How is Heritage defined?

Helena and Aurora Range, Bungalbin is a part of our heritage, in near pristine condition with only the remnants of some exploration activity conducted in the 1960s. We recognise Helena and Aurora Range, Bungalbin as having great natural heritage and indigenous cultural heritage.

Those of us who have visited Helena and Aurora Range feel that this range is worthy of being recognised as a part of our National Heritage (including Natural, Indigenous and Cultural Heritage), that we wish to pass on to future generations, intact, free of any further mining activity (including exploration and mine pits).

“Heritage is that which is inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generation” - as defined in Wikipedia.

Not that long ago, heritage was primarily used to describe that which people inherited legally (inheritance), or that which was reserved for one, or that which belongs to one by reason of birth (The Budget Macquarie Dictionary, 1982). The definition has been expanded in more recent times to provide more detail and heritage has been stated to include “valued objects and qualities such as cultural traditions, unspoiled countryside, and historic buildings that have been passed down from previous generations” (Apple Dictionary 2005-2009).

Terms used to identify or name aspects of heritage in regard to place and people have varied and include; Natural Heritage, Cultural Heritage, Indigenous Heritage, Aboriginal Heritage, Aboriginal Cultural Heritage, National Heritage, Commonwealth Heritage and World Heritage - all relevant to Helena and Aurora Range.

Although we are focusing on Helena and Aurora Range, we recognise the great Heritage value of all the ranges in the Yilgarn and Great Western Woodlands (Die Hardy Range, Mt Manning, Highclere Hills, Mt Finnerty, Windarling Range, Mt Jackson Range and Koolyanobing Range, to name some) and that mining has started to become an inherent part of this landscape. Some of these ranges have already been mined in part (Windarling, Mt Jackson and Koolyanobbing), and others are planned to be mined in the future. (see BIF Ranges on Yilgarn Craton).


Natural Heritage

Natural Heritage encompasses the natural environment including the flora and fauna (biodiversity) and the geology and landform (geodiversity) (adapted from definition presented in Wikipedia).

Measures of biodiversity include:

  • species richness,
  • endemism,
  • intactness and
  • rarity.

These are the same criteria as used to determine whether an area may qualify as a “no go” zone.



Geodiversity is defined by Sharples (2002) as the range and diversity of:

  • bedrock (geological),
  • landform (geomorphological), and
  • soil,

including their features, assemblages, systems and processes.


Indigenous Heritage / Aboriginal Heritage

Aboriginal Affairs1 of Western Australia (within Department of Panning, Land and Heritage, DPLH1) defines Aboriginal Heritage, very simply in their website as:

“That which comes or belongs to one by reason of birth.”

Not unexpectedly it matches one of the definitions for Heritage in the Macquarie Dictionary as listed above.

Aboriginal Affairs provides a brief description to define Aboriginal Heritage. The emphasis is on place for all aspects of their heritage.

“For more than 45 000 years, Indigenous people have left signs of their occupation in Australia. Their heritage is of continuing significance, creating and maintaining continuous links with the people and the land."

Places that hold great meaning and significance to Indigenous people include:

  • Places where Aboriginal people have camped, lived and moved through country.
  • Places associated with Dreaming stories depicting the laws of the land and how people should behave.
  • Places that are associated with their spirituality.

Places where other cultures came into contact with Indigenous people; and places that are significant for more contemporary uses. These places are referred to as Aboriginal sites.”


Cultural Heritage

As with the term Heritage, the definition of Cultural Heritage has deepened and expanded. The conservation of Cultural Heritage is not limited to material objects or physical

performances. UNESCO2 provides background detail on its definition of Cultural Heritage and includes the following statement.

“Furthermore, the preservation of the cultural heritage now covers the non-physical cultural heritage, which includes the signs and symbols passed on by oral transmission, artistic and literary forms of expression, languages, ways of life, myths, beliefs and rituals, value systems and traditional knowledge and know-how.”

And also states:

“The situation of the cultural heritage has deteriorated during recent years as a result of industrialization, rapid urbanization, the increase in atmospheric pollution, various climatic factors and mass tourism. In addition, many examples of the non-physical heritage are dying out because of the disruption of economic structures and rapid changes in life-styles.”

Aboriginal Affairs (DPLH) defines culture as:

“The total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings, which is passed on from one generation to the next.”

Cultural Heritage is therefore relevant to all of us. The process of protecting Cultural Heritage would appear to be firstly the recognition of the Cultural Heritage of different groups of people and secondly that the Cultural Heritage of different groups be shared and respected.


1. Aboriginal Affairs was formerly Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA) and prior to this, Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA). Aboriginal affairs in now within the Department of Planning, Land and Heritage (DPLH)

2. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. 

"As a specialized agency of the UN system, UNESCO contributes to the building of peace, the alleviation of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information."

(source: UNESCO website, 30 June 2012)


  • Gray M (2004) Geodiversity – valuing and conserving abiotic nature. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester, pg 434
  • Jackova K (2008) The relationship between geodiversity and habitat richness in Sumava National Park and Krivoklatsko PLA (Czech Republic): A quantitative analysis approach. Journal of Landscape Ecology 1(1).
  • Sharples C (1995) A reconnaissance of landforms and geological sites of geoconservation significance in the state forests of eastern Tasmania, vol. I and II, Forestry Tasmania, Hobart.
  • Sharples C (2002) Concepts and principles of geoconservation. Published electronically on the Tasman Parks and Wildlife Service website.
  • UNESCO (2005) Draft Medium Term Plan 1990-1995 (UNESCO, 25 C/4, 1989, p.57), IN Jokilehto, J (2005) Definition of Cultural Heritage References to Documents in History. Originally for ICCROM, Revised for CIF.
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