Murujuga, which means ‘hip bone sticking out’ in the Ngarluma-Yaburara language, is the traditional Aboriginal name for the Dampier Archipelago and surrounds, including the Burrup Peninsula. It is home to the Ngarda Ngarli, a collective Aboriginal term for the five traditional owner groups – Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Yaburara, Mardudhunera and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo – who have been part of this cultural landscape for tens of thousands of years and have a deep and spiritual connection to it.
With more than one million images, Murujuga is home to one of the largest, densest and most diverse collections of rock art in the world*. The archaeological record also includes campsites, quarries, shell middens and standing stone arrangements, including lines of up to three or four hundred stones.
Murujuga also hosts multi-billion-dollar industries that contribute significantly to the local, state and national economy and provides employment in the area. Further expansion and future developments are proposed, some of which are being assessed under the Environmental Protection Act 1986. Tourism is also emerging as an important economic and employment diversification opportunity for the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and the local community.
The government is committed to protecting the rock art of Murujuga and considers that the unique Aboriginal cultural and heritage values of Murujuga can coexist with a well-regulated industry and new economic opportunities that deliver benefits to the local community.
In February 2019, the Minister for Environment released the Murujuga Rock Art Strategy. The strategy establishes the framework for the long-term management and monitoring of environmental quality to protect the rock art on Murujuga from the impacts of industry and shipping emissions. The framework provides a transparent, risk-based and adaptive approach that is consistent with the government’s responsibilities under the Environmental Protection Act.
The strategy is being implemented by the department in partnership with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation. We are working together to oversee the development and implementation of a new world best-practice scientific monitoring and analysis program that will determine whether the rock art on Murujuga is being subjected to accelerated change. This will be undertaken in close consultation with a team of national and international experts in relevant disciplines.
The Murujuga Rock Art Stakeholder Reference Group was established in September 2018 by the Minister for Environment to facilitate engagement between the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and key government, industry and community representatives on the development and implementation of the strategy.
* Australian Heritage Council (2012). The potential outstanding universal value of the Dampier Archipelago site and threats to that site. A report by the Australian Heritage Council to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
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