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Dreamings, Songlines and the “Cult of Heritage”: Tourism Development and Aboriginal Culture in Broome, Western Australia

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Cultural heritage and tourism development

A look at tourism's impact on local heritage brings to light costly development conflicts.

Industrial Technologies

The region of Broome in Australia is well known for its Aboriginal roots, Walmandany heritage site and 80-km Lurujarri Heritage Trail. Now, the region may become known for its AUD 45 billion liquefied natural gas facility and potential nickname 'the Dubai of the South'. Funded by the EU, the project THE CULT OF HERITAGE (Dreamings, songlines and the “Cult of Heritage”: Tourism development and Aboriginal culture in Broome, Western Australia) examined the relationship between tourism and cultural heritage in the region. Specifically, the project aimed to explore the successes and failures of the sector in involving local minorities in the decision-making processes on regional development. The project was also designed to improve ties between the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) of the University of New South Wales and the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology in Halle, Germany. The project started as planned in October 2012 with a conference, publications, interviews with stakeholders and a nine-day walk along the Lurujarri Heritage Trail. However, the scope of the project later changed due to the proposal of a multi-billion Australian dollar development at James Price Point, close to the Walmandany heritage site. The project has underlined that the proposal puts the heritage site at peril, as well as dinosaur tracks, the landscape and the environment. Additionally, it has united the previously at-odds regional stakeholders such as the local community, environmentalists, the tourism sector and heritage protectionists. Following, the project looked at the conflict between resource extraction economies, Aboriginal heritage, sustainable tourism and environmental protection. Research has enhanced the understanding of competing value systems in the region. Additionally, THE CULT OF HERITAGE drew attention to the need for more intra-sectorial and interdisciplinary research in the Indian Ocean region due to the growth of industries and tourism.


Cultural heritage, tourism, Aboriginal, Walmandany, Lurujarri

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