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 3, July 2011
On this page
- Foreword from the Chair of the Australian Heritage Council: Professor Carmen Lawrence
- STOP PRESS - World Heritage status for Australian natural heritage
- Introducing your heritage council
- Heritage Week event: Flemington Racecourse
- Great Ocean Road
- Launch of commemorative coins: Royal Australian Mint
- Ngarrabullgan added to National Heritage List
- Barwon Park: Launch of restoration works
- Valuing the Burrup
The highlight in the Heritage portfolio over the past couple of months has most certainly been the success of the Inaugural Australian Heritage Week. Australian Heritage Week, held between 14-20 April, gathered momentum right around the country with over 300 events, celebrations, launches, openings, exhibitions, tours and lectures.
Image: Prof. Carmen Lawrence, Chair, Australian Heritage Council
This e-newsletter focuses on some of those fantastic events, stories and announcements from in and around the week as well as some significant sites which have recently been added to the National Heritage List (NHL).
Some of the highlights from Australian Heritage Week include the Sydney Opera House (one of our most iconic National and World Heritage List sites) opening its doors to members of the public for behind the scenes tours, the Royal Australian Mint launching commemorative coins in recognition of some of our convict sites being added to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage List and all inbound passengers travelling to the tropical hubs of Cairns and Townsville receiving information about the Wet Tropics and Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Areas.
A huge congratulations to all who participated, to the historical societies, universities, schools, heritage lists sites, community organisations and individuals who made Australian Heritage Week so successful. A special mention must also go to the National Trust of Australia for its support of Australian Heritage Week and for opening the doors of many of its properties across the country, in honour of this wonderful celebration.
Other recent highlights include the addition of two new sites, the Great Ocean Road and Ngarrabullgan, to the National Heritage List.
These two sites carry very different and unique stories but both are of outstanding heritage significance to Australia.
Although Australian Heritage Week has officially wrapped up, it was a timely reminder of the great variety of Australia's heritage and how important our sites and stories are to our sense of national identity and community.
Chair, Australian Heritage Council
Over a remarkable 72 hour period in the last week of June, the World Heritage Committee announced heritage listings for two Australian places of outstanding natural heritage.
Image: Ningaloo Reef and Cape Range National Park
On Friday 24 June the World Heritage Committee in Paris declared West Australia's stunning Ningaloo Coast as Australia's 19th place to be recognised on the World Heritage List. This was followed by a decision late on Monday 27 June to include the Koongarra Protected Area in the existing Kakadu World Heritage boundary.
Australia's newest World Heritage area is a spectacular coral reef off a rugged limestone peninsula and presents a unique and stunning contrast between reef and arid landscape. On the West Australian coast, the Ningaloo World Heritage area covers more than 600,000 hectares and stretches for more than 200 kilometres. It is also home to a remarkable array of marine life such as manta rays, dugongs, marine turtles and humpback whales.
The coral reef's annual spawning attracts the largest gathering of the world's largest fish, the whale shark, anywhere in the world. Its ancient wave-swept coral structures off its rugged limestone peninsula tell a dramatic story about the formation of oceans, movement of continents and changes in our climate.
The decision to include the Koongarra area in the world heritage area reflects its international importance and its proximity to the culturally important Nourlangie Rock Nourlangie Rock is Kakadu's major rock art site with many impressive paintings that interpret Aboriginal spiritual beliefs. As Nourlangie Rock looks out over Koongarra, this decision ensures the protection and integrity of more than 20,000 years of Indigenous history and culture.
Image: Koongarra view, Saddle to Lightning Dreaming
The 1,228 hectare Koongarra area was excluded from Kakadu's original boundaries in 1979 because of its potential uranium resources.
For more information about the World Heritage Listing of Koongarra and the Ningaloo Coast visit www.environment.gov.au or see the next e-newsletter for more information.
In each of the coming editions of the e-newsletter we will focus on a different member of the Heritage Council. This edition we spoke with Dr Jackie Huggins.
Image: Dr Jacqueline Huggins
Author and academic Dr Huggins has been a member of the council since 2009. Dr Huggins has an honorary Doctorate from the University of Queensland and is of the Bidjara (Central Queensland) and Birri-Gubba Juru (North Queensland) peoples. In 1994, she co-authored the book Auntie Rita and wrote Sistergirl in 1999. The following year she received the Premier's Millennium Award for Excellence in Indigenous Affairs. In 2008 Dr Huggins was appointed the Queensland Public Service Commissioner.
When asked what heritage meant to her, Dr Huggins said that it's about the preservation and protection of legacy and what it means to be an Australian. She also pointed out that her indigenous culture added extra weight to that conviction.
"As the oldest living continuous culture on the planet it is important to acknowledge that land and sea are fundamental to the belonging, well being and identity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and that herein lies strong cultural and spiritual attachments.
"The depth of Indigenous relationships to land means that cultural heritage and protection of sites often bring them into conflict with others. For many years I was involved in the Reconciliation Movement and witnessed the partnerships formed in the early days between mining companies and Aboriginal peoples," Dr Huggins said. Dr Huggins said that her work on the Heritage council has given her the opportunity to ensure mutual respect for cultural values and work towards positive outcomes in a wider capacity.
"My vision is that Australians can come to appreciate and have pride in the heritage and cultures of their First Peoples and that we might all share in the prosperity of the natural resources of our country. I aspire to see more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples welcomed as partners in heritage matters with their traditional knowledge being respected, valued, observed, negotiated and maintained in what is now an ever changing landscape," Dr Huggins said.
Image: Flemington Racecourse
Flemington Racecourse is most famous for being the home of the Melbourne Cup since 1861. Each year, it attracts over 400,000 racegoers who flock to Flemington for the Melbourne Cup carnival.
This April, the National Heritage List site had people flocking to its Australian Heritage Week celebrations.
To officially launch Australian Heritage Week at Flemington, the Victorian Racing Club (VRC) presented the 2011 Emirates Melbourne Cup trophy, valued at $175,000, during an event at the Flemington Heritage Centre.
The presentation was the beginning of a three day celebration to share and enjoy the site, which is part of Australia's rich sporting heritage. The festivities continued and included a Community Raceday where hourly 'behind the scenes' tours were offered of the racecourse, horses from Living Legends were on the course and guests had the opportunity to have a photo taken with the 2011 Emirates Melbourne Cup.
Providing an insight into the long history of Flemington Racecourse, the Flemington Heritage Centre also held public talks with speakers including VRC Keeper of the Roses, Terry Freeman, Fashion Historian, Sonia Jennings, VRC Art and Heritage Curator, Penny Tripp, VRC Consultant Historian, Dr Andrew Lemon and VRC Marketing Manager, Joe McGrath.
Families also enjoyed activities including face painting, horse themed art and craft activities, jumping castles, mini golf, parachute games, roving performers and pony rides.
The Flemington Heritage Centre encourages visitors year round and provides Guided Walking Tours, for the opportunity to experience the heritage, heroes and events that have made Melbourne Cup the "race that stops the nation."
The racecourse itself has transformed into one of the most famous and challenging courses on the international racing circuit. Legendary horses including Phar Lap have run at Flemington and each year the racecourse continues to host the fashion and famous racing identities that come to this historic race.
Flemington was included in the National Heritage List on 7 November 2006.
The Great Ocean Road and Scenic Environs, which includes the Twelve Apostles and the world famous Bells Beach, was added to the National Heritage List on 7 April, 2011.
Image: Minister Burke at the Great Ocean Road Heritage Listing Event
Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, Tony Burke, visited the Great Ocean Road to make the historic announcement.
The Great Ocean Road became the 92nd place on a list of Australia's most valued natural, Indigenous and historic heritage sites. It will become one of only 20 of the nation's most iconic coastal places including the Great Barrier Reef, Bondi Beach, Point Nepean, Kurnell Peninsula and Shark Bay to achieve National Heritage listing. Stretching for 242 kilometres along the south-west coast of Victoria, the Great Ocean Road is an outstanding coastal journey. Its rugged natural beauty, shipwreck stories, and surfing culture make it a popular tourist destination. Constructed as a memorial to First World War servicemen and women, the Great Ocean Road is a constant reminder of their war service and sacrifice.
Formed 150 million years ago when the great southern land mass known as Gondwana began to break up, the area today includes rare polar dinosaur fossil sites, the most well known being Dinosaur Cove. Fossils collected from numerous sites along the coast continue to yield important scientific information and with natural erosion, further discoveries are expected.
The iconic Bells Beach also has a prominent place in Australia's surfing history and is highly valued by the world's surfing community for the distinctive quality of its surf. It is the home of the world's longest-running surfing competition, first held in January 1961 and then at Easter every year.
Other values of the place include the views from the Great Ocean Walk as well as those from the Great Ocean Road; geomorphological monitoring sites; and its association with people such as William McCormack and Howard Hitchcock, the main driving forces behind the construction of the road, Edna Walling, one of Australia's most influential early landscape designers, and the more than three thousand returned servicemen who worked on construction of the road.
The Australian Heritage Council warmly welcomed the announcement as the Great Ocean Road is of extraordinary historical and natural significance to the nation.
- Media release: Heritage listing makes Great Ocean Road even greater - 7 April 2011
To commemorate the inclusion of Australian convict sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Royal Australian Mint launched a commemorative coin series called the 'Convict Past Gold Coin Collection' at the Cascades Female Factory in Tasmania on 14 April 2011, the first day of the Australian Heritage Week.
The Royal Australian Mint have recognised six of the listed sites on collectible coins and the remaining sites will feature on commissioned stamps from Australia Post. The commemorative coins were officially launched by Royal Australian Mint CEO, Ross MacDiarmid and the Hon Brian Wightman MP, Tasmanian Minister for the Environment, Parks and Heritage.
Image: Convict Past Gold Coin Collection
Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings MP, the Hon Peter Rae AO and the Hon Dr Barry Jones AO also spoke at the launch, which also served to formally announce that the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority was taking over management responsibilities of the Cascades Female Factory Historic Site.
Assistant Treasurer, Bill Shorten said that including this history on coins, was a wonderful way of educating the public for years to come.
The commemorative coin set is one of the most prestigious to have been released, with a limited mintage of 3000. Renowned coin sculptor Wojciech Pietranik has demonstrated high quality craftsmanship by translating designs of the six convict sites onto 14mm diameter coins.
The Australian Convict sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List on 31 July 2010. There are a total of 11 sites which make up the World Heritage Australian Convict Sites which you can read more about here:
- Old Government House and Domain
- Hyde Park Barracks
- Cockatoo Island Convict Site
- Old Great North Road
- Kingston and Arthur's Vale Historic Area
- Port Arthur Historic Site
- Cascades Female Factory
- Darlington Probation Station
- Coal Mines Historic Site
- Brickendon - Woolmers Estate
- Fremantle Prison
There are more than 3000 convict sites remaining around Australia, which is very unique in the world today. The release of the commemorative coins is a reminder of Australia's rich convict history and it is wonderful that the launch coincided with the Australian Heritage Week celebrations.
Ngarrabullgan, also known as Mount Mulligan, in Northern Queensland, was added to the National Heritage List on 12 May 2011. In addition to being an impressive natural monument, it is also highly significant to Aboriginal tradition.
For the Traditional Owners of Ngarrabullgan, the Djungan people, the mountain is a sacred place but it is believed that an evil spirit, Eeko, also makes it highly dangerous.
Archaeological evidence shows that people stopped living on the mountain 600 years ago. There is no evidence that the area around Ngarrabullgan was depopulated at this time or that climate or environmental change made it more difficult for people to camp on the mountain.
This is an exceptionally rare example of an archaeologically recorded change in behaviour which is consistent with contemporary Aboriginal traditions and beliefs.
Leading up to Australian Heritage Week, Minister Burke visited the historic Barwon Park property, a property of the National Trust in Western Victoria, to officially launch restoration works, funded under the JobsFund heritage component.
Image: Barwon Park Homestead
The National Trust of Australia (Victoria) received a JobsFund Heritage component grant of $1,121,560 to repair and waterproof the roof to prevent water seepage to the interior, restore the plaster and install a commercial kitchen in the functions area.
Dr Graeme Blackman OAM, Chairman of the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and the Australian Council of National Trusts, said he was delighted that Minister Burke was able to visit the site and officially open the significant restoration works.
The Minister met some of the restoration workers to see first hand, the positive effect the grant has had on maintaining the integrity and heritage values of the property.
Barwon Park is a significant historic site, showcasing Victoria's pastoral heritage and is one of the largest Victorian era mansions. It was built in 1871 for Thomas and Elizabeth Austin and is a majestic 42 room bluestone mansion and stables, set in a sweeping rural landscape.
The restoration works are a significant step in ensuring that Barwon Park is more accessible to visitors and can remain a site that is used and enjoyed by the community.
Below is an article by Australian Heritage Council Chair Professor Carman Lawrence. The article was originally published on The Conversation website on 17 June 2011.
Most people know the Burrup Peninsula - if they know it at all - from TV footage of gas tankers powering through the impossibly blue channels of the Dampier Archipelago, delivering gas to an energy hungry world from the processing plants on the remote Pilbara coast.
What most do not appreciate, is that in the background is the most significant heritage site in Australia and the only Australian site to have been placed on the World Monuments Fund's list of the 100 most endangered places. For on the Burrup - or to give it its indigenous name Murujuga - is the densest concentration of rock art in the world, estimated at perhaps as many as a million petroglyphs; what some have described as "the world's largest gallery of engraved prehistoric art." And despite the fact that it is now on the Australian Heritage List, most Australians are almost entirely ignorant of its existence.
Rock carvings are scattered through the barren rocky ridges and steep-sided valleys of the peninsula and the surrounding islands. The oldest of the art work is believed to date from the period when the Burrup was an inland range, before the inundation which drowned much of the surrounding landscape over 9000 years ago. Amongst the distinctive images are geometric designs, tracks of humans, animals and birds, and a huge variety of both naturalistic and figurative representations of humans and animals, some so detailed that they can be identified as particular species. The rock art includes depictions of Thylacines or Tasmanian tigers, extinct on the mainland for over 3000 years and panels and composite images of daily activities, such as hunting, which have clearly been added to over long periods of time. With European settlement, as was so often the case in our history, came devastation for the original inhabitants of the peninsula, the Yaburara people, many of whom were massacred in 1868.
Many different engraving styles are represented - scored lines made with a very fine pointed rock, pecked marks, abraded lines and indents in the dark red-black glossy patina that covers the rocks in this area. The "fine execution", the "dynamic nature" of the images and the high degree of creativity have often been admired by those fortunate enough to have visited the site. For many it has been a revelatory experience.
All who have seen even part of this extensive precinct - covering 42 islands over a 45k radius - marvel at the range and diversity of the art work which, together with camp sites, middens, quarries and standing stones form an irreplaceable record of the lives of the Indigenous people from the first arrivals to the recent past. We are privileged to glimpse the minds and identities of individual artists and communities. The National Trust has described the Dampier Rock Art Precinct as "one of the world's pre-eminent sites of recorded human evolution and a prehistoric university."
It should be obvious that such a site is a precious part of our heritage, of the world's heritage, deserving of careful study and preservation. Instead of the care and reverence which we would expect to be shown to a site with the significance of Stonehenge, the painted caves of Lascaux in France or the structures of Machu Picchu, the rock art precinct on the Burrup has taken second place to industrial and resource development for more than 40 years.
Although there have been a number of partial surveys of this matchless site, many of them undertaken as part of the development approval process, it has never been the subject of a comprehensive inventory or analysis. As a result there is no generally accepted framework for understanding the various locations and cultural elements within the site. Nor has a heritage management plan been finalised. Since the decision by Malcolm Turnbull in 2007 to place the site on the National Heritage List (excluding the area set aside for the Pluto LNG expansion), the Western Australian Government has still not completed the management plan for which it is responsible. In the meantime, industrial expansion remains on the agenda (two proposals for nitrates facilities and a desalination plant are under consideration), vandalism is occurring and the few tourist visits are haphazard and unsupervised.
Anyone who's been paying attention to Australian public debate over the last few years can't have failed to notice that there's been a lot of talk about values. Heritage, of course, is about values - or more precisely, what we value from our past, what we are prepared to protect and conserve and to pass on to future generations. Knowledge and experience of our heritage gives meaning to our lives, inspires us and contributes to our collective sense of identity. The sites, landscapes and places which we can be galvanised to protect are, in some ways, an indication of what matters to us and what we think of ourselves. Our actions speak louder than words. As they do on the Dampier Peninsula.
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