IT'S a cold night in a quiet town, a wide black sky cut by the warm yellow of a lit building.
Thick jackets are worn by most of those inside Penshurst's Senior Citizens clubrooms, who pull chairs together and wait for the meeting to start.
For all of the benefits linked to wind farms ? jobs, clean energy, extra income for landholders ? there is also increasing talk of their downsides.
Depression, nausea, heart palpitations, sleepless nights and ringing in the ears are among complaints those living near the towers have reported, some finding relief only after leaving their farms and moving elsewhere.
The south-west, with its open grazing land and steady winds, is often touted as an ideal location for developments, while local councils have generally welcomed new investment and the added bonus of increased rates revenue.
Construction of AGL's 174-turbine wind farm near Macarthur should begin later this year, with scores of other sites being tested and planned.
But it's a project near Penshurst that most at the meeting came to discuss.
They're appalled at the prospect of Res Australia building 200 towers near the town and are adamant such a farm will scar the natural landscape, risk residents' health and destroy wildlife such as the brolga.
Keith Staff moved to Penshurst two years ago with his wife Maureen, the UK-born couple keen to escape city bustle and embrace country life.
Mr Staff has led the local movement against Res' plans and aims to bring opponents together to fight the project.
"Even at my tender years I'm in it for the long haul," he said. "I passionately believe in this cause."
The former Melbourne man said he had kept an open mind about wind farms and attended a development open day in April, keen to learn more.
"The open day here with Res, that alerted me to (the idea) that maybe this is not quite what it seems," he said.
"I couldn't quantify it, but there was something I didn't like. I said to Maureen, 'I'm going to check this out'."
He led Wednesday night's meeting armed with a copy of academic John Etherington's book The Wind Farm Scam and photographs taken during a recent visit to Acciona's 128-turbine project near Waubra.
Maggie and Andrew Reid, a couple living near that development, spoke in Penshurst of its impact.
"A lot of my former friends have got turbines," Mr Reid said.
"We've been cast into a light where we've been troublemakers, stirrers, whingers.
"I find it really disturbing that (wind farm backers) are going to make the same mistakes again, again and again."
Katrina Rainsford, a Southern Grampians Shire councillor and independent Wannon candidate, attended the meeting and said residents of small communities should not be forced to investigate wind farms' effects on their own.
"Municipal public health plans, which all shires must have, will need to build in the risk of impact of wind farms on residents who may live near towers," she said.
"This is a duty of care, nothing to do with being pro or against new development."
Dr Rainsford said she would ask the Hamilton-based National Centre for Farmer Health for help in creating a strategy to monitor the way turbines influence those living near them.
Her suggestion drew support from locals, though many appeared to feel that a push towards greater transparency was both futile and risky.
Few were prepared to have their names published for this story, fearing isolation and even violent repercussions if they became known as wind farm objectors.
One woman who lives near a Portland project spoke passionately about the impact of towers on her family's health, while a Penshurst farmer said he was concerned about the flashing red lights that could be atop Res' 200 turbines.
"Once they're built, they're there. What can you do if you've got a vibration coming through the earth?" he asked. "It's a fight that we're just going to have to do on our own."
Wind farm developers have consistently denied that turbines cause health problems and say studies are yet to prove a conclusive link between reported complaints and their products.