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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage


24 May 1999

Two of Australia’s most important plant fossil sites, dating back more than 50 million years, are being entered on the nation’s premier heritage list.

Both sites from the early Eocene era, which are near Strahan on the west coast of Tasmania, will be entered in the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate from tomorrow.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Robert Hill says the sites are of outstanding heritage significance as they contain fossils from two very different geological ages.

"They are the richest source of Eocene plant fossils in Australia and are unique because they contain such a variety of plant fossils from the early Pleistocene era (2.2-0.8 million years ago)," Senator Hill said.

The Minister said fossils of hundreds of different species of plants could be found on the sites, many of which are now extinct. They were the only Australian sites which contained fossils of the mangrove palm, Nypa, and of the Bowenia cycad.

"The sites help us understand past climates in Australia as they record the changes over that period," he said.

The fossil sites are among 46 places throughout Australia to be entered in the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate on Tuesday 25 May. These include Melbourne’s Comedy Theatre, the 140-year-old Ann Street Presbyterian Church in Brisbane, freshwater wetlands near Townsville, and a 1970s Canberra office block designed by well-known Australian architect, Harry Seidler, the Edmund Barton Offices.

The Register of the National Estate is Australia’s premier list of natural and cultural heritage places and is compiled by the Australian Heritage Commission.

Entry in the Register is a public recognition of the heritage values of a place and means that it has met criteria for national estate significance. The Commission does not manage places in the Register. The Commonwealth Government is obliged not to damage places in the Register, but does not have any rights to acquire or manage a place. Listing does not give people the right to enter a national estate place which is privately owned.

Interim Listing means the public is allowed up to three months to object to the identified place being included in the Register of the National Estate. The Commission considers all objections before a final decision is made on whether a place qualifies to enter the Register. The Register of the National Estate Database is now on the internet and can be found at:

For further information, contact the Australian Heritage Commission:
Rod Bruem
Senator Hill’s Office Ph (02) 6277 7640 Mobile 0411 128 582
Noel Pratt
Education & Communication Section Ph (02) 6274 2117
Jonathan Miller
Natural Environment Section Ph (02) 6274 2146

Commonwealth of Australia