Moreton Bay’s traditional owners, the Quandamooka People, believe the Bay region is of such outstanding universal natural and cultural value they want it listed as a World Heritage Site.
What is World Heritage
A World Heritage Site is a place listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) because it has special cultural or physical significance. The concept arises out of the World Heritage Convention, which aims to promote cooperation among nations to protect heritage from around the world that is of such outstanding universal value that its conservation is important for current and future generations.
The Quandamooka People believe large parts of Moreton Bay, including the adjacent sand islands of Minjerribah-North Stradbroke Island and Mulgumpin-Moreton Island, constitute such a site. They have asked the Queensland Government to start the listing process and to have the region recognised as a mixed cultural-natural site.
The objective is to gain recognition of Quandamooka culture and to protect the outstanding aspects of Quandamooka culture and country. The nomination enjoys strong community support, including from local, state, national and international conservation groups, Sunfish and the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum.
Work on the Quandamooka nomination was conducted by one of the world’s most experienced environment and heritage advisers, Peter Hitchcock. Griffith University’s Professor of Environmental and Landscape Planning, Darryl Low Choy, and archeologist, Dr Richard Robins, also provided vital support.
What areas are intended to be listed?
The proposed Quandamooka listing covers various marine and land protected areas formed by North Stradbroke-Minjerribah and
Mulgumpin-Moreton Island (the second and third largest sand islands in the world), which are part of Queensland’s Great Sandy region. (See map.)
Fraser Island, the world’s largest sand island, is located in the northern part of the Great Sandy region and is already World Heritage listed.
Minjerribah-North Stradbroke Island and Mulgumpin-Moreton Island retain much of their pre-European settlement condition, including both native vegetation and wildlife and many Aboriginal cultural sites, which are part of the Quandamooka People’s heritage.
What makes Moreton Bay outstanding?
The Quandamooka People have specialist advice that supports what we have known for more than 20,000 years: The two sand islands are outstanding natural phenomena.
However, what really makes Moreton Bay a place of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) are the marine and wetland habitats within the bay and adjacent sea. They have high biodiversity conservation value.
The marine areas support a rich diversity of fish, sharks, reptiles and marine mammals of international importance for conservation. The numbers are clear. They include 1154 fish species, 944 gastropod molluscs, 351 bivalve molluscs and 143 coral species of which 119 are found on Flinders Reef outside the bay. Six of the world’s seven turtles are found here.
Fourteen species of marine mammals are resident in or visitors to Moreton Bay Marine Park, comprising eight species of dolphin (two resident), five species of whale and the dugong.
Our dugongs are renowned around the world. We are one of the last great dugong areas. The area is also home to an important population of the endangered grey nurse shark.
Indigenous cultural heritage can also be found throughout the nominated area. The evidence points to at least 20,000 years of continuous occupation and land and sea use by the Quandamooka People. There are currently over 1000 known cultural heritage sites, including shell middens, stone artefact scatters, stone artefact quarries, burials, scarred trees, earthen ceremonial rings, story places, pathways, and stone fish traps. More are being found all the time.
Our ancient wetlands are unique in such a dynamic coastal environment. They are already protected and internationally acknowledged, being designated Marine Park, by the State Government, and variously recognised as Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance, Wetlands of National Importance, Fish Habitat Areas and an Important Bird Area (IBA).
About 50,000 migratory shorebirds, comprising the 34 species using the East Asia-Australasian Flyway, turn up at the Moreton Bay wetlands each year. Moreton Bay provides habitat for 31 migratory wader species protected by three international agreements in Japan, Korea and China.
The two sand islands contain a range of habitats including mangroves, wetlands, heathlands, freshwater lakes, rainforests, old growth forests and woodlands. They are also home to a number of rare or threatened animal and plant species.
The Bay belongs to the world!
So, it is clear this is a very special place. While it is a precious part of our beloved Queensland it also belongs to the world. That is why we believe it should be World Heritage listed.
To have such a wonderland so close to our capital city is also something we should be thankful for. World Heritage listing will be a great benefit for Brisbane and the whole south-east.
The Quandamooka People have loved and cared for this place for more than 20,000 years. With World Heritage listing we can ensure it continues to be protected and valued, not just by us, but the people of the world.
We look forward to the State Government supporting and finalising the Tentative List nomination and getting Quandamooka Country the international recognition and protection it deserves.
Chief Executive Officer
Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC)