The Australian Conservation Foundation has welcomed the news that Federal Environment Minister, Melissa Price, has added Quinkan Country on Cape York Peninsula to the National Heritage register.
The 260,000-hectare area contains hundreds of sandstone paintings and engravings in rock art galleries, some of which have been dated as 34,000 years old.
ACF’s Protected Areas Program Coordinator, Andrew Picone, said recognising Quinkan Country’s national significance was an important step towards recognition of the natural and cultural values found across Cape York Peninsula.
“This recognition of the Quinkan Country’s national significance is long overdue but the threat of mining remains an ongoing issue,” Mr Picone said.
“While national heritage listing for Quinkan Country is welcome, it doesn’t mean it is protected.
“We have seen how Western Australia’s Burrup Peninsula, which also contains ancient rock art and is listed on the National Heritage register, still faces a range of threats from resource extraction and industrialisation.
“As a national heritage listed site, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act will now apply to the Quinkan Country rock art galleries, but this law has failed to genuinely protect Australia’s natural and cultural heritage.
“We need new national laws that prevent mining and exploration in places that are deemed to be part of our national heritage.”