• The Barrup Peninsula will be nominated for world heritage listing. (AFP)Source: AFP
The WA government has announced they will work on nominating the site for world heritage protection after being called on to do so by the Traditional Owners.
Rangi Hirini

28 Aug 2018 - 11:12 AM  UPDATED 28 Aug 2018 - 11:12 AM

Known as Murujuga, the Burrup Peninsula near Dampier in the Pilbara has the world's largest collection of rock art.

Some of the rock art is more than 60,000 years old, with the world's first ever known picture of a human face found there.

Now the Western Australian government has responded to calls by the Traditional Owners to protect the site.

In a statement, WA Premier Mark McGowan announced it will nominate Burrup and it’s surrounding, the Dampier Archipelago and Murujuga National Park, for world heritage protection.

"The Burrup Peninsula is of great spiritual significance, a vital part of Western Australia's cultural heritage and the site of internationally significant petroglyphs,” West Australian Premier Mark McGowan said.

It comes a few weeks after a summit was held in Karratha, with a large number of Traditional Owners, experts, and supporters voting to support the nomination. 

Murujuga is home to five different Aboriginal groups, Ngarluma, Mardudhunera, Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo, Yaburara, and Yindjibarndi people.

Earlier this year, a report by the CSIRO stated a number of Traditional Owners were worried a UNESCO World Heritage Listing could strip them of their rights over their land. 

However, after much consultation with Elders, the people of Murujuga have agreed to the listing in order to help preserve their culture and their lands.

Peter Jeffries, CEO of Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) welcomed the announcement.

“It’s been a long winding journey but today we are united and focused on our goals to protect, conserve and build awareness of our land and our culture,” he told the crowd. 

“This place is truly globally significant and we want to share this with the rest of the world.”

If accepted into the World Heritage List, the Australian government will have an international obligation to protect and preserve the area.

Murujuga is within metres of a number of two fertiliser plants as well as the Dampier Port, which ships gas, iron ore, salt and fertiliser, which could potentially threaten the site's preservation.

Speaking at the announcement event, Mr McGowan said he hopes the surrounding industries will work with the government to help preserve the area.

“The industry has been here for 50 years or so now, so we need to work cooperatively with industry," he said. 

Australia has 19 other World Heritage sites, including the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the Sydney Opera House and the nearby Ningaloo Coast, which is just 500 kilometres away.

The next step is for the federal government to process the nomination.

The world’s largest rock art collection could be destroyed within this century
The Burrup Peninsula is home to one of Australia’s most sacred sites, boasting more than one million rock art pieces.
Archaeological site planned for Burrup could preserve it
The Burrup Peninsula in the Pilbara region of Western Australia could be preserved if an archaeological site is established there.