World Heritage Listing for the West MacDonnell National Park

West MacDonnell National Park is central Australia’s largest National Park. This vast and spectacular section of the MacDonnell Ranges is an outstanding ensemble of rich colours, stark contrast, an ancient landscape, Western Arrernte culture and relic flora and fauna.

The Northern Territory Government has committed to nominating the West MacDonnell National Park for World Heritage listing, a register of properties worldwide that exhibit outstanding universal cultural and/or natural values which are important to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory in which they are located.

In order to progress the West MacDonnell National Park for World Heritage Listing, a series of rigorous evaluation processes need to be undertaken. If the Australian Heritage Council deems the West MacDonnell National Park suitable for listing on Australia’s National Heritage List, the Australian Government can then proceed to nominate the Park for World Heritage Listing to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisations (UNESCO). UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee then decides whether a nomination meets the criteria for World Heritage Listing. Each country that is part of UNESCO can only nominate one potential World Heritage place per year.

In late 2007 the Australian Government called for nominations to the National Heritage List and the Northern Territory Government nominated the West MacDonnell National Park. Reports, outlining the natural and cultural values were compiled. In May 2008, the Australian Government announced that 13 of the 129 nominations received for inclusion on the National Heritage List had been accepted for detailed assessment by the Australian Heritage Council. The West MacDonnell National Park was one of the 13 that have been accepted.

This detailed assessment process by the Australian Heritage Council was initially to be completed by June 2011. However, information from the Heritage Branch of the Dept. of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities as at January 2012, extends the completion date to June 2013, with the possibility of extention to 2016.

More information on World Heritage Listing is available through the UNESCO website. Copies of the reports detailing the natural and cultural values of West MacDonnell National Park are available below.

Altyerre - The Eternal Land

The name Altyerre – The Eternal Land, used by Arrernte people whose ancestors haveoccupied this country for tens of thousands of years, gives a sense of both the mystery and magnificence of the country. Its physical landscape is overlain by a rich cultural matrix consisting of both tangible and intangible qualities. Archaeological sites, art sites, sacred sites, stories, songs and traditions all combine to provide deep insight into the interconnecteness of the land and these people.

This strong spiritual tie with the landscape continues, and today Arrente people work jointly with the Park Service in the management of these lands.

The Cultural Values of the Central Ranges Report documents these extensive cultural values.

Nature Values

West MacDonnell National Park also has exceptional natural values. It contains some of the oldest exposed rock on Earth and strata which provides a complete geological history of central Australia, including evidence of early fossilised life forms, a past glacial age and a time when central Australia contained a vast, shallow inland sea.

The plant life is recognised as being of global significance with high species endemism, high species diversity for an arid area and many disjunct and relict species of Gondwanan, tropical and temperate origin.

The area is also the stronghold for several rare and threatened mammals, including the vulnerable Black-footed rock-wallaby, Petrogale lateralis, and the critically endangered Central rock-rat, Zyzomys pedunculatus, found in the park in the mid-1990s for the first time in almost a century.

The MacDonnell Ranges Bioregion - Collation of Biological Information (pdf 3Mb) Report documents these natural values.

For further information, call (08) 8951 8250 or email us.