World’s Largest Art Gallery
Home of Dampier Rock Art, the Burrup Peninsula is located on the north-west coast of Western Australia and is the sacred land of the Yaburara people and part of the Dampier Island Group.
The Burrup Peninsula was originally known as Murujuga by its people but was renamed as Burrup, in 1979.
Since the discovery of iron ore in the 1960’s, large industrial developments have been built throughout the area.
The Burrup Peninsula contains the world’s largest collection of petroglyphs (the Murujuga) rock engravings, dating back to the ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago.
Dampier Rock Art Precinct
Now known as the Dampier Rock Art Precinct, the area is home to an estimated 250,000 rock carvings and is considered collectively, the world’s largest art gallery. The precinct also contains the largest collection of standing stones in Australia, making it the largest Indigenous cultural heritage property in Australia.
Sadly and frightening is the knowledge that between 20- 25% of this unique collection have been destroyed over the last forty years, due to the on going development of the area. Many were lost due to blasting and clearing of the area for industrial and port expansion. Further threats continue, as new groups of natural gas and petrochemical plants are being planned for construction in the area.
Considering this is one of the most unique and significant links to Australia’s cultural past, it is inconceivable that not more has been done to preserve this area, which is simply irreplaceable.
Rock Art Moved
During the 1980’s nearly 2000 of the decorative boulders were removed from their original location and were placed in new sites for their protection. Unfortunately, many of these ancient pieces of artwork were left face down, resulting in their further deterioration. It is also believed that many of the rock art pieces were created to be aligned with the sun, opening up further debates about whether the rocks should be moved at all. Moving them, some say, would destroy the whole significance and purpose for what the art pieces were meant to reflect. Further threats to the carvings include acidic rain and theft.
Endangered Places List
In 2003 the Dampier Rock Art Precinct became the first Australian site to be registered on the World Monument Fund’s list of most endangered places. The National Trust(WA) has placed the Dampier Rock Art Precinct on its Endangered Places List and is working hard to promote community awareness about the area. Click here to the National Trust (WA) website. Unfortunately in September 2006, the Western Australian Government approved the $5 billion Pluto LNG project, a decision which will ultimately place over 300,000 of the carvings in direct danger of being destroyed.