West Point, Tasmania ©
National Heritage List inscription date 8 February 2013
The Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape is part of Tasmania’s wind-swept western coastline that contains the remains of numerous hut depressions found in Aboriginal shell middens.
Insight into ancient Aboriginal communities
During the late Holocene Aboriginal people on the west coast of Tasmania developed a specialised and more sedentary way of life based on a dependence on seals, shellfish and land mammals.
This way of life is represented by shell middens which lack the remains of bony fish, but contain ‘hut depressions’ which sometimes form semi-sedentary villages. Nearby some of these villages are circular pits in cobble beaches which the Aboriginal community believes are seal hunting hides.
The remains of the shell middens in the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape and its accompanying hut depressions provide evidence of an unusual, specialized and more sedentary Aboriginal way of life that began almost 2000 years ago and continued until the 1830s.
Archeological studies of the area found evidence of early villages built near an elephant seal colony. Based on the large number of seal bones in the middens, it is believed the elephant seals where a major source of Aboriginal people’s diet in the area.
Further study of the seal remains indicate that mainly young calves were killed, suggesting that the area was inhabited in summer when young seals were being weaned and a readily available source of food.
The Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape also contains other stone artefact scatters, stone arrangements, rock engravings and shelters and human burials that provide further insight into this unique way of life. For example nearby are circular pits in cobble beaches which the Aboriginal community believes are seal hunting hides.
National Heritage listing of this rich and diverse Aboriginal Cultural Landscape is protected.
Consultation with Indigenous people about the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape national heritage listed place
The Indigenous values of the Western Tasmania Aboriginal Cultural Landscape National Heritage Place are not definitively mapped. Indigenous people are the primary source of information on the value of their heritage and should be consulted on a proposed action likely to significantly impact on the listed Indigenous heritage values of the place and/or on a protected matter that has Indigenous heritage values (like listed threatened species).
Prior to undertaking any action, proponents should contact the appropriate Aboriginal Traditional Owners and custodians of the land on which the action will occur that has listed values that may be significantly impacted, as well as the Aboriginal Traditional Owners and custodians of adjoining lands that may be significantly impacted by the action.
A letter from the appropriate representative bodies declaring that they have been adequately consulted on the action informs the Department that a best practice approach has been undertaken. Further information on Aboriginal representative bodies is available from Native Title Corporations or via local Aboriginal Land Councils. Guidance about best practice Indigenous engagement can be found at Engage early – guidance for proponents on best practice Indigenous engagement for environmental assessments under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
- Location and Boundary map (PDF - 978 KB)
- Gazettal notice
- Australian Heritage Database record
- Tarkine added to National Heritage List - media release 8 February 2013
Briefs to Minister
- A: AHC Tarkine assessment report (PDF - 216 KB)
- B: AHC recommended boundary map (PDF - 1.1 MB)
- C: Rainforest lichen values map (PDF - 2.7 MB)
- D: Fossil Karst values map (PDF - 284 KB)
- E: Wilderness values map (PDF - 485 KB)
- F: Aboriginal values map (PDF - 483 KB)
- G: Gazettal notice
- H¹: Letter from David O'Bryne and Bryan Green (PDF - 1.2 MB)
- H²: Socio economic impact review (PDF - 684 KB)