Cruising up the Whitsunday coast, it seems absolute insanity that anyone could think of endangering this incredible environment to profit from an excessively polluting rock-to-oil project, which would turn local shale reserves into synthetic crude oil to be further refined into diesel or petrol.

The local community at Airlie beach are running a well-established campaign against the proposal to develop an oil shale mine just 10km from the coast in this sensitive wetland area and gateway to the great Barrier Reef. A flotilla of 60 vessels – yachts, kayaks, and boats of all shapes and sizes – met the Esperanza this morning as we sailed into Airlie beach near the Whitsundays.

The proposed shale oil mine would emit the equivalent of a quarter of Queensland’s current emissions. It would require huge supplies of water and result in toxic leaching and air pollution from waste rock and water. Nonetheless, the flotilla protest and community meeting on the foreshore afterward was a moving experience for the campaigners and crew on board the Esperanza. It was humbling to witness such a passionate and well-organised community campaign and heartening to know they provide such a strong voice for the endangered reef and wetlands.

Sign the SOF shale oil petition