Program: Murujuga Rock Art

The Western Australian Government recognises the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Murujuga; the past, present and future generations of Ngurra-ra Ngarli, and their ongoing connection to this sacred country.
Murujuga rock art strategy rock landscape


Murujuga (which means ‘hip bone sticking out’ in the Ngarluma-Yaburara language) comprises the Burrup Peninsula and the Dampier Archipelago, 1,300 km north of Perth, Western Australia. The Government of Western Australia recognises Murujuga as a unique ecological and archaeological area containing one of the largest collections of Aboriginal engraved rock art in the world.

Murujuga is also home to industry that contributes to the local, state and national economy and employment. Concerns the rock art could be damaged by industrial air emissions have led to several independent scientific studies and rock art monitoring initiatives since the mid-2000s.

Partnership with Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (the department) is committed to the ongoing protection of Murujuga's rock art by working in partnership with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC), representing the Traditional Custodians of Murujuga.

Murujuga Rock Art Strategy

The purpose of the Murujuga Rock Art Strategy is to protect the Aboriginal rock art by providing a long-term framework that builds on previous work to deliver an improved approach to monitoring, analysis and management.

The Murujuga Rock Art Strategy will be reviewed at least every five years. This will ensure it remains current, supports appropriate governance arrangements, and the best scientific knowledge and management practices are used to protect the rock art.

DWER Murujuga rock art strategy rock landscape

The department has primary responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of the strategy in partnership with MAC. This includes working with MAC to oversee the development and implementation of a world’s best practice monitoring and analysis program that will determine whether the rock art on Murujuga is subject to accelerated change.

The scope of this strategy is to:

  1. establish an Environmental Quality Management Framework, including the derivation and implementation of environmental quality criteria
  2. develop and implement a robust program of monitoring and analysis to determine whether change is occurring to the rock art on Murujuga
  3. identify and commission scientific studies to support the implementation of the monitoring and analysis program and management
  4. establish governance arrangements to ensure that:
    • monitoring, analysis and reporting are undertaken in such a way as to provide confidence to Traditional Owners, the community, industry scientists and other stakeholders about the integrity, robustness, repeatability and reliability of the monitoring data and results
    • government is provided with accurate and appropriate recommendations regarding the protection of the rock art, consistent with legislative responsibilities
  5. develop and implement a communication strategy in consultation with stakeholders.  

The Consultation Summary Report summarises the comments received on the draft strategy. The consultation ran from September 2017 to May 2018. There were 27 written submissions received.

Monitoring Program

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A best practice monitoring and analysis program is being developed to provide reliable information on changes and trends in the condition of the rock art and whether the rock art is showing signs of accelerated change. This will guide management and protection of the rock art.

The monitoring program is overseen by the department and MAC, in consultation with national and international subject matter experts, a panel of independent peer reviewers and stakeholders.

MAC have developed the Murujuga Research Protocols as a set of governing principles and guidelines to ensure research is conducted in a respectful and culturally appropriate manner.

The monitoring program will be implemented over five years, in a staged approach, and includes capacity building and training for Murujuga Rangers on monitoring and analysis techniques. Reports produced as part of the monitoring program will be published on the Murujuga Rock Art Strategy document collection

Conceptual models of the rock art system have been developed to share the current understanding of the system and interactions that are likely to be occurring. These models inform the development of the monitoring studies plans and the development of an Environmental Quality Management Framework (EQMF).

The Monitoring Studies Data Collection and Analysis Plan is crucial to the design of the Murujuga Rock Art Monitoring Program, and the scope and quality of the science to monitor, evaluate and report on changes and trends in the integrity of the rock art on Murujuga.

Year Monitoring Program key stages
Years 1-2
  • Review of weathering/alteration/degradation processes that have the potential to cause change in the rock art.
  • Stakeholder workshop.
  • Development of conceptual models and monitoring studies plans; determination of optimal monitoring sites.
  • Peer review of conceptual model and monitoring studies plan.
Years 2-3
  • Field work and laboratory monitoring studies.
  • Ranger training and capacity building.
  • Stakeholder workshops
Years 3-5
  • Implementation of the monitoring program.
  • Independent review of the program.

Stakeholder Reference Group

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The Murujuga Rock Art Stakeholder Reference Group is an advisory group that was established by the previous Minister for Environment, Hon. Stephen Dawson MLC, in September 2018 to facilitate engagement between the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) and key government, industry and community representatives on the development and implementation of the strategy. The Terms of Reference were reviewed in May 2022, following consultation with MAC.

The Stakeholder Reference Group will meet on a quarterly basis in 2022.  Visit the document collection to read summaries of meetings and community forums.

To contact the Reference Group, email 

Previous Monitoring

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Over the past 15 years there have been many scientific studies conducted and reports produced regarding the potential for industrial emissions to impact on Murujuga’s rock art. The previous monitoring, undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) between 2004 and 2016, focused on the colour change and spectral mineralogy of the rock art on Murujuga.

Independent reviews commissioned by the Western Australian Government have recognised that improvements can be made to ensure that monitoring programs and other studies provide robust, reliable results to inform management. This advice has been carefully considered in the development of the Murujuga Rock Art Monitoring Program.

You can view previous monitoring reports in the document collection.

Note: The Monitoring Studies Data Collection and Analysis Plan Section 2 , includes an evaluation of previous studies and data.

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The Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and the Western Australian Government welcome stakeholder involvement in the Murujuga Rock Art Strategy.


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Page reviewed 5 May 2022