Save Dampier rock art
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.