Department of the Environment

Archived media releases and speeches

The Hon. Tony Burke MP

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities

Release of Australian Heritage Council's national heritage assessment of the West Kimberley

Media release
8 August 2011

The Minister for Sustainability, Tony Burke, has made public the final national heritage assessment of the West Kimberley region by the Australian Heritage Council.

A region of around 20 million hectares in the west Kimberley area is currently being considered for inclusion in the National Heritage List.

"The Kimberley and its coastline are among the most magnificent areas in Australia and I know there is a great deal of public interest in the proposed national heritage listing of the west Kimberley," Mr Burke said.

"Heritage Council assessments are not normally released before a decision, however, I felt that it was important so that the public can be better informed about this assessment.

"This is a complex assessment and has received a great deal of interest from members of the community.

"When I come to make my decision on the proposed listing I will take into account the Council's assessment along with submissions from the public consultation process."

The Australian Heritage Council found that there are a number of potential natural and cultural heritage values in the west Kimberley.

These include the dramatic and beautiful landscapes of the remote sandstone coast with its towering cliffs, rocky headlands, pristine rivers, spectacular waterfalls and thousands of islands. Inland lies the rugged Kimberley plateau, with its deep gorges and cascading waterfalls, the striking King Leopold Ranges, and Windjana and Geike gorges.

In addition, the Heritage Council found that the region has extraordinary Indigenous heritage values, including powerful images of Wanjina creator beings, ancestors, plants and animals in rock shelters and caves - considered one of the longest and most complex 'rock art' sequences anywhere in the world. Beautifully executed Gwion-Gwion rock paintings provide an extraordinary insight into the material culture of Aboriginal society over thousands of years.

The Council also found the Devonian reef to have outstanding heritage value for its association with Jandamarra, whose campaign of resistance was unprecedented in Australian history.

The Council also found that the Dampier Coast dinosaur tracks are among the best and most extensive evidence of dinosaurs from the western half of the continent, include some of the largest footprints found anywhere in the world, and provide a rare glimpse into the ecology of the ancient past.

The Australian Heritage Council's assessment is available at A final decision on the proposed listing is due by August 30 2011.