Joint media statement - Towards World Heritage recognition for Murujuga

10 February 2023

The Australian Government has nominated Murujuga Cultural Landscape for inscription on the World Heritage List. The formal nomination was submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre in late January 2023.

If accepted, Murujuga would be the second site in Australia listed for World Heritage Status for First Nations cultural heritage.


The nomination was prepared by the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation in partnership with the Western Australian Government, with support and advice from the Australian Government and technical experts.


The Murujuga Cultural Landscape, located in the north-west of Western Australia, is of immense cultural and spiritual significance and of continuous culture and practice.


It also contains evidence of continuous traditional culture and practice of the area over at least 50,000 years.


The nomination presents Murujuga as a living cultural landscape, with potential 'Outstanding Universal Value' demonstrated through the extensive petroglyph collection, the living cultural traditions and the deep time histories of land and sea use.


Murujuga has an estimated 1-2 million images in an area of more than 100,000 hectares, across land and sea country. Murujuga has the densest known concentration of hunter-gatherer petroglyphs anywhere in the world.


The petroglyphs of Murujuga demonstrate an extraordinary diversity of style, theme, mode of production and aesthetic repertoire.


A proposed World Heritage boundary, of nearly 100,000 hectares of land and sea country, has been comprehensively negotiated.


The protection afforded by World Heritage status would ensure that Traditional Owners are managing and protecting Murujuga in partnership with the Australian, Western Australian and local governments.


UNESCO's assessment process will take at least 18 months and the earliest the nomination is likely to be considered by the World Heritage Committee is mid-2024.


Quote attributable to Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation CEO, Mr Peter Jeffries:


"Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation is proud to have led the preparation of this nomination, on behalf of the Traditional Owners and Custodians for Murujuga, and in partnership with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions.


"For more than two decades, the Ngarda-Ngarli have aspired for World Heritage listing of Murujuga and for our traditional knowledge and lore to be at the centre of decision-making, governance and management of this land and sea country.


"We see inscription on the World Heritage List as a mechanism to support what we have always done – share knowledge, protect our sacred places and ensure that we are in the best position to respond to the needs of Country."


Quotes attributable to the Federal Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek:


"Murujuga is a site of great significance to Traditional Owners, where culture, customs and beliefs have been passed on for thousands of generations.


"This deeply storied landscape contains a rich assemblage of tangible and intangible cultural attributes, including one of the densest and most diverse collections of petroglyphs in the world. 


"Murujuga is a natural wonder of the world – a place for all Australians to reflect on years of continuous living culture. The cultural attributes attest to a long and continuing presence, and rich cultural connections between people, beliefs, and landscape.


"I am delighted that the Australian Government has now formally nominated this important site for World Heritage listing and the global recognition that it so richly deserves.


"Our Government is strongly committed to working with Traditional Owners and Custodians to properly protect the history of the oldest living civilisation in the world. This includes by developing new national standalone legislation to protect First Nations cultural heritage."


Quotes attributable to WA Minister for Environment and Climate Action Reece Whitby:


"I'd like to congratulate everyone working towards this formal nomination for more than four years, especially the Traditional Owners for sharing their invaluable knowledge and making this nomination possible.


"Murujuga is home to one of the largest and most diverse rock art collections in the world. We're reaffirming the joint commitment to protecting such a culturally and spiritually significant area.


"This is an incredible example of what collaboration can achieve. It highlights the unique cultural, spiritual and archaeological values of Murujuga on the global stage."


WA Minister's office - 6552 6300