West Point, Tasmania ©
Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Dotted along Tasmania's wind-swept western coastline are the remains of numerous hut depressions found in Aboriginal shell middens. These are the remnants of an unusual, specialised and more sedentary Aboriginal way of life that began almost 2000 years ago and continued up to the 1830s, based on the hunting of seals and land mammals and the gathering of shellfish.
Sites within the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape include some of the best evidence of the lifestyle of Aboriginal people in the area, showing how groups moved seasonally up and down the west coast of Tasmania and their subsequent economic development around the products of hunting.
In particular, the apparent absence of fish bones and the presence of marine and terrestrial animal bones in some middens, when taken in conjunction with the hut sites, are an important expression of this specialised way of life.
Archaeological work from the 1960s through to the 1980s found evidence of early villages, established approximately 1900 years ago next to an elephant seal (Mirounga leonina) colony. Based upon the large number of seal bones found in the midden, it is believed that the elephant seals were a major component of Aboriginal people's diet in the area.
Analysis of the faunal remains from the West Point midden indicates that mainly young calves were killed; indicating that up to 1900 years ago Aboriginal people inhabited the area in summer when young seals were being weaned.
Evidence of similar patterns of movement are also found in southwest Victoria, however the diversity of hut depressions in the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape are greater, making it of outstanding national heritage value to all of Australia.
What is the National Heritage List?
The National Heritage List recognises, celebrates and protects our most important natural, Indigenous and historic heritage places.
Places on the National Heritage List reflect our nation's development, from its ancient origins and its first people to its architectural masterpieces, the spirit and ingenuity of our community and our unique, living landscapes.
The National Heritage List was established to list places of outstanding heritage significance to Australia. It includes natural, historic and Indigenous places that are of outstanding national heritage. Places on the list include Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Bondi Beach, the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Fremantle Prison, Port Arthur, Witjara-Dalhousie Springs, the Ningaloo Coast, the west Kimberley and the Stirling Range.
The Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape is the 98th place to be included on the National Heritage List.
What does National Heritage listing mean?
National Heritage listing provides recognition of the area's outstanding heritage value to the Australian nation. Approval must be obtained under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) before any action takes place that could have a significant impact on the site's national heritage values.
Brief to Minister