On the 16th to the 18th of May I was extremely fortunate to visit the world’s biggest collection of Aboriginal rock Art – on the Burrup Peninsula. I visited the site after listening to concerns from the Friends of Australian Rock Art, a group that raises awareness about the priceless collection situated on the Burrup. It all started when I was invited to attend a lecture in the City of South Perth Library by Dr. Ken Mulvaney, an archaeologist with a PhD on the rock art of the archipelago. Ken gave us a wonderful talk on the history and significance of this ancient phenomenon.
The Burrup is Australia’s largest cultural monument and the number of rock art motifs is estimated to range from between 300,000 to more than 1,000,000 in number. The rock art features images and ceremonial sites and is a sacred place for Indigenous people in the region. The rock art is considered to be the oldest gallery of rock art in the world, and is unique as it shows the area’s history and changes to society over the last 30,000 years.
Friends of Australian Rock Art are campaigning for the Burrup Peninsula to be included on the World Heritage List. In 2008 the World Monument Fund listed the Burrup among the top 100 most endangered heritage places on the planet and FARA believe World Heritage Listing will assist in the preservation of such unique cultural property. Unfortunately, there have been recent reports of guides finding defaced pieces of rock, particularly with texta and spray paint graffiti. The National Trust claims that around 10,000 rock art pieces have been destroyed in the past five decades as the Burrup has become home to LNG processing, shipping of iron ore and associated industries. FARA is particularly concerned about the impact emissions from the nearby processing plants have on the rock art. I hope to work together with FARA to assist in the preservation of such an important Western Australian cultural site.