Culture and heritage

Heritage of NSW

Cultural landscapes

Cultural landscapes are those areas of the landscape that have been modified by human activity, or have influenced human development. They include rural lands such as farms, villages and mining sites, as well as country towns and landscapes of significance to Aboriginal people. With over 40,000 years of Aboriginal occupation, the precautionary principle suggests that all Australian landscapes are cultural landscapes.

Moving towards better protection and management of our cultural landscapes

The Heritage Branch believes that there is increasing recognition within the general community that the special cultural landscapes that surround our cities and towns are highly valued resources which provide a range of experiences and add to our quality of life.

The Heritage Branch recognises that the issue of achieving a sustainable future is not restricted to natural resources but extends to the conservation and enhancement values, which can be made tangible through heritage, including cultural landscapes.

Cultural landscapes include such places as the scenic valleys of South Coast, the ornamental plantings of the Southern Highlands, the remnant farm estates of the Colonial Landscapes of Western Sydney and the beauty and experience of the Blue Mountains are critical to the lifestyle of Sydney's population.

Similarly, the contribution of the distinctive vineyards, alluvial flats and the rugged grazing lands of the Hunter are well recognised by the people of Newcastle and the Region.

The Heritage Council of NSW has identified the depletion of cultural landscapes as an important issue threatening the cultural values and lifestyle of our cities. They have requested that the Heritage Branch address this issue.

As part of developing its strategy and policy on sustainability, the Heritage Branch, intends to explore and develop co-operative measures to facilitate the protection of these special places.

To assist in this task the Heritage Branch held one-day think tank or charette to debate the issues, identify constraints and opportunities and to make recommendations on the preferred options to achieve this objective.

Landscapes at Canowindra. Photo courtesy of David Beaver

Cultural landscapes at Canowindra. Photo courtesy of David Beaver

The charette included over 50 professionals from local, state and federal government, as well as expert consultants, and community representatives.

The following documents were developed to engage participants in the cultural landscapes debate.

  • Cultural landscapes and heritage: Background paper (CLBackground903.pdf, 92KB) prepared by Victoria Coleman, Heritage Branch
  • Annexure A: (CLAnnexureA903.pdf, 52KB) Change in rural landscapes - concepts for development, building and conservation by Meredith Walker, Heritage Futures
  • Annexure B & C: (CLAnnexureBandC903.pdf, 199KB) Cultural Landscapes currently listed on the State Heritage Register (as at September 2003); Cultural Landscapes currently listed on Local Environment Plans (as at September 2003. Annexure C is not considered a comprehensive list, but merely a preliminary list).
Page last updated: 18 March 2014