Our heritage provides an enduring golden thread that binds our diverse past with our life today and the stories of tomorrow

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Australia’s National Heritage

“Our heritage provides an enduring golden thread

that binds our diverse past with our life today
and the stories of tomorrow.”

A message from the Minister

Welcome to the second edition of Australia’s National Heritage celebrating the 87 special places on Australia’s National Heritage List.

Australia’s heritage places are a source of great national pride. Each and every site tells a unique Australian story. These places and stories have laid the foundations of our shared national identity upon which our communities are built.

The treasured places and their stories featured throughout this book represent Australia’s remarkably diverse natural environment. Places such as the Glass House Mountains and the picturesque Australian Alps. Other places celebrate Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture—the world’s oldest continuous culture on earth—through places such as the Brewarrina Fish Traps and Mount William Stone Hatchet Quarry. Australia’s built heritage is highlighted through sites as varied as the Echuca Wharf and the Mawson’s Huts Historic Site in Antarctica.

Several places featured in this book, like Bondi Beach, are well known both here and overseas. Bondi, arguably the home of Australia’s first surf lifesaving club, is one of the world’s most famous beaches and epitomises Australia’s open-to-all-comers beach culture.

Other locations on the National Heritage List are important for combining remarkable natural and Indigenous qualities. Witjira-Dalhousie Springs, for example, is in the largest artesian system in the world: Australia’s Great Artesian Basin. These Springs are special, not only as a home for distinct species of plants and animals, but they also hold significant meaning to the Indigenous people of Australia as a place long associated with traditional stories and songs.

Our heritage places and stories are increasingly recognised as an important driver of regional economies. Places on our National Heritage List are drawcards for domestic and international tourists. When people visit these places they are helping others build sustainable livelihoods through their support of local businesses and service industries in towns and cities across Australia. This is why in 2009 the Australian Government provided $60 million through the $650 million Jobs Fund initiative for high priority heritage conservation projects; the largest ever investment in Australia’s heritage.

I hope you enjoy reading Australia’s National Heritage, the richness and diversity of Australia’s stories are wonderful to check out.

The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP

Australian Government Minister for
the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

A message from the Chairman of the Australian Heritage Council
There are few more exciting or stimulating tasks than to identify the natural, historic and Indigenous places that are significant to all Australians.

The Australian Heritage Council’s task is to assess nominated places against the National Heritage criteria to determine if they are of outstanding value to our nation.

Since the Council first embarked on the listing process six years ago we have found it an intriguing journey. It has been a voyage through the issues that define us as a country and a people. We are relishing the challenges of our role and are inspired by the passion, care and concern we have seen for these places in their community and the community at large. Places have been nominated and promoted by private citizens, heritage bodies and state, federal and local governments.

The List links familiar and iconic places such as the Sydney Opera House and the Melbourne Cricket Ground with lesser known places such as Budj Bim, which is the site of one of the oldest aquaculture systems in Australia. It links sites of great national celebrations, such as Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building, with places of sorrow and disquiet such as Tasmania’s Port Arthur and the Myall Creek Massacre site. It also links places of great historic moments such as Captain Cook’s Landing Place and events that have taken mythological standing such as the site of Ned Kelly’s last stand at Glenrowan and the Tree of Knowledge at Barcaldine.

We have been engaged in some ambitious and testing assessments—the Australian Alps which spread across two States and the A.C.T. and include multiple layers of significance—Natural, Cultural and Indigenous. As a Council we have sought out places that have such complexity—we find it one of the most interesting features of our heritage.

These and other places comprise the Australian story. Identifying them, telling their tales and providing a framework for their protection is the purpose of the National Heritage List. I hope that what we manage to do with the National Heritage List will inspire a greater awareness and support for heritage throughout Australia and perhaps it will help us know more about ourselves as a nation and a people and as custodians of this continent.

The AHC members who have worked on the development of this list are:

Mr Roger Beale AO

Mr Rodney Dillon

Dr Jacqueline Huggins AM FAHA

Mr Michael Kennedy

Dr Jane Lennon AM

The Hon Richard Lewis (associate member)

Dr Libby Mattiske

Mr Jonathan Mills (associate member)

Dr Denis Saunders AM

Dr Gaye Sculthorpe

Adjunct Professor Sharon Sullivan AO

Mr Howard Tanner

Associate Professor Peter Valentine

Dr Richard Walley OAM

All the councillors would like to acknowledge and thank the staff of the Heritage Division for their great commitment to our common purpose.

Tom Harley
Chairman of the Australian Heritage Council

Heritage: what is or may not inherited; that which belongs to one by reason of birth; inheritance; something passed down to future generations

Australia is a complex and diverse nation composed of both Indigenous and immigrant peoples from nearly 200 countries. But it is our common heritage that makes us distinctively Australian.

By recognising our heritage—our past, our significant places and the source of our values—we can better understand our special place in the world.

Heritage can be something you can touch and see but it can also be things you can’t, like music, stories, spoken history and traditions. Heritage represents all the things that make Australia and Australians unique. It helps us remember where we came from and where we belong. Heritage is all the things that make up our story, tangible and intangible, and as we value them we must protect them.

Through conservation, recognition and promotion of the cultural identity of all Australians we can contribute to a greater understanding and acceptance of our diversity. Ultimately this will contribute to strengthening our community and our place in the world.

The aim of this publication is to provide a glimpse of the places in the National Heritage List and explain why they were listed.

The guide illustrates the great diversity of outstanding heritage places within Australia.
The National Heritage List

From the places that define who we are and tell the story of our country’s past, to the places that reflect our evolving heritage and where we are going, the National Heritage List represents why Australia is as it is.

The National Heritage List is Australia’s list of places with outstanding heritage value to our nation. The places in the National Heritage List are those that are so special to all of us that they are considered to have National Heritage value. To qualify for this they must meet one or more statutory criteria. The List comprises natural, historic and Indigenous places that are of outstanding significance to Australians.

Information on a place’s National Heritage values is recorded in the List, and only these values are protected by the Australian Government. A place may have natural, Indigenous or historic values, or any combination of the three.

The Australian Heritage Council assesses the values of nominated places against the National Heritage criteria and makes recommendations to the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts about listing. The final decision on listing is made by the Minister.

So important are the heritage values of these places that they are protected by Australian Government laws and through special agreements with state and territory governments and with private owners.

The National Heritage List, which commenced on 1 January 2004, was established through amending the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and by establishing the Australian Heritage Council, which assesses nominations and advises the Minister on matters relating to National Heritage values.

1. Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape

2. Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens

3. Dinosaur Stampede National Monument, Lark Quarry

4. Kurnell Peninsula: Captain Cook’s Landing Place

5. Gold Strike

6. Mawson’s Huts and Mawson’s Huts Historic Site

7. Brewarrina Aboriginal Fish Traps (Baiame’s Ngunnhu)

8. Port Arthur Historic Site

9. Glenrowan Heritage Precinct

10. Sydney Opera House

11. Fremantle Prison

12. First Government House Site

13. 20th Century Architecture

14. Recherche Bay (North East Peninsula) Area

15. Richmond Bridge

16. HMVS Cerberus

17. Melbourne Cricket Ground

18. Tree of Knowledge

19. South Australia’s Old and New Parliament Houses

20. Dirk Hartog Landing Site 1616 – Cape Inscription Area

21. Batavia Shipwreck Site and Survivor Camps Area 1629 – Houtman Abrolhos

22. Hermannsburg Historic Precinct

23. Australian War Memorial and Anzac Parade

24. North Head, Sydney

25. Point Nepean Defence Sites and Quarantine Station Area

26. Old Parliament House and Curtilage

27. Glass House Mountains National Landscape

28. Rippon Lea House and Gardens

29. Flemington Racecourse

30. Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, Lion Island, Long Island and Spectacle Island Nature Reserves

31. Warrumbungle National Park

32. Royal National Park and Garawarra State Conservation Area

33. Grampians National Park (Gariwerd)

34. Stirling Range National Park

35. Flora Fossil Site, Yea

36. Ediacara Fossil Site

37. Sydney Harbour Bridge

38. Echuca Wharf

39. Australian Fossil Mammal Sites

40. Fraser Island

41. Gondwana Rainforests of Australia

42. Great Barrier Reef

43. Greater Blue Mountains

44. Heard and McDonald Islands

45. Kakadu National Park

46. Lord Howe Island Group

47. Macquarie Island

48. Purnululu National Park

49. Shark Bay

50. Tasmanian Wilderness

51. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

52. Wet Tropics of Queensland

53. Willandra Lakes Region

54. Dampier Archipelago

55. Former High Court of Australia

56. Cascades Female Factory

57. Coal Mines Historic Site

58. Darlington Probation Station

59. Cockatoo Island

60. Hyde Park Barracks

61. Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area

62. Old Government House and the Government Domain

63. Old Great North Road

64. Wave Hill Walk-Off Route

65. Point Cook Air Base

66. Brickendon Estate

67. Woolmers Estate

68. High Court–National Gallery Precinct

69. Bonegilla Migrant Camp – Block 19

70. Bondi Beach

71. Mount William Stone Hatchet Quarry

72. Cyprus Hellene Club – Australian Hall

73. Myall Creek Massacre and Memorial Site

74. Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout

75. Australian Alps

76. QANTAS Hangar – Longreach

77. Elizabeth Springs

78. Witjira-Dalhousie Springs

79. Porongurup National Park

80. Cheetup rock shelter

Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape


Sacred to the Gunditjmara people, the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape is home to the remains of potentially one of Australia’s largest aquaculture systems.

For thousands of years the Gunditjmara people flourished through their ingenious methods of channelling water flows and systematically harvesting eels to ensure a year round supply. Here the Gunditjmara lived in permanent settlements, dispelling the myth that Australia’s Indigenous people were all nomadic.

Dating back thousands of years, the area shows evidence of a large, settled Aboriginal community systematically farming and smoking eels for food and trade in what is considered to be one of Australia’s earliest and largest aquaculture ventures.

This complex enterprise took place in a landscape carved by natural forces and full of meaning to the Gunditjmara people.

More than 30 000 years ago the Gunditjmara witnessed Budj Bim—an important creation being—reveal himself in the landscape. Budj Bim (known today as Mt Eccles) is the source of the Tyrendarra lava flow, which as it flowed to the sea changed the drainage pattern in this part of western Victoria, creating large wetlands.

The Gunditjmara people developed this landscape by digging channels to bring water and young eels from Darlots Creek to low lying areas. They created ponds and wetlands linked by channels containing weirs. Woven baskets were placed in the weirs to harvest mature eels.

These engineered wetlands provided the economic basis for the development of a settled society with villages of stone huts, built using stones from the lava flow. Early European accounts of Gunditjmara describe how they were ruled by hereditary chiefs.

With European settlement in the area in the 1830s came conflict. Gunditjmara fought for their land during the Eumerella wars, which lasted more than 20 years.

As this conflict drew to an end in the 1860s, many Aboriginal people were displaced and the Victorian government began to develop reserves to house them.

Some Aboriginal people refused to move from their ancestral land and eventually the government agreed to build a mission at Lake Condah, close to some of the eel traps and within sight of Budj Bim.

The mission was destroyed in the 1950s but the Gunditjmara continued to live in the area and protect their heritage. The mission lands were returned to the Gunditjmara in 1987.

The Gunditjmara manage the Indigenous heritage values of the Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape through the Windamara Aboriginal Corporation and other Aboriginal organisations. A large part of the area is the Mt Eccles National Park, managed by Parks Victoria.

National Heritage List: 20 July 2004

Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens


Melbourne’s Royal Exhibition Building is one of a group of grand monuments and buildings born from the world exhibition movement of the 1800s, which includes the Eiffel Tower and London’s Crystal Palace.

The Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens were designed and built to host an international exhibition in 1880. In the decades before this event, Victoria had been experiencing a period of marked economic growth resulting from the discovery of vast goldfields in the colony. Wealth from this booming economy was being directed to grand and symbolic projects intended to reflect the status and position of Victoria, and the Australian colonies, on the world stage. Hosting the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition was an expression of this.

In Australia, as in other countries, the international exhibitions were always matters of pride and an important mechanism for introducing the world to the wealth, capacity and culture of the city and country. Exhibitions were particularly important to countries trying to establish a global profile, to open the door to trade and closer international relations with others, and were often a symbol of the host’s aspirations for nationhood.

Most exhibitions had a ‘Palace of Industry’ or ‘Great Hall’. The Exhibition Building, as we now know it, was the Great Hall for the 1880 and 1888 international exhibitions.

The design of the Great Hall included many features reminiscent of churches and basilicas at the time, such as naves, aisles, a dome and a cruciform floor plan. It was, in effect, designed to be a ‘temple’ to industry.

The Carlton Gardens were designed as a ‘pleasure garden’ setting for the building, and also to reflect the scientific interest in gardens at the time.

Three decades later, when soon-to-be Prime Minister Edmund Barton expressed a desire to have as many Australians as possible attend the opening of Australia’s first Federal Parliament, he turned to the nation’s largest and arguably grandest building—the Royal Exhibition Building.

On 9 May 1901 more than 12 000 people listened to speeches, sang a hymn and the national anthem and watched as politicians were sworn in and a new nation was born.

It would be another four months before the national flag was flown at the Exhibition Building on 3 September 1901, following a national flag designing competition, which attracted more than 32 000 entries.

The Royal Exhibition Building has had a varied role in the life of the nation, from housing war memorabilia for the Australian War Memorial, to becoming a migrant reception centre and even a venue for weightlifting and basketball during the Melbourne Olympic Games. In between these diverse uses, exhibitions continued to be held in the Royal Exhibition Building and are still held today.

National Heritage List: 20 July 2004

World Heritage List: 2004

Dinosaur Stampede National Monument,

Lark Quarry


About 95 million years ago in central Queensland several moments of frantic activity were preserved in stone.

Located at Lark Quarry Conservation Park, 110 kilometres south-west of Winton in central Queensland, the Dinosaur Stampede National Monument features unique evidence of a dinosaur stampede with almost 4000 dinosaur footprints clearly visible in an area of just 210 square metres. The footprints and their interpretation provide scientific underpinning for the famous stampede scenes in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park and the BBC’s award-winning series, Walking with Dinosaurs (1999).

A mixed group of perhaps 180 chicken-size carnivorous theropods known as Coelurosaurs (Skartopus species) and Bantam to emu-sized herbivorous ornithopods (Wintonopus species) were distributed by the arrival of a single much larger carnivore: a theropod, named Tyrannosauropus, which may have been as much as 10 metres long with 50 centimetre footprints.

Fleeing the larger dinosaur, the Skartopus and Wintonopus are thought to have stampeded past Tyrannosauropus, leaving thousands of footprints in the surrounding mudflat.

Not long after the incident, the water level began to rise, covering the tracks with sandy sediments before the mud had dried.

Over time, the footprints were buried beneath sand and mud as the lake and river levels continued to rise and fall. Over thousands of millennia, this rich river plain with its sandy channels, swamps and lush lowland forest dried up. The sediment covering the footprints was compressed to form rock.

Today, Lark Quarry is a dry landscape of spinifex and lancewood dotted across gullies and steep escarpments. In the 1960s while fossicking for opals, a local station manager, Glen Seymour, discovered what he thought were fossilised bird tracks, but it wasn’t until scientists visited the area in 1971 that the footprints began to reveal their true story.

It is a rare snapshot of a few seconds of activity during the age of the dinosaurs preserved against all probability for 95 million years, which has become the benchmark for study of dinosaur footprints and behaviour. The arid setting where we find these sediments, reveal lowland riparian forests of the past and evoke thousands of millennia of landscape evolution in Australia.

Today this outstanding site is covered by a modern centre which was completed in 2002 as a Centenary of Federation project.

The new building features ecologically sustainable design elements and protects the main collection of footprints from damage by stabilising temperature and humidity fluctuations, stopping water running over the footprints and keeping people and wildlife off the footprints.

National Heritage List: 20 July 2004

Kurnell Peninsula: Captain Cook’s Landing Place

New South Wales
When Lieutenant (later Captain) James Cook first set foot on Australian soil at Kurnell Peninsula Headland in Botany Bay, New South Wales, he made history.

This moment led to the British settlement of the Australian continent. It altered forever the way of life for Indigenous Australians, dramatically expanded the world’s scientific understanding of the continent’s unique flora and fauna and ultimately led to the creation of a new nation—Australia.

Originally sent by the British Admiralty to the southseas to observe the transit of the planet Venus across the face of the sun, Cook spent several months circling and surveying New Zealand’s North and South Islands. Later the Endeavour set sail for Van Diemen’s Land, which Cook believed to be the south-eastern tip of New Holland. Southerly gales propelled the ship north and, on 19 April 1770, Lieutenant Zachary Hicks, Cook’s second in command, sighted land. This was the ‘East Coast of New Holland’, first named Point Hicks and now Cape Everard, on the east coast of Victoria.

The Endeavour sailed north, close to land in the Illawarra region (near Wollongong), but the surf was too rough for them to get ashore.

Sailing northwards along the coast, Cook found the first safe harbour to drop anchor on 29 April 1770. In addition to observing the land, Cook was searching for fresh water to sustain the crew on its voyage.

Approaching the shore by longboat, the crew noted, on what is now known as Kurnell Peninsula, the presence of a ‘small village consisting of about six or eight houses’. With no means of understanding each other’s language, confusion marked the initial contact between the landing party and the local people.

I thought that they beckoned us to come ashore, but in this we were mistaken, for as soon as we put the boat in they again came to oppose us… I fired a musket between the two which had no effect… one of them took up a stone and threw at us…”

– (Cook’s journal, 29 April 1770)

Cook’s party explored the area over the next eight days, gathering food, collecting scientific samples and observing this new land. Despite several encounters, Cook was not able to establish effective communication with the local people, who maintained a wary distance. The crew noted local activities such as camping, fishing, using trees for bark and food, collecting shells and cooking fish.

The Europeans were not the only ones recording first impressions. ‘Captain Cook stories’ exist in parts of Aboriginal Australia the explorer never visited. In some Aboriginal stories, Kurnell Peninsula is called ‘The Foot’, the place where Cook’s foot, first connected with Australian land.

National Heritage List: 20 September 2004
Gold Strike


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