All you need to know about National Heritage Listing – quick links, fact sheets and media statements
Traditional Owners and the National Heritage Assessment (KLC fact sheet)
Traditional Owners look to nominate entire Kimberley (KLC media statement September 25, 2009)
Places that qualify for National Heritage Listing have outstanding heritage value to the nation. Places can be listed for their Indigenous, natural or historic heritage values, or a combination of these. There are currently 82 places on the National Heritage List.
Further reading: Google Map of National Heritage Listed sites
The benchmark for places to be listed is high. Places added to the National Heritage List have to meet criteria that identify outstanding significance to the nation.
Places on the National Heritage List are protected under Australian Government Law – the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Further reading: EPBC Act Online
National Heritage Listing does not change land tenure and management of National Heritage Listed places remains with the land owner or manager. However, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, works with owners and managers to ensure National Heritage values are protected.
National Heritage Listing provides an extra layer of environmental protection but does not stop development. Under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act, any development that “has, will have, or is likely to have a significant impact on National Heritage Values’’ will need ministerial approval from the Federal Government.
National Heritage Listing does not change land tenure and has minimal impact on the pastoral industry.
Former Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett called on the Australian Heritage Council to assess the Kimberley for possible locations of outstanding heritage value to the nation in 2009.
The Kimberley Land Council has worked with the Department of Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities to talk with Traditional Owners about National Heritage Listing and the nomination of cultural heritage values.
Resistance Survival and Adaptation
Kimberley Aboriginal people resisted and survived colonisation, government policy and mission history and adapted to their circumstances. Institutionalisation in Bungarun, missions like Beagle Bay, Kunmunya and La Grange, and government reserves like Moola Boola and Udialla were an attempt to dispossess Aboriginal people of their land and culture, but instead became a strong indicator of resistance.
Kimberley Aboriginal people kept their cultures and languages going in these places and continued to practice law and culture. In the late 1970s, people set up their own land council (the Kimberley Land Council), resisted the Government’s support for mining on Noonkanbah Station, and later set up a the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre and the Kimberley Language Resource Centre.
Today, the strong connection Traditional Owners have to country is recognised in Native Title determinations. Kimberley Aboriginal people have retained knowledge of their culture because of their resistance to assimilation.
Pearl Shell: Riches of the Sea
This theme brings together the creation stories and traditional significance of pearl shell across country. It tells the Aboriginal history of the pearling industry and links in with people’s knowledge of sea country and its resources.
Galwa/Kalum: The Double Log Raft
Saltwater people used the Galwa to travel across sea country. They used their knowledge of tides, currents and reefs to travel between the islands and mainland. The double log raft was virtually unsinkable and a remarkable technological achievement.
Wanjina-Wunggurr Cultural Landscape
This theme tells the story about how rock art is part of a dynamic, living culture that connects a single community in the north Kimberley. This is one example of the strong culture that is evident all across the Kimberley.
Gwion Gwion Rock Art
This includes places within the Wanjina-Wunggurr cultural landscape and rock art places within the Balangarra claim area.
Aboriginal stockmen and the pastoral industry
This theme links with the resistance, survival and adaptation theme. It tells the story of the Aboriginal stockmen and their involvement in the Kimberley pastoral industry – how they carried the industry with their labour, built the yards and fences, did the big musters and the long droves.
Working in the stations gave Kimberley Aboriginal people a way to stay on country, to keep country strong and maintain law, culture and ceremonies at a time when the Government wanted to put Aboriginal people in missions. Later, Aboriginal people put pressure on the Government to purchase stations such as Noonkanbah, Pantijan and Mt Andreson, which started their involvement in management while allowing them to take care of country. Aboriginal people today own many cattle stations across the Kimberley.
The Fitzroy River (Martuwarra/Mardoowarra) ‘river of life’: the meeting place of four contiguous and distinctive traditions of the Serpent
The Fitzroy River, known to its Aboriginal Traditional Owners as Martuwarra/Mardoowarra, ‘River of Life’ is one of the longest and largest river systems in tropical north Australia (Larson and Alexandridis 2009).
Martuwarra encompasses four contiguous and distinctive freshwater-based Aboriginal cultural domains, focused upon the tradition of the Serpent, as exemplified by the religious tradtions of Galaroo, Woonyoomboo-Yoongoorroonkoo, Wanjina-Wunggurr, and the jila-kalpurtu cultural systems. A song line known as Warloongarriy (Walungarri) serves to unite Aboriginal people and their Serpent traditions along the Fitzroy River as part of one regional ritual complex, called Warloongarriy Law or ‘River Law’.
The Fitzroy River theme starts with the song cycles and creation stories for river country. It links with resistance stories like Jandamarra and Noonkanbah and tells the history of Aboriginal stockmen. It ties in with the Traditional Ecological Knowledge theme to tell stories about water, the boab tree and how Traditional Owners are looking after Country and Culture.
April – June 2009: The KLC met with claim groups within the Commonwealth Assessment boundary to talk about National Heritage Assessment. At each meeting 2 representatives were chosen to represent their interests on an Advisory Group;
July 2009: Advisory Group members attended a three-day workshop in July, where they decided to be involved in the National Heritage Assessment and nominated themes to be researched by KLC;
The Traditional Owner Advisory Group, which has 26 members including two people from each Native Title claim group, was supported by a Senior Leadership Group. The Leadership group included the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of KLC, KLC special Advisors and Chairman and Chair woman of Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre;
The Traditional Owner Advisory Group does not make any decisions. All decisions on nominating the Kimberley for National Heritage Listing have been made by Native Title Claim groups. Advisory group members are responsible for reporting back to members of their Native Title group;
Traditional Owners are talking about National Heritage listing in a new way that reflects the living culture of the Kimberley and unity of the Kimberley region;
They are looking at nominating the entire Kimberley for National Heritage Listing because they are one mob connected by stories of culture and history – past, present and future;
Traditional Owners made their final decisions on whether they wanted to nominate for values in their country National Heritage Listing in April and May 2010;
July 2010 - Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke, announced a 12 month extension on the timeframe for him to make a decision on what values should be included on the National Heritage List. That extension expires on 31 August 2011.
Traditional Owners Talk National Heritage Listing: Youtube Clips
National Heritage Listing Part 1 – Resistance, Survival & Adaptation
National Heritage Listing Part 2: The Pearl Shell – Riches of the Sea
National Heritage Listing Part 3: The Wanjina Wunggurr Cultural Landscape