Review Blog

Sep 20 2019

World Heritage Sites of Australia by Peter Valentine

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National Library of Australia Publishing, 2019. ISBN: 9780642279422.
(Age: 14+) Recommended. This large format reference book contains comprehensive information and beautiful photographs about Australia's unique World Heritage sites. An introduction is provided by former Environment Minister and musician, Peter Garrett, and the first chapter provides background information about the 1970s development of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Convention that underpins the World Heritage Committee's ten natural and cultural criteria used for the inclusion and exclusion of properties of great interest, importance or value.
Sites include: Kakadu, Great Barrier Reef, Willandra Lakes, Lord Howe Islands,Tasmanian Wilderness, Gondwana Rainforests, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Wet Tropics of Queensland, Shark Bay (WA), Fraser Island (K'gari), Australian Fossil Mammal Sites, Macquarie Island, Heard and McDonald Islands, Greater Blue Mountains, Purnululu National Park (WA), Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, Sydney Opera House, Australian Convict Sites and Ningaloo Coast.
Peter Valentine, a professional geographer, provides an informative account of each of Australia's 19 sites, beginning with the listing of Kakadu National Park in 1981. Kakadu, was an excellent choice as Australia's first mixed cultural and natural choice as a World Heritage site. It has 50,000 years of Indigenous occupation, wonderful x-ray and handprint cave paintings, sandstone escarpment of the Arnhem Plateau, tropical savanna woodlands and floodplains, exotic birds and reptiles. The author also highlights threats such as mining, introduced species, climate change and the management of annual visitors numbering around 200,000.
Each World Heritage site is described with a location map, whole page photographs, a short introduction, a personal impression, and a history of the 'path to world heritage'.
Students of environmental studies or geography in middle and senior high school would find plenty of useful information about the qualities and management of each property. The 293 page book includes a useful index.
The concluding chapter of the book highlights the future of world heritage in Australia, which includes not only the role of UNESCO or the Australian Government but also the role of local communities being more involved, particularly in the light of increasing recent threats from climate change and invasive species.
Paul Pledger

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