his article was published on Issue 165 Jan/Feb 2016 of Artist’s Chronicle. Picture courtesy of Judith Hugo.

The Burrup Peninsula, known as Murujuga (hipbone sticking out) to the local Aboriginal custodians, is situated just out of Karratha, in the N-W of Western Australia, 1500 kms north of Perth.

It is part of the greater Dampier Archipelago which contains over a million ancient petroglyphs / rock carvings dating back at least 30,000 years, until the time before the last Ice Age. This makes it the oldest continuous record of mankind’s development – far older and larger than Stonehenge, the Pyramids or the Lascaux Caves!

It is known to contain the oldest depiction of the human face on the planet, plus outstanding carvings of now extinct mammals like the thylacine and the fat tailed kangaroo – among the numerous other mammals and fish our Aboriginal people survived on all those years ago.

This amazing site has three times been included on the World Monument Fund’s list of the World’s 100 most endangered sites, but sadly is little known, particularly to Australians.

Since the 1960s the Burrup has been primarily zoned for industrial development and many thousands of petroglyphs have been destroyed or relocated in the process. But the greatest danger remains the noxious chemical emissions which are eroding the patina on the rock surfaces and will eventually render the rock carvings unreadable.

In 2007 the Burrup / Dampier Peninsula was granted National Heritage protection, but Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) believe that only World Heritage listing will deter further local and international industries from developing on the Burrup.

Follow FARA’s activities on www.fara.com.au or on our Facebook page (FriendsOfAustralianRockArt) – add your views, come to our meetings, or join us on our annual trip to the amazing ancient landscape of the Burrup/Murujuga!

Our 2016 Burrup tour will be between 16-24 July and is filling up fast. For further details contact Judith Hugo on tour@fara.com.au or 0439 090 321.