Protecting cultural and spiritual values to Aboriginal people
Ancient rock art on the Burrup Peninsula (Murujuga)
The Burrup Peninsula and surrounding Dampier Archipelago contain the largest concentration of engraved rock art (petroglyphs) in the world, with up to one million petroglyphs in the area.
The rock art is exceptionally diverse, comprising images of birds, marine life and land animals, human figures, figures with mixed human and animal characteristics, and geometric designs. The rock art is of immense cultural and spiritual significance to Aboriginal people and is of national and international heritage value.
In response to stakeholder and public concerns that industrial emissions are affecting the rock art, a range of scientific studies have been conducted during the past 15 years. The conclusions of some of these studies have been contested; as a result, the department commissioned independent reviews which identified a range of improvements for providing more robust, reliable results about emissions and their impacts on the rock art.
The department is developing the Burrup Rock Art Monitoring Strategy in partnership with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation. The strategy will provide a long-term framework to guide the protection of the rock art and improve its governance. The strategy builds on the previous studies and establishes a scientifically rigorous, world’s best-practice monitoring program and a risk-based approach to the management of impacts to the rock art that is consistent with the government’s responsibilities under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
A stakeholder reference group will be established to help finalise and implement the strategy. The reference group includes representatives from the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation; the Western Australian Museum; research organisations with expertise in rock art; local, state and Australian government departments; industry; and the community.
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