Traditional owners launch guided tours to save ancient rock art

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In a move to help protect the world's largest and oldest collection of rock art, guided tours have begun on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia.

Traditional owners will teach people about culturally sensitive areas in an attempt to help protect art up to 30,000 years old.

Ngarluma man Clinton Walker has a strong spiritual connection with his peoples land and hopes education will provoke conservation.

Mr Walker and his cousin Patrick Churnside have begun guided tours through some of the world's oldest and most abundant rock art areas.

"When people come out here on their own, they come and look at things that they may not be allowed to and from a spiritual point of view, that could be harmful to them," said Mr Walker. "So if someone's with us, we do all the right things, welcomes and so on, and we can teach them properly."

The men describe the area as a school, chemist and kitchen for their people, and say the rock art has taught their children about animals, spirits, natural cures and hunters.

The area is also a national heritage-listed site, and more than 40 per cent of the Burrup has been national park since the beginning of this year.

Rangers patrol the area which is prone to vandalism, but one aspect the community can’t protect the land from is industrialisation.

Mr Walkers says a fertiliser plant and gas processing hub is located less than two kilometres away from the rock art site.

“We’re a little bit concerned that all this activity is around here. As long as they don't expand, which they can't now because of national park and all this other stuff. We would love to have world heritage listing,” said Mr Walker.

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