movement as part of a wider international trend in the 1960s and 70s, and the creationof the National Estate “might as readily be seen as an indirect creation of UNESCO asa symptom of Whitlam’s new nationalism” (Davison, 1991:118).
The six separate British colonies formed a federation in 1901 as the Commonwealthof Australia, which is the only nation to occupy a whole continent. Under theconstitution, the Commonwealth is responsible for national matters like defence,customs, quarantine, taxation and matters associated with international treaties andconventions, while the States and Territories are responsible for heath, education andmanagement of the environment including heritage places.Australia has 7.6 million square kilometres of land, 70,000 kilometres of coastline, 16million square kilometres of marine area and 6 million square kilometres of Antarctica. It is biologically diverse and the undisputed world centre for marsupials.The vegetation is dominated by two genera –
, and many plantsare adapted to dry conditions and low nutrient soils; yet there are rainforests covering0.1 per cent of the land area and protected in reserves and three major World Heritagedesignations – the Wet Tropics, the Central Eastern Rainforests Reserves, and theTasmanian Wilderness.The first Australians, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, have occupiedthe continent for at least 60,000 years. They modified the environment through theuse of fire, and this coupled with continuous hunting may well have driven thePleistocene megafauna to extinction and changed the species composition of bothflora and fauna (ASEC, 2001:7, 73). They gave the landscape its creation stories andpeopled it with heroic ancestors. They gave us non-architectural but spectacularevidence of their culture, in rock art, ancient occupation sites and sacred landscapes.They made the whole of Australia a cultural landscape, a fact not well recognised inheritage management practice in Australia.The impact on the Indigenous landscape of the varied waves of European migrationsince the 1788 settlement of Sydney has been dramatic. Within a few generations,large tracts of the country were irreversibly modified by European land practices of clearing and introduction of hoofed domestic animals for farming and grazingAustralia is home to people from many countries and in 2001 nearly 25 per cent of Australians were born overseas. The population of 20 million is highly urbanised with62 per cent living in the five largest cities and 85 per cent living within 50 kilometresof the coastline.
Management of heritage places
On a continental scale Australia is very diverse. Heritage is an amalgam of all thoseplaces important in the cultural identities of Australia’s population. Creating aRegister of the National Estate has kept Australians aware of heritage following themany controversies about listing these places. In November 1976 the Federalgovernment instructed that Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, be entered in