Murujuga National Park has the distinction of being Western Australia’s 100th national park and the first to be jointly managed in Western Australia. It is owned by the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (MAC) which represents the five Traditional Custodian groups of the area Ngarluma, Yindjibarndi, Yaburara, Mardudhunera and Wong-Goo-Tt-Oo, collectively known as Ngarda-Ngarli. The national park is leased back to the WA State Government and jointly managed by MAC and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. The recognition of ongoing Aboriginal connection to and responsibility for country is at the core of this joint management approach, which is underpinned by a legislative framework.
The national park is part of larger area known as Murujuga which means “Hip Bone Sticking Out” in the Ngarluma-Yaburara language, and refers to the 42 islands of the Dampier Archipelago, the Burrup Peninsula and Murujuga National Park. The Ngarda-Ngarli have been part of Murujuga for tens of thousands of years and have a deep and spiritual connection to it.
With more than one million images, Murujuga is home to one of the largest, densest and most diverse collections of rock art, or petroglyphs in the world. These capture at least 47,000 years of human existence and provide an archaeological record of traditional use of the area over this time. The engravings show human images, extinct animal species such as megafauna and Thylacines (Tasmanian tiger), as well as existing avian, marine and land animals. The area also features middens, fish traps, rock shelters, ceremonial places and stone arrangements. The rock art has deep meaning for Ngarda-Ngarli, providing a tangible link to stories, customs and knowledge of their land and resources and connecting them to the events and people of the past and their beliefs today. A 700m boardwalk with information is universally accessible at Ngajarli (formerly known as Deep Gorge).
A World Heritage nomination is currently being prepared to have the unique cultural, spiritual and archaeological values of Murujuga recognised internationally at the highest level. In January 2020, the Murujuga Cultural Landscape was added to the World Heritage Tentative List, which is the first required step in the World Heritage nomination process. The cultural heritage values of the area are already recognised through National Heritage Listing, which covers an area of 36,860 hectares and affords the area protection under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Plants and animals
The park is ecologically and biologically diverse. Major landforms and habitats within the park include steep scree-strewn granophyres and gabbro hills, narrow valleys, sandy and rocky shores, mangroves, mudflats and sea cliffs. The rock piles are important for providing refuge to fire sensitive plants.
Over 14 native ground mammal species, at least 14 species of bats, 58 reptile and two frog species are recorded from the area. Notable species include the Pilbara olive python, Rothschild’s rock wallaby and a number of shorebirds protected under international agreements.
The park lies at the western edge of the semi-arid tropical Pilbara region within Australia’s arid zone. From May to November the weather is fine, warm and dry. December to March is hot with some relief provided by ocean winds, and rainfall associated with tropical lows, cyclones and scattered thunderstorms. July is the coolest month with average minimum temperature of 13°C and maximum of 26°C.
Leave the Dampier Road and turn onto the Burrup Peninsula Road. The national park is located on the right hand side of the road and includes the hills surrounding Hearson Cove. Hearson Cove itself is not a part of the national park.
Continue along the Burrup Peninsula Road. Turn right onto the road to Withnell Bay. The national park lies north and east of Withnell Bay.
From Withnell Bay onward the track is rough and suitable for walking, mountain bikes or high-clearance four wheel drives only. Stay on existing tracks.