Recognising and protecting the places and stories that make Australia special
Your heritage online news
Department of the Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Issue 2, April 2011
On this page
- Foreword by Australian Heritage Chair: Professor Carmen Lawrence
- Forest Hill School of the Arts Heritage Site used as Flood Evacuation Centre
- Kokoda Ranger Exchange
- Jobs Fund: Fremantle Prison
- Wilgie Mia Aboriginal Ochre Mine added to the National Heritage List
- Events snapshot: Australian Heritage Week
- UNESCO Third Foundation Course on Underwater Cultural Heritage
As Chair of the Australian Heritage Council (AHC), I am delighted to be introducing the Heritage e-newsletter, our first for 2011. The past few months have been particularly busy, with preparations well underway for the Inaugural Australian Heritage Week being held during 14-20 April, 2011. I have been delighted to hear of the number and diversity of events which will be happening right around the country.
Image: Prof. Carmen Lawrence, Chair, Australian Heritage Council
From Melbourne to Quirindi, Kapunda to Laidley, historical sites, properties, museums and heritage listed places are opening their doors and playing host to events, lectures, award ceremonies and tours. It is a great opportunity for us all to learn more about the significant places and stories within our local communities as well as those that are significant to our nation. It is also an opportunity to garner support for the proper protection of our natural, built and Indigenous heritage places.
It is so important to acknowledge and recognise the significance of heritage in Australia and what it is that makes us unique. It is equally important to recognise our role in supporting heritage initiatives in our region and the international community. Demonstrating leadership, participating in information sharing exercises and forming partnerships are a few ways we can progress a broader heritage agenda and ensure that we are working collaboratively to achieve good heritage outcomes. These and other key messages were amongst the issues discussed by Council at a workshop in December 2010 to consider the future directions and challenges for heritage in Australia.
The Joint Understanding between the Australian and PNG Governments is one excellent example of how we are working together. Along with a ranger exchange program, which you can read more about in this e-newsletter the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities recently hosted a communications officer from the Department of Environment and Conservation, PNG. Ms Pauline Riman spent time working with a number of areas in the department and I am very pleased to say, contributed to this e-newsletter with an article on the work done to conserve and restore Fremantle Prison in my home state of WA.
Another recent example of our regional participation was through one of our departmental officers , Mr Andrew Viduka, presenting seminars at the UNESCO Third Foundation Course on Underwater Cultural Heritage in Thailand, which you can read more about in this edition.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the many communities affected by recent natural disasters. We have seen much devastation caused by the Queensland & Victorian floods, Cyclone Yasi and the Perth bushfires. There has been a great outpouring of assistance and support and I was pleased to hear that one of our heritage listed sites in Queensland, which was restored using through the Heritage Jobs Fund, was able to be used as an evacuation centre during the flood crisis. During the recent meeting of Heritage Chairs and Officials of Australia and New Zealand, our New Zealand colleagues were advised that an earthquake had devastated Christchurch. The Chairs of Australia’s Heritage Council passed on their condolences and best wishes from Australia and Australia’s heritage community. Our thoughts remain with the many communities undertaking the process of rebuilding and recovery.
Wishing you all a wonderful Australian Heritage Week.
Until next time
Chair, Australian Heritage Council
Throughout the devastation of the Queensland floods earlier this year, the historic Forest Hill School of Arts, in the small town of Forest Hill, Queensland, was used as a refuge for hundreds of residents who had lost their homes to the rising waters.
Forest Hill, a rural town of about 340 people, is 70 km south-west of central Brisbane and midway between Gatton and Laidley. The town is also on the Ipswich to Toowoomba railway line.
In mid 2010, the Forest Hill School of Art Hall received $150,000 in funding from the Australian Government Jobs Fund program to restore the hall back to its original condition for its upcoming centenary celebration this year. Jobs Fund provided $60 million for heritage projects as part of the $650 million program. It included a number of separate components focused on protecting, conserving and promoting:
Image: Forest Hill School of the Arts
The Forest Hill School of Arts was built in 1911, after the Forest Hill Farmers Progress Association wanted to build a prestigious school of art for the community. The progress association raised a considerable amount of money and took out a loan from the Queensland National Bank for the construction of the hall.
As the loan was considered quite large at the time, the debt on the hall was still considerable in 1915, so the School of Arts Committee arranged a Queen Carnival that year and raised over $1000. With the money raised adding to the government subsidy, the debt was eliminated and many improvements were made to the hall.
Over the century, the hall has not only been used as a school of art but as a library, functions hall for religious services, dances, balls, weddings and birthday parties. It has also been used as a doctor’s surgery, baby clinic, school, sports facility and cinema.
Since the Jobs Fund upgrade has been completed, the Forest Hill School of Arts has had an increase in permanent bookings and functions. The long term benefits of the repairs have meant the hall can continue to be a central building for the community. It is wonderful that the School of the Arts was able to continue to function as a community facility and provide an invaluable refuge for the Queensland flood victims in its Centenary year.
Image: (top left to right): Joe Duhube (Ranger), Minister Burke, Michael O’Kave (Counterpart Chief Operations Officer, Kokoda Track Authority), Elizah Peter (Ranger). (bottom left to right): Donald Siga (Ranger), Martin Fortescue (Booderee National Park Manager). Photographer: David Brown
In January, rangers from Booderee National Park played host to five Kokoda Track Rangers from Papua New Guinea as part of the PNG and Australian Government’s Kokoda initiative.
The Kokoda Initiative brings together PNG and Australia’s national interests, promoting the economic and social development of PNG while also protecting the important natural, cultural and historic values of the Kokoda Track.
The Kokoda Track has immense historical significance, being a powerful symbol of the goodwill and enduring relationship between the two countries. Thousands of trekkers experience the physically challenging 96-kilometre walk every year, making the iconic Kokoda Track PNG’s most popular land-based tourism attraction and an important source of national and local income.
The 10 day ranger training program was aimed at sharing park management and track maintenance skills with the Kokoda Rangers to build capacity in protecting and maintaining this historic track. It is also designed to promote responsible management, so that the Kokoda trail can remain part of Australia and PNG’s shared history for future generations.
The placements are focussed on exposing the rangers to the breadth of work that Australian rangers engage in, in areas such as visitor management and services, pest, plant and animal control as well as general park operations.
Booderee National Park provided a great opportunity to learn about community involvement in protected area management. It is jointly managed by the local Indigenous community and the Parks Australian Division of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC).
Ultimately, the placements will contribute towards the Kokoda Initiative goal of “a safe and well-managed Kokoda Track, which honours its wartime historical significance and protects and promotes its special values.”
The exchange program also provides the opportunity to share information on customary land ownership and managing land in partnership with government.
This is the second year the program has run and the possibility of a ranger exchange for Australian Rangers to visit the Kokoda track is being discussed as a future option.
Other staff exchanges are currently underway in strategic management and capacity building in a range of areas such as GIS mapping, catchment and protected area management and land use planning.
One of the lasting icons of the Australian convict story is the Fremantle Prison in Western Australia.
In preparation for the 2010 World Heritage listing, the prison has undergone a restoration program to the western external façade of the Main Cell Block, which began in 2005.
A funding grant approved in 2009 of $1,818,181.00 through the heritage component of the Australian Government’s Jobs Fund , has enabled the prison manager to carry out restoration works through a number of conservation and restoration initiatives.
Image: Fremantle Prison main cell block
Originally known as The Convict Establishment and renamed Fremantle Prison in 1887, it was designed by the Controller General of Convicts in Western Australia, Capt. E.Y.W. Henderson. It was continuously used as a Prison for almost 140 years, until being decommissioned in November 1991. Early convicts from the Fremantle prison made a lasting contribution to the economic and physical growth of the Western Australian colony, adding to the significance of the site.
The outcome of the restoration work has been outstanding, with the Main Cell Block conserved to reflect the harsh conditions experienced by convicts and prisoners. The project ensured that the significant heritage values were not compromised.
The project was also able to provide immediate employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled workers, as well as ensuring conservation, interpretation and financial security of this significant heritage site.
The project has contributed to the heritage values and improved conditions by:
- Restoring and conserving the interior of the circulation areas of the Main Cell Block through a program of repair to the stonework;
- Reinforcing and improving the visibility of the heritage values of the structure through the removal of intrusive building and painting of surfaces to match those of the convict era;
- Conserving and repairing steelwork and joinery, including stairways, walkways and rails. This also improved safety and access for visitors to the site (approximately 175,000 p.a.).
Built by convicts for convicts, the Fremantle Prison has been conserved and restored by a generation of Australians to pay homage to their heritage and remember the legacy of the reformed early settlers who contributed to building this nation.
Wilgie Mia Aboriginal Ochre Mine was added to the National Heritage List on 24 February, 2011 by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the Hon. Tony Burke.
It is located near Cue in the Murchison district of Western Australia and is the largest and deepest Aboriginal Ochre mine in Australia.
The National Heritage List has been established to list places of outstanding heritage significance to Australia. It includes natural, historic and Indigenous places that are of outstanding national heritage value to the nation.
Wilgie Mia is particularly significant for its record of mining history in Australia. The mining techniques used by Aboriginal people at Wilgie Mia included 'stop and pillar' techniques to provide increased safety when mining underground, and the use of pole scaffolding with wooden platforms to allow them to extract ochre from different heights in the rock face at the same time. These techniques have not been recorded at any other traditional Aboriginal mine.
The size of Wilgie Mia indicates that around 19,600 cubic metres of ochre and rock weighing around 40,000 tonnes, has been removed. This is the largest amount of ochre removed from a single location in Australia using traditional Aboriginal methods.
The creation story of Wilgie Mia tells how the ochre at the site was created by the blood of a wounded marlu—a red kangaroo. The stories associated with Wilgie Mia and its creation remain an important part of Indigenous tradition to this day, with the red ochre from Wilgie Mia continuing to be used in Aboriginal Law, art, ceremony and healing practices throughout the Western Desert and its fringes.
Of all the ochre sites in Australia, ochre from Wilgie Mia is amongst the most sought after. It has a lustrous sheen, 'glow in the dark' qualities, and doesn't irritate when applied to the body.
For countless generations Wilgie Mia’s red, yellow and green ochre has been traded extensively throughout much of western and central Australia
Australian Heritage Week is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate what is uniquely Australian, raise awareness of the preservation and conservation of significant heritage sites and provide an opportunity for us all to learn more about our national story as well as our own local communities.
There are hundreds of events listed for Heritage Week, including at many National Heritage Listed sites and within metropolitan, regional and rural centres. A list of Australian Heritage Week events can be found at www.heritage.gov.au but a quick snapshot of some of the fantastic events being held around Australia are:
- Ghost Night at Old Government House in Parramatta, NSW celebrates Australian Heritage Week by candlelit tours through the 212 year old Georgian Mansion. The governors and their households left Parramatta in 1815 but their presence still haunts the house. Hear strange tales from the site’s long history, revisit the scene of a tragic accident and witness places within the house where psychics and guides have had ghostly encounters, then reflect on your own experiences over supper.
- The Kidman Trail tour in South Australia celebrates Australian Heritage Week by taking visitors along the recreational trail by horse, bike or foot over 260 kms from Willunga to Kapunda, via the Barossa Valley in South Australia.
- The MCG in Melbourne is celebrating Heritage Week by conducting comprehensive history tours of this marvellous stadium where so many champions have performed. A fully accredited sports heritage complex and tourism destination, visitors can view the change rooms, famous Long Room, coach’s boxes and even walk on the ground.
- Manning Clark House in Canberra is celebrating Heritage Week by running a scavenger hunt to promote the contribution that Professor Manning Clark, Australian historian and author, made to the nation.
- The Historical Society of Beaudesert in Queensland is celebrating Heritage Week by hosting a jubilee, a week long series of events to celebrate 50 years of activities by the historical society and the Beaudesert Museum. The program will culminate in the official opening of a new display detailing the history of bee husbandry and honey production in the region. The display is to be opened by Mr. Norman Rice, the local and world-renowned apiarist who will talk about the rice 'Beauy Bee' and the revolutionary impact on the world of bee husbandry.
Image: General class shot. Mr Erbprem Vatcharangkul of the Thailand Underwater Archaeology Division teaching
The UNESCO Foundation courses are designed to develop capacity to safeguard the underwater cultural heritage of the Asia Pacific Region, which is under threat from treasure hunters looting archaeological sites.
The UNESCO Third Foundation Course on Underwater Cultural Heritage in Chanthaburi, Thailand, held between the 19-28 February, is the last program in a series of regional training platforms to facilitate and enable the training of underwater archaeological site managers and conservation professionals from Asia and the Pacific.
Andrew Viduka, Assistant Director in Maritime Heritage in the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities and qualified maritime archaeologist objects conservator, attended part of the course and delivered three seminars to participants on Material Culture Analysis, Finds Handling and Conservation, and an Introduction to Intrusive Archaeology.
The course focussed on integrated approaches towards the conservation and management of underwater archaeological sites and was aimed at building regional capacity to protect and manage underwater archaeological sites in the Asia Pacific Region.
The department also sponsored two participants from the Pacific Islands, Mr Elia Nakoro from Fiji and Mr Douglas Kalotiti from Vanuatu to attend this course as part of the department’s international heritage objective of helping to promote best practice in heritage management in the Asia Pacific Region.
Twenty trainees were present at the Third Foundation course and they came from 11 different countries in the Asia Pacific, Central Asia and Africa regions including Laos, Bangladesh, Fiji, India, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Thailand.
While in Thailand, Andrew also meet with Dr Hans Van Tilburg from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a fellow expert trainer, to discuss Australia’s proposed national collaborative insitu preservation and reburial project which is on the Cooperative National Heritage Agenda. They also discussed the possibility of collaborating further with NOAA on a project of mutual interest in the Pacific region.
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