Ningaloo Coast is a World Heritage Site located in the North West coastal region of Western Australia. The World Heritage status of the region was created and negotiated in 2011, and the adopted boundary included the Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters), Ningaloo Marine Park (State Waters) and Muiron Islands Marine Management Area (including the Muiron Islands), Jurabi Coastal Park, Bundegi Coastal Park, Cape Range National Park, and the Learmonth Air Weapons Range.
The Ningaloo Collaboration Cluster is a major research project that commenced in the region in 2007. It is part of the CSIRO flagship Collaboration Fund Research Initiative.
The project involves researchers from the CSIRO, Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre and a range of Australian Universities including Curtin University of Technology, Murdoch University, University of Western Australia, Australian National University and the University of Queensland.
The announcement that the nomination is being sent to the World Heritage Centre in Paris was made today in Perth by the Australian Government Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts, Peter Garrett and WA Environment Minister Donna Faragher.
The nomination, recognising the outstanding biological diversity of the region, is for an area of 708,000ha in midwest Western Australia, and includes Cape Range on Exmouth Peninsula, a coastal strip extending about 260km south to Red Bluff, as well as adjacent dunefields, marine areas, reefs and islands. Mr Garrett said he took great pleasure in both the National Heritage listing of the area and submission of the World Heritage nomination.
The name Ningaloo means “deepwater” for the local Yinigudura tribe. This region contains significant aboriginal sites such as burial grounds, middens and fish traps, and provides some of the earliest records of marine resource use in Australia.
There is evidence showing continuous occupation on this land for the past 35,000 years. Evidence in the form of old camp fires are found in the layers of earth on the floor of limestone caves in the range.
One of the most significant archaeological discoveries was the oldest beaded necklace in the world found 32,000 years ago in the Mandu Mandu Creek Rock-Shelter near Exmouth. It was Sydney Dale that showed the researchers a location to work at and the results were incredible for all the people involved.
This evidence demonstrates a sophisticated and specialised use of the coast and its resources. The Dale family continues to hold custodianship of the land for the original families and tribe of their late father.The main terrestrial feature of the Ningaloo Coast is the extensive karst system and network of underground caves and water courses of the Cape Range. The karst system includes hundreds of separate features such as caves, dolines and subterranean water bodies and supports a rich diversity of highly specialized subterranean species.
Sea level rise and increases in seawater temperatures associated with climate change have had comparatively little effect on the property. The good overall integrity suggests a higher resilience that in disturbed systems under additional stress.
Still, careful monitoring is highly recommended. The World Heritage Committee has inscribed a smaller boundary for the Ningaloo Coast than originally nominated. The boundary encompasses what the World Heritage Committee considered to be the Ningaloo Coast’s key marine and terrestrial values of outstanding universal value.