Save Dampier rock art

Robert G. Bednarik

Murujuga petroglyphs
This panel of petroglyphs is one of thousands to be destroyed by entirely unnecessary state vandalism.

Please sign the PETITION to save the rock art. Thank you!

Reputed to be the world’s largest complex of petroglyphs, the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia is under severe threat of destruction through industrial development. About 24.4% of the rock art on the main island, Murujuga (Burrup) has been destroyed since 1963, and the remainder has been subjected to slow deterioration through acid rain caused by industrial installations immediately adjacent to the rock art.

It now faces the establishment of a huge petrochemical complex and escalating acidification of the atmospheric environment. Toxic and greenhouse gas emissions will be trebled, and a scientific study has shown that most of the rock art will disappear in the course of the 21st century. The Western Australian government, which is responsible for the preservation of this huge cultural monument, has completely failed in its duty.

There is no management plan for the area, no inventory of the rock art, which numbers hundreds of thousands of images, perhaps over a million, and there is no protection of this irreplaceable monument of the oldest living culture on this planet.

The traditional owners of this rock art, the local Aboriginal people, had been given no control over their cultural property until 2003. They have been joined by conservationists, by the local population, by politicians of all parties, and even by some of the companies involved in the planned expansion, to have the new industrial development relocated to alternative sites.

The International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO) and its Australian member, the Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA), have established an Internet Petition asking the Western Australian government to reconsider its policy, to relocate the planned petrochemical plant to Maitland, and to take responsibility for protecting the rock art monument.

Please visit the petition site below, read the introductory text, and then proceed to the Petition to sign it - if you feel that this appeal deserves your support. Thank you.

PETITION to save the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia

This site has been selected for reproduction in the historical archive PANDORA (Preserving and Accessing Networked Documentary Resources of Australia) of the National Library and the Battye Library. It now forms part of a permanent historical record.

This site comprises the following pages:

History of the Dampier issue from 1868 to the present moment (continually updated)

Stop press , a selection of relevant media releases and announcements (continually updated)

Dampier reports , published reports about Dampier rock art and development.

NEW PAGE (12 September 2008) Nomination of Dampier for World Heritage listing

(28 July 2008) Due to environmental concerns, Apache locates its new gas plant away from Dampier, please visit the announcement page.

(5 May 2008) Newsmaker Luncheon with R. G. Bednarik of the Foreign Correspondents' Association.

The science of Dampier rock art - part 1, a PDF file of 2.4 MB, from November 2007 issue of Rock Art Research.

Effects of the Dampier Campaign , October 2007

The Schildburger government of WA , October 2007

Dampier listed! , July 2007.

Dampier acid rain, a report about the CSIRO findings, published in RAR, May 2007 (PDF file, 198 KB)

Letter to Malcolm Turnbull and report of the promised heritage listing

Dampier rock art destruction 2007 illustrates ongoing destruction of sites by Woodside and archaeologists and presents the position of Traditional Custodians

EPA appeal by IFRAO , 10 February 2007

CSIRO air pollution report , a discussion of the CSIRO results at Dampier

Woodside's liability , an open letter to the shareholders of Woodside Petroleum

Dampier fact sheets : damning evidence suggesting gross government incompetence

Australian Heritage Council recommendation

CALM proposal to degrade remainder of Dampier sacred precinct

Proposal for Dampier: Towards a resolution of the problems facing the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia, 30 November 2005

MINERVA article by Dr Sean Kingsley, Editor, January 2006, PDF of 254 KB

The Wilderness Society WA, 7 November 2005.

Dampier carcinogens , 1 August 2005.

Dampier - a powder keg , March 2005

Dampier report November 2004

Facts about LNG plants

The Dampier Cargo Cult

Dampier report March 2004

Dampier visit by WMF President : the visit by President Bonnie Burnham in January 2004

World Monuments Fund : this page provides information about the listing of the Dampier rock art precinct by the WMF on 25 September 2003

Letter to Chairman of 'Emissions Committee' , a critical submission to Professor F. Murray

Dampier information page provides basic background information

Frequently asked questions concerning the campaign to save the Dampier petroglyphs

Submissions to the National Native Title Tribunal , a selection of the seventy-two submissions made to the NNTT

Letters to the Premier , a selection of international letters sent to The Hon. Dr Geoff Gallop MLA

The text of a public address by the Leader of the Opposition, The Hon. Colin Barnett MLA, on 7 April 2003

Petition comments , a selection of salient comments made on the Dampier Petition

The EPA emissions report detailing the effects of Dampier NOx emissions, released January 2004.

Italian announcement , an Italian text of the Save the Dampier Rock Art campaign statement

Archeologia Vivaarticle, Vol. 98, pages 82-86. PDF file of 368 KB. See also the AV home-page.

Visit Arte Preistorica , a useful information source.

Australian Geographic article in April - June 2003 issue, No. 70, page 10 (PDF file).

Geotimes article in November 2004 issue, pages 10 and 11: 'Monitoring Aboriginal rock art'


Contacts of key people able to alleviate the damge to the Dampier Rock Art Precinct:

Colin Barnett MLA, Premier of Western Australia -

Dr Kim Hames MLA, WA Minister for Indigenous Affairs -

Meath Hammond, Indigenous Affairs Advisor, Woodside Energy P/L. -

Woodside Energy P/L, Investor Relations -

Please send your comments to these people!


Homepage of the Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA)

Dampier information page

Current and recent information about the campaign to save the Dampier rock art


Discounted rock art books from AURA


The IFRAO petition to save the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago, Western Australia

Join this group

Applications from new members


The UNESCO Declaration concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage

Order form

Order form for the Dampier rock art book Australian Apocalypse: the story of Australia's greatest cultural monument

Friends of Australian Rock Art

A new organisation supporting the preservation of Murujuga rock art

EPA Report

The emissions at Dampier as reported by the government's own Environmental Protection Authority