Fire destroying Ancient Rock Art (PDF only)
At the present rate of fire destruction, the Kimberley’s extraordinary collection of rock art will largely disappear within the next few decades. The fundamental problem is a political one. Aboriginal Affairs recognises the need to clear around art sites to protect them from ground fire, as well as the need to protect such high value sites. It has limited resources to follow up these aims. Ironically, the contrapuntal agency that is also involved in fire issues, Parks and Wildlife and Regional and Fire Management Services Division of the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (formally CALM, DEC) is well resourced and has indiscriminately increased unnecessary fire damage in the name of mitigation, largely as a result of the release of fire-bombs dropped from helicopters by many completely inexperienced trainees. The strategy where one absolves oneself of any pyromaniac crimes by surrounding oneself with a battalion of employed indigenous youth masks the ulterior motive with politically acceptable aboriginal employment. In one a case of unsupportable fire negligence, one of the very few remaining tracts of Kimberley rain-forest, sheltered in a narrow canyon in the Youwunjella creek system was completely destroyed by a fire bomb that would have required an accurate lob to reach it.