Conservation of Aboriginal cultural heritage

We work in partnership with Aboriginal communities to conserve Aboriginal cultural heritage. This ongoing work supports communities with the management and protection of Aboriginal Places and helps with the repatriation of Aboriginal ancestors and Aboriginal cultural materials.

Knives, spears and a fighting pick made by Kamilaroi man, John Duggan. Items along with Kangaroo skins on display at Heritage Near Me event in Broken Hill, 2016.The department works to help and support Aboriginal communities to undertake, on-ground works for conserving Aboriginal cultural heritage.

Physical evidence of Aboriginal occupation and history can be seen across the NSW landscape in many diverse natural forms such as rock art and stone tools. Aboriginal culture is connected to Country, including waterways, animals and plants. These elements of the landscape are associated with Dreaming stories and cultural learning.

On-ground conservation works are intended to repair deterioration caused by ageing, weathering or other natural processes, and damage caused by vandalism or inappropriate land uses. Aboriginal sites in NSW range from but are not limited to:

  • shell middens
  • stone artefact scatters
  • isolated artefacts
  • grinding grooves
  • rock art and engravings
  • rock shelters
  • scarred trees
  • stone arrangements
  • stone and ochre quarries
  • fish traps
  • water holes
  • burials

Various practices and techniques are used to conserve the different types of sites.

We are committed to the management, protection and conservation of Aboriginal culture, including Aboriginal Places, objects and significant sites. Aboriginal objects and declared Aboriginal Places are managed and protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. To find out more, visit our Management and protection of Aboriginal Places, objects and sites page.

Connection to Country

Aboriginal people often use the term ‘Country’ to describe family origins and associations with parts of Australia. Aboriginal people have a connection to the land that plays an important role in the spiritual, cultural and economic wellbeing of wider Aboriginal communities. Collective identity of Aboriginal communities is also linked to place – the community itself is part of Country as well as each person in it.

The department works with Aboriginal communities to develop whole-of-government approaches to land access and cultural connection to Country.