Burrup peninsular rock art campaign

Background

The Burrup Peninsula (or Murujuga) is a unique ecological, spiritual and archaeological area since it possibly contains the world’s oldest, largest and most important collections of petroglyphs – ancient rock carvings.

Its significance as Australia’s largest monument to Indigenous culture completely overshadows all its other qualities. Its importance to Australia is apparent by the fact that it easily meets all of the nine criteria for World Heritage listing.

Petroglyphs are numerous in many other parts of Australia, but nowhere do they even remotely approach those of Dampier in terms of sheer number, history, variety or continuity.

The rock art of the Archipelago remains an important cultural focus for Aboriginal people in the region, comprising as it does thousands of sacred images and ceremonial sites (e.g. tharlu increase sites).

It thus remains an utterly sacred place not only to the local Indigenous communities, but also for all Australians and, indeed, all people. This quintessentially Australian and entirely unique cultural property needs to be included on the World and National Heritage List. It is a place of unparalleled artistic, cultural, religious and historical significance, as well as a place of magnificent natural beauty.

Developement on the site of this, one of the worlds largest rock art sites, has now begun Instead of protecting the site, the Minister is effectively letting the bulldozers in. It is a tragedy and a farce that the Government still can’t get this right,” Senator Siewert said. By deliberately delaying a decision the Minister is playing for time to allow development to start before the area is added to the list – hence removing any Commonwealth responsibility and washing his hands of the destruction of the art.” 
22 December 2006, Media release, Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia

Dr Carmen Lawrence says, “There is no end to the ways in which money can be made.  But every petroglyph that is destroyed on the Burrup is destroyed forever.  Woodside could – and still can, with the assistance of the State Government – put all its considerable financial and intellectual resources into building an adequate LNG processing plant somewhere else.  But if you wanted to re-create even a single petroglyph you would need at the very least a time-machine; you would need to become the appropriate custodian of the cultural meaning of these rock engravings; then you would need to learn how to make them; and finally, with the hard work finished, you would only have to wait 10,000 years.”
10 November 2006, Dr Carmen Lawrence address to the Australian ICOMOS conference in Fremantle.WA