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Study of the Outstanding Universal Values of The Dampier Archipelago Site, Western Australia

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For a property to be inscribed on the World Heritage List it must be accepted by the World Heritage Committee as being of Outstanding Universal Value. The Operational Guidelines specify the key tests that the World Heritage Committee applies to decide whether a property is of Outstanding Universal Value: *the Committee considers a property as having Outstanding Universal Value if the property meets one or more of the World Heritage criteria; and, *to be deemed of Outstanding Universal Value, a property must also meet the conditions of integrity and/or authenticity, and must have an adequate protection and management system to ensure its safeguarding. There is adequate existing research and data for the Dampier Archipelago to justify Criteria i, iii and iv as meeting the threshold for Outstanding Universal Value. This report to the Australian Heritage Council identifies how this rock art provinces meets the defined OUV criteria and argues for its authenticity and integrity.
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Study of the Outstanding Universal Values
of The Dampier Archipelago Site, Western Australia
23 September 2011
Report to the Australian Heritage Council
2
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
For a property to be inscribed on the World Heritage List it must be accepted by the
World Heritage Committee as being of Outstanding Universal Value. The Operational
Guidelines specify the key tests that the World Heritage Committee applies to decide
whether a property is of Outstanding Universal Value:
the Committee considers a property as having Outstanding Universal Value if
the property meets one or more of the World Heritage criteria; and,
to be deemed of Outstanding Universal Value, a property must also meet the
conditions of integrity and/or authenticity, and must have an adequate
protection and management system to ensure its safeguarding.
There is adequate existing research and data for the Dampier Archipelago to justify
Criteria i, iii and iv as meeting the threshold for Outstanding Universal Value.
There is also a good case for arguing that Criteria ii (with respect to the exchange of
ideas and values through time) and criteria vi (in terms of living cultural traditions)
could meet the threshold for the Dampier Archipelago. However, further research,
consent and input from Traditional Owners is required before these cases could be
considered as robust and persuasive as argued for criteria i, iii and iv.
While beyond the scope of our Brief, we would also suggest that further research should
be undertaken to assess whether (natural) criteria vii (to contain superlative natural
phenomena or areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance) could also
be met in terms of Outstanding Universal Value.
Statement of Outstanding Universal Values
Criterion i) The Dampier Archipelago contains numerous sites and individual motifs
which are masterpieces of human creative genius. This rock art is visually
outstanding, has been produced with superlative technical skill, and has often been
deliberately positioned to achieve a particularly high impact on the viewer.
Criteria iii) The rock art of the Dampier Archipelago bears exceptional testimony to the
extraordinarily long-term and continuous engraving tradition of hunting-gathering
and fishing peoples which only ceased production with European settlement.
Criterion iv): The rock art and stone arrangements of the Dampier Archipelago are an
outstanding example of an inscribed landscape. The cultural landscape includes
stone quarries, occupation sites and shell middens which, in combination with the
rock art, illustrate significant transitions in human history in the face of major
changes in sea level and environmental context.
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We would also suggest that the following criteria should be considered:
Criterion ii) the rock art of the Dampier Archipelago demonstrates a rich interchange
of human values in the Pilbara region and into the larger Australian arid zone. This
demonstrates changing human values over a considerable time span in response to
changing environmental conditions. Landscape modifications include myriad stone
arrangements resulting in a hunter-gatherer-fishing monumental landscape.
Criterion vi): The rock art of the Dampier Archipelago is tangibly associated with
contemporary traditions, ideas, and belief systems of traditional custodians, and the
rock art is of outstanding universal significance.
Winged-bodied archaic face Northern Burrup.
Photo J. McDonald
.
Authenticity
The authenticity of the place must be judged within the cultural context to which the
property belongs (UNESCO 2010:63). Rock art of the Dampier Archipelago
represents a discrete art province in the broader Pilbara culture bloc. The rock art of
the Archipelago possesses significantly more diversity than any of the smaller Pilbara art
provinces but it is also representative of the rock art of this arid bioregion. The
authenticity of engravings on the Dampier Archipelago is demonstrated by a number of
key attributes, which also express its Outstanding Universal Value.
The multiple phases of engravings demonstrate a continuous hunter-gatherer and then
fishing way of life located within a landscape that has changed significantly over time -
transforming through changes in sea level from interior ranges to islands.
It is the widely-held belief of traditional custodians that the engravings of the Dampier
Archipelago represent and embody ancestral beings (
Marga
) while stone arrangements
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(especially standing stones) are
thalu
sites which are critical for the regeneration of key
species.
All engravings have been made on the exceptionally hard and dark volcanic rocks using
stone tool technology.
The extraordinarily high site numbers with an estimated 1 million+ motifs and
exceptionally high densities of engravings and other archaeological features represent a
near-continuous signature across the entire Archipelago. This is the imprint of a long-
term and repeatedly modified hunter-gather-fisher cultural landscape.
The property should be proposed as a Cultural Landscape. While the islands of the
Archipelago are not a contiguous land mass, the Property represents an intact land and
seascape.
Speared kangaroo positioned on irregular boulder; Dolphin Island.
Photo J. McDonald.
Integrity
The nominated property reflects the boundaries of the National Heritage Listed place –
which was selected to exclude areas which have been previously disturbed by Industry. A
detailed land-use study has demonstrated that 85% of the Burrup Peninsula retains
extremely high integrity as do all of the listed islands of the Archipelago.
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The National Heritage Listing of 36,857 hectares of the Dampier Archipelago in 2007
provides robust heritage protection for significant sites under the Commonwealth
Environmental Protection Biodiversity Act
1999 as amended.
The range and variety of rock art across the property is continuous and includes a
number of the best examples that may be found. While the property has not been
surveyed in its entirety, there are well-documented examples of sites with OUV in all
parts of the Archipelago.
Recent art and large mound midden on West Intercourse Island.
Photo K. Mulvaney.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY .................................................................................... I
STATEMENT OF OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUES ................................................... I
AUTHENTICITY ............................................................................................... II
INTEGRITY .................................................................................................... III
1. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND ........................................................... 1
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THIS INVESTIGATION ............................................................. 1
1.2 SCOPE AND OBJECTIVES OF THIS REPORT ............................................................ 1
1.3 CONSULTATION WITH LOCAL ABORIGINAL GROUPS .............................................. 1
1.4 STUDY METHODOLOGY REQUIREMENTS ............................................................ 1
1.5 REPORT AUTHORSHIP ................................................................................... 3
2. HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE SITE ................................................... 3
2.1 FORMATION OF THE DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO ..................................................... 3
Changing coastline ....................................................................................... 4
2.2 THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE ............................................................................. 7
The terrestrial environment............................................................................. 7
The marine environment ............................................................................... 8
2.3 HISTORY .................................................................................................. 9
2.4 ARCHAEOLOGICAL CONTEXT ........................................................................ 12
2.5 ROCK ART ON THE DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO (MURUJUGA) .................................... 15
Site density ................................................................................................ 15
Information Gaps ....................................................................................... 18
2.6 DOCUMENTATION IN THE PROPERTY .............................................................. 19
Burrup and Maitland Industrial Estates Implementation Agreement (BMIEIA) ........... 19
Stylistic diversity ......................................................................................... 22
3. OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUE(S) OF THE PROPERTY ........................... 29
3.1 THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A STATEMENT OF OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUES ......... 29
3.2 OUV CRITERIA ASSESSED IN RELATION TO ROCK ART ......................................... 30
3.3 HOW THE DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO ROCK ART PROVIDES EVIDENCE FOR THE OUV
CRITERIA ...................................................................................................... 33
Human creative genius ................................................................................. 33
An important interchange of human value over time and within a cultural area ........... 39
Exceptional testimony .................................................................................. 46
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Outstanding example of a landscape which illustrates a significant transition .............. 50
4. COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS .......................................................................... 55
4.1 THE DAMPIER ARCHIPELAGO IN ITS NATIONAL CONTEXT ..................................... 55
4.2 WHL ROCK ART PROPERTIES LISTED FOR ROCK ART AND/OR MONUMENTAL
STRUCTURES ................................................................................................. 56
4.3 COMPARATIVE ANALYSES OF THE 39 WORLD HERITAGE LIST PROPERTIES ................ 57
Typological framework ................................................................................. 57
Comparative assessment of criteria used ............................................................ 59
Chronological regional framework .................................................................. 61
Rock art types and time frames .................................................................... 62
Thematic Framework ................................................................................... 64
Quantified assemblage data ............................................................................ 75
4.4 COMPARISON OF SPECIFIC OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUES CRITERIA ................. 76
Criterion i: represent a masterpiece of human creative genius ................................ 76
Criterion ii: exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or
within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture and
technology, monumental arts, town planning or landscape design. ................ 77
Criterion iii: The property must bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a
cultural tradition or to a civilisation which is living or which has disappeared ... 78
Criterion iv: be an outstanding example of a type of building or architectural or
technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in
human history. ................................................................................ 82
Conclusions .............................................................................................. 82
5. ASSESSMENT OF THE AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY ............................... 84
5.1 OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUES ASSESSMENT OF AUTHENTICITY AND INTEGRITY 84
5.2 AUTHENTICITY ATTRIBUTES AND OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUES ...................... 84
Form and Design ..................................................................................... 86
Materials and Substance ............................................................................ 86
Use and function ..................................................................................... 86
Location and Setting ................................................................................ 86
Traditions, techniques and management systems ............................................. 87
Spirit and feeling .................................................................................... 87
5.3 INTEGRITY ATTRIBUTES EXPRESSING OUTSTANDING UNIVERSAL VALUES .................. 88
The compound ....................................................................................... 91
Suffers from adverse effects of development and/or neglect ................................ 94
6. REFERENCES ........................................................................................... 96
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Appendices
Appendix 1 – Brief for this study
Appendix 2 – World Heritage List Properties with rock art and monuments.
Appendix 3 – World Heritage Properties – summary description of all listed rock art sites
Appendix 4 – World Heritage Tentative List for rock art and monuments.
Appendix 5 – Site card showing level of detail recorded on a sample rock art site in the Dampier
Archipelago NHL listed area.
Illustrations
Figure 1: The Study Area. Dampier Archipelago (including Burrup Peninsula) National
Heritage place. ............................................................................................ 2
Figure 2: The transition of the inland Dampier Ranges from 100km inland to becoming the
islands of the Dampier Archipelago (from Bird and Hallam 2006: Figure 22). ............. 5
Figure 3: Changing adaptations in the Dampier Archipelago over the last 10,000 years (from
Bird and Hallam 2006: Figure 24). .................................................................. 6
Figure 4: Millennial sequence of (uncalibrated) dates from the inland Pilbara (from JMcD
CHM 2009c, data from Morse 2009). ............................................................. 13
Figure 5: Millennial sequence of (uncalibrated) dates from the Dampier Archipelago (from
JMcD CHM Figure 4). ................................................................................. 14
Figure 6: Comparison of Holocene millennial sequences from the inland Pilbara and Dampier
Archipelago (n= 45 and 105, respectively). ........................................................ 15
Figure 7: Deep Gorge survey area showing location of the recorded sites. .......................... 21
Figure 8: The stick figure categories (from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 19). ........... 25
Figure 9: Lizardmen motif types (from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 29). .............. 26
Figure 10: Turtle types identified (from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 52). .............. 27
Figure 11: The sub-regions of the Dampier Archipelago used in the current art analyses. ..... 28
Figure 12: Distribution of sites across the Archipelago with Thylacine depictions (reproduced
from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 89). ................................................... 33
Figure 13: Distribution of sites with archaic faces, and some examples of the variety found
across the Archipelago (reproduced from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 87). ...... 34
Figure 14: Archaic faces and exceptional variations at site NEGPV34, on the northern Burrup
(reproduced from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 88). ................................... 35
Figure 15: The Climbing Men Complex: main panel (reproduced from McDonald and Veth
2006b: Figure 80). ..................................................................................... 36
Figure 16: Turtle (more than 1m long) and other marine motifs positioned on a sloping panel
facing out to the water from Gidley Island. Photo J. McDonald. .............................. 37
Figure 17: Therianthropic varieties identified on the Dampier Archipelago (from McDonald
and Veth 2006b: Figure 38). ......................................................................... 38
Figure 18: Profile and mixed perspective human figures (from McDonald and Veth 2006). . 38
Figure 19: Mulvaney’s proposed chronological sequence for the Dampier Archipelago (from
Mulvaney 2011: Figure 23). .......................................................................... 40
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Figure 20: Archaic faces, complex geometric designs and zoomorphs from Mulvaney earliest
phase (from Mulvaney 2011: Figure 3) ............................................................. 40
Figure 21: Examples of distinctly Burrup-styled solid bodied anthropomorphs with
disconnected circular heads from Mulvaney’s earliest phase (illustration from McDonald
and Veth 2006b:51). .................................................................................. 40
Figure 22: Large stylistically distinct kangaroo from Mulvaney’s Phase 3a (10-15,000 years
ago). Located on Dolphin Island. Photo J. McDonald. ........................................ 41
Figure 23: Recent depictions, mostly maritime, from across the Dampier Archipelago (from
McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 90). .......................................................... 42
Figure 24: Evidence of hunting and other group pursuits (from Mulvaney 2011: Figure 17). . 43
Figure 25: Social aggregation behaviours as demonstrated by a range of grouped
anthropomorphic figures (from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 36). ................. 43
Figure 26: Standing stone on the Sea Ripple Passage coast. Photo P. Kendrick. .................. 46
Figure 27: Upper Yule male and female figures (redrawn from Wright 1968). ................... 48
Figure 28: Some of the characteristic arrangements of anthropomorphs with material objects
(from McDonald and Veth 2006b: 56). ........................................................... 49
Figure 29: Engraved standing stone, northern Burrup. Photo J. McDonald. .................... 50
Figure 30: Identified petroglyph site locations identified as having significant motifs and/or
assemblages (from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 72). ................................... 51
Figure 31: An unusual array of standing stones: Dolphin Island. Photo K. Mulvaney. ........ 52
Figure 32: Distribution of unusual or complex stone arrangements across the Archipelago
(from McDonald and Veth 2006b: Figure 71). ................................................... 54
Figure 33: Proportions of different types of rock art present at the 39 properties on the World
Heritage List. ............................................................................................. 58
Figure 34: Accepted criteria at the 39 Inscribed WHL rock art sites/landscapes. .................60
Figure 35: Australia: showing location of main style areas discussed throughout the text (Base
map from Mulvaney 2010: Figure 5.8). ............................................................ 85
Figure 36: The Pilbara region showing the location of the Dampier Archipelago and he
distribution of other identified art provinces (from McDonald and Veth 2008). ......... 85
Figure 37: Land use mapping of the Burrup Peninsula (from McDonald and Veth 2006:
Figure 12). ................................................................................................ 89
Figure 38: Documented land use impact within the NH Place (from JMcD CHM 2009b:
Figure 2). NHP boundary shown in red. .......................................................... 89
Figure 39: View towards Burrup Fertiliser Plant and Pluto B in background from Deep Gorge.
Photo J. McDonald. ....................................................................................90
Figure 40: A view of the pristine landmass of Dolphin Island and Flying Foam Passage. (Photo
J. McDonald). ............................................................................................ 91
Figure 41: The pristine northern Burrup. (Photo J. McDonald). .................................. 91
Figure 42: The compound on the eastern side of the Burrup where engraved boulders were
removed to protect them from Industrial development. ........................................ 92
Figure 43: Example of an outstanding motif within the compound: a turtle associated with two
turtle scrapes (photo Sally May) – inset photo by Ken Mulvaney. ............................. 92
Figure 44: A unique motif in the compound – a small anthropomorph holding two large
barbed spears (Photo Ken Mulvaney). .............................................................. 93
Figure 45: View across Intercourse Island to Dampier Township. Photo J.McDonald. ......... 95
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Tables
Table 1: Site densities and petroglyph site densities from systematic survey on the Burrup. .... 16
Table 2: Motif density in recently surveyed National Heritage Place landscapes (from JMcD
CHM 2010). ............................................................................................. 17
Table 3: Proportion of different sized petroglyph assemblages found in various systematic
surveys (from JMcD CHM 2010). ................................................................... 17
Table 4: Cultural components recorded for 2,776 registered sites in the Dampier Archipelago
(from JMcD CHM 2009a: Table 6). Sites marked by an asterix represent combination
component sites. ......................................................................................... 20
Table 5: Motif Assemblage for the Dampier Archipelago (from 464 sites) - analysed categories
(McDonald and Veth 2006b) in red. ............................................................... 23
Table 6: Proportions of recorded motif classes across the western Pilbara from McDonald and
Veth 2005: Table 35. (All data except “Burrup” from Wright 1968). ....................... 47
Table 7: Breakdown of rock art types at the 39 World Heritage Properties nominated and listed
for rock art. ............................................................................................... 58
Table 8: Analysis of criteria used to list the 39 rock art sites on the World Heritage List. ....... 59
Table 9: WHL engraving sites/landscapes showing cultural period(s) represented. .............. 62
Table 10: WHL pigment art bodies/landscapes showing cultural period(s) represented. ....... 63
Table 11: WHL art bodies/landscapes which include engravings and pigment art - showing
cultural period(s) represented. ....................................................................... 64
Table 12: Comparative analysis of criterion i) in relation to thematic elements. ................. 66
Table 13: Comparative analysis of criterion ii) in relation to thematic elements. ................. 67
Table 14: Comparative analysis of criterion iii) in relation to thematic elements. ................ 68
Table 15: Comparative analysis of criterion iv) in relation to thematic elements. ................ 72
Table 16: Comparative analysis of criterion vi) in relation to thematic elements. ................ 73
Table 17: Area and motif counts for WHL engraving provinces. ..................................... 76
Table 18: Rock Art properties listed for Criterion i). .................................................. 79
Table 19: Rock Art properties listed for Criterion ii). .................................................80
Table 20: Comparative analysis rock art sites listed for criterion iii). ...............................80
Table 21: Rock art sites listed under criterion iv). ....................................................... 81
Table 22: Calculated areas of disturbance within the NHP. .......................................... 89
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1. INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND
1.1 Background to this Investigation
At the request of the Australian Government’s Minister for Sustainability,
Environment, Water, Population and Communities (the Minister) the Australian
Heritage Council is undertaking an assessment of the outstanding universal values of the
Dampier Archipelago. The Minister expects a report from the Australian Heritage
Council in September 2011.
1.2 Scope and objectives of this report
This study is desktop in nature and provides an evaluation of the heritage values of the
Dampier Archipelago site against the World Heritage criteria and the significance
threshold of “outstanding universal value”. It also undertakes a comparative analysis of
the Dampier Archipelago site against similar sites around the world.
While it is not a World Heritage nomination document, this report has been prepared
in a manner and format consistent with the policies and procedures of the World
Heritage Committee and the World Heritage Centre in relation to World Heritage
nominations, in particular the Operational Guidelines for the World Heritage
Convention.
The study is limited to the boundary of the listed Dampier Archipelago (including
Burrup Peninsula) National Heritage place (see Figure 1).
1.3 Consultation with local Aboriginal groups
The consultant was not be required to consult with local Indigenous groups as part of
this study and the time frame for the work was not sufficient to allow for the collection
of new anthropological or ethnographic data.
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
(DSEWPaC) will undertake required consultation with Indigenous groups on behalf of
the Australian Heritage Council.
1.4 Study Methodology Requirements
The brief required the following:
(i) Provide a history and description of the site (drawn largely from the National
Heritage listing);
(ii) Identify the outstanding universal value(s) of the site against the World Heritage
criteria and the significance threshold of “outstanding universal value”, based on
desktop study;
(iii) Provide a comparative analysis against similar places internationally; and,
(iv) Provide an assessment of the authenticity and integrity of the site.
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Figure 1: The Study Area. Dampier Archipelago (including Burrup Peninsula) National Heritage place (from
http://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/places/national/dampier-archipelago/information.html).
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1.5 Report authorship
This report was written by Jo McDonald and Peter Veth.
2. HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE SITE
Sources from this section come from McDonald and Veth (2006a) and as a result of
National Heritage Listing of this Place in 2007 (http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-
bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=105727).
The Dampier Archipelago (including the Burrup Peninsula) is on the Indian Ocean
coast of the west Pilbara region in north Western Australia: approximately 1,550km
north of Perth. The Archipelago comprises 42 islands, islets and rocks that range from
less than 2ha to 3,290ha in size and covers an area of approximately 400 km2. The
Burrup Peninsula (27km long by 5km wide) was formerly Dampier Island - the largest
in this island chain. The Burrup Peninsula was known to local Aboriginal
Ngarluma
people as
Murujuga
and is now widely referred to by this name
(DAS 1979).
The Dampier Archipelago is located north of the Tropic of Capricorn. It is part of the
Pilbara Offshore bioregion and part of an inshore zone of an expansive shelf region
that includes the nearby Barrow Island/Montebello Island Group. The north-western
Australian shelf is of significant biological interest for its suspected high diversity and
the relatively high numbers of endemic taxa.
The Dampier Archipelago is a system of islands, rocky reefs, coral reefs, shoals,
channels and straits. The area rises above a submarine plain and the seafloor has
extensive limestone pavements and large sheets of shell gravel, sand and other
sediments. The marine environment is characterised by intertidal mud and sand flats
associated with fringing mangroves in bays and lagoons, a large tidal range, highly
turbid water and the occurrence of fringing coral reefs around some of the islands.
Prior to industrial development and the building of road and rail infrastructure
between Karratha and Dampier, it was separated from the mainland by tidal mudflats.
2.1 Formation of the Dampier Archipelago
The Ngarda-Ngarli people of this region have traditional accounts of the formation of
the Dampier Archipelago (
Murujuga
). For them, ancestral beings formed the landscape
of the Dampier Archipelago in the Dreamtime and the spirits of these beings and other
spirits such as Ngkurr, Bardi, and Gardi continue to live in the area (Mardudhunera
Yaburara
et al
. 2004). The ancestral beings left their mark on the landscape as natural
features such as the Marntawarrura ("black hills") that are said to be stained from the
blood of the creative beings, and in the form of some engraved images (Robinson
1997:4). Ngarda-Ngarli people say they have lived in this area since time immemorial
(Mardudhunera Yaburara
et al
. 2004).
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The islands of the Dampier Archipelago are an inundated coastal landmass adjacent to
the mainland. The Archipelago was formed approximately 8,000 years ago when rising
sea levels flooded what were once coastal plains. Although the formation of the
Dampier Archipelago is a relatively recent event, the underlying rocks are amongst the
oldest on earth: formed in the Archaean more than 2,400 million years ago. The
majority of the larger islands in the Dampier Archipelago are different geologically
from other Pilbara offshore islands as they are made up of these Archaean volcanic rocks
rather than Quarternary and Tertiary limestones. The landscape within these areas is
characterised by steep slopes and ridges with masses of apparently haphazardly
distributed boulders: the result of ancient
in situ
weathering. Boulders vary markedly in
size, from small to extremely large, and can be either rounded or angular. This variety
in morphology is explained by differential jointing within the parent rock and
variations in the amount of time that particular intrusions have been exposed to
weather.
There are two distinct geomorphologies represented on the islands. The first is
Archaean rocks which outcrop on Dolphin, Tozer and Enderby Islands. These
Precambrian granites form the backbone of the Dampier Archipelago. Topographically,
they resemble the adjacent mainland and the Burrup Peninsula. The second
geomorphology is found on Legendre Island and other flatter islands and islets in the
north of the Archipelago. The outer islands consist primarily of younger Pleistocene or
Holocene limestone and have fringing intertidal platforms and coral reefs, low
elevations, lack the rock piles characteristic of the other islands and feature superficial
sand dunes and beaches. These islands are the remnants of consolidated limestone
ridges formed along the previous coastline.
Changing coastline
While the last Ice Age – or Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) occurred between 30-18,000
years ago (Hope 2009; Williams
et al
. 2009) sea levels were at their lowest about
20,000 years ago: at 130m lower than today. As the climate got warmer, sea levels began
to rise, bringing the coastline nearer to the ‘Dampier Ranges’. Bird and Hallam (2006;
and see Figures 2 and 3) have provided a visual depiction of the changing morphology of
the Archipelago (reproduced here with permission).
By 10,000 years ago the sea would have risen to 25km away; by about 9,000 years ago,
the outer islands would have been close to the coast. A mud whelk midden at Wadjuru
Rockpool on Rosemary Island dates back to this time and provides the first evidence of
the exploitation of mangrove resources here (Bradshaw 1995). This is of the same order
of antiquity as evidence for rich maritime economies recovered from the Montebello
Islands to the west (Veth
et al.
2007). The oldest marine motifs on the Dampier
Archipelago probably date to this period – on the cusp of the terminal Pleistocene.
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Figure 2: The transition of the inland Dampier Ranges from 100km inland to
becoming the islands of the Dampier Archipelago (from Bird and Hallam 2006:
Figure 22).
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Figure 3: Changing adaptations in the Dampier Archipelago over the last 10,000 years (from Bird and Hallam 2006: Figure 24).
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As sea levels continued to rise, a plethora of new maritime resources became available
and by 8,000 years ago, large embayments had formed between the major ridges and a
narrow channel separated Rosemary Island from the mainland. By 7,000 years ago,
the Archipelago had formed although Dolphin and Dampier Islands still formed a
peninsula. Around 6,000 years ago, sea levels began to stabilise and the Archipelago
took its present form. As seen elsewhere in north-west Australia, mangrove forests
were more widespread than today (Morse 1999; O’Connor 1999; Veth 1999; Veth
et
al.
2007; Woodroffe
et al.
1988). By 4,000 years ago, mangrove species declined and
a range of other species occur in shell middens including rocky shore, mudflat and
sandy beach shellfish. Large middens of
Terebralia
have been noted on the outer
islands (McDonald and Veth 2006b) while bivalve mounds sometimes measuring over
300m in length occur on the southern islands (such as West Intercourse Island) and
consistent with Clune (2002) will be mid-Holocene in age.
Different reasons have been offered for changes in these marine dietary suites after
4,000 years ago: infilling of bays due to progradation of shorelines;
overconsumption; climate instability (ENSO), increasing aridity and social
intensification (cf. Clune 2002; Harris 1988; O’Connor 1999; Veitch 1999).
Other excavated material from shell middens indicates exploitation of a range of
resources. The remains of land animals such as euro, wallaby, flying fox and quoll have
been found, as well as bird remains, and a range of marine fauna including dugong,
turtles, fish and crabs.
2.2 The natural landscape
The terrestrial environment
The terrestrial areas of the Dampier Archipelago support a diversity of flora from the
Pilbara region with approximately 32% of the flowering plant species known from the
Pilbara region occurs on the islands (http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-
bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=105727). More than 288 plant species
from 60 families have been recorded from the islands of the Dampier Archipelago. A
total of 393 species of vascular plants have been recorded on the Burrup Peninsula
representing 67 families and 184 genera.
Over one hundred species of birds have been recorded in the Dampier Archipelago
region, including both terrestrial species and sea and shore birds, some of which are
migratory. At least ten terrestrial species, and fifteen sea and shore bird species, are
known to breed on the islands and many more use the extensive mudflats, intertidal
reefs and salt-marshes during their annual migration between Australia and south-east
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September 2011 final draft report Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd
Asia. Many reptiles occur in the place with thirty-two species known from the Burrup
Peninsula and forty-one species known from the islands of the Dampier Archipelago.
The marine environment
The diversity of marine fauna on the northern coastline of Western Australia is high.
The Dampier Archipelago environmental values reflect both the clear water
communities of the Ningaloo Marine Park to the southwest and the more turbid waters
of the Kimberley coast to the northeast. The Dampier Archipelago contains a wide
variety of marine habitats, varying from exposed areas subject to high wave energies,
clear water and low sedimentation rates in the seaward areas (e.g. the seaward reefs of
Delambre, Legendre, Rosemary and Kendrew Islands), to sheltered habitats with turbid
water in the coastal bays. The presence of islands and reefs reduces the ability of broad
scale regional currents (e.g. the Leeuwin Current) to make any significant sustained
incursions into the near shore zone. The marine plants and animals of the area are
highly diverse and abundant as the warm tropical waters of the Dampier Archipelago
provide an ideal habitat for marine life.
Because of the wide variety of habitats, the Archipelago is rich in coral species. Coral
growth in the inshore waters of the Dampier Archipelago is prolific, particularly on sub-
littoral rock slopes where species diversity is high: there is no reef formation in these
areas. The best reef development occurs on the seaward slopes of the outer Archipelago
where the fringing reefs form a deeply dissected reef front sloping to a reef edge zone,
with a reef flat behind, shallow back reefs and an occasional lagoon.
Surveys of the Dampier Archipelago between 1998 and 2002 indicated that the Place is
very rich in marine invertebrates, particularly echinoderms (286 species), molluscs (695
species) and sponges (275 species). The richest groups were the brittle-stars
(Ophiuroidea) with 89 species, the sea-cucumbers (Holothruoidea) with 68 species, the
starfish (Asteroidea) with 54 species, the sea-urchins (Echinoidea) with 39 species and
the sea-lilies (Crinoidea) with 36 species (DEC 2006).
The extensive sand and mud flats support a rich invertebrate fauna, including bivalves,
gastropods, crustaceans, worms, brachiopods, burrowing anemones and echinoderms.
Crustaceans (particularly crabs) and bivalves (mainly Donax) and surface gastropods are
typical of exposed beach situations. The low tidal limestone pavements include a wide
range of molluscs including bivalves, gastropods and Chitons. Fauna typical of the
extensive sub-tidal plains include a wide range of fish, particularly flatheads, flounders,
catfish, eels and rays, echinoderms, crustaceans, gastropods and bivalves.
The marine flora includes both vascular plants and macroscopic algae, as yet poorly
known. Seagrass beds, although not as well developed as in some other areas, provide an
important habitat for fauna and particularly for dugongs. Macroscopic algae form a
dominant component of the marine flora. Shoals of the outer archipelago contain the
greatest diversity of species of algae.
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Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd final draft report September 2011
A total of 650 species of shallow water marine fish have been recorded within the
Dampier Archipelago that includes a rich reef assemblage. Areas with the greatest
topographic complexity have the most diverse and rich fish faunas. These areas are
mostly those furthest away from the mainland, such as the northern edge of Legendre
Island, where water turbidity is low and fish that favour off-shore conditions are found.
Marine vertebrate fauna recorded for the place include at least seven species of
mammals; the humpback whale, the false killer whale, the southern bottle nosed whale,
Risso's dolphin, bottle nose dolphin, Indo-Pacific hump backed dolphin, dugong; six
species of sea snakes and white bellied mangrove snake. The Dampier Archipelago is
recognised as providing important habitats for marine turtles and four of the five species
found in the area nest there. Large numbers of green turtles, Loggerheads, green,
hawksbill and flatback turtles nest in the area. Within the Dampier Archipelago, there
are significant turtle nesting sites on Rosemary, Delambre and Malus Islands.
Mangals line over 50% of the mainland shoreline with the biggest blocks found at the
mouths of the larger creeks and rivers and in sheltered bays. These mangals contribute
significantly to the nutrient resources of the Pilbara coastal waters and usually comprise
narrow bands of vegetation in sheltered locations where the substrate is muddy. A total
of six species of mangroves have been recorded within the Place. The white mangrove
and the red mangrove are the two most prominent species.
As well as having high biodiversity and conservation values – the Dampier Archipelago is
a landscape of great beauty. It was beyond the scope of our Brief and expertise to
consider the natural OUV criteria for this Place. We would stress that any nomination
of this Property to the World Heritage List should also consider its outstanding natural
values. Criterion vii)
to contain superlative natural phenomena or areas of exceptional
natural beauty and aesthetic importance
, seems to be of particular relevance to the
Dampier Archipelago.
2.3 History
Aboriginal people from this region identify themselves as Ngarda-Ngarli and say they
have lived in this area since time immemorial, with the last tribe known as Yaburara
(Mardudhunera Yaburara
et al.
2004). The first reference to an Aboriginal name for
the area is contained in a Western Australian Museum report (DAS 1979) which states
that “[t]he Aborigines in Roebourne refer to the Dampier Archipelago as
Murujuga
(‘hip bone sticking up’)”. This Department of Aboriginal Sites (DAS) report appears to
be the earliest recording of a traditional name for the location which is now widely
accepted (e.g. Turner 1982; Bednarik 2006; DEC 2007; McDonald and Veth 2009;
Mulvaney 2010).
Archaeological studies demonstrate at least 9,000 years of occupation in the Dampier
Archipelago, which includes the Burrup Peninsula. During this time the Ngarda-Ngarli
people have adapted to significant changes including changes to the environment, sea
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September 2011 final draft report Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd
levels and climate (Department of Environment and Conservation 2006:13). The
Ngarda-Ngarli people also actively managed the land (Mardudhunera Yaburara
et al
.
2004). This is shown by features in the landscape, including
thalu
or increase sites,
which are used to manage the regeneration of a range of natural resources.
In January 1699 Sir William Dampier was the first European to visit the archipelago that
is now named after him. He landed on Rosemary Island but did not encounter any
Aboriginal people. In 1818, the British Admiralty sent Captain Phillip Parker King to
search for rivers and fresh water on the West Coast of Australia. He landed in the
Dampier Archipelago and had a number of meetings with Aboriginal people. He
recorded information on their use of canoes and their house structures. While most of
his encounters were friendly, he did not attempt to land on a second island because the
occupants gestured for him not to (King 1826:33-36).
In 1861 Francis Gregory undertook the first European exploration of the Pilbara
region. He estimated that there were two or three million acres of land in the area
suitable for grazing, and he drew attention to the possibilities of a pearling industry. As
a result of Gregory’s reports a port was established at the mouth of the Harding River in
1863 (Australian Heritage Commission 2001). This was originally named Tien Tsin
after the barque on which they arrived, but was renamed Cossack after a visit by Western
Australian Governor Weld in 1871 (who came on the HMS Cossack). As the first port in
the North West, Cossack provided a vital point of access for the settlement and
development of the Pilbara region.
Pearling and shore-based whaling industries were established in the area in the 1860s
and 1870s (Australian Heritage Commission 1978a, 1978b). These industries attracted
a diverse work force including Aboriginal people, Chinese, Malays, Filipinos and
Japanese. While Cossack was the main port for the pearling industry, the fleet also
established a small station at Blackhawk Bay on Gidley Island (Australian Heritage
Commission 1978b). Shore-based whaling, which lasted for almost a decade, was
established on Malus Island in 1870 (Gibbs 1994; Australian Heritage Commission
1978b). Gold was discovered in the Pilbara in the 1870s.
Aboriginal people of the area played a significant role in both the pearling and pastoral
industries. However, the development of these industries, and the shore-based whaling
industry, began the process of Aboriginal dispossession in the area. In 1868, Constable
Griffis arrested an Aboriginal man,
Coolyerberri
, for stealing flour although there are
also suggestions that Griffis had earlier abducted
Coolyeberri
’s wife. Griffis and two
companions were killed when
Coolyerberri
was rescued by a group of Aboriginal
people. The Government Resident responded by swearing in nineteen special
constables who, over several days, attacked the Aboriginal camps on the Burrup
Peninsula and islands to the north of the peninsula (Gara 1993; Bednarik 2006).
Records vary, but indicate that between five and forty Yaburara men, women and
children were killed during what has become known as the Flying Foam Massacre (Gara
1983). These violent punitive actions devastated the Yaburara population.
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The harbour at Cossack, Butcher's Inlet, could only cater for ships of up to 200 tons,
and could only be safely negotiated at high tide. As a result, the pearling industry
relocated to Broome in the early 1890s. The need for a deep-water port to serve the
Pilbara remained an important issue. Depuch Island was an early candidate (as early as
1908). There was no progress in developing a port until the 1960s when Depuch Island
was again considered. However, it was concluded that because of the Island’s exceptional
Aboriginal heritage the port should be built elsewhere (McCarthy 1961; McDonald and
Veth 2005:160; Vinnicombe 2002:6; Bednarik 2006:25). In 1963 the Western
Australian Government and Hamersley Iron entered into an agreement to develop the
Tom Price mine and the town and port of Dampier. The town was completed by 1966.
In 1978, the Burrup Peninsula was chosen as the site for a treatment plant for offshore
gas (LNG) deposits on the North-West Shelf. Following an Environmental Impact
Assessment, Withnell and King Bays were recommended for the development. A
programme to salvage information on Aboriginal heritage in the area began in 1980 </