An older article (11/02/18) from WA Today (Fairfax)

CSIRO errors put 30,000-year-old indigenous rock art at risk

A series of errors by the CSIRO has placed the world’s largest collection of indigenous rock art at risk.

Burrup Peninsula has more than one million rock art engravings over more than 100 square kilometres, some dating back more than 30,000 years. It includes the oldest existing representation of a human face on Earth, images of extinct megafauna and a thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, which roamed the Pilbara region thousands of years ago.

The area is also the site of some of the biggest natural gas and ammonia fertiliser production facilities in the world. Emissions from this industry, in high enough concentration, have the potential to damage rock art.

A former assistant divisional chief at CSIRO, Dr John Black, has said the organisation’s advice to government and industry about safe atmospheric acid levels on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia is built on a “house of cards”.

A senior museum scientist described the CSIRO’s approach as a “fundamental failure of method”.

And the author of a report upon which the CSIRO relied to give its advice said the advice was “just plain wrong”.

The peninsula, known as Murujuga to the traditional custodians, remains central to the living culture of local Aboriginal people. The site is of such significance to the custodians that Fairfax Media, at their request, has not reproduced images of humans etched into the rocks of Burrup.

Local Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo Aboriginal elder Wilfred Hicks said: “This is a bible that’s been left for the Aboriginal people.