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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

6 June 2005

Heritage sites added to list of national treasures


Tasmania's Port Arthur Historic Site and Brewarrina's Aboriginal Fish Traps in NSW have been placed on the Australian Government's National Heritage List, while two of Canberra's heritage sites have also been added to the Commonwealth Heritage List.

Making the announcement today, Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said these four sites were heritage listed because of their exceptional value and importance to Australia.

PORT ARTHUR, TASMANIA

One of Australia's most revered convict places, Tasmania's Port Arthur Historic Site, has been officially recognised as an important part of Australia's national heritage.

Senator Campbell said the national heritage listing of the picturesque site would add significantly to the list of Australia's national heritage treasures.

"I am immensely pleased the Port Arthur Historic Site has passed the high threshold for national heritage listing," Senator Campbell said.

"The convict colony operated for almost fifty years, from 1830 to 1877, and the site gives an unequalled picture of the evolving British penal system in Australia.

"Its ruins and formal layout are a living reminder of our convict past which, once reviled, is now celebrated. The listing means this valuable history will be preserved for future generations to experience and learn from," he said.

Senator Campbell said the Port Arthur site was also remembered for the tragic April 1996 shootings, which had added to the poignancy and symbolism of the place.

The Port Arthur Historic Site has been assessed as a significant national example of a convict site, with high integrity and authenticity.

ABORIGINAL FISH TRAPS IN BREWARRINA, NSW

The outstanding heritage value of Brewarrina's Aboriginal Fish Traps, near Bourke in outback NSW, has earned it a place on the Australian Government's National Heritage List.

Senator Campbell said the fish traps - the largest recorded in Australia - were an important part of Australia's national heritage story.

"These complex stone structures on the Barwon River are socially, culturally and spiritually important to Aboriginal people, particularly in north western New South Wales," Senator Campbell said.

"According to Aboriginal law, Baiame, an ancestral creation being, is responsible for the design and traditional use of the fish traps.

"The fish traps, almost half a kilometre long, are shaped like a net across the river. Tear-drop shaped stone walled pens combined with pen gates trap fish traveling either up or downstream in both high and low water flows.

"National heritage recognition of this important place is the culmination of more than two years close consultation between my department, the Brewarrina community and key stakeholders.

"National heritage listing will promote the great cultural heritage value of the Fish Traps more widely and provide economic benefits through increased tourism for the region," he said.

CANBERRA'S ANCIENT AND MODERN HERITAGE

Two of Canberra's heritage places, an ancient geological site dating back more than 450 million years and a 20th century office building, will be included on the Commonwealth Heritage List.

Senator Campbell said the State Circle Cutting and the Edmund Barton Building represented two very different faces of Canberra's heritage.

"The State Circle Cutting is a geological snapshot in time, showing us how the Canberra region has formed and changed over hundreds of millions of years," Senator Campbell said.

"The area was originally covered by sea and the rocks of the State Circle Shale were folded by powerful tectonic forces, lifting them above sea level. Over millions of years erosion gradually wore down the land and shaped its surface.

"The land was then once again covered by a shallow sea, and the Camp Hill sediments were deposited on top of the older land surface, creating the geological features known as an 'unconformity', that makes the site so significant.

"Excavation of the site in the early 1970s led to a major re-assessment of how geological events impacted on the Canberra region. Today it is an important teaching site, providing evidence of ancient geological landscapes and habitats of now extinct fauna."

Senator Campbell said the Edmund Barton Offices on Kings Avenue, representing far more recent history, were an acclaimed example of modern Australian architecture and the largest example of the late 20th century international style in the ACT.

"The design is the work of Harry Seidler, one Australia's leading architects of the modern architectural movement, and is renowned for its innovative aesthetic, technical and design features," he said.

"Listing these unique places on the Commonwealth Heritage List will help protect and preserve them for future generations to enjoy and to learn from," he said.

The Commonwealth Heritage List includes more than 340 places around Australia and is an important part of the Australian Government's commitment to protecting and conserving our nation's significant heritage places.

The Commonwealth Heritage List came into effect on 1 January 2004, following amendments to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and complements the new National Heritage List. Inclusion on the Commonwealth Heritage List imposes a range of obligations on Australian Government agencies to ensure the protection of heritage places they own or manage.

More than 80 places have been nominated to the National Heritage List, including many natural, Indigenous and historic sites.The Australian Heritage Council assessment process included comprehensive community consultation.

For more information on the National Heritage List visit www.deh.gov.au/heritage/national/index.html

For more information on the Commonwealth Heritage List go to www.deh.gov.au/heritage/commonwealth/index.html

Media Contact: Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia