Aboriginal sites at risk from tourism

Sacred Aboriginal sites and artifacts around the Capes region are at risk of being damaged by tourism if more is not done to protect them, said traditional custodian of the South West Wayne Webb.

Traditional custodian of the South West Wayne Webb said the push to increase Aboriginal tourism opportunities in the region could put Aboriginal sites of significance at risk of damage and wants improved plans to help protect them.

Traditional custodian of the South West Wayne Webb said the push to increase Aboriginal tourism opportunities in the region could put Aboriginal sites of significance at risk of damage and wants improved plans to help protect them.

Mr Webb said over the New Year around 70 people camped at Quinninup Falls which was an Aboriginal site of significance and the area was left trashed by campers.

He said management plans to protect these sites did not go far enough and hoped that signage would be installed to make people aware about the significance of these sites.

“If we do not get on top of it now it will be too late,” he said.

Western Australian Aboriginal Tourism Operators Council business development manager in the South West Angelique Fransen said unfortunately this happened all around WA especially during the holiday seasons.  

Ms Fransen said WAITOC was the peak industry body representing Aboriginal tourism operators in WA and one of their key objectives was to build awareness, appreciation and respect for our natural and cultural heritage through tourism. 

As a non for profit peak body, WAITOC do not have jurisdiction on what can happen or cannot happen in national parks and other public spaces.

Ms Fransen said they worked closely with the Department of Parks and Wildlife who were in charge of implementing management plans for national parks and state owned land.

“We meet on a regular basis discussing any issues that may impact on our industry sector. I understand that a management plan is in place,” she said.

A DPAW spokesperson confirmed that a number of infringements were issued by national park rangers on January 1 to a group of people who had camped overnight at the Quinninup carpark.

The spokesperson said they did not  identify any vehicles outside the carpark and there was no damage to infrastructure.  

“Rangers would continue to conduct patrols in the area over the busy summer holiday period to ensure that the area’s natural and cultural values are protected,” they said.

DPAW confirmed that there is a management plan for Leeuwin-Naturaliste Capes Area Parks and Reserves and they would consult with traditional owners on the development and upgrading of sites to ensure that known cultural heritage values are protected and maintained into the future.

”DPAW is working closely with traditional owners to develop appropriately worded interpretative signage to ensure that the public is aware of the cultural significance of the area,” they said. 

“Traditional owners would also be consulted with reference to the realignment of walk trails in the area to ensure that on-going public access to the falls can continue without impacting on cultural values.”