Join Josie Alec, proud Kuruma Marthudunera woman and ACF's First Nation's Lead, on a journey across Australia to explore First Nations connection to Country, and the fossil fuel and nuclear projects that threaten that connection and damage nature and climate.

A film about First Nations people protecting country

Water is the heartbeat of this continent and the carrier of songlines across millennia.

A crisis is unfolding and every day it is getting worse. Water is being fracked, contaminated and poisoned.

Fossil fuel and nuclear projects risk fracturing First Nations communities’ connection with their Country, while destroying nature and damaging the climate.

Heart of Country is an evocative journey across Australia that weaves together the stories and songlines of this huge and ancient continent, and the fight to protect it from damage caused by the fossil fuel and nuclear industries.

Pannawonica, Kuruma Marthudunera Country, Western Australia

As Josie prepares to travel, she invites us to visit her own Country in the Pilbara, where we meet her niece and fellow campaigner, Raelene Cooper, and her sister’s grandson, Mark.

Here we see the impact of mining and gas projects, including Rio Tinto’s destruction of Juukan Gorge and the threat of Woodside’s proposed Scarborough project to ancient rock art in Murujuga.

“For me this story is deeply personal. My Country is hurting, and I need the world to know. Every time they dig a hole or desecrate ancient rock art, it’s dirty air, dirty water, dirty everything…”

Time is critical, and the voices from Josie’s own Country tell us a story of the need to protect and nurture the land that sustains so much tradition, strength and life.

Watch the full Pannawonica story

Narrabri, Gomeroi Country, New South Wales

The Pilliga Forest has been sacred land to the Gomeroi people for Millennia, and Gomeroi women are leading the fight to protect it from a massive coal and gas seam project.

The Gomeroi fear Santos’ Narrabri gas project – the biggest on land ever proposed in NSW – will threaten the great Artesian Basin, one of the largest freshwater reserves in Australia.

Elder and a custodian of the waterways in Narrabri, Polly Cutmore, shares her people’s concerns that the fracking process could threaten the basin, causing devastating impacts on the land, water and the Gomeroi people’s way of life.

“We are very protective of that great artesian water. it sustains us. It is who we are.”

Watch the full Narrabri story

Warrnambool and Apollo Bay, Gundtijmara Country, Victoria

The Gundtijmara are the protectors of the Whale Dreaming story with a deep connection to the ocean and to whales.

In South-West Victoria, ConocoPhillips plans to explore for gas in waters off the Otway coast, near the coast of Warrnambool. Communities are concerned about impacts on the Southern Right Whale, Humpback and Blue Whale migration routes and birthing grounds, as well as the climate impacts of more mining and burning of fossil fuels.

It’s here that Josie listens to the voices of Gundtijmara whale dreaming custodian Yaraan Bundle, and to Yuin Man Jack Pascoe from the Cape Otway Conservation Ecology Centre.

“We feel it when our kin are yelling out to us, singing out to us for help. They don’t have the same voice that we have…this is the song that we are trying to protect … we need to have this song in the world.”

Watch the full Warrnambool and Apollo Bay story

The Flinders Ranges, Adnyamathanha Country and Eyre Peninsula, Barngarla Country, South Australia

Josie’s journey intersects with a moment of hope  news of the Barngarla Traditional Owners win against the Kimba nuclear waste dump on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

Speaking to Barngala Traditional Owners Jason Bilney and Linda Dare at the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance in the Flinders Ranges prior to this historical win, we learn of the six-year fight of one small group to protect its land from radioactive contamination, and how important this profound win is for recognition of the rights of First Nations people and protection of Country.

“It’s that connection to Country, it’s about protecting and preserving Mother Earth. We don’t own the Country, we protect it.”

Change is possible, and that changes everything.

Watch the Barngala's story

Share these stories

Share Heart of Country with your friends, family, colleagues and community, and help build the movement of people across Australia deepening their understanding of First Nations’ resistance – and standing with First Nations people as they protect Country.

By encouraging more people to experience this powerful film, you’ll spark important conversations about advancing First Nations justice, and shift those around you towards hope.


Heart of Country trailer

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Caring for Country

Learn more about the Country you are on, and ways to support First Nations groups, organisations and initiatives near you.

Take action to protect Country

The Australian Conservation Foundation would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of our land. This film was made on the lands of the Kuruma, Gomeroi, Gunditjmara, Adnyamathanha, and Wurundjeri people. We pay respect to elders past and present.

We recognise the diverse range of views and perspectives of First Nations people in Australia. While this film explores some of those views, with a focus on protecting Country from the threat of fossil fuel and nuclear projects, there are other perspectives to hear and stories that deserve to be told.