Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area

Mungo lunette, Walls of China Photo: D. Rosendahl/OEH

The Willandra Lakes Region is an extensive area that contains a system of ancient lakes formed over the last two million years, most of which are fringed by a crescent shaped dune or lunette. Aboriginal people lived on the shores of the lakes for at least 50,000 years, and the discovery of remains of a 40,000 year old female in the dunes of Lake Mungo are believed to be the oldest ritual cremation site in the world.

The Willandra Lakes Region was one of 15 World Heritage Places included in the National Heritage List on 21 May 2007.

The Willandra Lakes Region was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1981. The original boundary of the world heritage property was modified and reduced to its current size in 1995 to better define the area containing the world heritage values. The world heritage criteria current in 1981, and against which the Willandra Lakes Region was listed, remain the formal criteria for this property.

The region was inscribed on the World Heritage List for outstanding cultural and natural universal values.

Natural values

  • an outstanding example representing the major stages in the earth's evolutionary history
  • an outstanding example representing significant ongoing geological processes.

Cultural values

  • bears an exceptional testimony to a past civilisation.

World Heritage

The Convention for the Protection of the World's Natural and Cultural Heritage, was established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1972 to ensure the protection of heritage that is considered to be of outstanding universal value. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage list page for more information.

The outstanding natural values for which the Willandra Lakes was listed, are detailed at Willandra Lakes Region - World Heritage values.

Who manages the property?

The management of World Heritage areas in Australia is undertaken cooperatively by the NSW and Australian governments in accordance with the Australian World Heritage Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA).

The Willandra Lakes Region is managed principally by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW NPWS) which is part of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

The Australian Government, as signatory to the World Heritage Convention, works in cooperation with State agencies through the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Energy.

To coordinate strategic management of the property, representatives of the two partner agencies participate in a Management Committee which determines strategic policy directions for the world heritage property.

Current cooperative projects

In addition to the ongoing work undertaken by NSW NPWS in the management of the world heritage area, the Australian Government provides funding through a variety of programs including Caring for Our Country (CfoC) and Working on Country (WoC). The current CfoC program target is to mitigate threats to the outstanding universal values of the property, while the WoC funding employs two full time Aboriginal Rangers to assist in managing cultural and environmental values of the Willandra Lakes.


Dan Rosendahl, Executive Officer of the Willandra Lakes Region World Heritage Area


Visit Mungo

Message from Mungo (film)

Lawrence, H., Ed. (2006). Mungo over Millennia, the Willandra Landscape and its People, Maygog Publishing.

Page last updated: 20 February 2017