Professor Jo McDonald has written a piece for The Conversation that we recommend reading. It provides a very comprehensive overview of the situation at Murujuga/Burrup Peninsula in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

She writes “One of the major concerns is the impact of industrial pollution – gas and particulate emissions – on the art. Adding to this concern were reports this week claiming that the committee charged with monitoring the effects of industry on the art has used scientifically-flawed data. This casts doubt on the governments’ ability to assess the impact of industry, and regulations based on this monitoring.

And she adds “When the Dampier region was first selected for industrialisation in the 1960s and 1970s, the heritage value of the site was effectively unknown. But, even now that its cultural and scientific significance is known, the WA government continues to play down Murujuga’s heritage value.” Over ten years ago WA premier Colin Barnett stated that the Burrup’s heritage would get National Heritage listing and possibly World Heritage listing. UNESCO has never received a submission to list Murujuga’s rock art among its heritage.

Documenting zoning complexities

Art and industry coexist creating a very complex mosaic pattern in the once island (now joined to the mainland via a causeway).

Murujuga's zoning areas.

Zoning boundaries in the Burrup Peninsula.

Historically, writes Professor McDonald, “most of the existing industrial estate was surveyed prior to development, although most of the rock art in these areas was destroyed as part of the development process. The state has funded heritage inventory surveys in all the industrial zoned land, but only one study in the national park (at Deep Gorge) has been funded.

If you are in Perth and you would like to hear more about the rock art and history of Murujuga, why not participate of a series of lectures organised by Friends of the Art Gallery of Western Australia? The first lecture “Protection and Preservation of rock art on the Dampier Peninsula” will take place on Saturday at 11.00 at AGWA.

For more information about this event click here.