THE endless landscape as we fly towards Miles is littered with pockmarks. Well heads for the ongoing coal seam gas (CSG) operations across the Surat Basin almost outnumber homesteads.
My stomach lurches as we make our descent.
Passengers include representatives from Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), the national body for upstream oil and gas exploration and production, and its member company, Origin Energy.
We are a ragtag team and I am afraid the day will be spent being saturated by positive PR about this controversial industry, an industry where so many questions and indeterminates remain unanswered.
Origin general manager of strategic planning and development Rebecca Pickering is peppered with questions about the Condabri operation. She cannot tell me with any certainty that the structural integrity of the Surat Basin won't sustain any long-term damage from the leeching of gas and water from the coal seam one kilometre below the earth's surface.
Upwards of 11 layers of earth are drilled through to access the naturally occurring methane gas. The water, a by-product of the operation, is pumped out to reduce the pressure and to allow the gas to flow freely, leaving a combined 17 gigalitres of recyclable water a year to be freely distributed to farmers along Fairymeadow Road near Miles.
Fairymeadow Road, let's dwell on that for a moment.
It is an innocuous-sounding name for a strip of country which may only see an estimated 20 years of available water from CSG exploration. The earth, having been ripped up and covered over to make way for water, gas and fibre optic cabling, will need to find a different use for the two-metre-deep lines.
Origin's pin-up model for agricultural and CSG symbiosis, Simon Drury, is keen to positively represent an industry which began a makeover of his property two and a half years ago.
Running a feedlot operation which sends about 500 head of cattle to the abattoir every week, Simon has happily handed over the fate of his land to Origin who have put 48 wells over the 200 hectares.
His operation comes under one of 500 access agreements which have been negotiated with landholders in the area and, as a result, he has been able to access water from the Fairymeadow Road pipeline since April to grow 40ha of barley for his feedlot silage.
Simon has also installed the first corner pivot, GPS-operated irrigator which is powered and watered directly from the pipe. With seemingly unlimited access to free recycled water, Simon says it is "a real game changer" for farmers.
I fear many people in towns that are struggling due to drought may be placed under pressure to say 'yes' to CSG wells to ensure a future for their community. Water is like liquid gold out here.
The well heads are controlled and monitored by a Brisbane-based office, but essentially can be controlled anywhere in the world. Problems are diagnosed at headquarters and people can be sent to the site if there are any dramas.
Being the eternal pessimist, I'm reminded of BP's unmanageable oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In that instance, inspectors were few and far between and it seems to be the case with Origin's CSG wells.
Rebecca says there is one inspector for every 100 wells and there's "no requirement for well checks" because they have all the gadgets and gizmos in place - 330km away in Brisbane - to catch any anomalies.
But don't worry: Pure methane has no scent so, if there is a leak, you'll be dead before you even register what's going on. That's a joke, but in all seriousness what other choices do we have when it comes to other energy alternatives.
There is little to no investment in renewable energy and no sign of future plans to develop wind or solar infrastructure. Our governments appear hypnotised by easy dollar signs. More than $70 billion has been sunk into CSG development with $20b going toward the Condabri facility alone.
Curtis Island, near Gladstone, will be up and running by mid-2015. The gas which is extracted at Condabri will be processed and sent along a 500km pipeline to be turned into LNG for export. The industry is snowballing and seemingly there's nothing anyone can do to stop it.
After a quick tour of Miles we are told the town has gone "boom-bust", an all-too-familiar state in which small towns experience an unnatural leap forward from incoming mining infrastructure before a quick turnaround in population after the construction phase.
We drive past empty housing estates where companies are contractually obligated to finish their work, regardless of whether anyone will ever buy or live in the dwellings - the fabric of this society has been well and truly disrupted. The tour makes its way past the high school and Origin farm manager Rob Hart describes the positive feedback he has had from local families - how opportunities created by the CSG industry are keeping the children local and, dare I repeat, "breeding employees", to use his words.
This is big and the scariest part is that it is all out of our control. Yes, it's creating employment, giving us an alternative to coal, providing farmers with much-needed access to water and it's keeping money local. But all these opportunities come with limits.
While CSG may be promoted endlessly as a 'clean' energy alternative to coal, it's not, it never will be.
The water extracted from the coal seam may only last for the next 20 years, a quick fix in the grand scheme of things.
I ask my father what he thinks about CSG and without missing a beat he says, "Well, we're buggered with 'em and we're buggered without 'em."