Wandoan Community Commerce and Industry's Kaylene Clarris is hopeful Wandoan will benefit from QGC's $1.7 billion Charlie development announced last week.
Wandoan Community Commerce and Industry's Kaylene Clarris is hopeful Wandoan will benefit from QGC's $1.7 billion Charlie development announced last week. Matthew Newton

Wandoan pins hopes on new QGC development

SINCE the district's first pastoral station, Juandah, was established in 1853, Wandoan's fortunes have largely relied on the successful cultivation and grazing of its land.

But Wandoan now sits at a junction where security of the town's future may not come off the land but from beneath it.

With QGC's announcement of a $1.7 billion gas development, 20km west of Wandoan, there is hope the downturn in the local economy can be reversed.

"The town needs it," resident Barry Henry said.

"The town's been dead since Woleebee (Phase 1) finished up."

But things weren't always like this.

Off the back of the resources boom, Wandoan's population grew from 389 in 2006 to 655 in 2011.

With Xstrata/Glencore's announcement of the Wandoan Coal Project in 2007, housing prices skyrocketed. People sold up and left town and the rise in rents forced others to leave but in 2013 the project was put on hold due to the fall in coal prices.

"We always feared the people would leave and the mine wouldn't go ahead," one business owner said.

Wandoan's population has now fallen to 329.

Wandoan Community Commerce and Industry president Kaylene Clarris (pictured) said the town was "extremely quiet" and businesses were struggling.

She said the QGC development could be of significant benefit to local businesses if there was an emphasis on local support.

"If the focus on local content is delivered in the way that we think it should be, then I think there's potential for businesses to improve," she said.

"But businesses have to realise they have to make people want to go into their businesses as well."

The development, which will create up to 1600 jobs, only has a two-year construction period.

Noting the coal seam gas industry was not the sole answer to Wandoan's problems, Ms Clarris said the town needed to use the opportunity to create a springboard for the town to sustain itself into the future.

"We need to get back to locals supporting locals, that's what I believe has to happen," she said.