriam Charlie

'When we leave, our children can see it later, the true story of them old people. When they were powerful old people, didn’t know how to speak English but used to talk in language, saying,

"We not going to give away our land. This is our land. It belong here. This is our history, our story and our dreaming".' Nancy McDinny, 2013. 


Nancy McDinny (Yukuwal) is Garawa and Yanyuwa and her skin name is Nangalama. She is a linguist and educator with an art career spanning two decades and is a leader of the history painting movement in the Gulf region. Nancy McDinny often paints about the rich traditional life that she, her parents and grandparents lived, which included hunting, harvesting bush tucker and traveling. Her artwork also recounts her family’s direct experiences of often brutal European settlement in the Gulf region and the ongoing issues confronting the community today with mines impacting on the natural environment and way of life. Nancy McDinny’s frontier wars paintings are in major Australian public collections, including the National Museum of Australia, National Maritime Museum and Australian National University collections. She has been a finalist in several Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award exhibitions in Darwin.

Stewart Hoosan is a Garrwa man on his mother's side and a Junggayi (ceremonial manager), born in 1951. He paints the big country belonging to the Garawa people. His respect for his country, law and culture are the foundations for his art and make his work compelling. He grew up on Calvert Hills station where his grandfather Yarriyarri walked him through country and told him the stories associated with the land. At the age of nine, he went to work in stock camps eventually working throughout the Top End and Queensland. When he started painting in early 2000, he drew on these cross-cultural influences to paint the history of his country. His work is represented in the collections of Art Gallery of New South Wales, Kerry Stokes, Artbank, Levi-Kaplan Collection, Seattle USA and he has exhibited extensively throughout Australia and in London. He has been a finalist in several Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award exhibitions in Darwin.

Jack Wongili Green is a Garrwa man, born in 1953 at Soudan Station in the Northern Territory. He was educated on country before working as a stockman. Later Jack worked for the Northern Land Council and is now a director of the Carpenteria Land Council. Jack has spent over 30 years fighting for the protection of his country and its sacred sites and founded the Garawa Rangers and Waanya/Garawa Rangers and continues this work today. He began to paint in 2008 to get his voice heard, to show others what is happening to his country and people. He has collaborated with academic Seán Kerins on a series of important articles about caring for country, notably in People on Country, Vital Landscapes, Indigenous Futures (edited by Jon Altman and Seán Kerins, Federation Press). Jack Green won the 2015 Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award. Jack Green's work is represented in the collection of the Australian National University. In 2016 he was a finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in Darwin.
Miriam Charlie is a Garrwa, Yanyuwa woman from Borroloola who for over a decade was Gallery Coordinator officer at Waralungku Art Centre (2005 to 2016). She is a current Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists (ANKA) director (and past director during the periods 2007–2008 and 2010–2012) with extensive experience within the arts industry and cultural leadership; she has been a representative on the Indigenous Education Council of the NT since 2013 and vice chairperson of the Li-Kurlulurwa Language Centre since 2009. As an artist she has been selected for national photography prizes through Alcaston Gallery and Desart. Recently the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne featured her work in CCP Declares: On the Social Contract curated by Pippa Milne. Miriam Charlie's work was exhibited as part of the Tarnanthi Festival, Adelaide, 2015 and We are in Wonder LAND at UNSW, Sydney 2015. She has been a finalist in several photography competitions: Desart Indigenous Photography Competition, 2013; and Point, Click, Capture, Upload, Alcaston Gallery, 2013. Her work is represented in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Jason De Santolo (Garrwa/Barunggam): Speaker with Nancy and Stewart, is a researcher at Jumbunna Research UTS who been exploring collaborative research/media practices for communicating sustainable autonomy and self determination with a focus on video and new media.


Thank you
Chloe Gibbon; Dr Seán Kerins; Jason De Santolo (Garrwa/Barunggam) and Jumbunna Research Centre, UTS, Sydney; Jacqueline Gribbin; curator Pippa Milne, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne; Arts Northern Territory.


Artist Interviews:

Nancy McDinny, We Paint We Belong

Stewart Hoosan, Elders Protecting Country

Action: Our Land Is Our Life

Miriam Charlie, ‘My Country No Home’:

Miriam Charlie, ‘Gulf to Gallery' -


Gulf Country Songbook

The Gulf Country Songbook (published by Waralungku Art Centre, December, 2016) is an immersive showcase of some of the many songs composed in Yanyuwa, Marra, Garrwa and Gudanji languages in the last 100 years. There are songs of land rights claims, of the maranja – ‘dugong hunters of excellence’, of paddling a canoe on the sea at night, of boundary riders on a pastoral station, and Ancestral Beings journeying across country... ‘This was our way of history keeping,’ says Allan Baker, who is learning songs from his Gudanji family.

The songbook is a vivid celebration of relationships, place and belonging, and the capacity of song to hold languages and nourish kinship. The Gulf Country Songbook includes:
Yanyuwa / Marra / Garrwa / Gudanji words of the songs and English translations / interpretations. Contact Waralangku Art for the CD (also QR codes) and a DVD of short documentaries.

Articles and Reviews

Jacky Green, ‘Flow of Voices’, Arena Magazine, 2012, No. 124. > Download pdf

Jack Green, Biography and Statement on Work, 2014. > Download pdf

Gina Fairley on Jacky Green's Flow of Voices for Arts Hub, week of 21 April 2014. > Download as pdf

Seán Kerins, 'Challenging Conspiracies of Silence with Art', Art Monthly, Summer 2013/14. > Download pdf

Seán Kerins and Jacky Green, 'Indigenous country in the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria: Territories of difference or indifference?' In Jon Altman ed., Engaging Indigenous Economies, 2016. > Download as pdf

Pippa Milne, CCP Declares: On the Social Contract, exhibition catalogue, (with Miriam Charlie) Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2016. > Download as pdf

Amy Quire, 'Jack Green, Beyond Dot Paintings', illustrated feature, New Matilda print and on line, 25 Feb 2015.

Indigenous Australian Corporation Accused of Censoring Aboriginal Artists by Crystal Wu > Download as pdf

Glencore mine's 'deal' with Indigenous owners called into question, documents reveal  -


Borroloola mob
Films: Two Laws, film made in 1981 (Directed by Carolyn Strachan/Alessandro Cavadini) is a history of the Borroloola Aboriginal Community and shows the start of mining on tribal land:
Sacred Land Film Project: In August 2007 they travelled to the Supreme Court hearing on the legality of the McArthur River mine expansion.
Borroloola mob's Call to Action 2 min clip and Protecting Country from Fracking, a 20 min film, can be accessed here.
Harry Lansen, 'Song for the Rainbow Serpent' at:
Facebook page Don't Frack the Territory has local content on the campaign featuring Gulf region mob.


About Mining and Natural Gas Extraction in the Borroloola region

Mining and Natural Gas Extraction in the Gulf region: McArthur River Mine operated by Glencore Xtrata (located 65 km south-west of Borroloola, 120 km south of the Bing Bong loading facility and 900 km southeast of Darwin), is one of the world’s biggest open cut zinc mines. Ten years down the track and despite multiple complaints, there is an enormous toxic waste problem: a pile of toxic waste the size of 250 Melbourne Cricket Grounds. (14 February 2016, ABC Radio National, Background Briefing by Jane Bardon.) Natural Gas Is the new threat. The NT government’s mapping shows 85% of the NT is under exploration license or application for exploration license for oil and gas. Permits to drill cover more than 90% of the region. The new NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said, 'There is a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking … but general exploration activities are all fine'. (14 September 2016, ABC News.) The artists have fundraised to support the NT Environment Defenders Office.

About Natural Gas mining and fracking in Northern Territory

The NT Government’s own mapping shows 85% of the NT is under exploration licence or application for exploration licence for oil and gas. Permits to drill now cover more than 90% of the region (see map attached). This online interactive map allows users to see areas in the Territory already approved for oil and gas exploration. The light orange areas are under application by oil and gas companies that want the rights to frack, while darker orange shading means approval has already been given. 
Residents and Traditional Owners from the Gulf region have been a leading voice in the campaign for protection of land, water and communities from fracking. They have been taking part in protests, speaking at local and national events, taking part in the Territory Frack-Free Alliance to help coordinate the campaign from regional and remote areas and even producing artwork highlighting the risks of fracking to country and culture. Both the Nawimbi and Garawa Land Trusts have voted unanimously to veto shale gas exploration on their land trusts covering the townships of Borroloola and Robinson River.



2014: Dirty Business: How Mining Made Australia, film directed by Jacob Hickey and Sara Tiefenbrun for Renegade Films. (Shown on SBS TV, 2014.)
For general information on shale gas fracking: and Lock the Gate at


Mining in Gulf Region
Glencore mining (McArthur River Mine) from 2011:

15 Mar 2011: Jane Bardon, ‘Mining giant accused of "rude" behaviour’.

7 Dec 2011: ABC Rural, Liz Trevaskis, ‘Environmental Concerns for McArthur River Mine’.

4 Jun 2013: ABC News, 'McArthur River mine expansion plan approved by the Northern Territory Government', By Jano Gibson. The phase three development will more than double the amount of zinc and lead produced at the site, making it the largest zinc resource in the world.

In 2014 in response to a waste dump fire, Glencore was ordered to submit a new Environmental Impact Statement to be allowed to continue expanding. It expects to produce that report next year.

27 July 2014: ABC News, 'McArthur River mine's burning waste rock pile sparks health, environmental concerns among Gulf of Carpentaria Aboriginal groups' by Jane Bardon.

3 September 3, 2015, Cairns Post: 'Borroloola residents betrayed by Glencore': report by Neda Vanovac, AAP

14 February 2016, ABC Radio National: 'Glencore's acid test' by Jane Bardon, Background Briefing. The McArthur River mine in the NT is one of the biggest open cut zinc mines in the world. Ten years down the track it's been discovered there's an enormous toxic waste problem, with no current solution. An investigation into the scramble by mining giant Glencore and authorities to work out how to manage a pile of toxic waste the size of 250 Melbourne Cricket Grounds.

21 August 2016, ABC News Radio: 'McArthur River Mine expansion approval process should halt for inquiry': report by Jane Bardon

14 September 2016, ABC News Radio: 'Fracking moratorium takes effect in Northern Territory, Chief Minister Michael Gunner says’: report by Avani Dias. Michael Gunner announced the move at an oil and gas summit in Darwin. He said, "The moratorium includes exploration - you cannot hydraulically frack unconventional gas reserves for exploration - but general exploration activities are all fine" '.

28 October 2016, ABC News: ‘McArthur River Mine to defend secrecy of bond alone as NT Government steps back’ by Sara Everingham. In what is believed to be the first proceeding of its kind, the NT Environmental Defenders Office and Borroloola resident Jack Green have appealed against the Northern Territory Government's decision to withhold the bond figure from documents released through Freedom of Information.

29 November 2016, ABC News, ‘McArthur River Mine workers break silence with allegations of serious injuries from toxic smoke’, by Jane Bardon: Former fly-in-fly-out workers have told the ABC they have serious injuries after breathing in toxic smoke from burning rock on one of the world's biggest zinc and lead mines, and that owner Glencore has not offered compensation or assistance. They blame sulphur dioxide plumes from the mine. A respiratory specialist says it is hard to prove the mine gases caused the health problems. They are also alleging that staff at the McArthur River Mine in the Northern Territory were ordered to cover up the extent of a fire on the huge man-made mountain where the company is dumping its waste rock. For the first time Glencore has publicly confirmed to the ABC that it is aware that one of its workers has alleged they have been injured. The dump has been burning since at least 2013, sending out a huge plume of sulphur dioxide smoke. Glencore has responded by saying the mine complies with the NT Workers' Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.


Mining on Traditional Land—Xtrata Stage 1 Approvals process (2007-2010)
Stage 1 Approvals process: ‘Xstrata will get approval for controversial McArthur River mine expansion’, International Business Times, 22 Jan 2009. Peter Ker, ‘Garrett backs controversial mine’, The Age, 23 Jan 2009. Independent Monitor, ‘McArthur River Mine Community Report’, Environmental Earth Sciences, 2011. Paddy Manning, ‘Xstrata digs deep for prized zinc deposits’, Sydney Morning Herald, 11 Aug 2012. Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) TV & Online: Melinda James, ‘McArthur River Mine’ (transcript), Stateline, 6 Oct 2006. Melinda James, ‘McArthur River Mine’ (transcript), Stateline, 4 May 2007. ABC Online News Reports (chronological): Emma Masters, ‘Damning report card for McArthur River Mine’, 12 Nov 2009.



Map: McArthur River system > Download pdf


Natural Gas mining and fracking:

The NT Government’s own mapping shows 85% of the NT is under exploration licence or application for exploration licence for oil and gas. Permits to drill now cover more than 90% of the region (see map attached). This online interactive map allows users to see areas in the Territory already approved for oil and gas exploration. The light orange areas are under application by oil and gas companies that want the rights to frack, while darker orange shading means approval has already been given. 

Residents and Traditional Owners from the Gulf region have been a leading voice in the campaign for protection of land, water and communities from fracking. They have been taking part in protests, speaking at local and national events, taking part in the Territory Frack-Free Alliance to help coordinate the campaign from regional and remote areas and even producing artwork highlighting the risks of fracking to country and culture. Both the Nawimbi and Garawa Land Trusts have voted unanimously to veto shale gas exploration on their land trusts covering the townships of Borroloola and Robinson River.

For general information on shale gas fracking: and Lock the Gate at