About FARA (Friends of Australian Rock Art)

Friends of Australian Rock Art or FARA, first came together in November 2005 as the Friends of Pilbara Rock Art, convened by the National Trust WA.

Since then the organisation has grown to become an independent incorporated association that is still focused on raising awareness of the threat to rock art on the Dampier Archipelago.

All of FARA’s activities are undertaken by volunteers who are passionate about the protection, preservation and promotion of rock art, particularly that of the Dampier Archipelago.

There have been some real successes along the way, with many more people now aware of how precious the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago is.

Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) works to protect, preserve and promote Australian rock art in general, and in particular the petroglyphs found in the Dampier Archipelago (including Murujuga/Burrup Peninsula) in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Vision

To allow future generations to marvel at the beauty of Australia’s rich rock art cultural heritage.

Mission

Friends of Australian Rock Art’s mission is to protect, preserve and promote the rock art of this very ancient human landscape, forged by numerous generations of Aboriginal people who have continuously lived in the area for millennia.

How we do it:

Protect – we engage with State and Federal government and industry to ensure no further industrial development takes place on the Burrup Peninsula, but rather in more suitable locations. We liaise with those companies which are already established, to look at ways to minimise the impact of their activities (such as direct and indirect emissions, controlled explosions, and land clearance).

Preserve – FARA works in conjunction with local Traditional Owners to ensure that it promotes local knowledge in a culturally appropriate manner.

We also build alliances with Universities and research institutes to further investigate the impacts of large-scale human activities on the rock art and identify possible solutions.

Promote – we run an educational tour once a year, to allow people from all over Australia and beyond to visit and marvel at the beauty and complexity of this landscape. We seek to educate the broader community about the history of Australia prior to European settlement.

History

This is a long list, but FARA is proud of its long achievements and continuing fight for this unique cultural asset.

  • Original international Stand Up for the Burrup campaign which drew the world’s attention to the plight of the rock art
  • 2006: FARA founded with 10 members – not-for-profit incorporated status granted
  • 2007: Hon Malcolm Turnbull announcing National Heritage Listing of the Burrup
  • 2007: FARA’s first guided tour to the Burrup rock art, including Dr Carmen Lawrence, anthropologists Prof Sylvia Hallam & Caroline Bird.
  • 2007: First interview (of 3) in Karratha with Phillip Adams on Late Light Live
  • 2010 FARA provide a submission to Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) expressing concerns about the proposed development of an ammonium nitrate plant adjacent to the existing fertiliser plant.
  • 2010 Dr John Black (JB) goes on tour. Questions the CSIRO reports which claimed no damage had been done or would be done to the rock art by industrial emissions which were were being used to justify establishment of the ammonium nitrate plant.
  • 2010-13: FARA with JB , has numerous meetings with state and federal ministers an agencies, and Yara Pilbara explaining that the CSIRO reports were not credible.
  • 2010:  FARA begins series of meetings with Woodside to urge them to reduce their toxic emissions from Joint Ventures and Pluto LNG plants on Burrup
  • 2010: Re-establishment of air monitoring procedures by government after lengthy abeyance and re-analysing of data in 2007 CSIRO study, following persistent and credible criticism
  • 2011-12: FARA meeting with Tony Burke, then Environment Minister, in Canberra to urge World Heritage listing (WHL) for the Burrup rock art. Burke orders Australian Heritage Council, under chair Dr Carmen Lawrence, to examine the outstanding universal values of the rock art, who confirms Burrup’s eligibility for WHL but recommends further engagement with the Aboriginal custodians
  • 2013 FARA takes two senior Elders to Canberra to urge Tony Burke to grant WHL to their endangered traditional land, Murujuga
  • 2013-16 FARA meets frequently with YARA Pilbara to urge them to reduce the emissions from their proposed TAN plant to near zero. Their reply: why should they go to that expense when the WA government does not require it?
  • 2014-16: JB signs a confidentiality agreement with WA government to receive CSIRO data from which they concluded there had been no consistent change in colour of petroglyphs or background rock from 2004 to 2014. JB, using the CSIRO data, showed that 70% of all sites measured by CSIRO became significantly lighter in colour, but WA Minister for Environment refused request to publish the results. Later, WA government finally accepted that the accepted science to date is wrong.
  • 2015-18: JB and FARA draft plans for scientific project to measure and mitigate the damage done to the rock art by industrial emissions. Meet with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation’s Circle of Elders 3-4 times to seek approval and collaboration: verbal agreement but no written resolution reached.
  • 2016: FARA seeks help of Bob Brown Foundation and Christine Milne (CM) is sent to investigate the Burrup situation and meet with main stakeholders.
  • 2016: CM instrumental in getting up Federal Senate Inquiry into the dangers facing the Burrup rock art.
  • 2017: FARA engages with UWA’s Centre for Rock Art Research + Management (CRAR+M) to further the Rock Art Conservation project
  • 2017: FARA meets with Stephen Dawson, WA Environment Minister, and urges action be taken to protect the Burrup rock art from industrial emissions, particularly those of Yara Pilbara before it is granted its operating licence. JB shares his Conservation project draft: asks for government support.
  • 2017: FARA meet with Norwegian ambassador in Canberra to ask for their government’s intervention with YARA to reduce emissions as the government owns almost 50% of Yara International.
  • 2017: FARA  meet with Minister Frydenberg (Environment) seeking nomination for WHL and Federal intervention through EPBC in reducing emission limits for the ammonium nitrate plant.
  • 2017: launch of interdisciplinary independent scientific project to monitor industrial pollution on Murujuga and changes to rock art, to model the future effects of identified pollution, and to recommend measures to mitigate damage.
  • 2017: WA government seeks public submissions to inform the establishment of a Burrup Rock Art Strategic Reference Group (BRASRG) – FARA contributes and is named one of the Stakeholders
  • 2018: The Senate report on the Burrup was finally tabled on Wednesday 21 March after one year’s delay.
  • 2018: BRASRG established, FARA excluded but JB allowed to remain as an independent scientific consultant. Two meetings held, final strategy imminent
  • 2019 – Jan: FARA seeks legal advice from EDO and applies for Judicial Review of Yara Pilbara’s operating licence granted by DWER on 29 June 2018
  • 2019 – Jan: FARA sends submission to Federal EPBC to impede Woodside’s Scarborough expansion project
  • 2019 – Feb: BRASRG’s Strategy announced – elongated plans for a monitoring program while new industry continues to be encouraged.
  • 2018 – Mar: The Senate report on the Burrup was finally tabled on Wednesday 21 March after one year’s delay.
  • 2018 – Aug:McGowan Government to begin UNESCO World Heritage nomination process for the Burrup Peninsula
    World Heritage Summit on Murujuga on Monday 6th August, with Tim Winton as patron.
  • 2018 – Apr: WA Government proposes extensive new industrial development on the Burrup, risking the likelihood of World Heritage Listing of this world treasure
  • 2019 – Jan: FARA seeks legal advice from EDO and applies for Judicial Review of Yara Pilbara’s operating licence granted by DWER on 29 June 2018
  • 2019 – Jan: FARA sends submission to Federal EPBC to impede Woodside’s Scarborough expansion project
  • 2019 – Feb: BRASRG’s Strategy announced – elongated plans for a monitoring program while new industry continues to be encouraged.

Goals for the protection of the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago (including Murujuga/Burrup Peninsula):

  • To work in collaboration with Traditional Owners, Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, Rangers and other stakeholders: Murujuga elders statement of support for World Heritage listing, April 2017
  • To engage with academia and research institutes to further the understanding of the rock art and people associated with it
  • To meet with policy makers and politicians to evaluate best possible outcomes for the protection of the rock art and the empowerment of the communities
  • To consult with industry about mutually beneficial ways to mitigate impacts on the exceptional heritage
  • To achieve World Heritage listing status by UNESCO as a means to further protect, preserve and promote this rock art for future generations to enjoy