Australia National Parks

World Heritage Sites

Visitors to one or more of Australia's 10 World Heritage areas will discover Australia at its most beautiful and exciting. World Heritage sites are chosen for their natural and/or cultural value, and Australia is proud to have three areas listed for both natural and cultural reasons.

Australia is a founding nation of the World Heritage Convention, a body that promotes cooperation among nations to provide a conservation safety net for worldwide heritage areas deemed of value to all people.

The protection of the world's irreplaceable natural and cultural wonders is all-important and of growing urgency.

Australia is striving to balance the preservation of its precious areas, while allowing limited access to people who appreciate the fragile beauty of nature. Australians are increasingly conservation-minded and have embraced the World Heritage protection extended to some of the best parts of their country.

Management arrangements vary from site to site. Some areas are managed by state or territory governments and some by Joint Commonwealth/state arrangements with the day-to-day management being carried out by state government agencies. Others are managed by the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

World Heritage status does not mean, however, that existing land use must cease. The Great Barrier Reef supports scientific research, tourism, and a commercial fishing industry, while at Willandra Lakes, pastoral activities continue as they have for several generations. However, management bodies undertake all that can be done to ensure adequate protection of the environment in each instance.

Most of Australia's World Heritage areas are big enough to support a large number of tourists. The sites are monitored closely to prevent damage through overuse; walking paths, roads, boating, and other activities are rotated to sustain unique ecosystems. Care is taken to locate camping facilities and roads in areas of low sensitivity, and to install boardwalks and fences in areas where it is necessary to control traffic.

Visitor centres at Australia's World Heritage-listed sites have educational leaf lets, slide shows, and films for nature-lovers to study before setting off into the parks. Self-interpretive signs are being installed in all parks, and during peak tourist times, guided tours are available.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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