“The first survey of the area was in July 1879. The first colonists arrived in the Middle Ord region in the mid-1880s. Gold was discovered 1885 but stock raising became the main activity. ‘By June 1884 the first mob of 4,000 cattle were brought into the Ord River grasslands…’ 6,000 followed the following year. By 1902 there were some 47,000 cattle.
Overstocking of cattle, which led to over-grazing ‘set in train the destructive process of massive landscape erosion’, a process which saw the Aboriginal population involved in unpaid seasonal labour on pastoral stations, while their natural food resources were diminished. The indigenous population decreased by perhaps as much as 50%.
Form 1967 procedures to reverse this process were started. Control of stock and re-vegetation programmes were put in place and the 1968 Pastoral Award stopped the abuse of Aboriginal labour. However, in moving people out of the cattle stations, the measures helped create new living sites – ‘humpies’ – which came to be characterised by social deprivation.
‘From around 1985 onwards large numbers of cattle and donkeys (25,000 and 4,000 respectively)’ were removed to reduce overgrazing still further. The National Park was created in 1987, when the area became uninhabited. The same year saw the start of a programme of protective burning to reduce wildfire and create mosaics of vegetation. By the mid-nineties, tourism had become a local feature, despite the difficulties of access, with ground-based visitors numbering ca 20,000 p.a. and perhaps the same number overflying the Park each year.
In spite of more than a 100 years of outside intervention, and the resulting severe changes in the landscape and in social structures, it is claimed in the nomination that Aboriginal people who live near Purnululu still retain communal memories of traditional land management practices, and of Ngarrangkarni associations, and still use the landscape for harvesting wild food and for social gatherings.”
Source: Advisory Body Evaluationhttp://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1094
Landscape and travel
Purnululu national park
BUNGLE BUNGLE RANGE