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 “Peninsula”) 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 faces the establishment of a huge petrochemical complex and escalating acidification of the atmospheric environment. Toxic and greenhouse gas emissions would 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 2013. 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.
In 2002 the International Federation of Rock Art Organisations (IFRAO) and its Australian member, the Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA), 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. In the following years IFRAO drove away 17 of the 18 proponent companies, and after years of bitter struggle, IFRAO secured National Heritage listing of most of the Dampier Archipelago in July 2007. In January 2013, IFRAO achieved the declaration of the Murujuga Narional Park, and its management and ownership by the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation.
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:
Stop press, a selection of relevant media releases and announcements (continually updated)
Dampier reports, published reports about Dampier rock art and development.
Frequently asked questions concerning the campaign to save the Dampier petroglyphs
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.
Dampier acid rain, a report about the CSIRO findings, published in RAR, May 2007 (PDF file, 198 KB)
Dampier rock art destruction 2007 illustrates ongoing destruction of sites by Woodside and archaeologists and presents the position of Traditional Custodians
Woodside’s liability, an open letter to the shareholders of Woodside Petroleum
Dampier fact sheets: damning evidence suggesting gross government incompetence
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
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.
Archeologia Viva article, Vol. 98, pages 82-86. PDF file of 368 KB. See also the AV home-page.
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 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Meath Hammond, Indigenous Affairs Advisor, Woodside Energy P/L. – email@example.com
Woodside Energy P/L, Investor Relations – firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send your comments to these people!