The slender Burrup Peninsula is located a little north east of Dampier/Karratha.
Little known in Australian history is that the original inhabitants of the Dampier Archipelago were the Yaburara people who were massacred over an eight day period in February 1868. This genocide occurred at various locations on the Burrup and in the waters of the Archipelago, in what is referred to as the Flying Foam Massacre. The current custodians are the Ngarluma Yindjibarndi, Wong-goo-tt-oo and Yaburara Mardudhunera peoples.
The Burrup Peninsula has been described as, “a continuous cultural landscape providing a detailed record of both sacred and secular life reaching from the present back into the past, perhaps to the first settlement of Australia”.
The Stand Up For the Burrup campaign was launched in June 2007.
This campaign has endeavoured to draw attention to what can be claimed to be, one of the world’s most significant cultural and historical areas. The National Trust has described the Dampier Rock Art Precinct as “one of the world’s pre-eminent sites of recorded human evolution and a prehistoric university”.
Surely this significance would endow the area with the reverence which we would expect to be shown to a site with at least the significance of Stonehenge, or the Mayan archaeological sites of the Yucatan Peninsula. Instead the Burrup has taken second place to industrial and infrastructure development for more than 40 years.
The Burrup Peninsula came into worldwide focus in 2003 when the World Monuments Fund listed the area on the top 100 most endangered heritage places on the planet: the only Australian site. This fact however seemed to escape the West Australian government.
The traditional owners also pressured the State Government to “abandon or curb industrial expansion on the Burrup because of fears that industrial emissions are harming the rock art”.
From Our Heritage At Risk:
A portion of the rock art collection has already been destroyed since industry began operating out of the port at Dampier in the 1960s. The remainder are under threat from industrial emissions, which destroy the rock surface the carvings are etched into. Without the completion of a comprehensive study, and without the completion of the existence of a holistic management plan, the Western Australian government continues to approve new infrastructure ventures—despite the fact that an alternate site exists near by which would be far more suitable for industry.
22 January 2007:
“Australian oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum Ltd has yet to explain why it needs to move ancient rock art to develop a gas plant on Western Australia’s Burrup Peninsula.”
20 December 2008:
Marked the 200th global rally for Burrup World Heritage Listing.
9 February 2010:
A WA company which damaged protected rock art on the Burrup Peninsula must pay at least $280,000 and enter into financial agreements with local Indigenous groups.
3rd March 2011:
Press Release: The WA Greens hope the Burrup Peninsula in the State’s North West will eventually be world heritage listed, after the Federal Government agreed to assess the area. The assessment is expected to take six months.
The Western Australian Government is still planning to turn part of this site into a natural gas production and processing facility against the wishes of some of the site`s Aboriginal custodians and the scientific community. This is industrial development which could easily be located elsewhere. There is no oil or gas at the Burrup.
The above written with due respect to the traditional owners and their supporters. This has been an issue which I have been keenly observing for some time, but have not been directly involved. I hope that my small effort can be of assistance to those who have worked so hard in preservation of the land, and in the preservation of the Spirit of that land.