Recognising and protecting the places and stories that make Australia special
Your heritage online news
Department of the Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Issue 1, December 2010
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On 10 December 2010 the Minister announced a new national celebration: Australian Heritage Week
Heritage is about the places and stories that make Australia special. It includes our amazing natural places, our rich Indigenous heritage and the diverse historic sites that together reflect our development as a nation.
Our heritage contributes to our sense of place and to our community and personal wellbeing, it informs us about where we have come from and who we are, and is fundamental to our national identity.
Australian Heritage Week is a new annual national celebration of Australia's unique heritage which will run from Thursday 14 April until Wednesday 20 April 2011. This Week is an opportunity for all Australians to join together to celebrate our shared and special heritage.
The Minister encouraged all communities to get involved with planning and hosting a range of exciting activities during this Week to show-case their unique local heritage to the rest of the country. Activities could include Open Days, exhibitions of significant heritage objects in galleries, museums or library collections, public lectures and seminars, walking tours of local nature parks or screening of old films. Celebrations could also recognise the efforts of individuals and communities all around the country in protecting and conserving our important heritage places.
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities will assist organisations in the promotion of their heritage activities by hosting a searchable national calendar of events so the public can find heritage events they wish to take part in, anywhere in Australia, during this time. They have also created a logo which can be used to promote events, identifying their event as part of this new national heritage celebration.
Information on the Australian Heritage Week, how you can get involved and how you can register your heritage events is available from the Department's website at www.heritage.gov.au
A journey that began more than 223 years ago, when prisoners were banished to the end of the known world, has received international recognition through the World Heritage Listing of the Australian Convict Sites.
On 31 July 2010 the World Heritage Committee officially inscribed the Australian Convict Sites on the World Heritage List. This property is Australia’s 18th World Heritage listing and is made up of 11 sites located across Australia, which are:
- Old Government House and Domain, Hyde Park Barracks, Cockatoo Island Convict Site and Old Great North Road in New South Wales
- Fremantle Prison in Western Australia
- Brickendon and Woolmers Estates, Darlington Probation Station, Port Arthur Historic Site, Coal Mines Historic Site and the Cascades Female Factory in Tasmania
- Kingston and Arthur’s Vale Historic Area in Norfolk Island
Image: Quality Row, Kingston, Norfolk Island
The first stage of this remarkable journey began when a fleet of 11 ships left Portsmouth in Great Britain on 13 May 1787 with around 1500 people, half of them convicted criminals. Their arrival eight months later in the fledgling colony of New South Wales ultimately led to the creation of a modern nation.
Around 166,000 men, women and children were transported to Australia between 1787 and 1868, with penal settlements established in New South Wales, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), the Swan River (Western Australia) and Norfolk Island.
Today more than 3000 convict sites can be found around Australia, representing different aspects of our convict past.
Identifying the sites to be included in the World Heritage nomination took several years and extensive consultation with local and international heritage experts, state and local governments and communities around Australia. The Australian Government lodged the nomination with the World Heritage Centre in 2008, and representatives of the International Council on Monuments and Sites visited the 11 sites on behalf of the World Heritage Committee in 2009.
The final decision to inscribe the property on the World Heritage List was made by the World Heritage Committee at its meeting in Brazil this year and was greeted with great excitement.
From shackles and leg irons to World Heritage icon the Australian Convict Sites joins more than 900 of the world’s most special places to be given this prestigious international recognition.
There are 17other outstanding Australian places on the World Heritage List including the Sydney Opera House (listed 2007), the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens (listed 2004), Shark Bay (listed 1991), and Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (listed 1987).
For more information and images of the 11 Australian Convict sites visit:
The Federal Environment Minister has extended a decision on the National Heritage List assessment of the west Kimberley region to 30 June 2011.
In announcing his decision the Minister said: “This is an extremely complex assessment and it is important all information is carefully considered.
“I am aware of concerns about the assessment and I want to assure local communities that extending the deadline will not impact on existing land use. It’s business as usual.
“The Australian Heritage Council received a number of submissions through its consultation and these will be considered as part of my decision.
Image: Roebuck Bay - Ramsar site No.33
“If anyone has additional information they believe is relevant this can also be provided,” he said.
The assessment began in May 2008, as part of an agreement between the Australian and Western Australian governments to conduct a strategic assessment for site selection of an LNG processing hub in the region.
National Heritage listing would ensure heritage values are part of decision-making, so heritage protection is balanced with the social and economic aspirations of the Kimberley community.
Further consultation with the WA government and other key stakeholders is planned for the coming months.
What is the National Heritage List?
The National Heritage List recognises, celebrates and protects our most important natural, Indigenous and historic heritage places and their associated stories.
Places on the List reflect our continent’s development, from its ancient origins and its first people to its architectural masterpieces, the spirit and ingenuity of our community and our unique, living landscapes.
There are currently 89 places in the National Heritage List. These include Budj Bim, Bondi Beach, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru-Kata Tjuta, the Sydney Opera House, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Fremantle Prison, Port Arthur, the Ningaloo Coast and the Stirling Range.
Impact of listing
Listing is not a means to stop all development, but a way to ensure that Australia’s outstanding heritage values are given appropriate consideration in decision making.
Importantly, it is the National Heritage values, rather than the entire place within the boundary, that are protected by National Heritage listing.
National Heritage listing does not change land ownership, and does not affect Native Title. Management of National Heritage listed places also remains with the current land owner or manager. Existing lawful uses of land and sea in the area can continue in National Heritage places.
Image: Laura Court House
As the childhood home of Australian poet CJ Dennis, the town of Laura in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges has significant heritage value.
Dennis wrote the poem Laura Days to celebrate the town’s Golden Jubilee in 1932.
The actual township of Laura didn’t come into existence until 1872. Prior to that, the area had a number of large pastoral holdings.
Six years later, in 1878, the town gained a Court House. It operated in that capacity for 90 years and was only closed down in 1968. The building is now heritage listed and is used by the local Rocky River Historic and Art Society to house art exhibitions.
The Society also has a lease on the adjacent Masonic Lodge, which is used to store its archives. Both of these buildings are central to the town’s community precinct but were showing signs of deterioration.
The Society secured $122 400 from the Australian Government’s Jobs Fund heritage component for conservation work on the Court House and painting of the Masonic Lodge.
Greg Slattery, President of the Rocky River Historic & Art Society, said the grant meant they could act on the recommendations of a heritage architect secured by the state government to survey the buildings.
“This funding has enabled us to have some excellent conservation work done to the stone work of the Court House,” he said.
“That work has in turn enabled us to put a new roof on the building.
“Without the funding these works would have been put off for another generation and the damage would have become worse.”
The project has been a great opportunity to showcase the work of local tradespeople.
“We have employed a local stonemason who specialises in dry stone walling and has worked all over Australia,” Greg said. “The other specialist we have employed is a plasterer who is experienced in repairing and recreating ornate facades.
“We have a local builder doing the roofing and guttering, a building engineer from Clare preparing specifications for tie rods and a local electrician doing repairs and replacements.
“It’s a lot of work, but a once in a lifetime opportunity to get these buildings back in order and create town pride in them again.”
Image: Old Parliament House
A heritage assessment guide produced by the Australian Heritage Council has been developed to assist Commonwealth agencies with the task of identifying Commonwealth Heritage values.
The guide, Assessing Commonwealth Heritage Values and Establishing a Heritage Register: a guide for Commonwealth Agencies is a comprehensive and easy to read reference for heritage professionals, and will help in the promotion of best practice heritage management.
This free document can now be downloaded from:
The 34th session of the World Heritage Committee was held in Brazil between 25 July and 3 August 2010. The Committee is an elected group of 21 of the 187 parties to the World Heritage Convention. Australia has almost completed its four year term on the Committee which focused on improving the integrity of the Convention and assisting the Convention’s implementation in the Asia-Pacific region.
Image: Port Arthur
A high point for Australia was having the Australian Convict Sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. This property is made up of 11 places located across Australia from Norfolk Island to Western Australia, with multiple sites in New South Wales and Tasmania. Collectively, the sites tell the story of the global phenomenon of convictism and its association with global developments in the punishment of crime. The Committee accepted that, together, the properties represent the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers.
This listing is the culmination of many years of work by Australia and brings the number of Australian properties on the World Heritage List to 18 - making Australia the 12th most represented country.
Australia’s delegation was led by its World Heritage Commissioner, Dr Greg Terrill, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. The delegation also included two internationally recognised experts: Ms Joan Domicelj AM and Mr Jon Day, for cultural and natural heritage. Australia was pleased to sponsor five Pacific Island country representatives to attend the meeting too.
At this meeting the Committee agreed to add 21 new locations to the World Heritage List, which now numbers 911 properties. The Pacific was well represented in listings and now has the two largest World Heritage Properties - the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (a natural site in Kiribati), and Papahanaumokuakea (a mixed cultural and natural site in Hawaii). Another new site added to the List was the Bikini Atoll Nuclear Test Site (Marshall Islands) recognised because it signalled the dawn of the nuclear age and its impact on our environment.
Since 2007 Australia has promoted and supported a process of reflection on the future of the Convention by looking at how to improve and strengthen its operation and the continued protection of World Heritage places. As at previous Committee meetings, Australia chaired working group meetings to explore improvements for the future of the Convention. This working group agreed to look at issues such as ‘early assistance’ that would enhance nominations going to the Committee for decision.
The next Committee meeting, Australia’s last in its current term, will be held in the Kingdom of Bahrain in mid-2011.
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