The Borroloola Solar Homelands Project is an initiative of the Borroloola community in partnership with Original Power to repower homelands with renewable energy and support families to reconnect with Country.
Access to lower cost, more reliable renewable energy is critical to the safe and healthy survival of First Nations homelands. Many Borroloola families rely on expensive and polluting diesel generators to keep the lights and power on at their homelands, and with hotter temperatures and accessibility challenges over long dirt roads and big seas the costs of staying connected to Country have become too much for many families to bear.
For those that have benefited from the early Bushlight program with solar and batteries, these systems have worked well for close to twenty years, but now many are nearing end of life and the cost of replacement is too high for residents to afford.
In 2022 Borroloola residents formed Ngardara Cooperative, and have been working to develop community-led solutions to the energy and climate crisis facing their region.
A feasibility study prepared with the support of Original Power and Ekistica shows that solar and battery storage could replace diesel generators by the end of 2023. The power upgrades would save residents across 10 high priority homelands over $200,000 per year on diesel, and create skilled local jobs in electrical and construction.
“It's really sad for us and my daughter and the rest of the family. My son and his wife usually live here all of the time… So if we have power, we’ll come back to our homeland, at the country you know. Makes me cry….”
Shirley and her family are just one of many living in the Borroloola region and dreaming of returning home to Country. Hear more about the Borroloola Solar Homelands project and why a home with safe, reliable, affordable power is so important for the future of the Garrwa, Yanyula, Mara and Gurdanji people of the Gulf region.
Elaine Bathern, Little River Outstation.
"Can I tell you whats so special about my homeland? Its the most beautiful place in the world/ If we get can solar power out here, you imagine how many families would return to their homelands? They’d be healthy too, no more junk food from town, they’d be eating food off the land. Aboriginal people are meant to live off the country, solar power can help us have that good life again.”
The project has been life-changing for the first of the Borroloola homelands to benefit from the project’s solar and battery installation, with the new standalone power system being switched on by the Anderson family at Twenty Mile outstation in April 2023.
Billy Anderson, a Garrwa man, pastoralist and father of eleven from Twenty Mile outstation
“Since having solar installed on my outstation we’ve been able to run School of the Air for the kids without a generator for the first time in their lifetime. Its really changed the way they learn and made it possible for our family to have a future here on our homeland. We’re looking forward to seeing them grow up on country here now, without the negative influences of town, with all the power we need to run a healthy home”
Want to help Shirley and other Borroloola families get home to Country? In 2023 Original Power is raising funds to support the Borroloola Solar Homelands project to build eight new standalone power systems on the traditional lands of the Garrwa, Mara, Yanyula and Gurdanji people.