Celebrating Great Barrier Reef heritage

Published: 13/04/2017

It is Heritage Week from 16 to 24 April 2017 and we are celebrating our diverse Great Barrier Reef heritage with a series of free talks for the public.

The Great Barrier Reef comprises outstanding natural and significant cultural heritage values that we have inherited and will pass on to future generations, Liz Wren, Director of Heritage, International and Governance at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, explained.

“Historic heritage covers post-European arrival and includes lightstations, shipwrecks and World War II sites,” Ms Wren said. “It may include places of cultural significance that enrich people’s lives, providing a deep connection to community, landscape, the past and lived experiences.”

“The Reef is famous for its stunning natural heritage — including habitats for rare or endangered plants and animals or processes such as those representing the major stages of the earth's evolutionary history represented for example in the 3000 separate coral reefs. It also includes those formations, features or areas that demonstrate exceptional natural beauty.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage is dynamic. It includes Traditional Owners and their relationship with their sea country, people, beliefs, knowledge, lore, language, symbols and ways of living. We work with more than 70 Traditional Owner groups whose connection to sea country in the Great Barrier Reef dates back many tens of thousands of years.

“The agency protects heritage in a range of ways. Conservation management plans are in place or being developed for significant shipwrecks, including the Mermaid, Foam and Pandora. There are heritage management plans for Commonwealth heritage listed places, including important lightstations such as those on Dent and Lady Elliott Islands. There are special management areas such as dugong protection areas and we work closely with Traditional Owners through our Land and Sea Country Program and other key projects.

“The Great Barrier Reef is listed on both the World Heritage List and Australia’s National Heritage List for its outstanding heritage values,” Ms Wren said.

To learn more about our Reef’s heritage and how we are working to protect it, come along to our free talks during Heritage Week at Reef HQ’s Theatre, Flinders Street, Townsville.


11.00 – 11.45am: Pete Illidge: Discovering maritime heritage sites on the Reef: the case of the historic shipwreck Mermaid

11.00 – 11.45am: Malcolm Mann, Darumbal Traditional Owner: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage: a community-based perspective
1.15 – 2.00pm: Pete Illidge: Identifying shipwrecks: cannon, carronade and anchors

1.15 – 2.00pm: Josh Gibson: Response to UNESCO’s visit leading to Reef 2050

11.00 – 11.45am: Joanna Ruxton: History of the first Great Barrier Reef scientific expedition
1.15 – 2.00pm: Stephanie Lemm: Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Lightstations

Name: GBRMPA Media
Contact: (07) 4750 0846