Protecting Australia’s Spirit is about documenting, conserving and managing Australia’s Indigenous Rock Art. Australia has some of the most stunning and powerful Rock Art images in the world, some of the oldest and most recent, and much more than any other country. Australia’s Rock Art heritage is as great as all its sporting achievements on the world stage combined together yet much of it is neglected, undocumented and destroyed.
Little is spent on researching and protecting Australia’s rock art, Australia’s spirit. Each year Australian Rock Art suffers vandalism, industrial and urban development, climate change, inadequate protection measures and general neglect. Indigenous Australians are fighting to protect their Rock Art but because of new pressures from development it is like leaving the crown jewels out in High Street or the National Gallery collection lying on the ground.
Instead of being proud of one of the best aspects of Australian heritage and Australia’s Spirit we are squandering our Indigenous legacy. In many parts of Australia Aboriginal heritage sites are treated the way many Aboriginal people were recently treated – with distain, neglect, indifference, lack of respect and even violence.
We seek to establish a national heritage archive, register, research and education facility that will bring diverse information on Australia’s entire rock art record together for the first time in order to safeguard this priceless inheritance for future generations.
South Africa leads the world in terms of national rock art archives with a major repository at the Rock Art Research Institute (RARI) in Johannesburg. Many other nations have smaller scale national registers and archives but Australia has never had one. Recently both India and China have established national Rock Art recording projects but Australia still drags its heels.
THREATS TO ROCK ART:
- Water flow/rain (e.g. changes)
- Dust & wind
- Fire & smoke
- Structural collapse
- Vegetation growth/rubbing
- Lichen/algal growth
- Mineralisation (salt/calcification)
- Insects (termites) and animals
- Direct sunlight (changes in vegetation)
- Earthquakes, storms
- Industry (mining and other industrial & urban development)
- Creation of new roads/tracks
- Graffiti (kids, frustrated teenagers, ignorant adults!)
- Theft (removal of art or other cultural material)
- Unwanted visitation and vandalism
- Tourism (e.g. touching, inappropriate infrastructure)
- Researchers (rock art recorders, archaeologists excavating, etc.)
- Well-meaning conservation specialists (e.g. poorly placed drip lines)